Effective immediately, I would like the following phrase banned from all harness racing industry discussions. Its use should result in a time-out being called whenever it is uttered. And I’m not referring to one of those fun football timeouts, but a kindergarten style, sit in the corner staring at the wall, “real” time out. The phrase: “It’s not that simple.”
Fifteen years of working in this sport and I can tell you unequivocally, those words always represent the beginning of the end for a concept, an idea or a plan.
Try it some time. “The sport needs a meaningful Triple Crown that the public recognizes and cares about,” you’ll say. “The races already exist — the North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace and the Little Brown Jug. Let’s market them together, pool some money for a bonus and we’re off to the races.
“It’s not that simple,” somebody important will say, forebodingly.
“Certain tracks are wagering less than $200 in the win pool for their entire cards,” you’ll point out. “Even at a 25% takeout, that’s only $50 in net revenue. Why not be the first track in North America to offer a 0% takeout rate on all win bets? The industry press alone will pay for it 100 times over.”
“It’s not that simple,” says the curmudgeon, as he slams his door in your face.
“Let’s develop a system of graded stakes and black type to differentiate how meaningful races are. Surely a $100,000 Sires Stakes win in Maine is not equal to an open stakes race at Mohawk,” you’ll reason.
“That’s a great idea,” your sounding board will say encouragingly, followed by, “if only it were that simple.” Idea denied.
“Take a small percentage of purse money to invest in the future of the sport?” “Offer betting odds in real time?” “Uniform rules?” “A single lab for drug testing?”
“Not that simple,” “not that simple,” “not that simple” and “not that simple!”
Those who believe in “it’s not that simple” are fifth generation ancestors of Mr. and Mrs. Status Quo. They unsuccessfully attempted to change our country’s name to Can’t-ada but failed because it took too much effort. Now their great-great-grandchildren speak of the glory days of harness racing — when Dan Patch, foaled in 1896, captured the hearts and minds of a continent. Eight horses. One mile. Why change a good thing?
Perhaps the Itsnotthatsimples should have met a young Henry Ford, who himself in 1896 developed his first vehicle, the Ford Quadricycle. While it took 12 more years before Ford rolled out the world renowned Model T, Ford didn’t put up with “It’s not that simple.” His motto: “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right!”
As the industry faces its toughest times, we will embrace positive change and believe in what we are capable of. Our sport has the potential to capture the hearts and minds of an entire nation. We must believe it and do everything in our power to help make it happen. Simple, right!
After nearly five years, our Associate Editor, Kimberly Fisher is leaving the Trot team to start another exciting chapter in her life. As leader of our editorial efforts for the past half decade, Kim has helped turn our magazine into an award-winning publication and we sincerely thank her for all that she has done. We wish Kim all the best and look forward to seeing her at the races in the near future!