01/08/2015 5:09PM

Giwner: Does myth triumph over truth?

Lisa Photo
Golden Receiver, who has been retired, is one of many topics on Giwner's mind this week.

Last night I walked into my local Italian Restaurant/Pizzeria and the man behind the counter noticed my hoodie displaying the North American Amateur Drivers logo. After telling him I worked for DRF covering harness racing, he immediately uttered, “You can’t bet that it is all fixed.”

He continued on to tell me a story about when he was younger, back in the 1980s, saying this guy used to come into his work and tell him who would win the XX race at the Meadowlands. “Whoever he told us would win was always right.”

Try as we might (and I have personally tried to quell the suspicion on many occasions), it seems that the public perception is stuck in neutral. We simply can’t get out of the 1970s and 80s in terms of how the general public thinks of standardbred racing, or “the trotters” as it is often referred.

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The United States Trotting Association has spent a good deal of money working with the Harness Racing Fan Zone in an effort to market the sport, specifically on a more personal level when it comes to horsemen. Has it worked? I’m sure the numbers say it has. While we are mainly reaching those active in social media, that may be a good thing.

Whether by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or whatever, social media provides us the potential to reach people with no preformed biases against the sport, especially a younger audience. And I’m not talking about young people betting, per se. How about them just getting excited by the racing through pictures, video and eventually a visit to the track? Then perhaps that leads to being involved via ownership or as an amateur driver?

How do we reach and convince the 40 or 50-something man working at my local pizzeria that the sport is on the “up and up”? Honestly, I’m not sure the task is possible. People are very set in their ways. While I may have wasted my time explaining that harness racing in 2015 is much different than 1980, I can’t help but optimistically hope that some of the words I said seeped into his head.

There is plenty of good and bad in harness racing just like every other facet of sports and life. While some would believe we should only emphasize the positive, I’d rather we focus on the truth (good and bad) while tossing aside the complete myths.

Quick Thoughts . . .

While everyone focuses on the new kicking rule at the Meadowlands, why is the second part of the same rule ignored? “The brutal use of a whip or blunt spur, kicking a horse with a foot, striking a horse with the whip under the seat of the sulky or indiscriminate use of a whip may be considered a violation.”

I’m not going to get into the kicking or nudging issue, but if the same rule says you can’t place the whip between a horses legs, why is that okay? It happens all the time. Just sayin’.

It is nice to see seven 10-horse plus fields at Yonkers Raceway this Sunday morning going the added distance of 1 1/4 miles. I’d like to see more of it . . . not just on the France simulcast races. Change is good!

You may have noticed that PJ Fraley is no longer listed as trainer for the horses owned by the Bamond stable. That group includes Anndrovette, four-time Older Pacing Mare of the Year award winner. Owner Jeffrey Bamond has enlisted his son, Jeffrey Bamond, Jr. to handle training duties.

“My son has taken over as trainer,” said Bamond. “This was a planned move for sometime as he has been working in the barn for years. He also has been managing the stable for a long time now.”

Make sure to pay attention to those horses racing at the Meadowlands which are scheduled to be sold in the January 19 Meadowlands Select Mixed Sale. Last year quite a few of them won in the weeks leading up to being sold. You can view the horses up for sale here: http://www.tattersallsredmile.com/cgi/tatt_janmix_sort_2015.php

Happy retirement to Golden Receiver. I can’t say he was my favorite horse, but he made many a winter month more enjoyable. It was always fun watching him storm down the road at the Meadowlands.

According to the USTA and Standardbred Canada websites, total combined handle on races contested in North America was just over $1.9 billion. Despite negative thoughts from some thinking the sport is on life support, that figure gives me hope.

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