Thursday, September 18, 2008

Change is Coming

Three heaters? Whipping?

Change seems to be coming.

Today in the Jugette, a three heater was needed. If we show three heats on network TV I think that would earn us about, oh, no fans. "I can't believe those horses are raced three times in a day" would probably be said by more than one new viewer. It's not unlike the uneasy feeling that I get when I watch steeplechases. I close my eyes over almost every jump. Anyhow, back to reality - The Jug folks are letting it be known that going to one final for the Jug is open to them. Andrew Cohen explored this fact on his blog. We have spoken about this here before and there are numerous comments at Andrew's site.

Next up, the change banner is lifted by Hall of Famer John Campbell. He writes to the Harness Edge mailbox that changing the whipping rules is "... a responsible measure to ensure the human treatment of the horse."

Further, breeding expert Norman Hall replies on the Harness Edge to the Harness Horse Association release (which came out hard against changing the whipping rules) by saying "And the beat goes on - or so it seems with OHHA defending the right of drivers to beat the back off their horses. The safety issue is a red herring that stinks of self interest."

Whips banned in Kentucky?

Last up, Jeremy Rose who received a three month suspension for misusing the whip recently had this to say about his suspension (thanks to Equidaily for the link): “I still think it’s a big plus for the industry,” he said. “I think they have to make those strides to make it main stream. I think they’re doing the right things by changing the (whipping) sticks a little bit and being a little harder on us with hitting a horse too many times or too hard in the wrong areas.”

I have made my thoughts known on whipping. I don't think it is a be all and end all, but it does seem to be for another place and another time. I personally think we let the wink wink, nudge nudge of feet on the hocks and whips where the sun don't shine go on for far too long, and now I think we are paying for this. I do not know who is right and who is wrong in this argument, but I stand behind my original opinion: This is going to happen. It will change. It is not an argument anymore, it is a done deal. We move at snail like speed in racing so the chatter of various self-interests will probably deafen the landscape for a decade, but it's time to move on. The argument is over.


Alan Mann said...

I can't emphasize how much I'd be opposed to eliminating the heats. That's what's turned the Hambo from a unique and sacred event into, as far as I'm concerned as someone who primarily follows the flats, just another big race on a 16 or whatever race card at the Meadowlands. If you're worried about who's gonna watch on TV, then why not just move the Jug there too and run it as the 17th race that day? Unless, of course, there's some compelling safety reason involved here. Is there a history of injuries to horses who raced multiple heats?

Anonymous said...

As I mentioned elsewhere, the Jug is successful as is and 50,000 people enjoy it every year. Leave it be.

what we should be doing is make our Breeder's Crown like the Breeder's Cup like it should have been in the first place and get that on TV.

That being said, unless they change the recall rule in the United States to the way it is in Canada (race goes on and the money wagered gets refunded) for the horse hopelessly outdistanced before the word 'Go' is given, we are probably best to keep harness racing off of TV. Letting people see how we hose the gambler in this type of situation will certainly keep them away from the game. People don't mind loosing money, but want a fair chance. Seeing your money go down the tube an 1/8th of a mile before the start is not fair.

Anonymous said...

If Art Official goes favored in the next heat off of that performance I'm going to try to bet my house at the OTB ...

He was kind of flat in the Cane final and after that, how can you not bet against him?

Think he'll go favored? I hope ...

Anonymous said...

Why do fans of heat racing have zero compassion for the welfare of the horse ? They always comment on the excitement of the format for the fan, and no one denies that, but the HORSE SIMPLY ISNT BRED FOR IT ANYMORE. We need fans, but most importantly we need to protect the real heroes.

Pull the Pocket said...


I am one fan that has noted that opine. It is a different game today. In the 3YO colt division it is brutally competitive. Just this year we have three WR holders knocking heads. Heats are a concern for me in this, although no smart people with some sort of data have proven it wrong or right.


Anonymous said...

You know what eveidence we do have, the fact that all fans are waiting on edge to find out the status and health of all yesterdays warriors. While Beach heads to Lexington we all wonder if anyone has anything left to go face him, that's a said statement, so much for taking solace in the cliche "live to fight another day".

Anonymous said...

Considering how much warming up a horse does for a single race, I think the arguement that a standardbred can't handle heat racing is wrong. I am not suggesting we have many heat races, but an occasional race with heats should not be a problem. It is just a matter of adjusting the training that week.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect, you cannot compare a heat race with a warmup mile.
Actually let me correct myself, if the horse we are referring to is SBSW, and you win your first elimination in 1:51 and a piece, yah that was a warmup mile for him, but he is a freak.
Yesterdays eliminations were not about finishing in the top three, SBC and AO never had a chance after they heat they ran.
Once in a while, sure, but it has no place when the pretige of such a race forces the hand of owners and trainers who otherwise would choose to avoid putting their horses through that. SBSW had nothing to gain from a Jug win, his stud value is going to be a record, Jug or no Jug. The other owners unfortunately had everything to gain.

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