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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

On Stride - In One Sport Anyhoo

- Here's a note about 12 track executives discussing ways to keep star horses racing beyond the age of three.

The tracks recently met to discuss amending the conditions of their marquee stakes to promote participation to horses that have been sired by stallions at least five years of age. The goal of the program is to offer fans thrilling match-ups as 3-year-old champions return to race against top older horses. The proposed changes would take effect in 2012 and impact foals born 2010 and later. Provisions would be made for stallions with limited or no starts at three due to injury.
That's an idea that we've seen floating around the press (Bill Finley gets particular credit), blogs, and chat rooms, and it's great to hear that it's something now being given consideration.

There's only one problem. The executives are from tracks such as Harrah's Chester, Dover Downs, Freehold, and Vernon Downs, and the article is on the US Trotting Association website. So, while thoroughbred racing execs bog themselves down meeting with self-anointed committees of bloggers with minuscule audiences (in some cases I'd surmise, even smaller than the relative, in the scheme of things, handful of people who visit this site) about issues, such as saddle cloth colors, race names, and championship races run on weekday afternoons, which were brought about by their own shortsightedness, harness people are actually discussing substantive matters with the potential of expanding the appeal of their sport. As I've said before, while thoroughbred folks are looking down their noses at the sulky set, perhaps they should be paying some attention.

And here's more:
Today, the U.S. Trotting Association unveiled, an Internet site at which users of all Web-enabled telephones and PDAs will be able to follow their favorite sport.

Users have the ability to view the past eight days of results and all entries for races conducted at pari-mutuel tracks and fairs in the United States.

In addition, users may search by horse name to see details of that horse’s most recent start, if within 90 days, and view the entire field of any upcoming race in which that horse has been entered if it is currently in-to-go in at the abovementioned tracks. [US Trotting Association]
Really, some of the USTA's web features put its flat racing counterpart to shame. We also saw that during the Breeders' Cup, with the antiquated Web 0.5 liveblogging which paled in comparison to what we saw on the USTA site during the Little Brown Jug and Hambletonian, technical problems and all.

- 12 state legislators in Monmouth County are calling for sanctions against Freehold, including withholding the track's 2009 race dates; this to pressure Penn National and Greenwood to sign the purse subsidy agreement. Pretty humorous that the representatives are all Republicans; imagine, the party of the past voting to impose competitive restrictions on a capitalist corporation.

- All of the upcoming Breeders' Crown races except for the three-year old trotters drew enough entries to require elimination heats this weekend. That means that Somebeachsomewhere will be racing at the Big M on Saturday. Only ten trotters signed up to face Hambo champ Deweycheatumnhowe in the sophomore test for the diagonal gait.

[UPDATE: Thanks to reader T.J. for the headsup. With 12 pacers entered, the two top money earners can elect to pass the elimination, which trainer Brent McGrath elected to do. The trade-off is that he'll lose the chance to select a post for the final and be placed in the open draw.
“I weighed that in my decision.....But the two weeks off will give me a fresher horse, so even the 10 hole won’t hurt him if he’s on his game.” [USTA]


SaratogaSpa said...

I have to say the Harness executives have done a good job marketing the sport of late. I dare say Somebeachsomewhere and Deweycheatumnhowe have more buzz out there than the Flat track stars of '08.

Superfecta said...

Alan, I think your point would be fair if the execs you mention worked for the Jockey Club or a similar organization - but suggesting that it's a waste of time for Breeders' Cup officials to try to improve their own event by soliciting feedback has nothing to do with early retirements.

Different issues need different fora - I'd love to see the Jockey Club taking on the 'keeping horses racing' issue by making it harder to register offspring of lightly-raced stallions, but it's a different discussion from the one you allude to and requires a different set of participants.

I'm usually all for snarkiness, but it doesn't always advance the cause...

Alan Mann said...

Superfecta - I'm not saying it's a waste of time for Breeders' Cup officials to try to improve their own event, but rather that they themselves created their own problems with their stupid saddle cloths, ridiculous renaming, and disastrous rescheduling. And now they're devoting precious time and resource to digging themselves out....or not, from what I've read about the meeting. On the other hand, the harness folks are moving forward towards embracing available technologies and discussing constructive ideas to improve their sport. Jockey Club, track execs, Breeders' Cup, NTRA - it's irrelevant to my point which organizations are involved. One sport is bogged down by their own incompetence and paranoia; the other is trying to move forward constructively. I think my comparisons are totally fair.

Anonymous said...

Alan said: "In some cases I'd surmise, even smaller than the relative, in the scheme of things, handful of people who visit this site."

Alan, don't sell yourself short. I alone know of more than a handful of racing and gaming industry interested parties that frequent your site on a daily basis.

T.J. Burkett said...

The 3-year-old colt pace drew 12 starters, so the two top money-earners can elect to take a bye into the final. Somebeachsomewhere and Dali elected to do this, so unfortunately we won't see him this Saturday.