December 19, 2005

Just heard long time friend and colleague Jerry Connors has been nominated as USHWAN of the year by the Harness Writers. What a deserving tribute to a guy who has contributed so much over the years. That’s great!

Missing from the just released Meadowlands Stakes Schedule was a the whereabouts of The Final Four which theoretically would be staged at The Big M in 06 under the flip flop understanding with Woodbine Entertainment. In 05, the freshman extravaganzas comprised of Governors Cup, Valley Victory etc were staged at Woodbine as The Meadowlands hosted the fall Breeders Crown. This year The Crown switches to Woodbine while The Meadowlands should be getting The Final Four. Stay tuned.

Imperative to consider the lessons of the now defunct XFL football presentation jointly staged by Vince McMahon and NBC back then. After all the hype-all the upgraded camera angles- all the dazzling promotion, cheerleaders and celebrity commentators were digested it still failed. Why? Could it have been remotely possible that despite all the window dressing, the basic product was turned out to be mediocre FOOTBALL? Sooner or later the actual game had to be played.

That being even remotely accurate then wouldn’t it then be incumbent upon any sporting industry-like Harness Racing to endeavor to ensure the quality and sanctity of its sporting product as opposed to depending on extra curricular effects of slot revenues and thoroughbred simulcasting for its continued existence?

Regardless of how attractive the ambiance and décor may be exotic sauces alone will not compensate for mediocre food. If the food isn’t good, there will always be available tables!

Foals conceived by embryo transplant during the 2006 breeding season will be eligible for nomination to the New Jersey Racing Program upon reaching racing age in 2009 and beyond in accordance to correspondence received from Chris Castens, Executive Director of The New Jersey Sires Stakes. This will not apply to foals born in 2006 only those born in 2007 and thereafter.

So it’s the night Buddy hops aboard Tarquinius only to suffer the indignity of the horse breaking as he leaves the gate and winds up some half dozen lengths behind what was a pretty powerful FFA-JFA handicap field.

As is well known, Tarquinius caught the field past the quarter, swept wide past the third turn and won pretty handily in what was stellar time for the era.

Which prompted Woody. Yes that Woody! A lot younger, considerably more svelte but every bit as opinionated to start bellowing “HE’S BETTER THAN THE TRICK… HE’S BETTER THAN THE TRICK, meaning Overtrick who by that time had been forced to call it a year.

Mind you there’s upwards of 35,000 enduring as Neil Diamond would sing a HOT AUGUST NIGHT and at least 10,000 of them had to be crammed onto the Roosevelt apron.

Unfortunately Loud Mouth Tony Sorvino took exception probably fueled by a dwindling bankroll as a result of his fistful of blown exactas tickets none of which matched whatever number Tarquinius happened to have been.

Now understand Loudmouth Tony had evolved into a balding over inflated version of the promising middleweight he once was until Joey Giardello (yes that Joey Giardello) exposed his delicate crystal like chin.

Tony who worked the night shift at the newsstand on the southwest corner of Times Square (when it was no mans land) still had the kick of a mule in his punch and did not have to watch his back getting in and out of subways. He was also the kind of guy you could leave your girlfriend with in a sea degenerates while you went to cash knowing full well she’d be there every hair intact when you got back.

So Tony and Woody are debating the relative merits of Overtrick and Tarquinius in rather heated fashion when I felt the need to restrain Woody before the famed Sorvino uppercut might be launched.

The key here is that there must have been 200 people in the immediate vicinity who felt the need to participate as the arguments pros and cons were every bit as vociferous as you might expect from a Yankees-Boston or Ohio State-Michigan crowd.

Yes! Hundreds of fans passionately discussing the relative merits of the two great pacing horses as fight fans would discourse the difference in abilities and styles of Louis, Marciano or Ali.

And it wasn’t just an isolated incident. Every night, there’d be banter about Bret Hanover, Romeo Hanover. Meadow Skipper, Speedy Scot, Ayres etc and many a voice demanded to be heard.

It even carried over to Gam Wah.

Imagine that! Fans arguing about which horse is better!

Happy Holidays

Bob Marks



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