Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION

The less publicity, the better

  • Print
New race officials:  (Front) Tom Goodman, chair of the Manitoba Horse Racing Commission.  (Back, from left):  Brian Palaniuk, steward; Brian Billeck, MHRC vice-chair; Grant Buckoski, steward.

SUPPLIED PHOTO Enlarge Image

New race officials: (Front) Tom Goodman, chair of the Manitoba Horse Racing Commission. (Back, from left): Brian Palaniuk, steward; Brian Billeck, MHRC vice-chair; Grant Buckoski, steward. Photo Store

The less you hear about them, the happier they’ll be.

Who am I talking about? The most important behind-the-scenes people in horse racing— government-appointed racing officials. They’re the stewards who patrol the backstretch and scrutinize all racing, and the two top officials of the Manitoba Horse Racing Commission, which sets the rules and the tone for what the stewards do.

They’re all brand-new appointments. They’ve only been on the job for a month. And, if everything goes the way they want it to go, this is the last you’ll hear about them for a long time — unlike their predecessors, who had knack for getting a whack of bad publicity, some of which you read about here.

The former racing stewards left under a cloud of having screwed up the finish in a race last August, causing the track to pay out on the wrong order of finish for six minutes before their mistake was discovered. That’s about as serious a no-no as you’ll see in racing. And there was the case of a new jockey who had been slapped with a $500 abusive riding penalty without having been told what the riding rules are in Manitoba. (It was overturned upon appeal.) And the leading trainer, Shelley Brown, saying that a steward told her that if she didn’t like what they were doing, she should go somewhere else.

And the most celebrated case was a former jockey, Rocco Bowen, being fined $300 for standing in his irons and pumping the air just before the wire when he won a stakes race. The stewards called it "grandstanding." The horse’s trainer and owners helped the jockey pay that fine.

No more of that. Tom Goodman, the new chair of the racing commission, a lawyer who adjudicated human rights and labour code cases, said the mandatory fining schedule had been scrapped and the new policy will be one of "educating" errant jockeys rather than throwing the book at them.

He also said there is an awareness that jockeys don’t make a lot of money, so fines, when necessary, will not be overly punitive.

The other three race officials also have a lot of backstretch and fan respect. The commission vice-chair is easygoing Brian Billeck, a horseman since 1970.

The two new stewards are Brian Palaniuk, a former trainer at the Downs and at Woodbine in Toronto, and Grant Buckoski, a former gym teacher, horseplayer and horse owner.

And if I don’t write one more word about them during this race season, they’ll likely love it. Because that essentially means they are quietly, fairly, uncontroversially doing their jobs.

Live racing continues with Wednesdays added to the mix. So now it’s "Wed-Fri-Sat," an easy way to remember the race schedule. Always at 7:30 p.m.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

This Just In Twitter bird

Readers‘ Choice Awards

Best Of Winnipeg Readers Survey

Make your choice in the Canstar Community News‘ Best of Winnipeg Readers‘ Choice Awards

Vote Now

Poll

Do you think cameras should be allowed in Manitoba courtrooms?

View Results

View Related Story