- Florida's Pompano Park harness track has established a new rule restricting the use of the whip.
New to racing in North America, the rules call for drivers in any type of race to never be allowed to put the reins in one hand in order to strike a horse with a whip at any time during the race.However, a commenter on the USTA's new Harnessphere social networking site (something I imagine the incredibly passionate and hardworking folks on the NTRA Online Task Force may want to look at), wonders if the penalties have enough teeth.
Penalties start at $100 for the first offense, but there is also an additional ruling that allows for anyone found to be whipping a horse excessively at any time to be fined up to an additional $1,000 and be suspended from competing and/or ejected from the property. [US Trotting Association]
Are you telling me that getting close to the wire in a stretch duel one of the drivers is not going to one handed whip to get the win? I don't think the $100 fine will even be a thought in his mind. But disqualify the horse and you know he's not going to do it. Plus it is UNFAIR to all who bet the other horse and now lost their money because in essence the driver who beat them cheated.- Like Saratoga, Del Mar's attendance and handle numbers were down; no surprise there given the economy,
Think about it!!!!! [Harnessphere]
What I'd personally be more interested in is to get the statistics on fatal injuries suffered on the Polytrack surface. Curiously, while Del Mar said the amount of overall catastrophic breakdowns “were also lowered," it has not released any statistics. Who's running their press department, Dana Perino? If anyone has any information on that, we'd all love to hear about it.
We were told that the starters-per-race held even from last year at 8.6 horses per race, which may (or may not) dispute a notion I'd heard that horses had been "beat up" on Hollywood's Cushion Track. Again, we hear a lot of vague rumors and whispers about soft tissue injuries and other so-called "non-catastrophic" injuries, and I continue to wonder why nobody seems to want to come out and say anything definitive or present some statistical and anatomical evidence of that.
I turned on TVG last evening, and I was really surprised that they didn't have the A-team out in full force with their on-site reporting and Christina Olivares and the like for closing day. I can't really figure that network out sometimes....I mean, it's not like they have much to do between now and the time that Santa Anita opens. I have to be honest that I just haven't watched TVG much lately anyhow. They generally do good work when they are on-site. But usually, the times I turn it on they just have the sleep-inducing talking heads on from the studio. I could easily go back to Time Warner Cable and live quite comfortably with the NYC-OTB channel. I don't get the prime winter tracks on TVG anyway. Without those, I'm finding its usefulness to be extremely limited nowadays.
I wrote the other day about how I pay attention to how first-timers from major barns are bet in their debut when evaluating them the next time they race. So I was skeptical of morning line favorite Midshipman (Unbridled's Song) from the start since he was 11.80 to 1 when he won his debut for StonerSheikh and Bob Baffert. So you can only imagine how much I didn't like him when he was comatose on the board for the Del Mar Futurity; the 3-1 morning line favorite, he went off as the 6-1 4th choice! Glad I didn't bet this race, as he edged out, appropriately enough, Darley's Coronet of a Baron.
The next time these two run, most likely in the Grade 1, $250,000 Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting on Sept. 27, they will both be flying under the Darley banner. [DRF]