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Post Time with Dan Gall

Post Time

As this column is being written the Standardbred industry, and people around North America and the entire world, are facing an unprecedented interruption in their lives brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Things are changing so much day-to-day, that what I write here may not all be completely relevant by the time you read it, so for now I’ll simply say that I wish nothing but health and future prosperity to all of you reading this. Please be safe.

• • •

We received great news from Woodbine in March, when we heard that the ‘Mohawk Million’ is a go. Although there were those who were somewhat skeptical due to the price of admission to participate in this event, now that some of our Captains of Industry have committed to participating it will further position Woodbine Mohawk Park as North America’s Crown Jewel of harness racing, and will further position Standardbred horse racing as a national sporting product, which should lead to widespread interest for race fans and the general public.

The Mohawk Million is nothing but a solid shot in the arm to the industry, the racetrack, and the sport, and knowing Jessica Buckley and team, they will pull out all the stops that will make this a marquee event.

But why is it that with every step forward we appear to take two steps back?

The industry needs to stop shooting itself in the foot so that there will come a day when we can celebrate a large step forward (like the Mohawk Million) without having to look back. Yet, that’s what we are faced with. Similar to the Pareto principle in marketing we continue to spend the majority of our time talking about an extremely small percentage of people.

This is not only distracting but also self-defeating, as the health and welfare of our horses and the great people driving this industry forward need to be protected and assured that they have the confidence and the backing of an industry body that will fight to defend the honesty and integrity of the game and the prodigious care of our great horses.

Stories regarding indictments and cheating, and the backroom and online conversations of how prevalent this is in our sport is not only concerning and perverse but point to a much more active role required by the regulators of this industry. It was curious to me that it took an outside law enforcement body to smoke out what appears to be a very deliberate attempt to cheat to win in our sport.

Our industry needs a regulating body that will deal swiftly and investigate thoroughly on claims of any wrongdoing and weed out those who are tarnishing and cheating the general public, our horses, and our industry.

When is enough really enough? What is our tipping point? Well, if Judgement Day is upon us as David Briggs wrote in Harness Racing Update, then today is a day of reckoning.

Last month’s news regarding the indictments of several horse industry people in the United States charged with cheating, was released the same day the North American horse industry learned about the passing of long time American horsemen John Brennan due to COVID-19. Yet, everyone I talked to only wanted to discuss the indictment charges and not the pandemic that threatens to negatively impact our industry, economy and many other industries across North America and the world.

We need to be thinking at the 20,000 feet level, not the granular day-by-day exchanges going on with illicit and one-sided postings on Facebook and Twitter.

Remaining focussed on the negative is not a good thing. Promoting the negative is a bad thing.

As Canada’s Tragically Hip once sang, “Tonight we smoke them out.” Let’s be rid of the cheaters already and move on to celebrate all the great racing and events that this sport is bringing to an extremely crowded and challenged entertainment sports world.

So, hats off to Mohawk and all of us who are committed to promoting the wonderfulness of what we do and the entertainment we provide.

The show must go on and we must move on to a higher standard than we ever have before, and demonstrate to old and new fans that this sport is finally ‘Ahead by a Century.’

But for today, tonight and tomorrow, we smoke them out.

Dan Gall, President & CEO, Standardbred Canada
[email protected]

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