01/02/2017 11:47AM

Gisser: Recapping an interesting and profitable year

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Mark Hall/USTA
Wiggle It Jiggleit has done very well at Northfield Park and could start in the $200,000 Battle of Lake Erie on June 3.

It’s been an interesting harness racing year for me, perhaps the most interesting since moving away from my full-time participation in the business in 2011. I managed to put Captaintreacherous back in training by starting a viral Internet rumor; totally missed the boat on a Horse of the Year prediction; and actually made some money at the windows, despite seeing fewer races than usual.

I attended about 15 full cards of racing, mostly at Northfield, and got to see some great horses compete. While the obvious advantage of slots at racetracks is bigger purses, a major advantage that tracks need to exploit is that those large purses in big races draw big names. Wiggle It Jiggleit remained undefeated at the Route Eight oval, with his 2016 Battle of Lake Erie win over All Bets Off and Freaky Feet. He also won last year’s Carl Milstein Memorial for sophomore pacers. As has become the norm, a huge crowd was in attendance and a festive atmosphere took hold at Northfield that night. Let’s hope he stays healthy and continues to race at a top level in 2017.

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I also got to see Obrigado win the $180,000 Cleveland Trotting Classic at Northfield. And, had I chosen to, I could have driven just a few hours to see Horse of the Year Always B Miki, who raced in Ohio twice, at Scioto Downs and at Dayton. Slots have allowed Ohio’s racetracks to bring in top performers at least a few times a year, and while those of you who live in the shadow of the New Jersey Turnpike Exit 16W signs may laugh, since you get to see plenty of great horses all the time at The Meadowlands, for those of us in flyover country, it’s all good.

I also saw full cards at Scioto Downs, Tioga Downs, Vernon Downs and Running Aces, wagered on a few other full cards via computer and watched and wagered on a number of specific races throughout the year, including several Miki-Wiggle It matchups and the Hambletonian. My tally for the year was about $5,500 wagered and a profit of about $925. I’ll take it.

The Captaintreacherous fiasco has been detailed before, but some people simply won’t let me live it down, so I will share one of my favorite Abraham Lincoln quotes and leave it at that. As Lincoln famously said, “Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.”

And while you should not believe everything you read on the Internet, the success of the Harness Racing FanZone and podcasts Post Time with Mike and Mike and The Trotcast with Ryan Macedonio, continue to give our sport a fresher face than it has had in the past. While these shows are sometimes irreverent, they are never irrelevant and I hope the powers that be in our sport are listening to these relatively upbeat and modern opinions.

As we continue to look back at 2016, our esteemed editor, Mr. Giwner has asked me not to discuss the Horse of the Year or Divisional honors, but I strongly feel that when a pundit is as wrong as he was about his prediction as I was, it needs to be addressed. Not only did Marion Marauder surprisingly (to me) beat out my Horse of the year pick Hannelore Hanover for Trotter of the Year in a super-close vote (73-72), but the Always B Miki – Wiggle It Jiggleit battle on the pacing side was not as close as I predicted.

So, on the trotting side, it does not all come down to the Breeders Crown, and the Triple Crown, apparently, still means something to the voters, if not as much to the public. Maybe those voters, many of them media types who hold a great deal of sway in the industry, can start pushing the Hambletonian, Kentucky Futurity and Yonkers Trot and help make the Triple Crown great again.

I do think, despite numerous attempts to persuade me otherwise, that USHWA made a mistake sending out the notice of Resolve’s positive test to voters, and to give them a chance to change their vote. I understand there was nothing nefarious but about the notification, but it still gives the appearance that USHWA does not trust its voters to do their due diligence. I was aware of the positive and I think most responsible voters were too. Several talented writers who I deeply respect have tried to persuade me that this is acceptable (btw, I was voting for Obrigado even before the positive), but I simply disagree.

That’s it for now. Best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2017. Now go cash.