Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Jimmy Takter fixed a race. That is what he did.

"The facts are that the horse driven by J Takter #3 Scream And Shout (102-1) Had just won a race at the Poconos on the front end with a 27.2 first 1/4 and 56 first half from the 7 hole yet was unable to advance in this race with a 27.2 first 1/4 and a pedestrian 57.4 half from the 3 hole. Calculations show that the Takter driven horse went the first 1/4 in 28.1 and hit the half in 58.1 which is a long way from where it could go. After reviewing the replay of the race several times it is obvious by the positioning of the horses head that she was restrained from advancing and certainly NOT urged on. Add to the fact that the other Takter horse was also parked behind the #3 eliminating any chance of another horse challenging for the lead which lead to an unheard of 30.1 2nd 1/4 . Horse racing is a sport that you bet on unlike bike racing which compete and help other team mates throughout the race or even car racing. Betters digest the information from the program and it is a given that ALL participants will abide by the rules of horse racing and NOT collude with other drivers to influence the outcome of a race. I have no doubt that the winner from Takter's barn Shake It Cerry was given an unfair advantage with the help of other stable mates."

-that was from Norm Brunet, in the comments section this morning on the SC website. 

Lets start this with two overriding principles of the roots of horse racing and the modern realities that current exist.

Originally when horses raced against each other--(and in most cases it was two horses racing many times with the owners putting up money against each other,  winner take all) it was to see who had the better and faster horse. That IS still the basis for all racing. Who is the best horse? The best horse should win the race and get the bulk of the purse money, however that is created. That is what most bettors bet on. Who is the best horse on that day, in that particular race and therefore, most likely to win based on the presumption that all are trying first and foremost to win.
The current reality is that horse racing is a business, where the purse money for the most part is created from betting from the public at large. In stakes races, part of the purse is created from payments that various owners make, the starting fees of the current entrants, a portion of the betting public's wagers, and of course, in the true modern reality, from subsidies from governments and casino profits. 
In any case, the overriding principle still exists. You race because you think you are the best, believe you should win, and the only goal you should have in a race is to win the race, based on your best estimate of how to race your horse to do that. People bet on that race because they make a tacit assumption that you are going to do that. Whenever that isn't the case, the whole foundation of the industry crumbles to the ground like Jimmy Takter's great reputation just did on Saturday night.
In my view, and many others, that is not even close to what happened Saturday night in the Del Miller.

So, what does this really mean? Well, the facts are, that if you accept Norm's assessment, which I do and most who watched the race and understand even a bit about harness racing do, then what Jimmy Takter did was race fixing. Pure and simple. I doubt he did it for the purposes of cashing a ticket, but that doesn't really matter. He fixed a pari-mutuel race, and in so doing, is in clear violation of the most serious of rule infractions.
Some have said that he wasn't alone in his tactics. That Yannick Gingras, a highly respected and successful driver who was driving another of Takter's entries in this race, colluded with him. I don't see it that way, but I can see where others might.
Did Gingras do something wrong? Maybe he did. But that is debatable. At least he wasn't the one locking in the favorite and moved forward and tried to win when he could. Did he sit back too long and block the outer flow? Maybe. But he wasn't sitting 3 wide the whole way. Any of those could have tried to loop him if they wanted to. He was on cover, and that is good enough for me. He used the clear lane he had in the stretch to advance, which is his right and he shouldn't allow the favorite out if he can pin him in...while he is going forward. That is just good driving. It is not like he was sitting on a very live horse, or one of the two favorites. He was on dead cover, and the reason why that cover was dead isn't his fault. Should he have moved 3 wide a lot earlier around that cover? Probably. But in any event, he wasn't the one blocking the favorite in on the rail...on purpose...and nobody from the backfield was moving at all. So, he seems to be a non factor to me. Unless, of course, it can be proved that he was told to race in a manner that furthered the cause of the actual winner,  and not the horse he was driving. That simply isn't going to happen, so pursuing anything publicly with Gingras is a dead end. Privately, the judges and or racing commission will call him in and warn him that he might have gotten away with one this time, but they will be watching him and there won't be any leniency next time if he is caught racing and not trying to win but impede others on purpose. 

