Thursday, December 13, 2007

Call a Vet & Charles Dickens

Cot Campbell, President of Dogwood Stables said something today in a Bloodhorse commentary piece that isn't lost on those of us close to the game.

Interesting observation: Dogwood has one trainer who is 78 years of age, another who is 70 years of age, one who is a middle-aged European, and three who are relatively young. The vet bills of the first three are light and very reasonable. The bills of the latter three—who came up in an age when trainers were more reliant on veterinary care—are often out of sight.

Which ones have the soundest horses? They’re all about the same.

With slots money adding amazing amounts of Benjamins to purse pools, why can't owners make more money? Drivers are doing well. Brian Sears might pocket $600,000 in driving checks this year with less than 2000 drives. Vets? I don't see too many crying poor. Vet suppliers? Have you seen the price of medication for our equine friends? Someone is making money.

In the old days, like 1990, horses seemed to race more, be sounder, be tougher, and cost less - much less - to care for. Trainers had an art and could make a horse sound, by some foreign concept known as horsemanship.

Cot has it right. We need less pharmacists and more trainers in this business. I hope our young trainers remember this the next time they call the vet. If they don't, they might find that there is no one left to pay the vet bill.

Chester adds dates, up to 140 from 95. And purses are rolling. The Open will go for $42,500. Good news........ I guess. More money for purses tends to be a good thing, but for handles, I doubt it. In fact, it will probably end up hurting us more than helping us. Chester takes horses away from the flagship track in the sport - the Meadowlands. Less horses there, less handle. Less handle there and our sport loses fans. I know of no one who plays Chester and I can't see them starting. But I know several who have cut their betting back at the Meadowlands due to shorter fields.

There is a massive disconnect in harness racing. What looks to be doing well actually isn't. Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities starts "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times". He could have written it about harness racing.

On the flip side of that, with 45 more dates it means some drivers will make some serious coin. There was a chat recently, an interesting one at It was submitted that some driver, in the very near future might actually drive 5000 races in one year. With Chester adding dates, this becomes closer to reality.

This might explain why this week's standardbredcanada poll, "Which is the greatest on track moment of 2007", Tetrick's record is barely holding on to second place. People seem to realize 1000+ wins in harness racing is expected, not special now.

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