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 Editorials

Thoughts from our editor, Joe Clancy. For archived editorials click here.

YsabellT.SmartyJones.14.03

It’s February. It’s cold. It will be dark soon. It might snow. Ready for some more racing questions? These were on the list last month, but didn’t make the cut.

Why are the Aiken Trials and Elloree Trials on the same day?

The two South Carolina training centers, about 75 miles apart, scheduled their historic 2-year-old trials for Saturday, March 19. Both of them. This makes about as much sense as South Carolina and Clemson facing off in basketball and football on the same day. Aiken is struggling to attract horses now that Darley moved out, and Elloree could probably stand a few ship-ins too. How about somebody running March 12, instead of March 19? Then put up a challenge trophy for the training center that wins the most races at the two events?

Why do regional breeders complain about the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sales, but then routinely take the best horses to other sales?

If you want Timonium to attract better buyers, you’re going to need better horses. I know it’s a chicken/egg or egg/chicken argument, but start small. Take one less horse to Kentucky this year and see how it goes. Then take two less horses. And so on. A good horse will sell at the North Pole. And with the success of recent graduate Stellar Wind, now is the time.

Why don’t more flat owners go jump racing?

To me, it’s a marketing issue. Or at least some of it is. First, hire someone and tell them you’d like to increase participation from the flat side. Then get to work.

Pick 10 major owners–Ken Ramsey, Zayat Stables, Repole Stable, Midwest Thoroughbreds, Klaravich, Oxley, Stronach, Schera, Maggi Moss, Godolphin and so on–and set up some meetings. Explain the game and unless they run out of the room, assign some steeplechase “mentors,” take them racing, get someone to look at the horses, give them free owners’ licenses if you have to. Then offer a bonus for the first owner to win a North American Grade 1 jump race and a North American Grade 1 flat race in the same year. That might be as effective as the much-ballyhooed bonus between England’s World Hurdle and America’s Iroquois Steeplechase.

Why can’t Pennsylvania Day At the Races make as big an impact as Maryland Million and West Virginia Breeders Classics?

Combine state-sired and state-bred horses if need be, but make it happen. Show the state’s taxpayers and legislators that slots do more than create cool casinos.

When did the first foal of 2016 arrive?

We’re not about to show up with presents, like they do for the New Year’s baby at the local hospital, but you never know. And it would be a nice thing to know. The first foals in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey might at least get their pictures taken. Presents? Did someone say presents?

Will the win-and-you’re-in promotions work in Maryland?

The Maryland Jockey Club added free passes to the Preakness and Black-Eyed Susan to the winners of Federico Tesio and Weber City Miss stakes (to be run April 9 at Laurel Park). Will the move help the locals take a shot, or draw more out-of-towners? Either way, it will be fun to watch.

Speaking of out-of-towners, will the Charles Town Classic attract another big name?

Shared Belief, Moreno and company came last year. Game On Dude made an appearance in 2011, 2013 and 2014. The region wins when such stars show up for our races, but they’ll have to run to beat Page McKenney this year.

Why not put Lasix-free races in the condition books and see what happens?

If the races don’t fill, don’t run them. It seems like the idea can’t gain traction, but this sport rarely does anything in one big step. Try a small one.

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