 "this is ridiculous its a bloody horse race anything can happen. Mr Gural, he doesn't like the way a driver drives so he bans him and now hes going after Takter??? watch the race - the horse had no go! you know how many times I have been parked out or locked in and couldn't go anywhere and should have finished better then I did? lots of them!! its harness racing things happen! move on and see you next week! and further more if the favourite was the one to beat then he should have been going right from the get go! not to mention he got out in lots of time to win that!!"

-that from Christopher Long in the same comments section.

I know of Chris Long from watching Saratoga and Plainridge. Quite frankly, he is a horrific and dangerous driver who would make a stupid comment like that. I watched two weeks ago, where a horse he had been beating on and overdriving for several weeks finally fell when he gunned her out and beat on her. He is also a guy who was given a stiff fine for driving in a non competitive manner a few months ago at Saratoga. Of all people, he really should keep his mouth shut.
If he actually thinks that Designed to Be could have made the lead, or then could have come on and won that race after that 2nd quarter and total loss of momentum until very late, he is a bigger fool than he appears to be. One thing you can say though is this: Brian Sears was trying to win the race, and not impede others, and he never stopped trying to do that all the way to the wire. If not for Takter's tactics, he certainly wins the race. He only got beat a length as it is. The back half in 55.1. Which means he would have had to go in 54.1 to win it, and that is with no shot to make a move for all of the 3rd quarter and most of the stretch. Even a novice fan and the average handicapper knows that when you are pinned in, you rarely get a chance to win unless you are very close to the pace. 

Some have said that Designed To Be, the favorite, should have left out hard and been out and going. That just ignores the facts of the race. She got outleft by Coooler Schooner, who is a blistering leaver, then was behind that one when she ran in front of her, at which time Sears had to take hold, and then was locked in the rest of the way when it all shook out. Anybody who watches the race and understands driving horses can see that clearly.
No, the only true conclusion that any right thinking person could make is that Jimmy Takter fixed that race. That is what he did. He is a cheater. He cheated the betting public and he cheated the owner of Designed To Be of a fair chance to win purse money. It is no different than if he had gotten caught cashing tickets on some longshot he bet while driving another horse badly to achieve that. To view it any other way goes against the roots and current reality of horse racing. If he is allowed to get away with it, he is basically telling the betting public, the people that ultimately pay his salary, that they shouldn't even bother showing up and supporting him and others. If other horsemen don't speak up about this...which they wont because there is an unwritten code not to....then they shouldn't be surprised one day when they are working at Walmart as greeters because the slot money is gone and the bettors have long left as well.
The bottom line? Jimmy Takter is a bullying, classless cheater who is flaunting his transgressions right in front of the public and the judges. If ever there was a time for Gural to enforce his property rights and ban Takter for life for "misconduct that isn't in the best interests of racing" this is the instance
Nothing short of a 5 year complete suspension is in order. He is a cheater, of the worst kind. He should be banished from the sport.
If he is allowed to be the trainer of record in the Hambo, then the sport is a mockery. 

Will the racing commission do any of that? Nope. They wont. Jimmy Takter makes a lot of money, and has both very powerful friends and many of those have very deep pockets. Nobody would want to take him on and incur the kind of legal fees that would be necessary. 
Jimmy Takter fixed a race. That is what he did. I don't think many would dispute that. What will the powers that be do about that? I don't think many know for sure. But they are watching.  Watching to see if racing is going to take a stand against the very thing that has been driving fans towards the poker tables and slot machines for more than a generation.
I for one will be very interested to see if Gural is forced to and does take a stand,  how many tracks,  like WEG, support him and do the same. If not, they are making a statement that cheating in races is okay with them. I don't think that is something you ever want the public thinking. Right now, many are thinking that.

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