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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Just When You Thought You've Seen it All

One has to wonder what was going on in the tractor driver's mind Sunday night at Pocono Downs when he appears to have decided he wanted to go home early as signs of trouble were evident at the :52-:53 point of the following video.  Was the tractor getting ready to go onto the track after the final race concludes?  Nope,  In what one must consider a case of brain freeze or who knows what, the tractor driver continued on to the track and interferes with the field, necessitating the need to declare the race 'no contest'.

No news as to the employment status of the driver.  All I can say is when you think you have seen it all, something comes along to blow that belief to shreds.

Speaking of The Downs, this Saturday is Super Stakes night where the best horses will be gathering to compete in one of the few remaining big money days remaining this year.  A 'must see' event for all standardbred fans and for those who avoid the gimmick wagers, an opportunity to wager as the rake for straight wagers is not obscene as the rake for exotics. The card for Super Saturday will be drawn today and we'll see where the key match-ups are.

While most of the American audience will be paying attention to what happen in Wilkes-Barre, the 'Canadian Jug' will be contested at Red Shores Charlottetown as it is time for the $60,000 Gold Cup & Saucer.  While the Pepsi North America Cup is probably the one race Canadian Drivers want to win money-wise, the Gold Cup and Saucer is the race drivers want to win for the experience as there are few races where grandstand and standee levels are full of appreciative race-goers.

Some people can't let go with the scheduling of the Yonkers International Trot on the same day as the Kentucky Futurity.  For those not familiar with the dust up, Yonkers scheduled the Trot not only on the same Saturday as the Kentucky Futurity and other closing day stake races at The Red Mile, they will be racing during the day during the same time instead of racing during their normal nighttime slot.  There is a fear some of the top drivers may skip the Red Mile card in favor of racing at Yonkers.

So once again, let's go over it, for one last time.

  • Regardless of whatever perceived (or deserved) reputation Yonkers may have among track management at other tracks, Yonkers did not card the International to screw up The Red Mile.  Management needed to consider when the European star horses would be available to race for it wouldn't be quite International if only North American horses showed up.  In doing so, Yonkeres needed to take into account the European Grand Circuit schedule, quarantine, and allowing those horses moving on to the Breeders Crown time.  The October 10 date is what worked out the best overall.  If we are going to encourage foreign horses racing in American races, I suggest the European Grand Circuit schedule be considered when setting the North American stakes calendar so stakes races where European horses are anticipated to participate may be scheduled looking at the 'big picture'
  • The Red Mile meet, while important is not sacrosanct.  It has tradition, it has history but this is basically of interest to racing and breeding insiders and hard core harness fans.  To the typical horseplayer, the races being presented are merely another set of races offered to horseplayers.  Horseplayers will seek out the best races available to wager on.  A full field with a compelling puzzle will draw more interest than a race with a short field and/or an overwhelming favorite (leaving takeout out of the equation for now).  No track has a monopoly to keep tracks from racing at the same time
  • Speaking of racing at the same time, Yonkers is racing during the day in order to maximize wagering opportunities.  With a limited window available from disseminators for the signal in Europe, it is racing on Saturday afternoon or not getting access to the overseas markets.  Saturday night doesn't cut it, nor does Sunday afternoon.  If the Red Mile was so concerned with the head-to-head competition, they could have moved their card to latest post if they wished.
  • The concern some drivers may leave Lexington a day early to race at Yonkers?  First of all, at most there will be no more than three or four drivers missing on closing day, assuming they have horses in closing day stake races. With all the name drivers at The Red Mile, I am sure any driver defections to race in New York will be covered by a competitive reinsman (ask Jimmy Takter about Pinkman on Hambetonian Day).
Maybe now we can let it go?  I hope so.

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