04/18/2012 4:09PM

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.