For photos from the Meadowlands contact

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Drive of the Year - British Style

First, the time-sensitive item.  The British Harnesss Racing Club (BHRC) is asking harness racing fans throughout the world to vote on the best drive of 2016 for their awards night.  Voting ends mid-day on February 14 (remember they are five hours ahead of the east coast.   The BHRC Drive of the Year is being sponsored by Tetrick Racing.  The six drives nominated for the award may be found here.

While I have my personal favorite in the race for USTA President, I won't be naming them in this column.  What I will do is list in alphabetic order the three candidates I feel would best serve the USTA.  My finalists are: Fred Hudson, Jason Settlemoir, and Russell Williams.  Still trying to select your candidate?  Harness Racing Update asks the five candidates five questions.  You may see their answers here.   Only USTA Directors will be able to vote in the election but if you are a USTA member, remember they represent YOU.  Make sure you let your director know which candidate you prefer.

Judging from the coverage in HRU, the Meadowlands is still the number one track in the United States.  Not for the coverage of the racing, but of Jeff Gural.  Clearly if the Meadowlands didn't really matter anymore, Gural wouldn't be getting much coverage (for and against).  I for one would like to read letters about other tracks, for and against, to see what they are doing wrong or doing right.  If you are looking at the short term, other tracks mean a lot if you race horses but if you are a gambler, odds are it is the Meadowlands and WEG tracks which matter.

I read in Friday's edition of HRU Marvin Katz's criticism of the Gural rule, in particular how much money he has lost as a result of 'the' rule.   Quite honestly, I don't buy it.  Yes, maybe he could have made more money if the rule didn't exist, but the rule has been in existence for several years now; it should have been factored in when he purchased (or bought into) these horses.

As for asking would such a rule apply in thoroughbred racing with American Pharoah?  Of course not, but then their problems aren't as bad as harness racing's; they have the publicity machine to make their stars known where even people who don't follow racing have heard of them.  Just look at all the conversations on the web every time California Chrome raced, his final race occurring at the age of six..


Anonymous said...

There's not a STITCH of evidence that "stars" help the business of harness racing. The handle is no higher on the races involving stars, attendance is no higher, and the sport benefits in no significant way by the presence of "top horses" on the racetrack. The "Gural Rule" was idiotic in the first place, and just one in a series of horrible decisions made by a guy who is arguably the single worst track operator in the business.

Count said...

Actually the Gural Rule is probably the ONLY good decision that he has come up with. The sport DOES need stars. In other respects though, he has shown himself to be a hypocritical, avaricious megalomaniac. From the insufficient building, to the banning of some trainers and not others, to racing his own horses at his own building with his own rules, to the incredibly low purses, his tenure as the carrier of horseracing at the Meadowlands has been a disaster. The proof is in the pudding: he claims that the handles at these "races" have reached record proportions yet the purses are horrendous. You CANNOT blame the lack of slots either. A decade or so ago, when there were no slots anywhere, the Meadowlands had an excellent purse structure. And that was when the handle was (allegedly) less!!! Come on now, do you think we are deaf, dumb, and blind?

riceownz2 said...

I beg to differ about the attendance not being higher. I live in Ohio and when WIJI and ABM raced at Dayton this year, the place was packed. I have never seen a crowd that big at the track. Maybe it didn't lead to higher handle that night, but I'm sure at least one person from that night left excited and interested in owning a horse.

Pacingguy said...

Count, 10 years ago the NJSEA supplemented the purses on the government's dime. Now, they are dealing with a $5 million deficit in the purse account.

Anonymous said...

The $5 million deficit is what Gural CLAIMS it is. Since he is suddenly so concerned about the bondholders, maybe an audit is in order that would tell the real story. The artificially inflated handle has miserably failed to inspire the regular player to participate. I know the argument in favor of creating the bigger pools, I disagree. The secret deals on rebates to the select few does not help the regular player. It creates a huge advantage for some. The illusion of the deeper pools to bet in to are a trap for the small player. Gural can't have it both ways. You can't create a press release every day about great handle and then say there is not enough to pay the purses. Loss leaders only work when you present a product that someone will eventually buy.

Pacingguy said...


Being purses are part of the contract horsemen have with the track, I assume the SBOANJ meets with the Meadowlands weekly about the purse account as the SOANY does, hence we need to assume the deficit is legitimate.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion that at least one assumption too many regarding the validity of the purse account deficit.

More to the point, is providing transparency regarding the side deals of reduced takeout to the privileged few.