Setting the Record Straight

By Mike Paradise
Last Wednesday’s column on the “Dubious Record” achieved by Hawthorne drew a quick and rather terse reply from the race track that it was inaccurate.
I wrote that that the last race went off at 12:10 Sunday morning, later than any other Illinois Super Night type program in history, and that’s not disputed.
My primary concern was that the USTA posted a 10:40 pm scheduled last race post time and that made for a 90 minutes later off time for the horses on Lasix in the 12th race.
Also I pointed out that the off times on the Night of Champions varied from six minutes in between races to 45 in-between. That information came off USTA’s official charts, the same off-times posted on Hawthorne’s Web-site under “Results,” also courtesy of the USTA.
You would think the governing body of harness racing in the United States is providing accurate data but obviously in some cases it isn’t.
Hawthorne LogoHere’s what Jim Miller, the Publicity Director at Hawthorne, wanted to set the straight and e-mailed me, writing:
“It seems like the major points of your article are two things, first, the length of the card, and second, the amount of time/off time of the final race.
“I have attached the actual post schedule that was distributed to ALL horsemen for Night of Champions. As you can see, the scheduled post for the last race was 11:35PM, not 10:40PM as you stated in your article. Therefore, no horses were ever racing 90 minutes past their scheduled post.
(Miller’s attached schedule shows a 7 pm. First post and a scheduled 11:35 pm final post)
“Additionally, I have spoken with the state vet numerous times on the subject of Lasix He has stated that as long as you remain within one hour of the time Lasix was administered, there is not a performance/lack of performance advantage or disadvantage. So the actual 35 minutes later that Race 12 went off than the race’s actual scheduled post was of no concern to any horseman or vet on Saturday night.
“You speak of the post times/off times for the evening in your article. Unfortunately our USTA charter had a couple of inaccurate off times listed on the charts. Whether it was due to an inaccurate key stroke or reading the tote board incorrectly, I’m not sure. We can double check with him.”
I’m happy that I have a numbers of readers on Hawthorne’s management team and even happier that the performances of horses competing in the last “Champions” race weren’t affected by the lateness of the12:10 am off time and final race and “was of no concern to any horseman or vet.”
As far as the other “inaccuracies” that Miller pointed out, “don’t shoot the messenger.” The stated facts in my story were provided by the USTA.
It seems the USTA isn’t getting, or for that matter is even seeking from Hawthorne the correct scheduled off times for its results page on its web-site. What they dole out regarding scheduled post times is clearly incorrect information.
I suggest that Hawthorne pressures the USTA to get its act together to get the right facts posted to the public.
If that’s going to take too much time and money maybe Hawthorne can display the correct scheduled post times on its site or perhaps work something out with the IHHA to have it posted on theirs.
The fact that Hawthorne switched its first post time on three different occasions in a five month meet did create unnecessary confusion for horsemen. With those post time flip-flops it made for time adjustments on the track’s ever-changing Lasix schedule. In my view the back and forth starting times shouldn’t have been necessary to put into place.
Hawthorne will have seven long months to come up with a first race post for 2017. It should put on its big boy pants, make a decision, and this time stick with it.
After the first race is concluded nightly the likely post times are meaningless. For Hawthorne, and many others it’s all about jockeying for post-time position with other race tracks. Do we go ahead of this track or wait to go behind them on a particular race?
What is a concern to me is that, according to the Hawthorne e-mail, the USTA had “a couple of incorrect off times in its charts.” It makes you wonder what, if any, other erroneous data is bring gransmitted.
If there are indeed “occasional incorrect readings coming from the Hawthorne Tote Board the track has more than ample time to get it fixed before next year’s harness meeting finally rolls around.
As far as its dragged-out five-plus hours Night of Champions racing program is concerned, I’m still of the opinion that it’s too long. I have stated my view many times in the past on the lateness of Balmoral’s Super Nights. The vast majority of patrons don’t want to sit through a five hour program with often 25 minutes in between racing action.
Also, those on-track patrons at Hawthorne last Saturday who did get “tapped out” were then shortly out the door and on their away home. Many were already there and under the covers by the time the last race was over around 12:15 am
I realize the track feels it needs to generate every nickel and dime it can from the betting public but it does so with not much of a concern for the hardship it creates on the late race caretakers and trainers, especially those who have to van back to the Springfield area, or elsewhere in our state, and arrive home at 4 o’clock in the morning.
The average time for a major league baseball game is 2 hours and 58 minutes. For an NFL game its 3 hours and 12 minutes.
For Hawthorne’s Night of Champions program it was 5 hours and 12 minutes. Two hours longer than the length of a pro football game, really?