JK Shesaslady has a new driver heading into the Breeders' Crown eliminations as regular driver Yannick Gingras would not commit to the filly until after the post position draw. Unsatisfied with this, the connections of the filly made the decision for Gingras and fired him, turning to Tim Tetrick who agreed to stick with the filly through the balance of this year and next.
This whole episode highlights one of the problems with harness racing both to the owners and the betting public. Allowing drivers to chose drives after post positions are drawn.
I know I will hears this is the way it has been done for years but the way drivers are named to a horse has to change. Currently, the driver gets to make their final choice of which horse they will drive after post positions are drawn. Let's not kid ourselves, if the leading driver at a track is named to two or three horses and they basically have the same current form, who are they going to choose, the horse from post position one or post position eight?
What should happen is drivers need to commit to a horse before post positions are drawn. Let's have the racing office list which horses will be in each race and have drivers pick their drives and then draw post positions.
The benefit of this is owners will still get a driver to commit to their horse, but it will be done based on who the driver feels is the best horse of the ones they are named on, not on who draws the best post. An owner may still lose their preferred driver but it won't be the result of opportunism.
For the bettor, it means better payoffs. With drivers committing to horses before post positions are drawn, horses who are currently being bet down to 3-5 or so may go off at 3-1 because the leading driver at the meet may be driving someone else instead of the horse with the best post position. Granted, it makes the race a little harder to handicap, but the rewards will be better.
Of course, to make this change, it will require a track to break with tradition and deal with the outcry of drivers who may find their income reduced because they may be driving more horses with a tougher post position than they would under the traditional way of assigning drivers. The question is which (if a) track will be the first to make such a move?