HRU Feedback (2018-05-20)

The Curmudgeon on The Guru and the Hall of Fame

This is in reference to my good friend The Guru’s thoughts on the Hall of Fame and its possible nominees as stated his column this past Friday (full column here).

The genesis of this whole discussion began with numerous comments made on Facebook, with several people stating that they were not going to join or rejoin the Harness Racing Museum because there were several who they deemed, “worthy” people who had thus far not been installed.

I posed the following question to Gurf. “OK Ronnie, I’m making you King of Harness Racing, what would you do to make HOF installation fairer and more deserving”?

I closed saying that once he responded, I would come back with my thoughts.

It’s a good thing that I didn’t express my thoughts then and there, because since then, they have change quite dramatically. I suppose if you asked me next week, they still might change.

Before I go to what I would do if I were king, I do have one quibble with what Gurf said (Friday) morning. He makes reference to many of those being brought up for possible inclusion as having less than clean slates with regard to their records. I would suggest that this might also apply to some of those already installed at Goshen.

In my opinion, they either have Hall of Fame credentials, including their negatives, or they do not. In my proposal, I would leave it to the voters to make that decision, much as the voters in the recent Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame did with one of those nominated, or as the baseball writers have in their voting procedure.

My proposal would involve an almost complete overall of the system that now exists. It steals from the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame process, the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame process as well as likely other shrines of sport.

(1) Instead of just one category of “Living Horse Hall of Fame” member, I would have three separate ones:
(a) Trainers.

(b) Drivers

(c) Builders, this would include breeders, owners and people who have otherwise made huge contributions to the sport.

(2) Each USHWA Chapter would make one nominee to each of the three categories. All of the chapter nominees in each separate category would go on the ballot. Those voting would be members in good standing of USHWA, Living Hall of Fame Members and Harness Racing Museum trustees.

(3) The leading vote getter in each of these three categories would be installed the following year. This will guarantee that there will be three inductees with equal representation from three important segments of the industry. If there were those among the nominees who were felt to be lacking of a “clean record”. I would think that this would be overcome by the relatively large group of hopefully knowledgable people voting. After all, the baseball writers have yet to elect any of the “druggies” in their sport, or for that matter Pete Rose. Why should we expect less from our people?

(4) I would allow consideration for a “veterans committee” to elect those of a certain age, for Example those eighty or older who time might have forgotten.

(5) I would leave the Communicator’s Corner as it presently is.

— The Curmudgeon / Hanover, PA

Need objective, not subjective takes on sports betting

RE: story 1 and story 2

The recent HRU “opinion” based coverage of the pros and cons of sports betting yet again demonstrates a major flaw in the sports administration both in the USA and Australia.

Managing any business based on predominantly “subjective” opinions is fraught with danger and the continuing decline in harness racing in both our countries is a classic example.

Successful businesses rely on “objective” factual customer research evidence to support their strategic business planning decisions.

Very basic consumer research incorporating the conjoint analysis methodology would provide a more objective answer to the positive or negative effects of sports betting on our sport rather than more subjective guesses

— Ray Chaplin / Australia

It’s a funny thing about “logic” it usually prevails!

(Last Sunday’s) edition of HRU has a factual and pointed column by Dean Towers (full column here).

Not the first time Dean has stated facts and logic. If horseman (generic term) haven’t read the column — they should . I’m not going to rehash Dean’s prose. The issue — behind the text — is that without an omnipotent leader to bring logic to the industry and negotiate with racetrack owners to alter the conflicts that exist — nothing will change.

A racing “CZAR” is THE only answer.

— Jimmy Bernstein / Boynton Beach, FL

Is now too late?

With this landmark decision to allow sports betting in the U.S. it could very well spell the end for both harness and thoroughbred racing. Sure attendance might be up on track but only because most tracks will be the early ready venues where to go bet sports, but that will be turnstile counts, they won’t be in the seats watching the races or betting. Racing should have taken it upon themselves to rid their sport of the cheaters and drugs rather then turn what seems to be a blind eye to it and wait for the regulators to do it because government are the regulators and as cynical as it might sound I think this was their end game all along. Let’s face it, the government always gets its cut in gaming taxes as they do in horse racing, but there was mounting costs in horse racing for the government to get their cut because of drug testing and out of competition testing. What I would like to ask racing is, could you not foresee this coming, when slot-funded horse racing programs were cut in Ontario and many of the states one being Pennsylvania there is talk of cutting their slot program, how could horse racing sit back and not see what their future was going to be. Well it’s here now and the regulators in a 6 to 3 yes vote for sports betting is just about to hammer in the final nail.

— Bob Adams / London, ON

Excited about sports betting

I’m excited with the possibilities that sports betting brings to harness racing. This could definitely bring new blood and excitement to a fading industry if done properly.

They can have comingled bets, which would likely bring more fans. For instance, a Pick 10 for 10 cents or 20 cents where you have to pick five winners in harness races and five winners of designated sports games. The breakdown can be varied. Carryovers with no winners or payouts when there is only one winner. The prospects are unlimited! Wouldn’t it be nice to resurrect The Big M?

— Paul Vernon MD / Hallandale, FL