Sunday, March 30, 2014

Foiled Again, Burke Dominate in Levy

On a miserable, rainy night the story at Yonkers was no different than it was last week and it probably will be more of the same as the Levy series continues. You can’t beat Ron Burke and you can’t beat the 10-year-old Foiled Again.

In a virtual re-run of last week’s rendition of the Levy Burke won three of the four legs and failed only in the third Levy on the night when the P.J. Fraley-trained Mach It So scored an upset win at 20-1. That’s the same Mach It So who won last week over Burke. Fraley and Burke are the only trainers to have won 2014 Levy races so far.

The betting public was so enamored with the Burke entry, which consisted of Foiled Again, Aracache Hanover and Hillbilly Hanover, in the 11th race that there were bridgejumpers in the win pool. Yonkers did not allow place or show betting. Of the $56,387 bet in the win pool. $54,143 of it was on the Burke trio.

“He can’t surprise me anymore,” driver Yannick Gingras said of Foiled Again prior to the race. “He’s done so much in his career and he’s not done yet.”

This was Foiled Again’s 200th career start and it’s hard to imagine any were any easier. Having drawn the four post, Gingras didn’t waste any time as he took his geriatric wonder right to the front, controlled the pace through modest fractions and was never seriously challenged. Stablemate Aracache Hanover was second. It was the 78th career win for Foiled Again.

Burke’s first Levy win on the night came with Bettor’s Edge in the fourth race. He finished 1 1/12 lengths ahead of stablemate Clear Vision and went in 1:53.4 over the sloppy track. The win was his second straight in the series.

Written by Bill Finley of Harness Racing Update

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Steve Asmussen, PETA and Harness Racing

On the surface, the firestorm surrounding Steve Asmussen, the PETA undercover investigation and the cruelty to animals charges has nothing to do with harness racing.

Asmussen trains thoroughbreds, and it's easy to argue that that sport is far less humane than harness racing. Their horses die in droves on the racetrack. A standardbred dying on the racetrack is a rare sight.

But harness racing cannot afford to ignore the story, or the controversy. This is about far more than just Asmussen and thoroughbreds. It is about how the American public feels about the abuse of animals.

People don't like it and they will not accept it.

Not just any sport, but any business that involves animals had better make sure that the welfare of the animal is a major priority. If it's not, the will of people can destroy that industry.

The will of the people at work: [Rooster] fighting was once a popular activity in this country. Today, those fights are illegal and the very idea of them horrifies most sensible people. Dog racing has been outlawed in Massachusetts and elsewhere.

SeaWorld is dealing with a severe backlash and protests that resulted with the movie documentary "Blackfish." The movie delves into the consequences of keeping killer whales in captivity.

In a lot of circles, the circus is no longer looked upon as an innocent family-friendly activity but as a business that exploits animals. Many people refuse to attend,

Harness racing, by and large, has not had to deal with any welfare issues. That's a benefit of being a sport that operates far away from the spotlight and is more or less ignored by the media and the American public. There are things you can get away with when no one bothers paying attention to you. That doesn't mean it is okay or smart business.

Can harness racing look at itself in the mirror and really say that it is doing the very best it can when it comes to the welfare of the animal? Sorry, but the answer is no.

Standardbreds arrive at slaughter auctions at places like New Holland and Sugar Creek in truckloads week after week and very little is said or done about it.

Drivers kick their horses in the moment of battle in the stretch and about the only thing that ever happens to them is a $100 fine.

There are trainers who think nothing of using illegal and dangerous drugs to improve the performance of their horses and outside of Jeff Gural no one seems to want to do anything about it.

How do you explain to the man on the street that it's common practice for drivers to slash their horses with a whip?

Do horses really need all the legal drugs that are out there that they can be given? Is this pharmacological cornucopia really the best thing for the animal?

Written by Bill Finley of Harness Racing Update

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Monday, March 17, 2014

With Lawsuit Filed, Coletta Family Reveals Long-Term Prognosis is Grim

PHILADELPHIA–Speaking publicly for the first time, Anthony Coletta's father admitted that the long-term prognosis for his son is not good and said the chance of a full recovery is "less than one-half of one percent."

Coletta's parents, Fred and Rosemary, spoke briefly yesterday at a press conference to announce that the family has filed a lawsuit against Harrah's Philadelphia alleging that management refused to fix a track surface it knew was dangerous and their failure to act led to the Nov. 17 spill which left Coletta seriously injured.

The lawsuit details the long list of injuries Coletta suffered when his horse fell over another horse and the driver was catapulted from his sulky and thrown to the track.

"The most serious problem facing Coletta is, according to the lawsuit, "profound abnormalities indicative of severe and permanent brain damage." The lawsuit also stated that Coletta "will never return to his pre-injury condition."

Fred Coletta fought back tears when asked to update reporters on his son's condition.

"Anthony takes baby steps every day but they're moving in the right direction," he said. "He has a long way to go, but everything seems to be moving the way it is supposed to go. The prognosis from the very beginning was very bad.

"He's a very strong boy, a very strong kid and he fights every day. We hope that he gets better but the prognosis is not very good. They said with what he has he has a less than one half of one percent chance to fully recover."

Coletta said the entire family has tried to remain hopeful and will never give up on their son, who they say is an extraordinary fighter.

"Our son Anthony is in the race of his life and like with all his other races he is out to win," Coletta said. "He pays no attention to the odds and neither do we. Anthony is a winner in every way. Our family is by Anthony's bedside nearly every night and wants the racing world to know how grateful we are for the outpouring of thoughts and prayers for our son.

"We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts."

The suit was filed by Coletta's parents with a separate action taken on behalf solely of Fred Coletta, who was at Harrah's Philadelphia the day of the race and witnessed the spill firsthand. The suit claims that as a result of the shock of watching the accident Fred Coletta suffered insomnia, depression, crying spells, lost appetite, post-traumatic stress, aches, pains, nausea and other injuries.

Written by Bill Finley of Harness Racing Update

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