04/18/2012 5:09PM

Questioning Everything


Trainer Casie Coleman is one of many in racing using Twitter | Photo by Michael Burns

Once a year I revive the column Clyde Hirt made famous in Sports Eye – Impertinent Questions. It gives me the chance to get a dozen or so thoughts off my chest with some quick shots.

Isn’t it about time that the Meadowlands bumps up their pick five guarantee from $20,000 to $30,000? I’m all for these guaranteed wagers, but when you are consistently eclipsing the listed promise by $12K to $15K, it is time to push the envelope a bit. History has shown that higher guarantees typically lead to higher pools. Perhaps two weeks from now when the Championship Meet starts it would be a good time to get it underway.

Speaking of guaranteed wagers, was Yonkers happy with the opening week results from their renewed $20,000 pick four guarantee on Mondays and Tuesdays? While Monday must have come up short of expectations at $19,883, Tuesday checked in at a healthy $23,985. Though the Monday number came in about 10 percent higher than the previous four Mondays, one has to wonder why the guarantee didn’t garner more interest. Why did Tuesday’s guarantee flourish?  Maybe the $5,999 payout from Monday helped entice a few more players for the following card.

Can we all just get along? Apparently we can. Checking the post times from last Saturday (April 14) at Meadowlands, Yonkers and Woodbine, I noticed that none of the first nine races went off within three minutes of each other. Wouldn’t it be nice if these tracks worked together to keep that trend going? At least on a night like June 7, when the Somebeachsomewhere (Mohawk), New Jersey Sire Stakes (Meadowlands), and Art Rooney (Yonkers) stakes will be taking place at the three different locales on the same night.

Why is there a whipping issue in harness racing? You read that the Meadowlands may change their whipping rules and it boggles the mind. Are you trying to tell me that the top drivers at the Meadowlands are hurting horses with their whips? That’s complete hogwash. These are arguably the best drivers in the country and none of them are doing anything to hurt horses. On top of that, how much is a little flexible stick with a small snapper going to hurt a 1,000-plus pound horse?

Are the rule changes simply to satisfy people who never go to the track and never wager on a race? If so, why are we kowtowing to them? If drivers head to the track without whips will any of these people start wagering or buy horses? Doubtful!

As a gambler I like the whipping rules the way they are. Let the judges police the sport. That is their job. As an amateur driver (albeit possibly a bad one), I can only remember one instance in my 100-plus drives where I might have whipped excessively and I came back to the paddock and the horse had nary a mark on him. As someone who has been in the paddock thousands of times and involved in the sport for 17 years, I can only recall hearing of a couple of instances of whip abuse. Hardly seems like a reason to change the rules to me.

Who is right and who is wrong in the battles over slot revenue in Pennsylvania, Ontario, and potentially other states? The model of slots and racing has clearly worked for the racing industry. But 50 percent of marriages end in divorce.

Are the Levy and Matchmaker series broken? The top horses have dominated and more often than not handicappers are starring at short fields and 1/5 favorites. After reading a bunch of farfetched solutions, the answer is actually much simpler. Each division must fill out an eight-horse field. If 43 horses sign on for a leg, only 40 get in (8x5). In the first leg the top money earners from the previous year would get in. In subsequent legs the top point earners from the previous week(s) would race, with any horses omitted from the previous week given preference to get in. Since Yonkers is already carding other high-level races, the leftovers from each week of the series get written into another top condition (Winners Over $25,000 in last 6) to ensure they get a chance to race (since they paid money to get into the series). This system guarantees full fields, better wagering opportunities, and weeds out the dead weight.

Which race will be a better wagering event, the Levy Final or Consolation? With New York’s ridiculous coupling rule, Foiled Again and Atochia will form an entry, and depending on post positions will be first or second choice with Real Nice. Both entities figure to be 6-5 or lower on the odds board. That doesn't sound like a good betting race. I guess we should hope for a rare outside draw for the likely favorites in order to make it interesting.

