Ake Svanstedt has been handed a 30 day suspension and a $1,000 fine for a couple of positives over Hambletonian weekend, most notable the disqualification of Resolve from the John Cashman Jr. Memorial Trot. His suspension starts on January 2.
Some question the timing of his suspension, feeling a suspension in January is a gift for Svanstedt. I would disagree. Make no mistake, a suspension during the summer would be a lot more severe as stakes season offers higher purses but a suspension this month would be a gift as there are fewer racing opportunities for a stable which includes raceway and stakes stock; serving a suspension while Freehold Raceway (December 11) and Yonkers Raceway (December 19) take their Christmas hiatus. Holding the suspension over for when Freehold and Yonkers reopen would deny Svanstedt more racing opportunities.
Once again, the lunacy of Florida's parimutuel laws is exposed with the operation of Hamilton Downs, an excuse of a track created in the name of operating a poker room and in the future possibly a casino (you can click on this link to see a picture of the track). At least the operator of this track claims his plan is to build a proper track down the road, unlike the operator of the track in Gretna. How a state can operate racing in such a laissiez-faire approach boggles the mind. Florida is a case story of how not to regulate horse racing.
The Gaming and Racing Symposium started yesterday in Arizona, and a number of industry leaders spoke. They all said the right thing and in the room I am sure they all agreed. Call me cynical but I suspect for the most part they will return next year with nothing changed. There are too many differing interests at play here. Racing dates will not be cut meaningfully, takeout rates will remain high, and racing certainly can't afford to offer entertainment between races to keep racegoers entertained on more than a few days a year. Quite honestly, what needs to be done is for someone to blow up the entire racing model as we know it now and rebuild it from day scratch; something which would take extreme courage. Perhaps things need to get a lot worse before things can get better. All I know is dramatic change is required and it needs to happen soon.