Nixon: Racing Is Missing "The Pageantry"

Published: August 22, 2011 11:38 am EDT

Basking in the glow of Blissfull Breeze's win in the $60,000 final of the Sobey's Gold Cup & Saucer, victorious trainer Dean Nixon has said that the show Red Shores puts on for the annual event

should not be unique to the island.

An article by Nick Oakes in The Guardian has quoted Nixon as saying that Blissfull Breeze's win in the Gold Cup & Saucer is one of his career milestones.

It's not like Nixon won a million-dollar event on The Island this past weekend, but the event is prestigious for reasons beyond six or seven-figure purses.

“I think something that is missing in horse racing is the pageantry,” Nixon said.

2011 Sobey's Gold Cup & Saucer - Blissfull Breeze - 1:53.1

He went on to praise the Charlottetown Driving Park's announcer, Vance Cameron, who helps set the tone for the biggest race of the year in the Maritimes.

“That is a post parade worthy of a $6 million race, not a $60,000 race. That alone is worth the price of admission.”

Nixon also stated that the excitement of PEI's Old Home Week is not lost on the rest of the nation.

“The rest of Canada knows this is a prestigious race, even if they have no connection to it. Anyone that has seen the spectacle here with the post parade, and all the great horses and horsemen that have come here and failed and come and succeeded. It’s a pretty good history in harness racing.”

(With files from The Guardian)

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Lets clarify the objective. Is it to show the pagentry for Atlanic harness racing and put on a week long show? Then you accomplish this on a yearly basis and I commend you for it. If you think this adds anything to the state of harness racing in this country then you are wrong. I have see in person the Kentucky Derby 25 times, 6 Breeders Cups, 8 Breeders Crowns and a Hambletonian, I am not uneducated to the industry. Has anyone been to Mohawk to see live racing, during the week you can count the people on 2 hands, that is a reality. We have seen recently the big owners that are getting out of the business, top trainers from 5 years ago have left to pursue other careers, how many signs do we need to see? One thing we always have in this forum are great ideas what should be done, it is way too late.

Again there are two different points of view here that oppose each other. One from the horsemen and the other from the bettor/gambler. First off i agree that Red Shores deserves kudos for the show that they put on for the Gold Cup and Saucer. It was these types of days all accross North America that made harness racing such a great sport. Would any of the people that posted negative comments here say that there was too much pomp and circumstance at the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness or the Belmont? How about breeders cup day or the Hambo? I think not. So for one week if Red Shores wants to put together a celebration of harness racing by adding some pagentry.....bring it on. I think it is fantastic that all of the owners got to feel pretty special having their horses race with the pagentry.

That being said I am not a fan of the way that Northfield, Yonkers and to a certain extent WEG are handling post times for regular races these days.

At the post
When all the horses have arrived at the start before a race, they are said to be ‘at the post’.

I like when the track posts 12 or 13 minutes to post and they actually go at that time. Watching both WEG and Rideau last night there were a couple of times where Mohawk had 0 minutes to post and Rideau had 5 minutes to post. The Rideau race went off prior to the WEG race. If you have wagered on the Rideau race from home the results come accross the bottom of the screen while we are watching the drivers from Mohawk circle their horses waiting for the starter to call them. You get to watch the Rideau race on which you have wagered via computer or on tape after you know the results in many cases.

Everything that I have read about todays youh is that they want everything to go at a fast pace. That is what they are used to with the advent of technology. If you want to attract them and keep them coming back you will need to listen to them from time to time.

In the meantime keep up the pagentry on the "special occaisions" and keep some semblance of order with post times on the "regular" nights.

Mr. Murphy, what you seem to be missing it that the Gold Cup and Saucer is not just about one annual race. The entire evening is about the celebration of the industry including the bettors, the horses, the horsepeople, the tracks and the people who just show up to enjoy the event.

Once you have experienced this night at the Charlottetown racetrack, the people, the food, the excitement surrounding an "average" field of horses on that "half mile track", you understand why people travel from hundreds of miles away to watch or participate.

A few years ago, my husband and I travelled with friends for our first experience with this week of fun and pageantry. It rained - came down in buckets - during the races but that did not stop the show. My husband, an amateur photographer, was able to capture some amazing moments with thousands of colourful umbrellas glistening under the lights. The beautiful young girls who represented each GC&S entrant got their new shoes muddy and their lovely dresses wet but they still had huge smiles on their faces. They were loving every moment as was everyone in the grandstand or on the track. To the serious bettor, this race might be insignificant but to the thousands who attend during the GC&S week, its an fun-filled festival with old friends meeting up, horses and horsepeople getting some much deserved attention and rewards and a chance for new fans to see what the fuss is all about.

