06/05/2017 3:15PM

Marks: A wealth of questions on my mind

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One of the things Hall of Famer Clyde Hirt was known for was his Impertinent Questions column.

Hall of Fame communicator Clyde Hirt often wrote an Impertinent Questions column where he posed queries which often seemed more like cleverly disguised opinions. It was somewhat of a takeoff from the legendary New York sportswriter Jimmy Cannon, who was known to articulate opinions via the one-liner format entitled Nobody Asked Me But, in addition to his other popular format entitled I Can Live Without.

If I may infringe upon Clyde’s territory, the following are thoughts that occasionally cross my mind.

If everybody races at Yonkers, how come so few actually qualify there? Conversely, many qualify at The Meadowlands but not that many actually race there anymore.

Has anybody ever asked the drivers how it feels to perform before empty houses? I’d imagine for some of the younger drivers, that’s all they know, but surely the older guys remember the packed houses?

Why do so many tracks wait so many minutes to actually start when the board has been flashing 0 minutes to post for seemingly an eternity? We know about the “additional handle” that a post drag can produce, but if all tracks adhered to conventional post times, wouldn’t the bettors adjust?

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Why aren’t handle and attendance figures readily available to industry professionals?

Why don’t programs list disclaimers for often irrelevant elimination races and preps?  Or don’t we care that good money is often burned on starters seeking to just qualify for the Final?

Why do tracks so often run feature races at the tail end of programs when the house has long since emptied out?  The winners will stay forever but many losers leave!

That said, shouldn’t we really run our optimum races at a time of peak occupancy?

Would it be so hard to synchronize post times so that races, especially feature races, don’t overlap each other? Surely someone at Roberts could mimic an NFL TV Director by advising tracks just who is ready to start at what point? It would seem that if we were ever to have a harness racing channel that would be mandatory.

Why are so many races carded for “winners over $10,000 lifetime” or perhaps “winners over $25,000 lifetime” when theoretically almost every horse on the grounds would fit that condition? Personally, I like the Yonkers method in that the step up from “non winners of $25,000 in last five starts” becomes “winners over $25,000 in last five starts.”

Just how does an extended pari-mutuel race differ from a non-extended one assuming there is such a thing?

How come at one track the preferred class is a step-up from the open class while at another track the reverse may be true?

Have you ever heard anyone who just lost money betting on a horse race state, “That was fun, maybe I could lose more money next race?”

Are thoroughbred trainers permitted to own pieces of horses in barns other than their own?

For that matter, can active jockeys also own horses or pieces of horses?

Does anybody seriously believe bettors don’t sense collusion when individual owners utilize multiple trainers and thus may have insight into what’s going on there?  Even if there’s no communication, will bettors actually buy into that? 

Have we noticed just how successful thoroughbred 3-year-olds tend to be versus their elders late in the season in races like the Breeders’ Cup classic?

Have we noticed that many of those “non winners” money conditions have gravitated from what used to be last 7 starts to a more compact last 4 or 5?  If nothing else it puts an emphasis on current form.

I know some stable mates race uncoupled in overnight races under the banner of bona fide separate ownership, but does the public believe trainers aren’t calling the shots?

Why don’t we have graded stakes?  Forget the politics, the horsemen have long since determined which stakes are really grades one, two, and so forth.

That said, why can’t we finally establish contemporary Triple Crowns for both gaits? If nothing else it might look better to any potential new fans we’re desperate to attract.

Why don’t all programs list the yearling prices as some do? It means nothing as far as handicapping the actual race, but it does provide a glimpse into the history of the horses. 

Doesn’t it seem that what went around has finally come around? The Meadowlands lured all the top stables and drivers from the other tracks years ago and now given the slots-fueled purse infusion, the reverse is now true as the other tracks are thriving stable-wise and horse-wise?

We all know who to thank for the New Jersey demise, don’t we?