Thoughts on PA, Adler, Sturman, not backing down and running before we could walk

HRU Feedback (2020-03-01)

March 1, 2020

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Show the PA politicians the people most impacted by the governor’s proposal

Has governor Wolf (PA) or any of those onboard with his idea of using dedicated horse funds for other purposes, visited (or been invited to visit) any of the entities that will be directly impacted by his proposal?

Get the politicians (pro and con) on site at farms (large and small) track paddocks, colleges, sales facilities, and more. Make sure they’ve access to the ins and outs of the business. Let these people SEE, first hand, the who, the what, and the how their decisions impact PA residents (tax payers).

A quick perusal of governor Wolf’s Facebook page, and you’ll see how much the man enjoys touring our state. He’s a Jeep driven’, minimum wage promoting, job touting, hot dog eat’n, photo op kinda guy.

So, find the best hot dog joint in the area and show the man a good time.

—Chris James / Sayre, PA

Response to Marty Adler

Sorry Marty (full story here), you didn’t hold a candle to Norm Lamkin at Windsor Raceway. “Dar day goooo” will stick in my mind for ever. I was at Windsor opening night. Ray Remmen, Fred and Shelly Goudreau, Greg Wright Sr, and all the other great Canadian drivers. I imported my horses into Canada from DRC, Hazel Park, Northville Downs to the great tarten track at Windsor. I was there for the great Cardigan Bay, the Saturday matinees, the untouchable Herve Filion, the Provincial Cups, and the $5,000 Saturday nights invitationals. Norm never missed a call. He was your great mentor Marty. But you’ll never be a Norm Lamkin. God Bless You for all you’ve done for the sport, but the new technology that has brought us the 1:47.2 pacing and the 1:49.1 trotting miles will never go away, and there’s more Tim Tetricks coming, more 1:46 miles coming on two turn tracks, with even more advanced sulky technology and casinos everywhere. So Marty, just sit back and count your winning tickets because nothing is going to change but get even greater in the sport of harness racing.

— Gregg Thatch / Lake Forest, CA

Crawling, running, taking and falling

A few of us horsemen were sitting around having a coffee the other morning a regular happening and if you added up the years amongst all of us we had 136 years in harness racing. Most of the conversation centred around the ‘60s and ‘70s and though the purses were low we all wouldn’t have done anything else and we would go out of our way to help a fellow horseman. I think we got used to the struggle and I guess we were at fault when the deal with the government for The Slots At Racetrack program came to be and the purses were increased. It was a win fall for us all but with a catch that we would later learn.

Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s every track was booming and attendance was way up. If you wanted a table at Greenwood’s dining room you had to call days in advance, Sunday lunch at Orangeville Raceway you had to get there early or you were out of luck, and at Barrie Raceway their dining room was always packed and on a Saturday night forget it. But at the same time the grandstands were filled even in the dead of winter and we horsemen, as they do today, battled the elements and yes we would complain but we loved it.

Then changes started happening and soon tracks were closing and attendance was non-existent as online betting allowed you to sit at home and wager and then the government pulled the slot programs at all the tracks. The industry was scrambling to survive and drugs in racing already part of the game really got rolling when the purses increased because of the slots and with the slots now shutdown the small outfits were forced to get out.

Different groups got together and sat down with the new government and a new program Ontario Racing was brought in for the next 19-20 years. All of us that were having coffee that morning agreed what is going on and what has happened to the industry. Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s the game was like an infant and was crawling but racing was great. Then, we were running through the slot years and we did nothing but take until it was taken back. And now with this new saviour in place we’re back and running and now doing hurdles, too but the game has not seen the demise of the small outfits because this new game only is for those who only care about themselves and one day will trip on one of these hurdles because they never learned how to walk before they ran and jumped hurdles.

Twenty years will go by in a blink of an eye and those who think another deal will be reached are in for an awakening and it will be the end of harness racing. All of us having coffee this morning all got out of the game but still live and breathe it and if whomever thinks that by letting the drugs rule the outcome of this new Ontario Racing program without expulsions of those breaking the rules this deal is the last deal and that ‘60s and ‘70’s infant never grew up and learned how to stand on its own two feet.

—Bob Adams / London, ON

Responding to Sturman

After so many disappointments in the poor officiating, oversite and lack of common sense in the marketing of standardbred racing in today’s racing, I had pretty much resigned to shut the door on this sport. After reading Brett Sturman’s Between the Lines (full story here) I am impressed that Brett used his platform to pull back some of the covers of what has become business-as-usual questionable racing.

I firmly believe those in charge dare not rock the money boat for fear what transparency would reveal to the public. There can be no other reason for the lack of reasonable oversight. I look at the recent purse increases at a certain 1/2 mile track across the river from the Meadowlands. What we see is a fundamental failure to understand their paying customers. Yonkers refuses change its business model where the customer’s needs are subordinate to that of their owners and trainers. If you have funds to share and your purses have already drawn the premium horses, trainers, owners and drivers, it should be a no-brainer to cut the hold or take-out of the wagers to show the customer that they are even being considered and I don’t want to hear about pick 6 or pick 10 low take-out. News-Flash: the most important thing in your business is BETTING CUSTOMERS, without their dollars all you have is a half-mile round slot parlor.

So what’s missing? An expectation of honesty, integrity and feeling that the game is not rigged and there is a possibility of actually winning. Without these things at the very minimum and adding new customers like millennials which expect them, we all can see games being played by the drivers, the end is coming soon.

In summary, the game is now rigged and doesn’t deserve our dollars as it is currently officiated.

—Dave Perry / Dearborn, MI

Not liking all the backing down

I am not liking all the backing down at every level. When I bring it up, I’m not sure how current rule reads. As a kid it was said that no one makes you take the top so you should go as far and fast as you can; later it was in compare to class you are in; nowadays the announcer will sometimes call them soft quarters or half. I am dismayed that when I brought it up to an on air talent at a major track they replied you have to do what it takes to win.

—Sallyann Hinckley / Bath, ME

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