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"Unparalleled Transparency" Offered

Published: December 6, 2012 8:01 am ET

Last Comment: December 11, 2012 5:52 pm ET | 5 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

This Friday the Illinois Harness Horseman’s Association (IHHA) will unveil unprecedented between-race interviews that promise to revolutionize the way that fans handicap and understand harness racing in Chicago.

“I hope racing fans tune in to the Maywood Park signal on Friday,” said IHHA President David McCaffrey. “There are no other horseman’s associations or racetracks going behind the scenes like we are, doing immediate post-race interviews with drivers and trainers.”

The IHHA board decided during the summer to pursue post-race interviews with drivers in order to help fans understand why drivers make certain decisions on the track and to explain extraordinary circumstances.

“If a horse is the favourite to win a race and he races terribly and finishes last, I think fans want to know what’s going on,” said McCaffrey. “It could be something as simple as a piece of paper in the track that spooks a horse and causes him to break stride or a knee boot that comes loose and impedes the horse’s gait. Either way, the fans deserve an explanation.”

By bringing the drivers into the living room, the IHHA hopes that the public will become more engaged and will use the interviews when they handicap races. The board also hopes that the interviews will bring more transparency to the sport. To that end, fans will eventually be able to submit questions via Facebook and Twitter.

“There are a lot of factors on the track,” said IHHA board member and driver Marcus Miller. “A driver might get boxed in or there could be an equipment malfunction. Drivers make mistakes sometimes too. But the public needs an explanation. We need them to know that we’re honest out there.”

The concept is similar to what fans of other sports are accustomed to seeing in post-game interviews. Jeremey Day will be conducting the post race interviews. Day is co-host of the North American Harness Update and a Daily Racing Form Harness handicapper for Balmoral Racetrack. Drivers will be asked about their performance on the track and given the chance to explain what happened.

“We want to address the questionable parts of the race,” said Day. “If a driver’s strategy seems questionable or there was an equipment malfunction, we’re going to look at the replay and talk about what happened on the track.”

For the past month, the IHHA has been conducting generic interviews with trainers and drivers. A collection of these interviews can be found on the Illinois Harness Horseman’s Association YouTube channel. IHHA board member Bernie Paul said that these interviews will be different.

“These aren’t going to be fluff interviews. We want the tough questions,” said Paul. “We ask NFL quarterbacks about why they threw an interception or ran a specific play. Racing fans deserve that same kind of transparency.”

The first driver interviews will be conducted on Friday, December 7 at Maywood Park.

“Fans are going to be surprised,” said Paul. “This is a whole new approach to the sport. We think this will really help with handicapping and give fans a better understanding of the entire game.”

December 11, 2012 - 5:52 pmI suggested this idea

Gord Brown SAID...

I suggested this idea probably 15 years ago. It was a must then and it is a must now. The betting public likes to be informed. They want to know what the driver thinks. Was the horse on one line? Did he think he choked? Was he not pacing or trotting good? Did he race like he was sick? Will he be better or not next start? I am sure a driver that gets beat with a 1-9 shot doesn't want to be interviewed very badly, but they are not the only ones losing money on this particular horse.

Kudos to Maywood

December 7, 2012 - 2:15 pmMy colleague and friend

My colleague and friend Jeremey Day is as passionate as they come about harness racing and the horsemen have met and agreed to support this unique initiative. Jeremey will not be afraid to ask the "tough questions" and hopefully these interviews help not only educate the betting public but also provide some sort of explanation for a strategy that is likely to be questioned in the stands by the bettors. Remember folks; now more than ever the bettor is the lifeblood of your sport. No handle=no racing; it's as simple as that.

December 6, 2012 - 3:22 pmI agree with Tim. It's time

I agree with Tim. It's time to cut out the "dead air" in harness racing programs and start filling it with informative material that helps the non-harness person get on board, as well as promote the sport. This criteria should definitely be adopted in Ontario as well as other Canadian provinces. Marketing is key.

December 6, 2012 - 11:33 amMy Buddy Jim Watt (OHHA

Tim Robinson SAID...

My Buddy Jim Watt (OHHA Rep.), and myself, knew this was the type of thing Harness Racing had to do 30 Years ago. Marketing made Nascar and Poker etc., Harness Racing always had it's "head in the mud" on these kinds of issues, hence why you have the lack of support in Today's World. Sorry just had to say, it's been a bone of contention with us who think Harness Racing should be at the Top of the sports world, not on it's way out..... Tim

December 6, 2012 - 11:04 amCan you imagine where this is

Can you imagine where this is going? Mr. Driver, you did not pull at the half. Then the politically correct judges must fine him. He may have thought first up he did not have a chance. Oh my you gotta love the future it is hard to believe, but it will be worse than the past!

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