The Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission has adopted rules requiring both hands to be on the reins during the entire race. As a result, the amount of whipping will be restricted as well as where the whip will make contact.
As progressive as the rule may be, unless fines are sufficient, drivers will violate the rule when tit suits them and they will pay the typical $100-$200 fine and go on their merry way. Unless the penalties are tough enough, there was no sense in passing this rule change.
Prediction: As much as Plainridge Park says 'No Thank You', there will be thoroughbred racing at Plainridge within the next two years. Like it or not, the thoroughbred industry has always had more muscle than the standardbred industry and if they want in at Plainridge, they will get in there. Standardbred horsemen would be well advised to play defense, otherwise they will be racing in the winter or find themselves homeless.
Yes, the MGCB could have solved this problem by giving Mohegan Sun the license which would have kept the runners racing at Suffolk Downs for at least another 15 years, but truth be told if you saw a picture of where Suffolk Downs was surrounded by, you can't blame them for voting elsewhere. After all, behind the grandstand is a fuel tank farm; not exactly a tourist draw.
The stakes races at The Red Mile on Thursday evening shows why dividing stakes races makes no sense anymore. Even before the scratches and horses being barred from wagering, you were looking at seven horse fields, something bettors don't want to touch on the mile track. It would be better if there were no more than 12 horses entered, you race with a second tier. More than 12 horses but less than 18 horses? Have nine horses race on the wagering card and race the short field as a non-wagering event. Tracks should only card close to full fields or better for their wagering program.
The Red Mile Grand Circuit meet never is known for its huge payoffs, with high class horses, short fields typically paying chalky prices. Then of course, once you say that, comes that one horse, in this case 137-1 Ideal Nuggets who goes and wins a division of the Bluegrass last night, making a liar of me. So you can a get a long shot, just don't hold you breath for it.
While talking about Kentucky, I couldn't help a trainer at Bluegrass Downs was fined $500 and got a 45 day suspension for a horse with a positive with caffeine (1st major penalty regarding medication overages). In addition to that, the trainer had to return the $750 in first prize money won. Couldn't help but notice other trainers at bigger tracks getting smaller overall fines and suspensions for positives. Is there a disconnect here?