Let's start with the good news. Wiggle It Jiggleit looked fantastic in yesterday's third leg of the Graduate Series at Tioga Downs, scoring a 1:48.1 victory over the fast track. Shooting out from the 4 hole, WIJI encountered a little resistance at the start before taking command prior to the quarter pole in a :25.4 first quarter. Once he reached the half in :54.2, it became a jog around the track. Here is the race replay (plus more).
Truth is against 4 year olds, the most exciting part of WIJI racing are his winners circle antics (if you don't know what I mean, advance the replay to the 5:40 mark). They would do better to have the photographer take the photo as he jogs past instead. Of course, if you have a horse like Wiggle It Jiggleit, you put up with his antics willingly.
On the trotting side, Maestro Blue Chip shot out from post position 8 to secure his victory over Pinkman and others in the Graduate, in a 1;53.4 wire to wire victory. Maestro moved boldly from the beginning to get the lead in a :27.4 after meeting token resistance from Pinkman once the gate opened. Pinkman was probably tired after his return from Solvalla; expect better from him soon.
But back to WIJI. On Facebook, I saw a comment about WIJI's performance and it can be summed up as "Good for the Sport". What does "Good for the Sport" mean? How does it help the sport?
If you mean people like me who follow the sport because we love it? Sure, we will be there when WIJI shows up to our local track and watching on our tablets when he races elsewhere. It will probably get those who live and breathe standardbreds day in day out excited as well. If you are talking about additional print in the trade journals (online and paper), sure it is good for the sport.
Otherwise, it means squat. John Q Public for the most part doesn't read the trades. Attract new fans? We need gamblers, not fans who will be $10 a race. Gamblers are more concerned about the other 10 races on the card than the one with a superstar.
Even if we are able to attract new gamblers with a horse who is good for the sport, there is a good chance the low payoffs will discourage them or the high rake will chew and spit them out. We certainly aren't going to attract them with a race every twenty minutes and they are going to love it when they see post time means squat.
The point is until we fix the product, any horse who is "Good for the Sport" is a horse who was born at the wrong time. Before 1978, this horse would have been a blessing to the sport. Now he is a reminder of a missed opportunity. Hopefully the day comes when a WIJI-type horse will be good for racing.
Exchange Update - On the exchange yesterday, I noticed place and show wagering available. The only problem is there is virtually zero liquidity. Then again, if the public is unaware of these markets, it will be kind of hard to develop liquidity.