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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Cat Tribute; Michigan Not Dead Yet

Last night, Yonkers Raceway paid tribute to Catello Manzi on his retirement earlier this year.  It was fitting Yonkers held a retirement ceremony for the Cat Man as he made Yonkers Raceway his last home along with Freehold Raceway before one accident too many made him realize it was time to hang up his whip.

As part of the ceremony, Yonkers produced a tribute video to Cat which was shown.  For those who missed it, here it is:

When Hazel Park Raceway sent the standardbreds into exile this year in favor of thoroughbreds, it looked like the end of harness racing at the biggest Michigan track and perhaps the state itself.  Well, not so fast.  While Hazel Park has once again applied for a mixed breed meet in 2015, they have also applied for a standardbred meet to run from October 2 to November 28.  Northville Downs also applied for a mixed breed meet as well as a standardbred meet to run from March 20 thru August 15.  Sports Creek Raceway, which raced trotters this year has asked for a meet in 2015 but fail to specify which breed.  Returning to the schedule, Jackson Raceway has asked for a standardbred race meet from May 15 thru August 29.  Assuming Sports Creek races standardbreds during their proposed 34 day meet, 2015 will have as much as 132 race days of standardbred racing.

Of course, these race dates need to be approved by the MGCB and as we say last year, it apparently is easy to change breeds after the tracks have had their applications approved.

Last week in HRU, someone who is not a big fan of RUS wrote a letter criticizing the sport, indicating he rather bet on pig races at the county fairs.  This week, Rebecca Titus, Publicist of RUS Ontario, wrote a response defending RUS.  Titus is 100% correct.  Wagering was inline with regular races and the question of unknown riders and horses, well that will be addressed when there is more RUS racing.  As long as the harness racing community doesn't throw road blocks in the path of RUS, this type of racing will not only attract new gamblers, it will complement the traditional form of harness racing.

In the same edition of HRU, Dean Towers writes how the sky is not falling in harness racing.  There are some good things happening.  Are the problems, sure, but it is important to note the good things as well.

Despite the renaissance in Ohio harness racing, the Williams County Fair is considering dropping harness racing from the 2015 due to declining attendance at the races.  Despite the infusion from slots, it still boils down to seats in the grandstand when it comes to these fairs.  Enriching owners is not the mission of the fairs; putting on entertaining events and maximizing the return on the fair boards' investment is what matters.

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