I look forward to getting back to PEI and the Gold Cup and Saucer.
P.S. If you have time, the golfing is pretty nice, too! Needless to say, the lobster is fantastic!!

It is a great event but really it is a local event. If you are from that part of the country then you obviously care and take pride in all of the fetivities. To the rest of the country it is just another race. The quality of the horses is average and it is a half mile track. Be happy for what you have but take it for what it is. The gamblers who pay for the livelihood of all horsepeople are looking for a quick turnaround on their buck, this is the day of instant gratification. All tracks have their "special" days when everybody and their brother comes to bet $2, only to come back the next year and do the same. In an economic model this will not keep racing afloat. As we discuss in every talk about the state of the industry, you need to give back to the betters, please reduce the takeout, increase the rewards.

In reply to by Shark55

In a time when we as horsepeople are trying to create a positive attitude and atmosphere around our industry, we do not need any negative comments. I have just 2 questions for you Mr. Murphy, 1- Where did your horses finish in the final? and 2 - Did you happen to see some of the payouts all week? Just in case you didn't understand the questions, let me answer them for you. 1- Didn't have one racing and 2- Obviously not.

SOLUTIONS --- (Maybe?!)

Wish I could have been there, but certain commitments got in the way. Sounds like a great time was had by most!
You can't please ALL of the people ALL of the time, but, you certainly try to please those that matter, which in my opinion is Joe Public - "without whom" the industry would not, and will NOT, survive.
If people go home early, maybe its because they have an early morning the next day, so don't be so critical, or maybe --- they ---had a ONE drink --and want to get out early and avoid the red light district!
Don't worry about the betting public, because I assure you that as a former Mutuel Teller of 9 years duration (8 of which were great!) they leave when they want to, NOT because the races are delayed!
AND, as an alternative to circling horses, why don't we just have the starter car wait right outside the BARN DOOR and the horses will follow, and, start their race immediately - it could be run just like a Japanese train. THEN, - we could all leave around 8:00 pm. and, maybe, call it an 'exciting' evening of racing?

Three CHEERS to the Gold Cup Event organizers in P.E.I. !!!

Need to say "Amen" to more pageantry. Having been to Sweden several times over the last few years (mostly for racing interests) I believe more pageantry would be useful in making our interests the interest of the greater populace. When in Sweden one is almost always, at least, mesmerized with their race presentation. What we have by way of entertainment has the potential of coming back around (ala "full circle") with several niches of our emerging population(s). This for "what it's worth" . . .

As the owner of the second place finisher Firethorn let me first congratulate Mr. Nixon on his victory with Blissful Breeze. This is our second experience at the Gold Cup and Saucer and we hope to be there again next year with Firethorn or whoever is ready at the time.

To the people at Red Shores and those that help to put this on, great job. A lot of tracks could learn something from this show put on by Red Shores Racetrack and Casino, what a thrill.

Thanks again, Jan & Pete (JP Stables)

In reply to by jp

Mr. DeRooy, just like Red Shores, you are a class act for making a post like this. This is what this business needs is more participants such as yourself to encourage and promote the industry. Your horse raced large as well and congratulations.

I sent Dean an email message of Congratulations and told him I loved his comments about pageantry. Then I chastized him for wearing a Superman T-shirt into the winner's circle. They didnt interview him on TV.

Georg Leber-ICR Racing

Norman is right about the Gold Cup and Saucer being an "experience". I've had the pleasure of experiencing this wonderful event that honours the horse as it should along with all of the people connected to these amazing animals. Mr. Horsman, it is not just about the money in PEI. It is about so many other things that keep horseracing alive in Eastern Canada even though they race for very little. I don't think any horsepeople are suggesting this show of "pageantry" before every race but this is a yearly extravaganza in Charlottetown and deserves special attention. Take a pill, Mr. Horsman! Life is too short to not have some fun along the way.

Here is another case of Credit not being given where due and another Gambler or bettor making a ridiculous comment where it shouldn't be made. You want to know where the industry is failing, its by letting comments like the one made by Mr. Horsman be posted or published. The industry has no room for people like this. As far as Red Shores, GREAT JOB and probably one of Dean's more INTELLIGENT comments. lol JUST KIDDING Dino. Congrats on a great weekend.

I think Dean is 100% correct. Recreating the pageantry and magic of the event is the challenge facing the industry. Recent efforts to bring this to Hanover Raceway on Dream of Glory night and Clinton Raceway on Legends Day serve as evidence that racing can still be special.

