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NA Cup Elims Promise Thrills and Surprises

June 3rd 2008

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Well, here they are, the North America Cup elimination fields for Saturday's big night at Mohawk.
 
1 BADLANDS NITRO
2 SANTANNA BLUE CHIP
3 KEYSTONE HORATIO
4 HANDS TO YOURSELF
5 SHARE THE DELIGHT
6 SCAPE GHOST
7 UP FRONT HANNAHSBOY
8 TRADE EDITOR
9 SPACE WALK

2nd Elimination

1 ART OFFICIAL
2 LONESTAR LEGEND
3 LEGACY N DIAMONDS
4 SOMEBEACHSOMEWHERE
5 MUCHO SLEAZY
6 FRANKYLUVSMEATBALS
7 ON THE BRINK
8 IDLE HOUR
9 SHADOW PLAY

3rd Elimination

1 STONEBRIDGE MAGNUM
2 DALI
3 RUDY REDNOSE
4 SAND SHOOTER
5 FOUR STARZ MOXIE
6 WARNING ZONE
7 DALEY DEPOSIT ONLY
8 DEUCE SEELSTER
9 LENNON BLUE CHIP
 
Our Share the Delight finds himself in the first elimination, Somebeachsomewhere is in the second elimination, but to me the most intense competition figures to come in the third elimination where Dali takes on Lennon Blue Chip and Deuce Seelster and Daley Deposit Only and Sand Shooter. What do y'all think? Based upon these eliminations, shoot me your list of horses you think will make it through to the final. First three in each race make it in along with one fourth-place finisher chosen by draw.

In Chris We Trust: A Great Summary of Simulcasting Fight

June 3rd 2008

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Chris Wittstruck has a great "Racing and the Law" column this week which you can access here from the United States Trotting Association. It's a great summary of the current fight over simulcasting, a topic which, I admit, I know precious little about. Chris is a great student and educator about these sorts of things so I urge you all to take the time to read this. It helped me and I suspect-- I bet!-- it will help you.

The Babies are Back! June Means Baby Racing at Big M

June 3rd 2008

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Good morning. Here is the link to tomorrow's baby races at the Big M, marking the start of yet another season of big dreams and big disappointments. The big name to watch on Day One is D Liteful Hanover who is related to whatshisname, you know, that Donato fellow. It ought to be really fun.
 
We have a couple of 2-year-olds that shouldn't be too far away from making their Big M debuts. We have an Art Major colt, a Bettor's Delight filly, and a Four Starzz Shark colt. How about the rest of you? Anyone have any horses you want to complain or brag about? Let me know. We don't want First Over to only be about three-year-olds, after all, do we?  

Big M Leaders Blasted for Lack of Presence

June 1st 2008

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I received this afternoon an email from a prominent and important member of the harness racing community, someone whose opinion I respect, who authorized me to publish these comments about last night's card at the Meadowlands. I am withholding his name because I think, fairly, he doesn't want his employers/organization to be involved in this critique. As always, I invite the targets of this commentary to respond to it-- I will post the response right here as an entry as well. Here goes, from the email:
 
"Last night was one of the five biggest nights at The Meadowlands and certainly THE BIGGEST OF ALL for the New Jersey Breeding industry. The card featured both the New Jersey Classic and the filly associate of the race. They are respectively the two richest races in the state for New Jersey sired horses.  The undercard was exceptional as well.

"The entire SBOA of New Jersey executive committee were there in addition to Tony Abbatiello and Tom d'Altrui, the two gentlemen for whom these races are named. Where was Dennis Dowd,the person supposedly in charge of racing at The Big M? He was nowhere to be found. Where was Tad Stockman, the director of racing at The Meadowlands? My spies tell me that he was there but stayed locked in his office all night. The absence of the leaders of the racetrack at a night such as this IMO gives the message that they don't give a damn. If they don't care, why should the ordinary fan care about going to the races?
 
"Moreover their absence is IMO a direct insult to the breeding industry in the state and those who to some degree keep racing alive in New Jersey. I'm sure that if golf were on the agenda or if there were some politicians whose [butt] he could kiss Dowd would have been there. That's about the only time he is seen around there. One thing about Chris McErlean, everytime there was an important event as well as for most of the ordinary overnight cards - He was there. Not only was he present but he would roam the place speaking with patrons and horse people alike.

