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Jeff Porchak's Blog


Guest Starring: Anthony MacDonald

Published: May 24, 2011 12:23 am ET

Last Comment: May 29, 2011 4:51 pm ET | 11 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Trainer-driver Anthony MacDonald sent in the following letter on staggered draw times and driver scratch times. MacDonald would like to see more tracks space out the times between draws on the same day, which in his opinion would do a better job at filling races with appropriate horses and give catch-drivers more time to choose their mounts.

MacDonald's letter appears below. Please note that the opinions expressed in the following letter are those of the participants and do not necessarily reflect Standardbred Canada.

Over the past few years I have been asking race offices all over Ontario to have driver scratch times uniform. Most tracks have a three-day draw box and follow that up with scratch times the next day around 10:00 a.m.

Some tracks don't conform to this and have four-day draws and three-day scratch times. This is very confusing for trainers and drivers alike and as a driver, this makes scheduling very difficult.

On many occasions I and my fellow drivers have been forced to make decisions on one card before the other has been drawn. I have a family, bills, and a mortgage and like most of us with families, I would like to keep the game of chance to the gamblers.

I find it disturbing the lack of co-operation by most racetracks on this topic. I have been informed that this topic is on the "agenda" of the ORC.

With the stakes season upon us I urge the racetracks to work with each other to fix the problem of draw and scratch times. Staggered draw times would allow tracks to co-operate and fill much needed claimers properly instead of foolish condition claimers that are made to feed our claiming horses to the waiting, not priced condition horses. If, for instance, Grand River draws Friday at 9:00 a.m, why can't Woodbine draw at 10, Western Fair at 11 and Flamboro at noon?

This system would let all drivers also have a scratch time at 10:00 a.m the following day.

Grand river has an answering machine, some tracks and race offices are facebook friendly, some use their smart phones or texting. The ORC's practice of fining participants because of archaic race office mismanagement in our province is needless and should not continue.

I have talked to and heard from many trainers and drivers who have brought this to the ORC's attention like I have. Is this such a hard thing to fix? If Fredrick J. MacDonald can learn to text, how can't race offices?

Today is May 24th, I call on either the ORC or our own races offices to fix this long lingering problem before June 1. As I said before the stake season is here, let's all move into the 21st century.

May 29, 2011 - 4:51 pmBrillant idea!

Brillant idea!

May 26, 2011 - 4:02 pmExcellent idea Anth.

alan guthrie SAID...

Excellent idea Anth. However, like any change that would make sense or benefit the industry, the ORC will likely sweep this under the rug aswell.

May 26, 2011 - 11:53 amSome good points Anthony and

Some good points Anthony and yes most racetracks appreciate that the decisions about where & what to drive aren't always the easiest for drivers. In theory having set times for both draws & changes sounds plausible but be careful what you wish for. As for computerized entering as long as it is hacker proof (New Zealand racing had problems already) it would be a good step forward. Lost in this discussion however is the customer. Most tracks try and produce the program in a timely manner so it may be sold prior to race day, posted on their website or emailed to customers and this needs to be factored in any solution. From my experience in the past some drivers haven't wanted to call in and make decisions for one reason or another leaving trainers,owners & racetracks hanging and scrambling to line up drivers simply because they didn't want or couldn't make the hard choices. I for one am all in favour of using smartphone texting and social media to advance any aspect of this sport. As I stated be careful what you wish for since the ORC through it's newest program may add this to their list of what else to manage about the business which might be ok for some, but I'm sure alot of drivers won't appreciate deadlines and procedures that may be required from them, since as Anthony stated it's their living at stake. Welcome to the new frontier of racing where every decison about your business will not be under your control -- are you ready?

May 26, 2011 - 11:28 amOften i wonder if the ORC.

Often i wonder if the ORC. are even horse people or were, with some of the rules, expectations of us!!??

May 26, 2011 - 11:26 amIt would be much more help

It would be much more help if the opinions in the letter of the participant did necessarily reflect the opinion of Standardbred Canada...For far to long SC has stayed out of the business of its participants and one would think that this is a perfect instance that they could intervene and help with the process of making the Ontario product the best it could be! Jody Jamieson

May 26, 2011 - 10:33 amIn the May 2007 Trot

Dan Fisher SAID...

In the May 2007 Trot Magazine, State of the Industry issue there was a proposal put forward on page 93 for a centralized race office that included many 21st century ideas including a password-protected online entry form, etc. That was 4 years ago...surprise one listened.

May 26, 2011 - 7:00 amMr.Macdonald's point sounds

John Carter SAID...

Mr.Macdonald's point sounds very reasonable but will any changes be made. I have said on here for the last 2 years that the reason the race game is going the way of the dinosaur is because they don't get it in so many areas it is simply unbelievable. The powers to be in the race game seem intent in wanting to keep things the way they were in the 60's and 70's but don't understand the good old days where they were the only game in town are gone forever.

May 25, 2011 - 10:45 pmWell said Anthony, This

Norm Brunet SAID...

Well said Anthony,
This industry needs to start working together and not AGAINST each other. We've seen good examples of what can be accomplished south of the border with Chester and Pocono's taking turns for the Open (win win scenario where the purse doubled and quality horses entered) and The Big M problem with filling the entry box.

May 25, 2011 - 7:42 pmAnthony has a great point. i

Anthony has a great point.
i hope your voice will be heard loud and clear.
its about time they do something about this matter.

May 25, 2011 - 6:35 pmExcellent comments from

Lynne Magee SAID...

Excellent comments from Anthony MacDonald and Georg Leber. We want to attract the younger generations into the sport and yet we do most things in such an archaic manner that it is almost foreign to them. Move on or move out!

May 25, 2011 - 3:42 pmIt is confusing for owners,

Georg Leber SAID...

It is confusing for owners, trainers and drivers alike. As a new owner this year I have taken part in entering my horses, choosing drivers and then making corrections the next day. Anthony really hit the nail on the head when he said we have to all move into the 21st century.

It's amazing to me that everything in this business is done by phone, fax, mail and cheques. I realize that there are many people in our industry that are computer illiterate but do we have to wait until an entire generation dies off before we are allowed to progress?

Realistically we should be entering our horses on-line with a password. That way we can enter our drivers,trainers,claiming price etc and do it the night before if we want. This should be very easy to create. I want to further comment on the entering process but it deserves it's own guest blog and I don't want to steal Anthony's thunder here.

Anthony, from your other posts on this board, I can see you are a driver (and there are more of you) who is really taking an interest in how this business works and what changes are needed. I appreciate your comments.

Georg Leber-ICR Racing

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