I hate to start the day on a bad note. I like to start out on a happy one. I check my email, have a coffee, read some news. It is usually a pleasant beginning.
This morning, my email wasn't really too pleasing.
"I will not spend another freakin' gambling dime on this sick sport" was the text of an email I received. This harness bettor was speaking of yesterday's news, and the entries for the weekend at the Meadowlands.
First, trainer Ken Rucker is back racing at the Meadowlands.
From a USA Today news story, dated June 2006.
Rucker's horse Highland Pride A, which won the eighth race at the Meadowlands on April 30, tested positive for erythropoietin, or EPO, a banned performance enhancer. The horse is barred from racing until it produces a negative test.
The positive test was the first at the Meadowlands since the New Jersey Racing Commission began testing this March for EPO — a synthetic hormone that increases the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.
What happened, and what the story was about was in reference to this:
The Meadowlands allowed Rucker to enter horses only after signing a contract agreeing to sanctions should any of his horses test positive for specified medications. The track said he breached the contract with the positive EPO test last month and barred him. Rucker is appealing that decision.
Now, without any explanation to customers (that I have seen anyway, please let me know if anyone has seen any news on this), he is back. Saturday night he is listed on two entrants.
This got the harness racing chat boards buzzing. In my estimation, angry posts out number positive posts by about ten to one.
Then, to fill out the exacta, harnessracing.com reported Eric Ledford will be licensed this week to race again.
"Eric Ledford's [NJRC-imposed] suspension was up some time ago," NJRC deputy director Mike Vukcevich told harnessracing.com. "Since he was on suspension criminal-wise, we took the position that we would not license him…until the probation period had terminated. He went to court last week and we've been supplied with a copy of a court order indicating that he is no longer on probation so we do plan to issue him a license sometime this week."
Some background on what occurred in 2006.
If the chat boards were buzzing with the Rucker news, they flat out became a beehive after this news.
So what we are left with is this:
Ken Rucker can now race at the Meadowlands.
Eric Ledford (it appears) can race there as well.
I am not a lawyer, so I do not know what details if any will be released by the Meadowlands telling us what is happening and why, in addition to what we know from the above. It's harness racing, so frankly I do not expect any news or explanations to our customers and bettors.
It sure would be nice to hear something though. Because one thing I am sure of: People seem very angry.
And the only thing worse than an angry customer is no customer at all. We are becoming experts at that aren't we?
My personal choice is made. I will be withholding all of my betting of any racing at the Meadowlands (and New Jersey racing) until I feel this issue is addressed to my satisfaction. It is my right as a customer.
If anyone from New Jersey racing in power reads this blog and you want to give me a response I will gladly print it verbatim. Please include in your response an opinion on how allowing these two people to race at the Meadowlands is a good thing for harness racing.
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