Throwing in the towel
After spending a lifetime in harness racing I’ve had to make the hardest decision and that is it’s time to throw in the towel. When I first got into the game it was exciting and moderately rewarding and I always looked forward to the yearling sales looking for that big horse that I could build the stable up from. I’m now in my last quarter of my life and now it’s time to enjoy my grandchildren, lord knows how much enjoyment I missed with my own children racing somewhere every night and weekends. I am taking my own advice that I gave to each of my coffee shop pals that made the same decision and got out of the game ahead of me and that is don’t dwell on what went wrong but think about all the new things you’ll be doing. There were games played when I got in, after all, there was money at stake — not as much as today but money is money. Catch drivers were still a speck on the map and later would become prominent and because catch driving is a business I don’t have enough fingers and toes to add up to how many times I was left scrambling for a driver after listing a driver because he wanted to drive the horse then would take off for another. Then we have in my mind what is the major culprit that has destroyed the game and that is the AGCO. I took their rules of racing to someone who knows about this legal stuff and weeks later he told me the way it is written is that loopholes abound for those who cheat with drugs that they will win in court should it go that far. So there we have it, I’m done, adios thanks for the memories. Tomorrow I wake up to something new.
– Bob Adams / London, ON
Let’s not forget how viciously Gural was torched for his efforts to clean up and save the Meadowlands. Although I’ve taken my wagers to thoroughbreds because racing is more consistent (outcomes more often match form), there’s still excitement in a pace or trot raced competitively.
For a guy who sits on millions earned by smarts and risk to “beg” for stake sponsorships is inconsistent with everything he has accomplished (full story here). If funds don’t sustain stakes; don’t beg, slash them. The fact is the same players show up year end and year out for the big money grab. Don’t even mention the half-hearted and embarrassing elimination heats. Redistribute purse account monies to overnight racing. Yes, stakes and Grand Circuit races bring out the best. On the other hand, cleverly written overnight races (remember invitational handicaps), might have great appeal. Maybe the reality of highly funded stake races have run the course. Don’t be embarrassed. Be bold. Let ’em go. Let’s see the stars race every week for good money, rather than big pots that don’t have sustainable funding.
– Vincent Lee
Let’s get something straight
I am truly perplexed by tracks, such as the Meadowlands, not having their video feed lined up with the wire. The outside finishing horse has an edge of about half a head on the video feed. I remember sitting on the finish line in the clubhouse where you could actually call a nose finish. A new fan watching a race on a video feed probably feels cheated when it appears that they have a winning ticket, only to find out that their horse was beaten. I’ve overheard newbies at OTB say that they moved the finish line or that the photo was altered. To say the least, some of these people will never bet on another race and tell their friends that harness racing is fixed and that they were robbed. There is no reason why, with today’s technology, this problem couldn’t be dealt with!
– Paul Vernon, MD / Hallandale Beach, FL