Tioga Downs opens this week for good friend Jeff Gural.
This is certainly a major plus for the industry in general
and New York in particular. Haven’t been there yet,
but eyewitnesses do report that this facility indeed a showcase.
Have a truly GRAND OPENING Jeff! We do indeed second the
sentiments expressed by Bob Rosenheim in the June 7th Horseman!
NEW OWNERS SEMINARS
Glad to have the opportunity to meet with the prospective
new owners bused over by Ellen Harvey, Nancy Peck and Ken
Weingartner of Harness Racing Communications.
Always great to be able answer questions on an individual
basis and look forward to seeing “new friends”
at the races and the sales.
These seminars are an excellent way of showcasing all that’s
rewarding about harness horse ownership and the HRC staff
does a terrific job in paving that pathway.
Fascinating survey by Ron Fabiano documenting the greatest
harness racing decades on the USTA site and if memory serves
the 70’s and the 80’s finished in a virtual
dead heat with each garnering about 30% of the 2,500 votes
cast. The 60’s got 18% though one would suspect many
regulars of that era are no longer in position to either
web surf and/or web cast.
From a strictly New York standpoint, the 60’s were
phenomenal! Especially at Roosevelt and Yonkers with the
huge nightly crowds- the advent of International racing
and the triple crowns entrenched there. The aged ranks called
Free-For-Alls back made for spectacular showdowns.
The mid 60’s saw the rise of Liberty Bell and the
installment of Pompano as a winter bastion.
Then there was the traditional autumn meet at Hollywood
Park home of some very memorable American Pacing and Trotting
In addition, regional strongholds in New England, Pennsylvania,
Ohio, Western New York, Ontario, Quebec, Chicago, Detroit-Windsor,
etc were thriving with no shortage of equine and driving
There was a strong Grand Circuit in Lexington, Delaware
The early 70’s saw the advent of OTB. Unfortunately
that combined with sheer complacency on the part of the
New York tracks brought dips in both attendance and excitement
but all was revitalized on September 1, 1976 with the opening
of The Meadowlands from that day forth emerging as the undisputed
world capital of Harness Racing.
Ironically, the Meadowlands also became the great melting
pot luring the leading stables of many other locales. Thus,
things got a little too top heavy with most of the action
centered in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Into the 80’s came Niatross, the megabuck Wilsons
etc and the relocation of The Hambletonian to The Meadowlands,
Through the 80’s with Nihilator, Mack Lobell, John
Campbell, and Lou Guida things remained magical although
attendance and luster was starting to wane as the 90s approached.
Don’t know which decade was indeed the greatest as
there were major highs and lows in each. They were all memorable.
Unfortunately though it’s increasingly hard to ignore
the ghostlike apparitions emanating from what now seem cavernous
and desolate grandstands!
Enjoyed the May 25th Sportsman article by Dave Briggs citing
our comparison with Baseball’s steroid era.
Ditto the June 15th USTA website posting by Chris Wittstruck
addressing how integrity is up to everyone not just racing
The arguments presented are potent, not pretty and once
properly digested do indeed scrape some rather raw nerves.
The question is what now?
Obviously the status quo is increasingly unacceptable.
Editor Nicole Kraft hit pay dirt again with an impressive
array of articles covering a variety of topics. There was
ample poignancy with the pieces on saving standardbeds,
and the tributes to Messrs Gurfein and Berkner. Liked the
hard hitting column from Stan Bergstein and the rather whimsical
though thought provoking essay by Bennett Liebman.