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Saturday, June 20, 2015

And the Number is Sixteen

In Friday night's third race at the Meadowlands, a GSY Amateur Trot, Captain Primeau was the race winner.  One may want to congratulate the driver; others may have been wincing at what they saw as the driver hit the eventual race winner by my couont sixteen times with the whip in the last quarter mile of the race.

You can watch the replay here in its entirety or you can move to the 1:38 mark on the video to watch the final quarter. Watch the #9 horse. If you wish to see the final quarter of the race without adjusting the video, you can just click here.

Now there is no denying the horse won the race, perhaps not accomplishing that without the whipping.  I would like to call it the tapping of the whip but it looks as if at times, the driver really wound up and laid into the horse in what appears to be a violation of the current rules of racing.  In fairness, I did not see the horse after the race or hear of his appearance in the paddock afterwards so it is possible no physical injury is evident.

Victory or not, there is a reason Amateur clubs are called 'gentlemen's driving clubs'; this drive was far from gentlemanly.  In addition, could you imagine what the rare newcomer to harness racing thought of this drive?  If the newcomer watched the race enough, I am sure they would have been wincing, likely never to return.  On the other hand, the horseplayer who had the winning horse have have admittedly been happy with the drive.

We will see if the driver is fined and/or given days for the infractions (days hardly being a problem with an amateur).  But in light of what happened, it is clear there needs to be required to have one hand in each handhold to keep the driver from making an exaggerated movement with his whipping hand.  In addition, any driver, professional or amateur who drives with such 'gusto' needs to learn how not to rely on the whip as much..

The industry is on shaky ground to begin with, we don't need moments like this making things worse.

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