01/07/2016 8:45PM

Giwner: Current events and looking ahead

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Can Mission Brief break the 1:50 barrier in 2016?

Less than a week into 2016 and I’m already looking ahead. There are many issues I’d like to see addressed and plenty to look forward to in the coming months. Plus, since I haven’t written a column in a few weeks, let’s touch on a couple of current events including the tragic fire at Classy Lane.

Cooperation in the industry Our sport runs into roadblock after roadblock because the too many different factions have too many varied agendas. I want to see more moves like the Meadowlands trying to avoid post time conflicts with Woodbine. Let’s work together for the greater good.

Have you noticed how well tracks like Northfield and Pompano have handled in recent weeks when not hampered by competition from numerous other tracks? Or the large fields at Meadowlands recently? It is plain to see that there are many dates on the calendar when too many tracks are competing against each other and watering down the product as well as decreasing an opportunity to get noticed. Wouldn’t it be great if tracks (at least those in the same state or area) could cooperate to produce a strong year-round circuit rather than going head-to-head? I fear that without cooperation things will lead to another word starting with “c”, contraction.

Classy Lane – You have to feel for the horsemen who lost their livelihoods and the owners who came away empty-handed after the devastating fire at Classy Lane Training Center in Ontario. In total, 43 horses (39 standardbred) lost their lives including millionaire Apprentice Hanover.

DRF has made a $2,500 donation to the COSA (Central Ontario Standardbred Association) GoFundMe page and I certainly urge anyone with the means to join the cause.

[DRF HARNESS LIVE: Garnet Barnsdale's live report on the tribute by Woodbine Racetrack for the horses lost at Classy Lane]

Amidst the sadness, it is refreshing to see once again how the sport can rally behind a cause to raise over $130,000 (as of Thursday night) to support the victims. It is amazing what we can do when working as an industry rather than individuals.

Mission Brief – Who doesn’t want to see potentially the fastest trotting mare in history? You know there is a sub 1:50 mile in her tank and here’s hoping that she comes back sound and ready for a huge year.

Older Pacer Showdowns – If there is a division that needs an infusion of new talent it is this one. This year will hopefully see showdowns between Always B Miki, Freaky Feet Pete, Wiggle It Jiggleit, State Treasurer and many more. Perhaps the first get-together will be for the Ben Franklin at Pocono Downs? Or will we have to wait for the July 16 Haughton Memorial at Meadowlands? Whatever the date, I can’t wait.

Globally comingled pools – If there is one single thing that could allow the sport to survive on its own, it is the worldwide comingling of pools. Imagine pools that are 3x to 5x the current size and the potential to lure new customers. Yonkers Raceway has made some strides in sending its signal to the French PMU and has hinted at some commingling in 2016. Here’s hoping it happens.

Illinois Situation – I’m curious to see how harness racing at Hawthorne catches on, especially with the absence of racing from the second week of February into May. Will the track lose momentum after its Jan. 8 to Feb. 6 mini-meet? It is nice to see that the track is offering a low 15% takeout on the pick 4 and pick 5 when they open on Friday.

Industry News & Notes

►        Meadowlands post time will be 6:35 p.m. through the end of February.

►        Yonkers Raceway kicks off its 2016 season on Thursday.

►        Buffalo Raceway is set to open on January 13.

►        In place of Balmoral, DRF Harness will offer full-card Hawthorne analysis on Saturdays and Sundays.

►        Congrats to Hannah Miller on being selected to represent the U.S.A. in the amateur World Cup in Budapest this September.

►        Joe Bellino and Wiggle It Jiggleit’s Little Brown Jug win also deserve recognition for being named Railbird Horseperson of the Year and Racing Moment of the Year.

►        The World Harness Handicapping Championship will be held on April 30 at the Meadowlands with qualifying tournaments January 23, February 22, March 19 and April 2. 

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