Is anything better than Twitter for getting up-to-date information on the spot? Yeah, some people post things that are irrelevant, but if something important is going on and you are following a bunch of people on Twitter, you’ll know within minutes. That is how I found out about the passing of the legendary Dick Clark. You can follow me @DRFHarness. Some notable trainers in the mix include Ron Burke (@RonBurkeRacing) and Casie Coleman (@fastlane111 -- pictured above). Sign up, check it out and follow us.

Isn’t the casino at Aqueduct so much nicer than some of the other VLT facilities in New York? The floor plan is open, the place is bright with sunlight coming through multiple windows throughout the facility, and it felt like a casino. You can actually see the track from the casino, but good luck placing a wager unless you want to take the hike to the “other side.” Couldn’t Aqueduct have placed a few SAM machines on the track apron or just outside of the casino area to give fans of both venues some options?

What happened to www.horseplop.com? I need a new source for a quick laugh.

What does the word “expert” mean? Dictionary.com says, “A person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field.” Way too often I see selections and analysis by people who barely qualify under the definition. If you don’t know what you are talking about, don’t talk.

Al Courtney More than 1 year ago
A whip is a tool that enhances the performance of a horse in the stretch.For that reason is should be regulated.How can a handicapper get a honest run for his/her money if they look at last weeks running line and the horse closes like a freight train cause the driver used the whip on the horse.This week the driver doesn't touch the horse!How is the handicapper suppose to get consistency if the drivers can use it when ever benefits THEM. How many times have you seen a driver/jockey whipping a horse down the stretch to SLOW IT DOWN!
W.G. More than 1 year ago
Yonkers needs to seriously consider moving the Art Rooney to mid-to-late April, where it can be the first major stakes event of the year for three year old pacers. It probably would help get that race considerably more interest than having it on the same night as the Somebeachsomewhere and a week before the North American Cup elims.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not a bad idea. But there are other issues with the Rooney, too.
Don More than 1 year ago
Casie Coleman are you serious? Let me hit you one time with that whip! We will then ask your expert (ha ha) opinion. Did you ever hear of SPA? Dog racing is already disappearing in many states because of their pressure, New people going to live racing dispise watching horses being whipped. If no whipping is allowed, the horse will determine who is the best and has the most guts. People want to wager on the horse and its ability. I guess you wouldn't like an equal playing field now would you?
Doug Kendrick More than 1 year ago
My friend owned, trained and drove some horses on the Freehold Meadowlands circuit. A couple of times he used a Hall of Fame catch driver at the Meadow- lands and one time his horse came back bleeding from whipping. Needless to say he never used that guy again. If you'd like to go off the record I could tell you the drivers name.
georget More than 1 year ago
Maybe not change the rules per se but but Dan Dube stands out as a whipper and slasher
Wayne Haehner More than 1 year ago
She looks like Bob Horner
Jimee63 More than 1 year ago
Interesting that you show a picture of Casie Coleman. As recent rulings have shown, Twitter isn't the only thing she uses!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm someone who wagers on horse races and would love for the whipping to be abolished. In fact, the future of the sport probably depends on whipping to be abolished. When people find out that I love horse racing, that's one of the first things they ask me. And no matter how many times I tell them that it doesn't hurt the horses, they still say "Well, I could just never enjoy that" If no one is whipping, no one is at a disadvantage.
Inside T. Pylons More than 1 year ago
Regarding Big M not increasing their P-5 guarantee.....It's pretty tough to expect them to get it right when the person probably in charge of it used "inflation" as a reason to raise host fees/takeout on their product. Regarding the whipping issue...The people in charge of racing care more about PETA/activists than they do their bettors because nobody in charge bets. The Levy races are pathetic for betting because the people who call the shots on stakes races/series rules don't bet. The coupling of horses in NY, which the people in charge thing is a rule designed to protect the bettor is actually a rule which is detrimental to the bettor. All of this because the people who make the rules don't bet.
Marianne More than 1 year ago
How much do he catch drivers get as a minimum at the Big M, Yonkers, etc.? Also, if drivers only get 5% of the winner's share of a purse, does that mean that guys are getting $45 or $50 at some tracks like CalExpo?
Derick More than 1 year ago
Tips aside, all drivers only get 5% of the take. So, if the purse is $2,000 and you finish 5th, you get $5.