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Differing Opinions: Should Females Race Against Males?


Published: June 10, 2011 4:17 pm ET

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See You At Peelers has received a good deal of press, and rightfully so, since she stepped up and took down the boys in the Art Rooney Pace. Although nobody is taking anything away from the talented Bettors Delight filly, horsepeople have recently chimed in with some strong opinions on the topic of the females going up against the males.

On June 4 at Yonkers Raceway, as part of a three-horse entry, See You At Peelers defeated five foes in the $307,734 Art Rooney Pace. The margin of victory was three and a half lengths and the win time was 1:53.1 for trainer Jimmy Takter and driver Marcus Johansson. To read the recap of the race and watch a replay of the dash, click here.

In recent interviews at the Meadowlands Racetrack, some of the continent's most respected horsemen have let their feelings be known about See You At Peelers and harness racing's rare gender clashes.

The Meadowlands' paddock interviews are anchored by the track's well know statistician, Bob 'Hollywood' Heyden, who kicks off the questioning with top driver David Miller. Heyden asked the pilot if he would be surprised if See You At Peelers beats the boys again this year if the opportunity presents itself.

"No," Miller responded. "She's a really special horse, and special horses do special things. I think she's capable of doing it."

Trainer Mike Vanderkemp, who was part of the team behind the World Record-holding mare My Little Dragon, stated that he is not in support of the girls racing the boys.

Heyden asked Vanderkemp, "You were around My Little Dragon, the all-time World Record holder, what's your take on female racehorses going against the boys?"

"I don't think she was capable of racing against them," Vanderkemp said. "Boys are just too much, too strong for them in every way. I just wouldn't do it."

When asked whether See You At Peelers is more of the exception than the rule, Vanderkemp said, "You know, that race at Yonkers was cheap --- they kind of knew it was going to be cheap. Put her in the Meadowlands Pace; she's not going to go with them."

When Heyden asked Chris Ryder, trainer of the World Record-holding trotting mare Mystical Sunshine, about his feelings on the topic, the conditioner said that he is all for the battle of the sexes. "Yes I would, yeah. I think there are a number of fillies that could beat colts in major races, not that we actually do it very often," Ryder said. "We tend to protect them, I suppose, but I think it could happen more often than what it has, maybe."

Trainer Bob Siegelman also commented. "As a general rule, I am against fillies racing against colts," he said. "I think it is just asking too much of them. That being said, though, I do think there is an exception to every rule; and obviously that race at Yonkers, the way the competition was, and as good as she was, it wasn't a bad spot."

Others that offer their opinion on the topic include top driver Ron Pierce and trainer Erv Miller.

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