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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Nail in the Coffin; RUS Roadblock

Earlier this week, the web was abuzz with the demolition of the grandstand of Hollywood Park.  While I am sure the web won't be abuzz about it, Windsor Raceway officially joins the roster of 'lost' tracks as demolition of the grandstand has begun this week.  With the demolition, any fantasy of racing returning is now dead.

Some may be wondering why the RUS schedule in the United States is not as robust as the schedule in Ontario where a decent sixteen pari-mutuel race season has been put together.  Besides the previously mentioned issue of having to deal with different racing commissions, the fact is commissions tend to plod along in making rule changes.

Complicating matters throughout the country are thoroughbred horsemen who don't wish to see RUS at harness tracks objecting to anything which may strengthen standardbred racing, claiming since riders (jockeys) are racing the horses instead of drivers in a sulky, it doesn't qualify as harness racing; it belongs in the realm of thoroughbred racing.  This of course is a fallacy, for if this was the case, Arabian, Quarter horse, and mule racing would also be controlled by thoroughbred interests.

In many states, the definition of harness racing is giving the thoroughbred interests a check point to keep RUS from becoming a wagering event.  A few states such as Kentucky defines harness racing as  a contest on the pace or trot by standardbreds, but other states add the use of a sulky as a requirement.  In order to get RUS on the wagering calendar, commissions which have members from thoroughbred backgrounds will be required to  change or interpret the rules favorably for standardbred interests.  Of course, that assumes the standardbred interest is looking to have RUS (PA has shown no interest in it).

In the meanwhile, enjoy RUS racing in its non-wagering format at various locations.

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