"I think The Meadowlands is the most obvious example, but is only one of many situations which demonstrate the lack of leadership we have in our industry.
Where do we get talented people who also care? I'm afraid I don't have the answer to that. I wish I did."
 
Anyone care to respond? Rebut?

The Morning After, Sense and Sensibility

June 1st 2008

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Good Sunday morning to you, friends. What a night of racing last night.
 
Let's start this morning with the New Jersey Classic because of our good friends here, some of the connections for Harley D. Hanover (HDH) and Daley Deposit Only (DDO). HDH came in third after challenging for the lead in the stretch and DDO finished way back after a torrid first half getting to the lead. I'd love to hear Mark and Trevor chime in with their impressions of the race-- if they are willing. If not, I completely understand. In the meantime, let's give props to McCedes, son of Mcardle (of Perretti Farm fame). That was a great race and a strong finish to get home in 1.49 and change.
 
Before we leave the Meadowlands, anyone want to say anything about Rucker-trained Soul Chaser's 1.47.3 performance?  How about the Miss New Jersey Final? I missed that last one because I was watching the colts go at Mohawk.
 
And, speaking of those colts, let's turn to the Burlington. Dali looked good. Art Official looked very good coming in second in that first division. In the second division, well, I just don't know what to make of Somebeachsomewhere's performance. He looked effortless in 1.51.3. Is he so good that no one is willing to challenge him? Or were the other top colts in that division-- Santanna Blue Chip, for example- simply biding their time for the NA Cup. I just don't know.
 
Finally, Keystone Horatio beat Deuce Seelster in the third division. Lonestar Legend didn't race as well as I thought he might. Nor did Legacy N Diamonds. But I was genuinely surprised by the performance in the first race-- it wasn't a Stakes race-- by Genuwine, who whipped up on our Share the Delight last fall in Lexington. Genuwine, a legit stakes horse, simply didn't fire when asked. I hope he is okay.
 
Well, that's my pre-coffee spin this morning. What do y'all think? Send me your pleasant surprises and keen disappointments from another cool night of racing last night.
 
 

From Chris Wittstruck on USTA licensing

May 31st 2008

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Good morning. A few days ago our blogging friend Mark Allen asked a question about the role of the USTA in licening-- or re-licensing-- people within the industry who get in trouble for one reason or another. I couldn't answer the question but I knew that Chris Wittstruck, USTA columnist and lawyer and tribune for the sport, would. So I asked him to respond and here is his gracious reply for which I am grateful:   
 
"First, I am not an employee, officer or director of, or spokesman for, the USTA, and thus nothing I say can in any way be construed as the opinion of the USTA or its officials.
 
"Second, Article IV of the USTA By-Laws sets forth the composition and rules of a District Board of Review; a body that can suspend or expel members for violations of Association rules. Moreover, Article I, Section 3 of the By-Laws permits rejection of an application of one..."whose experience, character or general fitness are such that participation of such person in harness racing will not be consistent with the best interest of the sport or whose membership would be detrimental to or reflect adversely or unfavorably on harness racing or upon the Association."
 
"Thus, the USTA has with much deliberation both established the standard and put in place the apparatus to carry out what Mr. Allen seeks. What's missing? Though the President may refer an application matter to a Board of Review, Article IV, Section 6 contemplates that there be a formal complaint lodged by a complainant setting forth a statement as to an alleged violation. If Mr. Allen knows of an individual in violation of Association rules, he may avail himself of the procedure and lodge a complaint against the alleged offender. If there be a "gatekeeper" role for the USTA, it is dependent upon somebody objecting to admittance of someone at the gate."
 
 

Top Five Races of the Weekend? This week, it's easy

May 30th 2008

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Happy Friday-- I apologize for the late start. That crazy day job....
 
Anyway, it doesn't take too much searching to pick out the top five races of the weekend-- and this weekend we ought to extend the list to at least seven by turning the three Burlington races into one "entry" here.
 
