HRU Feedback (2019-12-29)

Art Grey is so right

Reading (last) Sunday’s HRU with my morning coffee you could tell that Art Grey is mad and upset and I agree wholeheartedly with what he wrote (2019-12-22 Feedback here).

Today’s UTRs in the 300’s to 400’s with trainers that for most of their time in the business were nowhere close to those numbers, is that not a clue to authorities? Why does the media knowingly keep the truth out of the headlines by showering certain people with accolades of how good they are for the industry all the while these same people employ repeat offender trainers suspended for drug use. Harness racing reminds me of the movie Goodfellas where they have special privileges while in prison eating and drinking the very best and when they get released they get right back to business as usual. This is the same as our authorities and how they punish the bad seeds of our sport. A trainer gets days and horses move to an approved trainer yet they never leave the barn of the suspended trainer just the name in the program has changed. I have always believed it was a privilege to belong in harness racing now I don’t want people to know I’m involved because of the backlash of being painted with the same brush as the cheaters.

— Bob Adams / London, ON

You are they

Long before there was a HISTORY CHANNEL, there was a TV show called YOU ARE THERE. It was a great show for history buffs. They re-enacted famous historical events and viewers learned how and why things happened. In harness racing, there is another history show. It is called, YOU ARE THEY. No, you won’t find it in any TV listing, or podcast or series, but it is out there and it is very real. It is also a history show. It is a history of our cleverest horsepeople telling anyone who will listen – how to fix harness racing, over and over and over again. Virtually every idea we read from the horsepeople, time and again, is spot on.

‘THEY need to…’ and ‘The DECISION MAKERS need to…’

THEY need to think about the gamblers. THEY need to face the changing technologies. Other sports get people to come to their events despite it being available online or on TV. How come “their THEY” can do it, and “our THEY” cannot? That is because THEY have a THEY. Harness racing does not have any THEY. The racetracks are individual business entities whose number one focus in self-preservation. The USTA only has the authority to be a record keeping entity, and with 5 dozen individual decision makers, the chances of any major changes happening are nil. There is no THEY. There is only one possible future THEY. It is the horsepeople themselves.

The horsepeople CAN organize and create a commission. The horsepeople CAN finance a serious marketing initiative. To be as blunt as humanly possible, if horsepeople do not organize to create a unified business entity, THEY are @#!$%& idiots.

— Gil Winston / Manalapan, NJ

Richard Young on partnerships

I was reading Ron Gurfein’s take on how partnerships have increased the price of yearlings exponentially (full story here). On that I agree, yearling sales on the best bred animals have sky rocketed. This has increased breeders profits substantially which is a good thing.

The overall effect on the surface appears to be positive. But is it? The harness racing business has been in slow decline for a long time, the number of owners reducing fast. The tracks are slowly disappearing. It’s my belief that this business is now so concentrated that 30 maybe 40 wealthy owners virtually control the stakes races. Seeing the same owners winning almost all the major races cannot be a good thing. Over and over the interviews are with the same owners. Partnerships are the main cause. Partnerships of maybe up to 5 people compete with other partnerships. Yes it’s driving up the prices, but eliminating new owners who do not wish to have partners. It’s driving them out of the business. It greatly reduces new owners into the business.

Also partnerships formed in advance of the auction with the breeder as one of the partners is common. We can’t even tell if the prices are real.

I was once considered a primary player. I purchased horses in the $200,000 range. It was not uncommon for me to purchase three up to five horses. I was also bidding on horses that I didn’t get. I was someone auction companies and breeders loved to see at the auction. Now I don’t play.

Those horses are out of my range. I am no longer a major player. I may purchase one or none.
If I didn’t own Put On A Show, I doubt I would still be in this business.

Sure, every once in a while a lessor bred horse falls thru the cracks and becomes special .Thank you, Bettors Wish.

So people who don’t agree with me will point to the exception but let’s face it, it is the exception. And, even when the exception happens, don’t be too surprised if it gets bought up by one of the partnerships.

— Richard Young / Boca Raton, FL

The Hi-5 before Christmas

‘Twas the week before Christmas; like bees in a hive,

A buzz was surrounding the jackpot Hi-5.

Last race of 11, Woodbine Mohawk Park;

Mandatory payout night; a true shot in the dark.

The Rev took the lead as the field left the gate,

Euchred on his heels, Regal Son content to wait.

The quarter pole loomed, and moving overland

Filion and Regal Son assumed command.

“26.4” read the timer display,

As the favourite paced on,

To Euchred’s dismay.

Parked and not clearing, Jamieson’s horse

Was surrounded by closers unleashing full force.

Still in front at three-quarters, what did Regal Son find?

Ken Middleton declared “A wall of pacers in behind!”

Filion needed the wire, not A Bit of Luck,

Who launched down the stretch like a slap-shot puck.

The favourite prevailed, the die was now cast:

Who were the top five, from winner to last?


The combination required to survive

And share in the jackpot that grew though the seasons

Drawing bettors for 180,992 reasons.

If Santa were a betting man, even time and again,

Mobine railbirds might have heard:

“On Regal Son! On Bit of Luck, and Croft Bay N!”

If railbirds heard the next part, they might have to factor

That Santa picked the Hi-5 as well as the triactor:

“On Sossys King Kong! On The Rev!” he may have urged,

As handicapping and results converged.

With reindeer in harness awaiting nearby,

Victorious Santa would take to the sky,

Above highway and farmland, suburb and thicket;

581 smiles for each 20-cent ticket.

Even for those who didn’t cash, no need for self-derision;

Betting in the New Year, we start with 2020 vision.

— Melissa Keith / Lower Sackville, NS