Thursday, September 15, 2011

Guest Post on the Ontario Sires Stakes System


Harness twinkie @GregReinhart, a good friend of mine posed this question to the world of twitter tonight. As we bantered our thoughts back in forth on the matter my mind raced from one place to another. First to a hot topic on harness racing chat boards regarding yearling sales, then to @Pullthepocket’s blog from a day ago “Being Disruptive”.

The first theory that seems blatanly obvious would be the “superhorse”.  The likes of Somebeachsomewhere, Western Silk, Shacked Up, Peaceful Way, et al. were all very dominant in their respective years and the list could be added to easily.  As a result, the trickle down effect begins where fringe horses move down to the “easier” Grassroots dollars for a bigger slice of the pie.  This, in turn forces many owners of the Grassroots calibre horses to a decision, which further pushes them out.

This is where “Being Disruptive” is necessary.  All major sports have numerous review committees that meet on an annual basis. A prominent one would be the NHL General Managers meetings where they discuss, alter and adopt new rules for improvement. What the racing industry as a whole fails to ever do is “review” what needs improving. The OSS committee fails on this front as well. Why are there not an ample amount of horses racing in the Gold Series? What must we do to change and encourage more horses to enter them? Then there is the issue of  the Grassroots division costing a $500 starting fee. Have we forgotten the definition of grassroots and the reason we created this program in the first place?

What surprises me more is the fact Breeders have failed to approach the OSS program about this. Breeders have been crying foul about dwindling sales prices for years but can you blame any prospective owner? Hitting a homerun with a yearling is a one in a million shot, but buying a useful/profitable one should be obtainable. The average Joe can merely afford to pay basic training bills with the hopes the horse is able to pay for itself.  When they must further dish out thousands on starting fees for a “grassroots” program the break even point moves that much further away. This COULD be a good reason why the rich pay for the high-end yearlings and the rest sell for mediocre prices.

Harness racing continues to function at status quo circa 1940 yet no one in power seems to want to change that. Even sub organizations within racing keep going down this path. All facets of harness racing could use factions of them “Being Disruptive” on a yearly basis. Maybe then we will keep up with what the customer of today wants and what the participants in it need.

Nick Boyd - @ralphie9 on twitter - is an Ontario based trainer and driver.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's always been this way w/ the OSS. Remember the old days? A Worthy Lad going to Kingston to win at 1-20. It appears (as Nick says) there is one or two good entries, and the rest dodge them as much as they possibly can. I'd allow Grassroots to only all small tracks with a $17,500 purse, max, or make them for nw of "X" life.