Why Harness Racing is Awesome

Harness racing is among the most accessible sports around.  Whereas  major sports require fans to pay for expensive tickets and cable subscriptions to follow the games, admission to the track is typically free and races can be streamed online for free.  Racing fans are able to participate more directly in the game than those in other sports. They do this by placing bets [that can be as low as $1], monitoring the tote board and predicting the winner of races.  In making their predictions, they use a vast array of information and statistics.  They can also walk away from the sporting event with more money than they spent going in.  The sport is also a source of employment for a huge number of people across the province, in a wide variety of fields.  Horseracing employs trainers, jockeys, media broadcasters, veterinarians, hospitality workers, blacksmiths, grooms, riders, marketing professionals, breeders, equipment manufacturers and many more.  Finally, the excitement of watching your horse go first across the finish line and the satisfaction of winning a tidy sum of money after predicting the winner, is unmatched.  I have never brought a friend or family member to the track who did not enjoy the thrill of the game!


Fans and Gamblers

Unlike a lot of sports, the harness racing industry has a huge number of overlapping groups that make it operate.  People who own standardbred horses are different from trainers, but lots of trainers own horses.  Standardbred “drivers” (i.e. the person who sits in the sulky) are different from trainers, but many trainers drive their own horses.  And the people who own and train standardbred horses (referred to as “horsemen”) are different from the track owners, but horsemen are integral to the operation of any track.

Admittedly, this is confusing.  But the two groups that the general public fall into are gamblers and fans.  Many people who gamble on harness racing don’t consider themselves “fans” necessarily, but many fans do enjoy to gamble.  So, understanding this distinction is critical to reviving the industry.

Most often, people who fall mainly into the gambling category follow races remotely, online or at off-track betting facilities.  They are typically attracted to any track anywhere based on the track’s “takeout” (the percentage of the wagering pool that is withheld by the track) and the kinds of betting that a track features, like high-five jackpots or pick-threes.  Gamblers also, typically, bet a lot of money frequently.   Fans, on the other hand, enjoy watching the sport in-person at a local track.  They go to the track in the same spirit that someone goes to a minor-league baseball game.  They  enjoy the outdoor setting, the air, the grass and the open expanse of the infield and the racing path.  They relish the excitement and comradery of spending an evening with friends.  Most of them will gamble on the races, but their bets are limited to $2, $5, $10 or $20 a race.

Most of the time, race tracks focus on appealing to gamblers, and for good reason.  The gamblers are the ones who provide the bulk of the revenue.  But I think the industry should also focus on rebuilding the fan base to generate even more revenue.  While a gambler may gamble $2,000 on a single race, 200 individual fans might gamble $10 on that same race, while buying 200 times the number of hot dogs and beers as the single gambler.  In other words, everyone has value, and the industry needs to appeal to the casual fan as much as it does the devoted gambler.

Fans enjoy the outdoor setting, the air, the grass and the open expanse of the infield and the racing path.

Difference between thoroughbred and harness racing

I feel that any blog about harness racing probably needs an obligatory explanation of what it actually is. When most people think of horse racing, they think of thoroughbred horses ridden by a jockey. But harness racing is a much different sport with virtually nothing in common with thoroughbreds. Harness horses, known as standardbreds, are not ridden but rather “driven” by a “driver” who sits behind a two-wheeled “sulky,” which amounts to little more than a cart. The strategies and techniques used to train and race harness horses are entirely different from those used for thoroughbreds. As a result, both kinds of racing are virtually exclusive to each other. Fans, owners and trainers of harness racing, focus on standardbred horses. Fans, owners and trainers of thoroughbred racing, tend to focus on thoroughbred horses. So, without reinventing the wheel, I’m posting this excellent summary outlining the finer details that separate harness (standardbred) racing from thoroughbred racing.

Harness Racing

Many people tend to confuse Thoroughbred racing and harness racing, although the two racing games have many differences. Thoroughbred racing is more popular then harness racing, however, both have a large crowd of dedicated fans. The major difference between these two types of racing is that the harness racing, also known as standard bred racing uses a sulky, which is a lightweight cart with two wheels and is attached to the horse by use of a harness. It gives the race its name, while in thoroughbred racing a jockey rides the horse.

Another difference between the two races is that in thoroughbred racing, {the horses have a chance to trot, gallop or pace but in Harness racing|harness racing requires the horses to trot, gallop or pace. Pacing is faster than trotting in harness racing. In trotting or pacing there is risk the horse might start to gallop, if this…

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