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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"They Stopped Mowing the Grass Probably During the Ming Dynasty"

The year's not over yet, but I think we have heard the best line at a racing commission meeting this year.  "They stopped mowing the grass probably during the Ming Dynasty", which can be attributed  to KHRC member Alan Leavitt when referring to the operators of Thunder Ridge Raceway.  Leavitt further stated "There have been reports of people actually being bitten by snakes."  These comments were made when arguing the harness horsemen should be compensated in any deal to transfer the license of Thunder Ridge from Appalachian Racing to Keenland Association which would result in the track being moved to another part of the state to run quarter horses and, you guessed it open an instant racing parlor.

Of course, one could argue while it is true harness horsemen have put up with a lot at Thunder Ridge over the years so they should be compensated now that the license has value, one may ask does the KHRC ever visit the tracks it licenses and if so, why didn't they put the hammer down on Appalachian Racing and demand track operators keep the facility up to a minimum level of standard?  After all, if the place is in such a state of disrepair, is there any wonder their total handle for the past racing season was $950?  Then again, it being Kentucky, does the commission really care what goes on with the standardbreds and their horsemen?  

I have a couple of bones to pick with Harnesslink's Insider Access (Edition #15) this week.  One issue is the use of embryo transplant in harness racing.  They oppose the use of ET as being unnatural such as cloning and plain wrong.  The idea someone can flush an embryo from a racing mare and implant it in a surrogate while they continue on racing indeed is wrong on the surface.  If we are talking about racing horses, you shouldn't be credited with a foal if you don't carry it and if there is something with your broodmare which keeps it from carrying a foal successively to term, is that something we want to pass on to the next generation?  While we are at it, if we are against unnatural things, they must be against artificial insemination and advocate the return of natural cover, after all taking a stallion's semen and adding extenders and the like servicing more than one broodmare at a time certainly isn't the way nature intended.

The other issue with Insider Access this week is their problem with races restricted to drivers of certain racial, ethnic, or gender backgrounds.  The question they pose is if these are novelty races or racially insensitive events?  While they are talking about Australian races in particular, I will give them wide-birth as I am as qualified to speak about race relations in Australia as I am talking about quantum physics.  

That being said, I would suggest it is a question of context.  For example, if you look at Monticello Raceway's Heritage Series, where there is the Lady Godiva Pace (open to women only), the Martin Luther King Day Pace (open to drivers of African-American descent), Mayflower Pace (open to those of British ancestry), etc. where the winners of these races meet in a championship race it is neither a novelty or racist; it is a celebration of the American tapestry and in fact allows some groups who are often passed over when it comes to driving a chance to showcase their abilities. 

Despite my criticisms this week, Insider Access is a good read for those interested in harness racing.  You may not agree with everything they say, but it gives you something to think about.  If you are not a subscriber, I would suggest you do so, after all one edition every two weeks is not going to clog up your email.  Sign-up is easy; just click here.

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