Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The One Man Gang

Horseplayers are a passionate lot. With judging, where judges are often times perceived to be too close to the participants, this is usually apparent. All you have to do is visit any chat board, thoroughbred or standardbred, for a glimpse of that. Usually, however, this never goes beyond a gripe or two, or maybe a letter.

Well on Harnessdriver.com, the preeminent chat board for harness racing, one man has taken it to another level. "Timebomb" a Windsor Ontario racefan has been on a crusade to get the judges of harness racing in the province to call infractions based on the rulebook. If it is in the rulebook and it is not called (the fines and suspensions are published via the web at Standardbred Canada) he is making sure people know about it.

Some snippets:

Well the ORC should have made a LOT OF CASH for whipping fines tonight

Race1....Tim Tetrick whips between the legs 3:01 on the replay

Race 3...JODY JAMIESON once again whipping away between the legs of FEDERAL FLEX
watch the replay at the 2:55 mark

Race 5 Jim Morril Jr at the 3:05 mark whipping between the legs of YELLOW DIAMOND

Race 10 Dave Palone at the 3:05 mark whipping between the legs GINGER and FRED

Race 13 Chris Christoforou at the 3:05 mark whip between the legs SPAGO HALL


Those are the easy ones....a few others likely exist. Do any or all get called lets tune in tomorrow to see.

Want more?

Date Issued : 07-JUL-2009
Total Due : 500.00
Violation Occurred : Race 1 at WOODSTOCK RACEWAY on 07-JUL-2009 horse LEXIS STAR

Where are his days? And I believe its another $800 due for the other two fines that were .....well lets say SET ASIDE.

Now if this was oh lets say AL CULLEN he would be out for a long long time.

Not only is he keeping tabs on, what he thinks are non-called fines, he is taking it a step further:

Well Rob wasn't in today so they put me through to RUSS FERNADES> We had a good 20-25 minute talk about what I perceived as the Judges not making the calls on WHIPPING BETWEEN THE LEGS. He asked for race examples so I gave him a few that I could remember off my top of my head as I sat waiting for my flight out of Pearson this morning.

He has also called two other judges by my count and has called the Ontario Racing Commission's head office several times to talk to whatever head honcho he can find.

It is fascinating to watch the thread if you are a harness fan. To read it you can at Harnessdriver.com, but you have to sign up first.

He has also gone so far to post videos of the races in question. I have watched many of the races he speaks about via his posts. He is absolutely right almost without fail. The use of the whip that is going on is not in the rulebook. The judges I believe do not call all of them because of two reasons 1) They are so voluminous they would be stuck in paperwork all night and 2) Drivers appeal fines and cost the ORC money.

My solution? I don't really have one, but for starters I would simply make the fines more penal, and I would also ask them to cover the cost of an appeal if the appeal fails. I have no idea if that would work, but $300 fines don't seem to work either.

Who knows, maybe Timebomb, "the one man gang", will achieve what the ORC and many others would like. Regardless I find it absolutely fascinating to watch a racefan try to change harness racing, one whip infraction at a time.


Scott said...

How is something as obvious as whipping between the legs open to appeal? If it's on tape and the evidence is clear, then it's a done deal. Force anyone who appeals to lodge a $1000 bond which they'll only get back if the appeal is successful, or at least, not deemed frivolous. Authorities are there for a reason - to be respected and enforce laws! The horsemen should not be the tail wagging the dog...

That Blog Guy said...

To be fair the judges, it is hard to catch all the whipping infractions just from watching the race. To catch them, you would need to go back and watch the replays several times to check all the drivers in the race. That would mean they would have to put in extra effort to do their job.

Being that apparently is too much to ask for (it shouldn't be), perhaps they should be required to randomly draw pills with race numbers on them and require the judges to review three races a nice with a fine tooth comb to check for whipping infractions.

dana said...

Wow, go Timebomb!

We need some of those over in our neck of the woods... thx for sharing!

NewHorizons said...

Maybe this is why the "no whip" rule should be implemented? Personally, I think these horses know their jobs, and I've seen many trainers use "voice commands" or "line tapping" to encourage more speed out of their horse, I don't think the whip is necessary. Jockeys argue that they need their whips to sometimes keep a horse from veering into the path of another, more of a safety tool and I'm thinking this must be the same for harness racing? But I've seen horses come back to the barn with "welts" way below the level of the shaft of the race bike, as well as drivers whipping the shaft of the race bike during the race. I've seen multiple, severe welts on a horse, and this horse eventually placed 6th or 7th! Too many drivers are getting away with incorrect use of the whip and maybe you could implement the rule that once the infraction occurs you automatically finish at the back of the pack...period!

Pull the Pocket said...

Pacing Guy,

If you notice the times of the video that he shows they are well after the race. This is when Mohawk shows the close up of the stretch drive on the big screen and on TV. He is seeing the infractions on the close up, not during the race. They are pretty clear to anyone watching, imo.


In the UK if you are caught with an infraction is not the fine bigger than $100 or so? I think they are prety hard on keeping the rules in check there, are they not?

Scott said...

That's fine, I understand some of these aren't obvious to the naked eye - but much of the worst skullduggery in racing has never been visible to the naked eye. These guys get paid to do a job and to create proper stewards' reports (I assume they do that over there), they need to go back over the tapes several times anyway...

PtP - whip bans in the UK for thoroughbreds are usually a two or three-day ban rather than financial, which to be honest is rather soft. You're in a Group 1 race, it's close but you're using the whip as much is allowed - do you keep whipping in order to win the race, collect £10k as your prize and take a three-day ban or do you let someone else beat you? No-brainer.

NewHorizons said...

FYI, if you go to Twitter and look up AlexBrownRacing, you can follow the Ontario Livestock Exchange Sale which is occuring right now in Kitchener and see all the standardbreds going through the ring. (Pictures included)

Cangamble said...

If whips do indeed make it safer for horses who veer out of control and become potentially dangerous, why is it a rule that the first five starts a new apprentice jockey makes, he carries no whip?
If anyone is going to have such a problem in racing conditions it is the new apprentice.

Scott said...

so they learn not to rely on it... It's like giving a gun to someone who is untrained - it sounds like the solution to all problems, but actually until you're trained to use it properly, it's more of a liability than an asset.

NewHorizons said...

Scott~I agree with your comment. Jeremy Rose whipped his mount, Appeal to the City, several times in the face, causing hemorrhaging around her eye...He was suspended for six months for that. The steward's ruling also stated that Rose would be responsible for all vet bills for the care and treatment required for Appeal to the City. Rose also had to attend and complete an anger management course approved in advance by the stewards. Rose said that it was an accident and that it wasn't intentional. I find that hard to believe.

Anonymous said...


Tell me JODY isn't whipping that horse of his below the shafts or more precisely BETWEEN THE LEGS

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