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Friday, September 12, 2014

The Burke Invitational

This Monday, the Bobby Quillen Memorial Pace will be contested at Harrington Raceway.  The Quillen, as one person noted was named "... to celebrate the passing of one of the main legislators who pushed the slots through for the Delaware horsemen. In his honor they have 3 new Jersey horses, and 5 Pennsylvania horses from one trainer. Probably not his vision".

Most definitely not the vision Quillen had.  A total of three trainers have horses in the race.  The Burke stable has five horses in the race, Linda Toscano has two, and the lone wolf, Nick Surik starts one horse in the race.  Now to be perfectly fair, these trainers sent horses to race in the eliminations and they qualified for the final so you can certainly say they did nothing wrong, but if nothing else, races like the Quillen are indicative of a problem for harness racing, especially when 62.5% of the field comes from one trainer.

The question is what does one do about the situation?  The obvious thing to do would be limit the number of starters a trainer gets to start in the eliminations to ensure you don't get too many horses from one barn to start in the race.  Now realizing these super trainers get a lot of horses, so the rule can be modified to limit a trainer to no more than two horses from the same ownership group.  Trainers need to learn to pick and choose where their horses will start, not just flood the entry box with all their 'A' listers.

Of course, the problem with limiting the number of starters in a race may be a reduction in stakes payments for a race, resulting in reduced purses.

To tell you the truth, I don't know the answer to this problem.  What I do know is when five horses in a stakes race come from one barn, there is a problem; a problem which needs to be addressed.

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