Mark Hetherman discussed a topic today in his blog piece, which is always good for debate. In effect, the question: Why don't drivers show more emotion after a win?
I am always amazed at the difference between jockey's and drivers in this respect. I watch Hollywood Park sometimes and when a jock wins a race he is usually pretty pumped. The winners circle looks like a party, with hugs and high fives. When the jock goes to weigh out, the scales dude always has a big smile and pats the jock on the back or gives him a high five and the jock is equally happy to receive it. The sceen shot ends usually with the jock looking at the camera and giving viewers a big thumbs up.
At Mohawk conversely, the winners circle tends to look like a gathering of people comforting someone who just lost their dog. There is a smile, but it is virtually silent. The drivers are speaking to the trainer, getting grilled on how the horse performed, and there is usually a complete disconnect from the fans.
I was at Mohawk last weekend, and after an adept steer and win, Randy Waples brought the horse to the winners circle. As he was walking back, I said jokingly "you still got it Waples" (I chat with Randy so it was not like I was a drunk fan who just lost my shirt on him and was yelling at him or something), so he did what he usually does - flashes a smile, says hi and thanks, and moves on. This is very rare, however. It is pretty much the opposite of the Hollywood race aftermath most times, with the driver walking away (on the side of the horse which shields him from fans).
Why? I don't know.
As for showing emotion after a win on track, I think there is nothing wrong with that either, unless it is ridiculously over the top. A fist pump is seen often in thoroughbred racing. Overseas when a horse wins a big race in trotting, the driver usually lets out a huge yelp and waves his whip around like he is a child who just won King of the Mountain. Why not, he took care of his horse all week for this, he drove the horse well, he has beaming owners happier than heck in the winners circle waiting for him. He should be happy he won.
In harness racing we rarely see this at all. I remember a few weeks ago, Phil Hudon was in the lead and he was working on his horse, giving it his all for the win. When a horse went by him late, he dropped his head in a shrug, showing he was completely pissed that he lost. I liked that. Not only does it tell me he tried, it puts a face on a game where the public at times (whenever a horse loses) tends to yell "he stiffed him; this game is crooked." It's not crooked, and by showing one is happy with a win and mad at a loss it helps illustrate that these guys are as mad or happy as a bettor is with the result.
I hope we see more of what we see in thoroughbred racing on the harness side. Show you are happy with a win and sad with a loss. If you do it in a class way, which shows your happiness, but does not denigrate your opponents, it can be a wonderful thing for the sport.
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