Saturday, November 23, 2013

Harness Rules and Regs: I Never Really Thought About It Like That

I, like many of you as harness fans, was a little perplexed about judges fining "laying back in the bike". I know it's a little bit of showboat, and I figure it probably doesn't matter much in the grand scheme of things. However, a great point was made in this month's trot magazine. 

Laying back in the bike truly does spread the field out more. In a sport where heads and necks decide races, getting an advantage like is shown below (obviously when the horse is on the front end on a half mile track) is definitely something (can see the big difference with Tetrick driving the nine, versus Ron Pierce beside him)

Also in that piece, I love the juxtaposition with the old school and the new school.

When the commission before the Little Brown Jug announced kicking, whipping and laying back in the bike were being called before the races for the week began (in the drivers meeting), some took that for what it was, and some bitched.

Driver Scott Zeron:

“On Jug Day and that whole week, we were all told there’s no leaning back in the bike, even if you have a strong hold on your horse and you might be leaning back, that might be subjective to getting fined. And they had said that in the races, I want to say, with over $15,000 purses, that the fines would be doubled, so it’s a $500 fine... so it’s quite serious. I mean, I was sitting straight up,” said Zeron.

Scott is one of the new school drivers. At the Jug last year, Sam McKee threw him what everyone thought was a softball about the whipping rules in Ontario. Most of the old school drivers hated the whipping rules in Ontario and spoke up about it. Scott, when asked if he had trouble adjusting to the line in a hand rules in Otario said "no, I learned to drive that way so I have no issue". Softball not crushed.

Conversely, Tim Tetrick said the following:

" Tim Tetrick spoke out on Jug Day during a session of the USTA Speaker Series. When asked about making changes to the format of the Jug his response was, “The only thing I’d like to change is the judges. They always want to torture us for leaning back in the racebikes...I don’t drive dangerous and I try to put on a good show for the fans that support me. Like yesterday, I got fined $500 for leaning back in the bike and that’s not right."

Tim Tetrick as most know, was fined for kicking Captaintreacherous, three times (so far this year). If this was the NFL and he asked officials to be replaced, should be allowed to clothesline or horse collar, he'd likely be on the next plane to the CFL.

One driver shapes his styles to the rules or directives in a certain jurisdiction and does it with respect for the sport. The other driver bitches about it. Scott has embarked on a career south of the border (he is driving at the Meadowlands this weekend). If my marketing peeps down south at racetracks want someone to be a face of their track, who knows what to say and how to say it, you might have a good one with Scotty.

The Trot article is interesting and worth a read. You can here.

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