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Thursday, July 31, 2014

It's the Most Happiest Time of the Year

If you are a harness racing fan, this is the happiest time of the year as the excitement towards Hambleotnian Day builds to a crescendo on Saturday when the field of 11 horses go for the dash for the cash. But in addition to the question as to whether Father Patrick can score from post 10 (champions can), another Takter charge wins in a minor upset, or some upstart shocks the harness racing community there are other questions to be asked...

  • Can Shake It Cerry become the queen of trotting in the Oaks from post position 11? 
  • Will we see a new all-time trotting record from Sebastian K in the Cashman Memorial or does the new record holder on the mile track Archangel pull off the upset.  What about Mister Herbie?  Does he get a jump on Sebastian K.  Let's face it Sebastian K is the best aged trotter right now in racing but he races with a target on Ake Svenstadt's back.
  • Does Androvette bounce back and win after getting back into the Lady Liberty thanks to the 'scratch' of his stablemate Krispy Apple?
  • Who wins the Peter Haughton Memorial and automatically become the favorite for the 2015 Hambletonian?
  • Does Sweet Lou continue his mastery and win his 8th straight start in the US Pacing Championship?  Does Captaintreacherous figure out how to beat the older horses at the right time?  What about State Treasurer who has been prepping in Canada?  Does the veteran Foiled Again show some Meadowlands Magic?   Do we see a new record on the pacing side?
Then on the non-racing side there are questions such as how many fans will be showing up at the new Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment  for the first Hambletonian to be raced at the new facility and how will track management handle the anticipated crowds?  What will the betting handle be this year now that European money will be co-mingled for the first time with Meadowlands pools?

If you haven't experienced the Hambletonian in person, it is a 'bucket list' event like the Little Brown Jug.  You need to make plans to attend, soon.

There is of  course some other tidbits of news not related to the Hambletonian worth mentioning.

News Item: Saratoga Harness Racing Inc. Partners with the Evil Empire (to some) - This week it was announced Saratoga Harness Racing Inc. has sold 25% of the company's equity to Churchill Downs Inc. and signed a management agreement with CHDN which will have Churchill Downs manage Saratoga Casino and Raceway, Saratoga Casino Blackhawk, and any new casino the partners may win in New York.  In addition, the deal gives Churchill Downs a small piece of interest in Ellis Park.  We can only wonder how long it will be before SHR is taken over completely by CHDN.

News Item: John Campbell Looking Ahead?  Well not that far ahead, but Monday when Campbell heads to Grand River Raceway to win one stakes race he never has; the Battle of Waterloo.  How serious is he about trying to win the Battle?  He's not showing up for a seat in the final, he qualified a horse for the final this past Monday.  Here's wishing Campbell much success on Monday as on Saturday as he tries to win one of those races he never has.  But forget a moment about Campbell going to win the Battle of Waterloo, this is as much a story about one of the sport's greatest ambassadors paying a visit to a minor league track and hopefully stirring up more interest for their big day of racing.

A Cheers Moment from the Land of Oz - In some ways you have to admire the Aussies for their sense of camaraderie.  On August 9, at the Mackay Beach Horse Racing Festival, a new race has been introduced, the Great Northern Beer Pub Challenge where pubs are securing jockeys and horses to represent them.  As to the purse, who cares?  The important thing is besides bragging rights, the winning pub gets awarded a keg of beer.  It may be a running race, but it is one I would love to see.

Take a Look at Horseplayer Monthly - A Publication of Horseplayers Association of North America, it is primarily a thoroughbred-oriented publication but there are columns which can be used for harness racing, including a harness racing column.  One interesting article discusses how thoroughbred racing needs to learn from harness racing.  Thumb through this free publication, it's worth a look.  



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