Yesterday, there was an unfortunate 'first' at Century Downs in Alberta, the first horse fatality as a result of a three horse crash in the eighth race, a distinction noted by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
While this tragedy was certainly newsworthy, there was something else notable in the story; something which tells of the problem harness racing has in North America. It can be summed up by this one line in the story, "It came during Race 8 of the harness races — in which a standardbred horse pulls a driver on a two-wheeled cart". Thankfully, the story didn't refer to the "jockeys' injured in the races, another common error by the press.
You never will see a story say "It came during Race 9 of the thoroughbred races - in which a thoroughbred horse has a jockey riding on top". We can accept the fact people don't care for horse racing of any type or specific breed, but for them not to even know of harness racing's existence is a sad commentary on how far the sport has fallen. You can't expect to draw the attention of people if they don't know you exist.
It's almost like ketchup. Here in the states, French's now makes ketchup and is attempting to make a dent into Heinz's market share. It doesn't matter how good French's product is if people don't know it exists.
Same thing with harness racing. True, harness racing needs to be a product people would want to 'buy', but no matter how good it may or may not be, it doesn't matter if no one knows about it. Being an exclusive club doesn't cut it. People need to be made aware of the brand, otherwise it is all for naught.