02/15/2018 10:28AM

Macedonio: No passing on the left


Hey Cammie Haughton (Director of Racing at Yonkers Raceway), below is something that could be implemented right away at Yonkers with no USTA deliberation, no waiting years for it to be put into practice, and no strong horsemen’s union to fight back.

We’ve all been watching a little more of Yonkers since they shortened the stretch, added some cameras and banished the passing lane. Handle is up and things are looking somewhat good at the Hilltop. But there’s something I’m still seeing. That something is horses going into the passing lane! Well, not technically the “passing lane”, but the lead horse is bearing out in the stretch and the horse in the two- hole is zooming up the inside!

Horses are also using that same inside path to save ground along the pylons and close for a nice check by finishing fourth or fifth. I thought we were supposed to get rid of that exact move by banishing the passing lane? It’s a short stretch now, so how in the world is that happening?

As a driver on the lead, your main job in the final turn should be to steer left and hug the pylons. I would like to see drivers fined both ways for using the passing lane; fine the driver on the lead who gave enough room to the horse behind him to go up the inside and fine the driver sitting second who went up the inside.

The goal of banning the passing lane was to create more movement. Part of that objective was to possibly make the two-hole the worst spot on the track if it’s a competitive race. You’d need a lot of luck to happen for you to shake free.

I’d like to make the rule that you can’t pass on the left unless either: 1) The horse in front of you is visibly on the left line, running out so bad that you’re avoiding interference (If a horse is visibly on a line, the trainer should get fined for improper equipment and possibly be forced to qualify) or 2) Once entering the stretch if a horse retreats quickly, you may enter their path, allowing you to pass others on their left.

This isn’t a long stretch and drivers shouldn’t be waiting to see if room opens up. We want them making decisions early and often, forcing discomfort and mistakes. Too many drivers are still perfectly content sitting 2nd or 3rd, hoping for some room later. We need to eliminate that mindset. If they know that there is absolutely no legal way for them to go left, the entire race becomes unpredictable from start to finish.