As the Meadowlands begins to host 2-year-olds and the list of featured races swells during the last weekend of May, I first feel inundated. As a journalist and a player, the last weekend in May makes me realize how much Standardbred product awaits the remaining months of the season.
After initially being taken aback by the sheer volume of races—both high-profile and overnight events—I take a deep breath and begin to organize and prioritize my work. It is a toilsome chore which is only palatable by tending to it weekly.
This time around, though, something else struck me about the deluge of harness racing about to spread through North America, something powerfully positive: There is a deluge of harness racing about to spread through North America.
That’s right; amid the rumbling of despair in a feverishly virtual world of business, actual harness racing action will take place thousands of times over the surfaces made of earth and sand in more states and provinces than most of us realize. I use the word “realize” because the three-dimensional impact of all the races at all the tracks is still resounding compared to the images they provoke on digital platforms. The use of new technologies to reach anyone wanting to watch and wager is a blessing—as were all new technologies that broadcasted reality to those not in local attendance—but without the herds of flesh and blood trotting, pacing, driving, training, grooming, breeding, etc. All bets are off, so to speak; patronage was capped at physical capacity.
Sure, pari-mutuel racing in general has taken a mighty blow from other forms of leisurely entertainment, but look at the season at hand. Things are not so dismal, even if the Meadowlands Pace is no longer worth a million bucks and even if a majority of the players are not on-site and even if Canada’s gaming golden egg of support is taken off the menu and even if the favorites are winning at a 40-percent clip and so on and so forth.
I truly don’t believe there will come an end of May when I am not taken aback by the stampede of horses on the season’s horizon. I don’t think my grandchildren will, either. I am not a wholehearted source of positive energy, nor am I a child of New Age enlightenment methods. I’m a realist, accepting the world as it literally exists and I deal with it accordingly. So the picture I see while deeply embedded in its lines, colors and content, is an honest interpretation.
All we all have to do is make use of the new tools while we improve the old tools and accept the changes, no matter how foreign they appear to us now.
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