In Ohio, thanks to streaming of fair races, the eyes have it

by Trey Nosrac

The Eye is the window of the human body through which it feels its way and enjoys the beauty of the world. – Leonardo da Vinci

“We can see ‘em all!”

The expanded menu of live streaming of fair racing has dramatically enriched the past two harness racing seasons for my partner and me. If you can’t see your horse race, becoming involved in ownership is a long shot and staying involved is less likely.

A state fair racing circuit is always a factor when we decide to raise our hand at a yearling auction. A robust series of fair racing is our backup plan, an insurance policy from equine destitution. A solid fair racing circuit found us racing in Pennsylvania for several summers.

However, we do not live in PA. The weekly drive to distant fairgrounds was a trek that occasionally involved six hours of driving to watch a 2-year-old trotter break at the starting gate. Sometimes we traveled to watch half a race because the infield had a panoply of rides, trucks, stages that blocked our view. Once, I thought our trotter disappeared into a hot dog truck.

In the past few years, this logistical problem has found a solution in some racing states, including ours.

The Buckeye state has been a rollercoaster ride from the depths to the heights. One of the advantages to racing in Ohio is that the state offers many levels, Sires stakes racing, the Buckeye Stallion series, commercial racetracks that offer racing for young horses, and an expansive fair racing menu.

Ohio is not the only state linking owners and fans to distant fair races each year. In the year 2021, owners and friends can watch your trotter as you sip tea in Timbuktu or your pacer while you sip Port wine in Patagonia. What a great addition to our game! Kudos to all responsible.

And additional kudos to announcers and video workers who are doing an outstanding job. The quality of the feed seems to improve daily. More and more video stream presentations have guests. Last night I saw a nice historical clip about the town and the fair inserted into a streamed race program. The races are archived and available for replay. Racetracks are also providing video feeds of qualifiers.

A few weeks ago, I logged in to watch a fair race in a town I never knew existed. The announcer explained that I could access a racing program with the tap of an icon. It is not inconceivable that soon we will be able to wager fairs online. For owners, bettors, and fans, presentations keep getting better and better.

As this trend continues, and as the number of viewers increase, the obstacles to purchasing an out-of-state horse and racing in another state should lessen. While purse amounts versus competition will always be essential factors for yearling customers, the ability to see your horse race and the quality of the presentation will be a factor that should take on added significance in the coming years.

Personally, and perhaps pathetically, Trey would buy a yearling and race anywhere if the money was okay. If my eyes could follow some of the training, races, and qualifiers, I’d play in Mississippi. Heck, if I got an excellent Mississippi racehorse, I would plan a road trip to one of the few states I have not invaded.

Speaking of invading, as these windows open that allow qualifying, fair racing, and even training sessions to eyes anywhere, why can’t we open those windows to other countries, virgin territories, and distant lands?

Never in the history of humankind could Ahmed in Afghanistan purchase a share of a racehorse and virtually participate. Never before could Natasha in Russia follow us on her phone.

I have a friend named Patel who hails from India. He is a quiet young guy who works on my computer. He told me recently he is returning to India. One day he visited my home to get me back online, and when he did, I babbled a bit about our sport. I showed him a rare race replay from a fair where a trotter of mine remained on stride. He watched respectfully and asked a few questions.

Now imagine if I infected Patel with the harness racing virus. When he returns to his mother country, harness racing could spread to multitudes. I don’t think Patel can afford a yearling, but I am willing to wager that every country has millionaires who are bored and billionaires looking to find a new outlet. Why can’t we be that outlet?

For those looking for entertainment, now, as Roger Huston bellows – “They can see them All!” Well, almost all of them.

And that is a beautiful thing.