1. The three Burlington divisions. Races 3, 5 and 7 on the Mohawk Saturday card. Should be great.
 
2. The New Jersey Classic. A very even field for a lot of money. Race 8 at the Big M on Saturday
 
3. The grossly under-publicized 5th race at the Big M on Saturday, featuring Mister Big, Mr. Feelgood, Total Truth, Bono Bests and South Park Hanover. Hey, even if the Big M doesn't want to spring for more than $42,000 for this "winners-over" race it deserves better billing than it has received.
 
4. The Open Trotting Classic at Mohawk-- Race 8, which features Corleone Kosmos, Great Success, Arch Madness, Green Day.
 
5. The Classic Oaks at Mohawk-Race 10. Susies Magic, Falls for You, Godiva Hall.
 
Did I miss anything?  

More from WEG on How to Watch Races Online

May 29th 2008

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Just got this nice email from Kim Neelands at Woodbine Entertainment Group with more information on how to watch Mohawk/Woodbine races live on the Internet. Here is what she wrote:

Horse owners do "have an oppurtunity to open a Non-Wagering Account. This type of account takes twenty-four hours to be activated after intial set-up. So I encourgae you to get that to us as soon as possible so we that he will have the oppurtunity to watch his horse. They must submit the ORC license, proper indentification and the account application. The application can be found here

From the JOIN HPI tab you will find the application. Our contact details are listed at the top of the application. Recommended: If you have access to a scanner, you can scan documents and email them to us. This is the fastest and easiest way as fax transmission usually makes copies to dark and unreadable."

Trainer Tug of War over Tug River Princess DQs Filly

May 29th 2008

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Here is harnessracing.com's exclusive story on the decision by the Delaware Harness Racing Commission to disqualify Tug River Princess from a $100,000 breeders final last month because of an alleged "fraudulent" trainer listing.
 
From harnessracing.com's story: "According to the ruling: 'Mr. Warwick listed himself as the trainer of the horse Tug River Princess for the 8th race on April 10, 2008 at Dover Downs. Mr. Warwick did not have Tug River Princess in his care, custody or control for almost two weeks prior to the race on April 10, 2008 at Dover Downs and admitted that he did not know the exact location of Tug River Princess the week of the race. The judges rule that Mr. Warwick was not the actual trainer of Tug River Princess for the April 10, 2008 race at Dover Downs and fraudulently listed himself as the trainer of the horse for this race.'”
 
The hope here is that this emboldens other racing commissions to take a closer look at trainer transfers (or false trainer transfers) and to better enforce trainer responsibility rules. And the question is: do these sorts of things happen more than we think? I believe so but want to hear from you.

Who Should Replace Sharbaugh at USTA? (updated)

May 29th 2008

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Now that we know that Eric Sharbaugh is leaving his executive position at the USTA at the end of June let's ruminate a bit over which candidates we believe are well-suited to replace him.
 
It's not an easy task. Ideally, the new executive vice president would be independent-minded and would receive from the USTA Board and President Phil Langley a wide swath of authority in which to implement change at the Association. But it's hard to be confident that this will occur. If I'm wrong about this, overly pessimistic, please let me know.
 
All that said, however, I have come up with my five top candidates for the post. They are, in no particular order:
 
Dean Hoffman. He'd bring immediate credibility to the position.  
Cammie Haughton. He's underutilized at Yonkers.
Moira Fanning. She's knows everyone and everything.
Judy Davis Wilson. She's simply the best.
and
Dave Brower. He's smart, likeable, knowledgable and diplomatic.
 
None of them are racino-folks. None of them are USTA insiders. All of them care deeply about the integrity of the sport. All of them are smart and hard-working and honest. If you agree, tell me why. If you don't, send in your own candidates. I'll make sure the powers-that-be at the USTA see our lists.
 
UPDATE: I have received some fairly strong privat eemails from some of you criticizing me for this list. Just so I'm clear: I am not predicting that these folks WOULD or COULD be selected based upon the prevailing politics of the USTA. I'm just saying that I know these people, and others, to be creative and hard working. And of course if you don't like my list feel free to submit your own here!

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