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Speed Badges & Figs, and What's the Regulatory Crystal Ball Say?

Good morning peeps!

Earlier this year in New South Wales, greyhound racing was chopped, primarily due to animal welfare issues. Too many dogs were being euthanized after their racing career, or not able to race in the first place (an industry practice called "wastage", due to overbreeding), and live-baiting - a training technique that didn't sit well in today's culture - was exposed.

This week, after intense lobbying, the government allowed the industry to continue. But there are some major-league strings attached.
  • Capping breeding to 2,000
  • Reducing the number of tracks
  • Reducing the number of race events
  • Whole-of-life dog cycle management
  • $1,500 bond for every dog bred
All of the above will not be funded by the government, the industry itself has to pay for it.

I would offer that - perhaps in a couple of decades - something not dissimilar will be the regulatory framework imposed on harness racing, to be followed by the Thoroughbreds. As revenues dry up, so does forced contraction, and with more and more power to the anti-Seaworld lobbies (which in my view is inevitable), life-cycle management and "401k's for horses" (previously proposed to racing by economist Caroline Betts) would be very likely in some form.

Unless something drastically changes, I think ceilings on foal crops are not too far-fetched either.

h/t to Jennifer for tweeting the piece.

On Sunday at the Red Mile, pacer Always B Miki did what everyone knew he was capable of doing - pace a faster mile than the 146.4 race record. His 146 mile will probably stand for some time - if for no other reason that the circumstances have to be right to go this kind of speed, and it's rare to find them.

What was interesting about this mile for me, in contrast to the last assault at the world record by Somebeachsomewhere, was that two other horses beat the old record too, in Shamballa and All Bets Off. There was very little separation, and it shows just how fast horses are today. In fact, the field was devoid of two other stalwarts (harness racing's big three) who would've likely went faster than 146.4, as well.

If we're looking at speed figures per se, I believe Somebeachsomewhere ran the better fig because of conditions (and the fact it was him against the clock). Horses that have partners to race with go faster, as Miki had, or Nihilator had with Falcon Seelster 30 years ago. This is the same in thoroughbred racing, but at times I feel handicappers (and some figure makers) do not pay nearly enough attention to this pack animal tendency.

If we're talking performance figures, I still think Always B Miki owns that badge, but not for Sunday, because of his no-man's land journey in the Meadowlands Pace. That mile was stunning and I can't think of any horse who could pace 1:47 off that journey. To me, that race is legend, and signaled that we were looking at something pretty special, if not other-worldly.

Congratulations to Miki and the connections, as well as Dr. Hogan who helped put him back together. Sometimes we forget he had two operations which would've sidelined almost every thoroughbred in existence, and even some standardbreds, too. Miki is some kind of powerful horse with a massive constitution. He represents the sport of harness racing really well, and deserves to be known as this sports' fastest horse.

Have a nice Tuesday everyone.




Comments

Pacingguy said…
Considering the reputation of the greyhound industry, I think this was a good deal; fair to all.

You are right, this is going to come to horse racing. The question is how soon.