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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Farewell to the Iron Horse

Matt's Scooter was euthanized on Monday at the age of 29, presumably the result of infirmities of old age.  With his passing, one of the last iron horses has left us.  Career-wise, Matt's Scooter made 61 starts (and won 23 of them), only making 9 starts as a two year old.  A lot of the stakes-caliber horses don't make those many starts anymore.

Yes, part of this is due to standardbred breeding changing the emphasis from stamina to speed, making horses less rugged than in the past.  Like it or not, that's the way it is; commercial breeder need to give the market what they want otherwise they will be out of  business..  Another reason for the reduction in starts may be attributed to the change in attitude among those who own these great horses.  Whereas in Matt's Scooter's day his owners went everywhere with him taking on all comers, today's owners (often syndicates) are more concerned with managing their careers, skipping races and avoiding the half mile oval for fear of drawing a bad post.  Alas, as owners it is their right to race their horses as they see fit.

For those of you who were to young to have seen the era of the iron horses, you missed out on an incredible era.

So long Matt, you will be missed.

While the impact is immediate on quarter horse and thoroughbred racing, it must be disturbing to all involved in the Florida horse racing industry how the regulators there seem to be loose cannons as they ignore court rulings against them for sanctioning so-called horse races conducted for the sole purpose of opening poker rooms.  Once again, the regulators have sanctioned racing where the racing will involve two-horse events.  Legitimate race tracks do not plan on contesting two-horse races.  The regulators should have sent that application back, rejected instead of approving it.  The Florida legislature must pass legislation not only to define what a horse race is, but to put reigns on the regulators.

It will be a treat for fans and gamblers on Saturday night when the Hambletonian Maturity goes postward with a full field of 14 in a 1 1/8 mile tilt.  The field of 4yos which were eligible for the Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks includes Bee A Magician and Creatine drawing posts 13 and 14, respectively as well as last year's Hambletonian winner Royalty for Life who drew post position 6.  Will Royalty For Life be ready to score in his first race back this year?  Will Bee A Magician and Creatine be able to get involved from the second tier?   Those questions and others will be answered Saturday night.  In addition to the Maturity, eliminations for the Meadowlands Pace and Mistletoe Shalee will be contested.

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