To Michael Horsman
I know what you mean about needless delays....however you have no idea if you are comparing this event to a slow and drawn out race card. Red Shores(aka Charlottetown Driving Park) ran 14 races and all the pageantry in a very respectable time. As a patron you had better be on your toes if you want to bet as they go on post and do not wait for stragglers. I know because I ran this racetrack for 8 years and one of the changes I demanded was that horses go on post,there was no waiting for late wagers. A race card should require only 3 hours maximum.As for outside horses, they now run 16 race cards in a 10 day period with anywhere from 10 to 14 dashes per card so there is plenty of racing for both outside horses and CDP regulars.In fact the outside horses are needed to fill the cards.And the outside horses for the GC&S are welcome if they want to come for the rather small purse($60,000) being offered. It certainly isn't for the money that the owners come "from away" and I think it is rather nice to see owners, drivers, trainers, etc, trying to win the "bragging rights" in a race and not just for the $$$$$$$$ offered. If you ever get a chance, come on down to P.E.I.during Old Home Week and then you can adjudicate the pageantry and all in a more informed manner.

P.S.(An Island owned horse won this event in 2008)

Obviously Michael...You've NEVER been to the "Gold Cup & Saucer" as well as "Old Home Week"..This is EXACTLY what racing DOES needs..Make it entertainable as well as a betting venue!!
This is what has been lost at the Big as well as the the small tracks around North America..
Once again "Charlottetown Red Shores" on a job well done!!!!

Always enjoy the Gold Cup And Saucer. Usually when top horses contest over a 1/2 mile track, the race tends to favor speed and an inside track. The horses that race in the Gold Cup And Saucer however, are just the right quality to make a real free for all out of it. Not the best, but far from the worst. Just right.
Also nice to see the up and comer,"Dean Nixon", win it.

Is there a new whipping rule that requires that the driver keep a line in each hand???

I go to the races I want to see races, not pageantry. Half the problems with racing is the length of time between races. The time alotted isn't the problem, it's 12 to 15 minutes to post time becoming 20 to 25 minutes to post then drivers circling their horses on the backstretch waiting for the starter to call them to the gate. It's not uncommon to see half an hour pass between the end of one race and the start of another. I realize this is due to the track trying to drain the last dollar out of the betting public for every race, but I know a lot of people just get fed up and go home early because of the wait. Most handicappers look over the program and past performances before the races even begin and adjust very quickly to any changes. Pageantry only slows down the whole process and attracts only once a year patrons. As for Charlottetown, most of the horses competing in the Gold Cup and Saucer are from away, what does that do for Maritime drivers , trainers, and owners.

In reply to by mghorsman

I do not agree with Mr. Horsman's comments at all concerning the pagentry associated with the Gold Cup and Saucer. I think the province of PEI deserves much credit! The Cup is a wonderful event. I love the fact they give the horse its due and pump the crowd up for the great race. I think the Cup does so much for the Maritime Horseman afterall many of them come back to the Maritimes to race in this great event. Everyone knows the race goes after Midnight so relax and enjoy the beautiful horses, the colours, flowers, beauty of the Island. I agree with Mr. Nixon we need to honour the greatness of horses and horsemen. A few years ago I attended the Little Brown Jug and let me tell you The Gold Cup and Saucer could teach Ohio a few things. There was no pagentry at all and if it hadn't been for the announcer I would have fallen asleep. So BRAVO to the Cup Committee, the province of PEI, all the horses and horsemen who attend far and wide and also to the Cup Announcer, he is FABULOUS. I hope Mr. Nixon will return next year with his lovely horses. I would like to see more promotion for the horse. Why not invite great retierd racehorses to these events so the crowd can see the Greatness. I love horses. Mimi LeCain Nova Scotia, Standardbred owner

In reply to by mghorsman

Michael Horsman is not a horseman obviously. The Gold Cup and Saucer is not a race for local horsemen it is a promotion of harness racing. In that respect it is very successful. First time viewers become long term fans when they see something special. If this race was contested by the nine best horses in the Maritimes no one would care. Come to PEI next year and enjoy the experience - that is what life is all about.

In reply to by pedmat

You sound like a younger person, not from this region.
Back in the day when the GCS was "THE" invitational for local/maritime horsefolk it was always special.
Those attending were jammed in, without premier facilities, and bet more on track than is now wagered
with updated WWW wagering technology and video.

In reply to by mghorsman

Too much time>? Go to Gulfstream in Fla., 55 - 60 min between races, both handle & attendance up in 2010 over previous years.
Oh ya & congrats to Nixon & Cherry2000 . . .

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