Monday, April 6, 2009

Good Points, Mullins II & Spencer

Rebecca commented below a point which we hear on harness backstretches virtually everywhere:

"Seeing as you have brought up the Mullins thing I want to throw out a theory. Does anyone think that the rise in handle on Harness racing at Woodbine can be slightly attributed to the fact that finally after so many years of the T-breds looking squeaky clean that now that their dirty laundry (i.e. Mullins, Dutrow etc)is getting out and looking really bad, maybe we look like the better option? At least we have a history of this crap and some semblance of real punishment. (Aka the Robinson ban from WEG.) Just a real far out thought but I have followed T-breds very loosely from a fan perspective for years and can never remember so many drug issues actually making the news."

It has long been said that harness racing is dirty as compared to thoroughbred racing. This, in my opinion, is totally false. There are bad people in each of the sports, but in harness we are in your face about it, as over the years we have had to be. Could you imagine in harness racing what would happen if someone was caught in Ontario with snake venom? Sayonara baby. You are done for ten years, or more. Anyhow, it has always stuck in my craw that harness gets a bad rap. It is unfair. We are just much tougher and more transparent.

Ray Paulick has a post on Mullins and his infractions here today. The comments are pretty vitriolic. And not just from bettors, from industry insiders and fellow horsemen.

Who writes a harness racing blog post containing social media, rock concerts, getting spat on, and placenta as the main themes? Kelly Spencer that's who. It is a strangely clever and interesting story. Grand River is lucky... I think :)

3 comments:

malcer said...

I don't think that either side (harness or thoroughbred) is profiting from problems of the other, to the broad public any scandal is a scandal in "horse racing", hurting the image of both sports. No one decides to become a racing fan, then chooses what type they will follow, and existing fans are much more likely to change the amount of interest (and bets) than decide to switch over to the other side.
If harness numbers developed favorably over the last years (especially when compared to the thoroughbreds) the reason might be that your side seems to have tackled its problems much earlier and is now starting to reap the rewards, whereas ours is still in the early stages of coming to grips with the dungpile amassed over the decades.
Over at Railbird's, you mentioned a number of penalties handed out in cases comparable to Mullins at Woodbine Harness, and the Mullins case shows just how far behind American thoroughbred racing is in this quest.

Allan said...

As a side note. When I get friends telling me harness races are fixed and not t-breds, I ask them "Who has more control over a horse, the guy behind the horse or the guy on top of the horse?" That usually shuts them up.

Here is a question: Do you think the fact that in harness racing the owner may be the trainer and/or driver may make people think it may be more crooked (the logic being if you own the horse yourself you don't have to answer to a trainer or owner)? Mind you, I am not suggesting we change the rules; I think we have owners training and driving their own horses as a throw back to our agrarian origins.

Pull the Pocket said...

Allan,

I think the old days with $200 purses is the main reason, however, you make a good point. I was at the ponies once and a driver was shaking the reins and a few people thought he was pulling the horse back. This is a newbie thing of course, but pertinent.

Trainer/driver is a good point as well.