Being a lifeguard at the Clinton Swimming Pool was very special on Sunday afternoons. You see, the pool was just off the corner of Turn 1 at Clinton Raceway where the harness horses ran. Post times had the afternoon races start before and finish after the public swimming hours. As we would clean the deck, you could catch a race or two before the work started. It was always fascinating to watch these incredible athletes race each other around the track.
It was a special event when the horses managed to get around the track in times like 2:04 (two minutes, four seconds). For the most part, the horses that raced there were raised and trained by locals with the exception of the Preferred races or when the Ontario Sires Stakes came into town. For these races, the purses were raised significantly and the best horses would chase the dollars around the province to make money for their owners who continued to improve the training and conditions for the horses.
Now, that was a long time ago.
I was inspired to check and see what the current track record is – and a new record of 1:55 was set just last week. That’s an amazing speed. During the course of my lifetime, they were literally knocking many seconds off the record as they got better. Better training? Better conditions? Better food? Smarter Owners? Smarter Trainers? Better track to run on? The answer would be all of the above. The one thing that is sure; the industry didn’t stand pat on its laurels. It’s constantly improving.
What inspired me? I would like to say that it was a trip to Clinton to see these spectacular athletes in action. But, it wasn’t. What inspired this moment was watching The North America Cup, with its $1.5 million dollar purse, last night from Mohawk Raceway. The winner was Thinking Out Loud who ran the mile in 1:47.4. If you understand harness racing, you can’t help but be in awe at that speed. If you live in Essex County, you’ve got to be proud of the fact that part owner and trainer is from Windsor – Bob McIntosh. If you can’t appreciate the speed or the personalities, you’ve got to appreciate the differential in the times that I’ve quoted above.
This can only happen because of a dedication to improvement. In training, in conditions, in dedication.
Next time someone pines for the “Good Ol’ Days” of education, feel free to share a story like this with them.
Students today deserve better learning, better learning conditions, a good breakfast before going to classes, smarter school systems, smarter teachers, better equipment, better school environments.
Imagine the potential when it all comes together just like it did for Thinking Out Loud. We should demand that things get better over time. We can’t rely on the schools and teaching of the past.
It’s post time.