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Main singing the "8-Hole Blues" at Northfield

February 22, 2016
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Michigan-based horseman Steve Main told harnessracing.com the six-hour ship from his farm in Byron to Northfield Park on Tuesday will be hard, considering all three horses he entered drew the outside post 8 in their respective races. Then again, this trip will be no different from the ones Main had taken over the past week, as it seems he and the eight hole are as much together as peanut butter and jelly and salt and pepper.

Since Feb. 9 and including his trio on Tuesday, Main-trained horses have drawn post 8 eight times in nine races. Only once did one of his horses land something inside the outside, and that was Dreamer's Can Fly on Feb. 17. Drawing post 1, Dreamers Can Fly won the $4,200 race in gate-to-wire fashion in 1:59. Only two of the other five starters earned a check, with a third and fifth translating to $902.

"It's unbelievable," Main simply stated. "I don't even know what to think."

Northfield Park's draws are done by computer, and even the track's executive vice president of racing Dave Bianconi feels Main's pain.

"I don't root for or against anybody and I am always impartial when it comes to the computer draw for posts, but Steve's bad luck has made me wince a bit," said Bianconi. "It would be nicer if it came in a mixed bag. It's really unbelievable that he can draw virtually nothing but the eight hole for more than one week. Every race draw is done completely random. It's like going to a roulette table at a casino, it could be black 20 times in a row."

Despite his poor luck, Main has been able to maintain his sense of humor.

"I've never had an argument in the race office and get along with them in the race office, but I just don't get it," Main said with a laugh. "You know, before the draw for Tuesday I came in the house and told my wife Cindy we got three more eight holes, and then said ‘April Fools.' But then I started getting all these texts that we really did get three eight holes."

Bianconi stressed that Main drawing poorly is just a coincidence and has nothing to do with any Michigan/Ohio rivalry.

"Oh no, trust me. They think I wear a Michigan uniform around there," said Bianconi.

Main noted he doesn't even have a choice of his horses coming up sick with the "8-hole blues," and being scratched.

"If you scratch from the eight hole they assign it to you the next week, so it doesn't do me any good to scratch," said Main. "I had two race really well last week from the 8 hole—one of them finished third—and both finished very well. I was looking forward to this week and they would both be classified well, and what happens? They both draw the eight hole again. It's getting frustrating."

While the computer may not have been kind to Main with the draw, Bianconi didn't help much when he slotted Main's three races as 11, 12 and 13 on the card. Which means Main leaves his farm at noon and won't return home until 4 a.m.

"It seems I'm always in those late races like 13 or 14, so I'm ecstatic when I'm in the eighth race when I can get back home by one or two o'clock. Now I won't get home until about 4 a.m."

It's not only been tough at the draw for Main, but the past seven months has been tough on him personally. Last July 5, while he was taking a 2-year-old onto the track, the horse was spooked by a deer and Main was dumped to the track and seriously injured. He spent time in the hospital recovering from a collapsed lung and six broken ribs. A few weeks ago, Cindy slipped and fell on the ice and needed knee surgery.

If there is an consolation to Main it's that Northville Downs will open on March 18, so he won't have to make the ship to Northfield. He might also consider making trips to the craps table at a casino, laying it all down on a "Hard 8."
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