Monday, December 17, 2007

It's Monday

Monday mornings are never fun, but when I read what Equidaily's headlines are, it always seems to kick start the day. He (or she) really scours for racing news and is passionate about the game. It shows.

Some of the recent news around the racing world which made me think today:

Handle down at Philadelphia Park this year. Handle was down 9% so far this year while purses were up over 100% from $30M to $63M. The piece states that slots were supposed to help horse racing, not hurt it. This is one thing that I never understood by the deal makers who wrote slots deals. Because a feed man, or a driver/rider, vet, or a trainer or an owner makes more in purses we are supposed to measure that as a success. How in heavens name can we say slots expanded racing simply because a feed man or a vet made more money? That is not expanding racing, that is income redistribution. That's what we hang our hat on in racing, and that is truly sad.

article in an Aussie newspaper about Hong Kong, with some quotes and messages I have never read. I was pretty amazed at how much cash goes through the windows, and how they have kept the game so clean. When money is available, one thing we know throughout World history - there will be people to try and get it by nefarious or criminal means. The culture there seems to demand that this element is taken seriously. And anything else is simply not tolerated.

A jockey quote: "It's probably not my position to comment on it too much but those things happen in life. Wherever there's money there's always going to be that temptation or whatever. Here, it's only complicated if you make it complicated. "You can just breeze through and enjoy it, take it in your stride, be professional and ride consistently. If you want to be successful, it's not hard. You've just got to do it right.''

Just have to "do it right". What a novel concept.

Randy Moss explores the Fallon trial in the UK, on his NYRA blog. His take I think goes hand in hand nicely with the Hong Kong story. Giving a suspension for a ride, or a positive test is one thing, proving it in a court of law is another. I can't comment a whole lot on the trial, as I have only followed it through the news, but I can not disagree that after the "big evidence" of the ride on Ballinger Ridge, the case seemed to test my credulity. Racing does have a pile of cash bet on it, and we have to make sure people's hard-earned money is protected (as well as fellow owners), so in principle I agree that criminal trials should be an option for those who harm it. But I would hope they are carried out a bit better than this one was. People's reputations are at stake. We can't prosecute people on the sole thought that doing something is better than doing nothing.

I finished this month's Trot Magazine (a Canadian harness racing magazine put out by Standardbred Canada.) It was one of the better issues I have read in awhile. Interesting stories.

One: Aaron Waxman, a 28 year old businessman from Brampton, Ontario, and part-owner of Wilson winner Dali, had some great thoughts on racing. It's not a new idea, but his thought about taking money out of slots and placing them in a slush fund needs to be heard more of. I think we'll do a piece on that soon. They partially do it in Alberta now. We need it all over.

Two: Concussion, a harness racing star in the late 1980's, found a new life being a show horse, and the beautifully written story was wonderful to read. The care some people go to for their horses is always a good read. Especially near Christmas time.

In a moment of levity, the picture on page 4 of the Trot for Kids section was classic. An 8 or 9 year old girl playing with her cat, dog and horse (Armbro Vermont), all decked out in Christmas cheer brought a smile to my face. That picture is harness racing.

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