A Big Scratch & Other Cray Notes

Years ago now I went to a race in western Ontario - Clinton I think - where a trotter we had was in an OSS. We traveled quite a few miles, got lost and had a pretty frustrating trip. Post time for the horse was something like 1:45 and after asking someone on a dirt road for directions at about 1:20, we stormed to the track, arriving just before the off. After sprinting to the tarmac, we watched the trotter break stride, never get on stride, and finish last by about a hundred.

Fun trip!

Yesterday I was watching the interview with Michael Owen on TSN (so nice to see Woodbine in HD on the Sports Network, BTW). He took the red eye from London to Toronto - in his dashing suit - and took a $15 or so cab ride to the track to see his horse, Brown Panther, contest the Canadian International. He had to do TV work the next morning, so he would leave the track immediately after the race for London.

That, as we all know, puts my travel story to shame. Brown Panther was a runaway in the paddock and on the track. After racing a half mile or so before the start, he dumped his rider and was scratched.

Not only was that bad for Owen, it was bad for Woodbine and for the fans. Woodbine had to refund the wagers on him, and he was one of the favorites; fans got to see one less contender contest the big race. Despite that, the race was fair, and the handle on the card was up from last year's edition.

Speaking of Michael Owen - and injecting another silly story - I bet the former soccer star was treated well during his brief visit to Woodbine. Partially because he plays soccer, not hockey or baseball, but I think it's more than that.

I was watching 30 in 30 yesterday. It was about disgraced sprinter Ben Johnson and his relationship with Carl Lewis. As most who follow track know - certainly Canadians do -  Canadian sprinting was re-engerized by Donovan Bailey, in 1996, after that debacle. He won the 100 in record time, was the world's fastest man, and won another gold in the relay in Atlanta. He was big news.

Anyhow, that got me thinking of a story. Back in the late 1990's, or early 2000's I took an afternoon off early in the year to go golfing. I went to a rather cheap course ($35 or something) in Oakville that tended to attract hackers. It was no posh club and in fact I think the course is now a subdivision. After hacking it around a bit, I am approaching the fourth tee after catching up to the group ahead. The group of two includes, well, you guessed it, Donovan Bailey. I am sure he knows we know who he is, but we just talk about the course, our golf games; a normal conversation that we'd have with any other group.

As we tooled around the course I was amazed that no one - not one person, even after the round - approached him for anything. It was just another day at the golf course. I guess equally amazing, is that this dude who was worth a pile of money was playing the same course as me, and seemed to think nothing of it.

That's so Canadian. It's just kind of the way it is. Live and let live.

I hope, despite the outcome, Mr. Owen comes back with that nice horse of his.


Nice handicapping tweet by Dave. This is so smart.

Want better security? Better protection for betting and horses? Sign this petition. 

Great post by Pat Cummings about run ups.

People don't comment much on blogs anymore, since twitter and facebook came around, but I was happy with some of them yesterday on my last post. Thanks for commenting everyone.

Taris was as large as a horse could possibly be on Saturday.

One comment, from Barry Meadow, on the petition above caught my eye.  Barry has a way with words. "Owners and trainers are simply suppliers of the product (horses). In any business, when you find one of you suppliers cheating, you simply never use him again. Why these cheaters keep getting away with little wrist slaps is a mystery to me."

Have a nice day everyone.


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