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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Wednesday Briefs

When the Illinois Racing Board had cut back the number of days of racing in the state for 2015, you knew the hammer would come down on the harness industry as well.  Sure enough, as per the contract with the IHHA, Balmoral and Maywood Parks will be racing two days each for the first six months of the year.  If the state doesn't pass legislation which is favorable to the racing industry, odds are Maywood will be dark the second half of the 2015 calendar.

The reason for the cut back of racing dates?  A way to stretch the purse account as long as possible. As bad as the reduced calendar for 2015 is, the question must be asked what happens if the Illinois legislature doesn't come up with a solution to racing's financial ills?  The existence of racing in the state for both breeds is seriously in question.

What does this do to the Illinois breeding industry?  One would assume it will totally collapse.  However, a few weeks ago in Maryland, there were eight stakes races for Virginia bred and sired horses contested.  As racing programs falter in certain states, with cooperation, we may find sires stakes programs of certain states being raced at tracks in different states in order to keep the breeding programs viable, if not robust.

In Michigan, Northville Downs surrendered their 2014 thoroughbred license two weeks before it was supposed to start.  While they have applied for standardbred and thoroughbred meets in 2015, I don't know if it will happen being Northville plans to keep their half mile oval.  They will either have to have a real long chute but even then, those turns will give 'bull ring' a whole new meaning.  Of course, the possibility of it being a mixed meet, in particular quarter horses such as was done elsewhere in the state is a possibility.

It will be 'riders up' at Colonial Downs this Sunday, but it's not because the Virginia thoroughbred horsemen have settled with track management.  Colonial Downs will host a quintet of horses for a $3,000 non-wagering event at a distance of 1 1/4 miles.

Sadly, getting little notice is the return of harness racing out in California as Cal Expo begins their 2014-15 harness meet.  October brings us Saturday night racing before the meet expands to two nights a week starting in November.  You may be asking why one one night a week in October but looking at the entries will explain why.  Out of the fourteen races, five races have six horses entered; three with seven.  Despite being approved, no exchange wagering starts with this meet.

Hall of Famer John Campbell has a solution to stop kicking.  Forget the fines and give days.  Give three days the first offense, five the second, and ten for the third and drivers will keep their feet in the stir-ups.  Sounds easy doesn't it?  It is except you need eighteen individual race commissions to approve the rules  This is an example as to why we need either regional or a national governing board so there is one set of rules for everyone to follow. .

Apparently, the runners will be racing in Massachusetts in 2015 after all, the question is where.  An application for up to 60 race dates at the Brockton Fairgrounds has been submitted, provided there is no racing at Suffolk Downs.  While management at Suffolk Downs has made it known they will not be racing next year, the horsemen groups are attempting to lease the facility to keep racing alive in Boston.

Enjoy your Wednesday.  Remember, there is racing during the day at The Red Mile starting tomorrow through Sunday.

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