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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Meaningless of Records

Saturday night at Mohegan Sun Pocono Downs was an exciting night with the running of the Sun Stakes, the Downs version of Meadowlands Pace night.  The action was hot with three world records set, highlighted by Sebastian K's 1:49 trotting mile.

And there lies the problem.  When a track has three world/track records set on one race card, one has to wonder if these records are meaningless.  It used to be records were something special, something which  happened rarely, thus truly significant.  Even with harness racing's breeding emphasis transitioned to speed over stamina, record breaking should be an infrequent occurrence.  Five track records in one night surely indicates a track which has been ginned up to produce records.

It used to be a foregone conclusion on 'important' days such as the Hambletonian tracks would be made lightning fast, something done partially to appease stallion owners looking to put a fast mark on their breeding prospects but it has gotten to the point where almost every day you see stories of a horse which has set a track and/or world record.  Sometimes they are high class horses, other days they are horses of a more pedestrian class.

Would the industry be better served if horses were assigned a speed index which can be used when selling horses or for the promotion of breeding prospects?  Indexes could be established for mile, five-eighths, and half mile ovals based on a horse's individual performance in races over a fast track, adjusted for the time of year to give an allowance during the colder months.  How the index would be calculated I would leave to those more qualified.

This is not to be said that world and track records shouldn't be kept, but the number of records need to be condensed.   There is no need to have records by age or sex.  There should be track records based on distance and gait alone.  World records should be kept only by distance, gait, and size of track  The way records are being kept now, they lose any real value.  Setting an overall track record or world record are the only ones worthy of noting.

Dean Eckley speaks out.  Controversial trainer Dean Eckley gets to tell his story in an interview with Harnesslink's Brian McEvoy.  It is an interesting read and I suggest people taking a look at it.  Not being familiar on any intimate level of the particular's of Mr. Eckley's problems, I make no comment with regards to the case other than saying that while I support private track's exclusionary powers, where does someone go to race if everyone says go elsewhere first?

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