Jeff Gural, multi-gazillionaire owner of the Meadowlands, has decided to turn the screws another time in pursuit of a good racing product. He's requiring a signed waiver which will allow a racing investigator to enter a barn and out of competition test. Testing - at his expense - will likely be done in Hong Kong, with supertests. If you want to race at the M, you sign, or you race somewhere else.
Some folks have said that this might hurt entries, and it's KGB-esque. They might be right.
One thing though: It is certainly not groundbreaking.
A few years ago Woodbine wanted a similar waiver, backed up by the ORC which does OOC testing. It's really the same playing field that Ontario currently races under. Interestingly enough, when Woodbine required this, it triggered a (very poorly attended) strike at Woodbine by the then horsemen group on record, the OHHA.
It seemed - despite the bluster - that the rank and file at Woodbine didn't have too much of a problem with it. Not long after, a new horsemen group took over (COSA) and racing went on just like it always had.
Since 2008, Woodbine has been fairly healthy, with little labor strife. Handle has been up, and field size has been good for punters. The horsemen group and Woodbine have worked together on several items. It's clearly not perfect - that's pie in the sky - but it seems to be a good relationship.
I have a feeling that similar may occur here. This because horsemen groups underestimate the willingness of regular horsemen that generally agree with the policy.
And customers don't mind this a bit. Go take a look at Ray Paulick's story about Oklahoma tracks accepting entries from Frog Juice trainers. The chances of that happening under this policy are a flat-out zero.
Gural's comments (as usual) pull no punches. You can read Bill Finley's interview with him today at Harness Racing Update. It's a pdf file.
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