12/22/2017 11:14AM

Bergman: A holiday wish list for the coming year


With Christmas rapidly approaching, I have compiled a wish list for the items I would like to see, if not by December 25, then hopefully in the New Year.

It should come as no surprise that I want all passing lanes permanently shuttered so that traffic can start building on racetracks throughout the land before the home stretch. The thought of horses sitting fifth, sixth and beyond needing to be the sacrificial lambs is a turn-off that needs to be turned off.

I wish we could stop the overflow of prohibitively short-priced favorites. I don’t want us to lose an audience that like playing favorites, but I would want those people to get a bit more than 20 cents on their dollar so that they can come back and at least make a full wager. The thought of multiple race wagers that return sub-$10 prices is cringe-worthy and unfortunately there have been too many.

I wish racing secretaries could become more creative. Is it that hard to change the face of racing by revising conditions to make certain races are not programmed for the betting public that are guaranteed at the draw to be boring and shall we say decidedly one-sided?

I wish that those able to orchestrate a condition sheet would find the wisdom to understand that horses dropping in class are generally those that will become the next odds-on favorites. I wish that in the New Year and beyond, those directing the condition sheet put in an addendum or two that forces all horses dropping in class to draw outside posts with no exceptions. It hardly seems American that failure to try for a few races in a row should be rewarded with an easier race and an inside draw as well. I’d be happy if they got an easier field, but why should the betting public and those interested in competition be forced to swallow a boring race with a 2-5 favorite and no movement?

I wish that more of our betting races looked similar to the ones we are currently exporting to France on some given Sundays. Adding a quarter-mile to the distance and a few extra horses to the field has managed to give Yonkers an increased handle with win pools that have swelled to 20 times the norm for overnight events. I wish we could have more pacing races at a longer distance and more horses where at least 50 percent of the field is guaranteed NOT to get a check. I wish those in power could see that the sport would be just fine without “participation awards.”

I wish our sport and those who participate in it would be more open to the larger population. I wish the acts and antics of Simon Allard would be more appreciated in the coming years. A driver that reveals a Superman outfit after a race, points a finger at the competition, or most recently puts his arm behind his head to appear to be dozing off while jogging to victory, has a personality and a pulse. I wish this industry had more people with character that were willing to display it to the public.

I wish we could see more Invitationals carded by astute racing secretaries that offer the purses and promise of continuous action like we saw this season in the Spirit of Massachusetts, the Gerrity and the Dan Rooney.

I wish that horses like Wiggle It Jiggleit and Freaky Feet Pete will return again to the prominence and at times dominance they had exhibited through their careers prior to 2017.

I hope that Instant Racing is the near-term fix to all that has seen New Jersey drop to its current level. I wish that loyal horsemen who have accepted their fate and continued to persevere within the Garden State could be lifted up by a single act and not be forced to wander aimlessly in search of promises that may never be realized.

I wish good fortune to the retiring sophomores Downbytheseaside and Fear The Dragon, a pair that came to play each and every week and did so for two consecutive years. They trained and raced hard and certainly after two full seasons deserve a fitting new career chosen for them. I wish them two large families that can fill their hooves on the racetrack.

I wish trainer Brian Brown has an uneventful winter in Florida and returns in 2018 with the undefeated Done Well to take half the place left behind by his premier pair from 2017.

I wish that trainer Jimmy Takter might reconsider a planned retirement. It’s hard to fathom such a fierce competitor that showed up in the snow on Saturday, December 9 at The Meadowlands to win a race with the aptly named Not Afraid, would step aside. Here’s hoping that Takter’s fillies Manchego and Ariana G go on to greater success in 2018 and force Takter to re-think his next move.

I wish that the word trainer, at least when it appears on a racing program, would actually mean the person that sits behind the horse during the week. Perhaps the word stable would be a better generic term to describe what has become more commonplace and apparently acceptable.

And as a final wish, and I’m not so sure Santa is listening, but I would like to see a bet that would let the player have “insurance” on certain wagers, allowing for a refund should the horse break stride in the mile. I find it one of the most perplexing parts of wagering on this sport and there has to be a way for bettors to mitigate the risk in some fashion. In blackjack players are entitled to buy insurance if the dealer’s face card is an Ace. Is it too much to ask of Santa or some group with an even higher authority to give the bettor a chance to get a refund?

Good health, Peace and Prosperity to All.