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Author Topic: Weight of a harness driver  (Read 3600 times)
vegas jay
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« on: December 21, 2010, 09:50:51 PM »

How much emphasis -- if any -- do you put on the weight of a harness driver in your handicapping calculations? The reason I ask is because I recently added Northfield Park to the list of harness tracks I follow and many of the drivers there more closely resemble NFL nose tackles.

For example, the winning driver-trainer of Tuesday night's 9th race was a guy named Dale Edwards -- and I'm not trying to be mean when I say this -- but he looked more like a mini-sumo wrestler than a driver. Looking at him in the winner's circle, I'd estimate his height and weight to be about 5-foot-5 and 300 lbs. And he's hardly the only driver at Northfield who looks extremely overweight.

At some point a driver's weight has got to factor into the handicapping equation, but I'm not sure what that point is. I know, for example, that Jack Moiseyev is listed at 175, but he's always looked like he was 200 lbs.,
easily. Yet it never kept him from being a great driver -- in fact, leading driver in North America one year, if memory serves correctly.

So, does weight really matter, and if so, how much?

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sleepless
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« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2010, 10:05:47 PM »

I rely on the brain use  or lack thereof of a driver.  Anyhow I located the following link that addresses your question. Hope it helps you http://www.rjwalsh.com.au/i_weight&balance.htm
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MVT
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« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2010, 10:32:26 PM »

Gary Rath is a big boy and he doesn't win many races.
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wilderness
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« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2010, 10:35:27 PM »

The following two excerpts from a "1937" (73-years-ago**) article by John Hervey:

"I remember, back in the good old days, when Joe Patchen created a sensation by breaking records with five different drivers. Bob Dickey made a cartoon of him with all five of them perched behind him, in the Horse Review, that brought down the house. But Joe Patchen was an aged, highly developed and educated race horse; and all five of the men that drove him were among the tops in the profession. Here is a colt (Dean Hanover (aka Mr. Watt)) that begins as a two-year-old, you might say before he's dry behind the ears. He has a whole bunch of different trainers—and breaks records for each and all of them. He does so for both of his owners, one of them a man that, I hear, weighs 200 pounds. And then an eleven-year-old child gets up behind him and drives him in 1:581/2! What a brain, what a trotting brain, that colt has."

Thus Dean Hanover has broken records with six different drivers behind him, three of them being amateurs, one a gentleman some 50 pounds overweight, the other a little girl of eleven years.
  end of quote

 ** 73-years-ago
 When the equipment, the horses, the driving techniques and the tracks surfaces were far different that what the same are today.

 I'm sure there's a point when weight makes a significant difference between a very competitive group of horses, however, and in lesser competitive classes, we've all seen lop-sided results (wins and losses) by both horses and horsemen where the current form of the horse is clearly more evident than the reinsman's weight or skills.
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Regards Don
VicD
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« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2010, 11:09:11 PM »

It's always easier to carry or pull a lighter weight..
The laws of physics apply to harness racing as well as everything else on earth..
With equal ability of the drivers, would you rather have a guy that weighs 200 lbs. or 150 lbs?
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Fillmore Bear
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« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2010, 12:52:17 AM »

It's always easier to carry or pull a lighter weight..
The laws of physics apply to harness racing as well as everything else on earth..
With equal ability of the drivers, would you rather have a guy that weighs 200 lbs. or 150 lbs?
If horses race well for a driver,his weight would only matter if he was on a more fragile bike than his own AND broke it.
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NiatrossJumps
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« Reply #6 on: December 22, 2010, 01:27:09 AM »

The only time I remember asking a handicapping "expert" this same question was years ago (late 70's), and he said..... only take a big weight difference into consideration on a sloppy track. Most good drivers are in pretty good shape weight, and strength wise. Somebody that has turned into a complete slob, is going to have a TOUGH time winning anyway. Physically biggest driver I ever saw in person, was Dick Kurtzworth, he was probably 6' 4" and well over 200 pounds, and was one of the best drivers I witnessed in person.
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Vegas
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« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2010, 03:57:58 AM »

The only time I remember asking a handicapping "expert" this same question was years ago (late 70's), and he said..... only take a big weight difference into consideration on a sloppy track. Most good drivers are in pretty good shape weight, and strength wise. Somebody that has turned into a complete slob, is going to have a TOUGH time winning anyway. Physically biggest driver I ever saw in person, was Dick Kurtzworth, he was probably 6' 4" and well over 200 pounds, and was one of the best drivers I witnessed in person.
William (Footsie) Mitchell was when driving at Monticello in the 60s about the same size, and I believe he was leading driver one year at Monti. trotter
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cheatsandthieves
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« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2010, 04:44:09 AM »

I'm not a physics major so I am not sure about how weight goes when being pulled but from a common sense standpoint a wider, taller person is going to have more wind Resistance than a thinner,smaller person. Not that you need to weight 200 pounds but a driver does have to have strength to get around a track and control a 1000 horse.
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VicD
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« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2010, 08:22:49 AM »

If being bigger, heavier, and stronger was a plus for a driver, NFL nose tackles would drive horses and win..
And they don't..
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wilderness
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« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2010, 09:33:21 AM »

Frank Safford was a large man (before he went on a crash diet) and he won many a race.

from March 1950 Hoof Beats:

Melting Pounds Away

Singing Reinsman Frank Safford Is Getting Rid of 55 Pounds of Excess Flesh--45 of 'em Already Are Gone

THERE'S a good chance that many of his friends won't recognize Frank Safford, for many years the undisputed heavyweight champion of harness racing, when he answers the bell for the 1950 campaign.

Safford already has trimmed 45 pounds from his fighting weight of mid-1949, an unwieldy 255. His goal is an even 200 and the New Hampshire reinsman says he'll tip the scales at no more than that when he enters the arena at Yonkers in April.
The day of decision arrived for Safford last October when he bent down to tie a shoe lace and discovered that he couldn't reach the target.

He talked over the "weighty" problem with his physician and a few weeks later, on November first, the dieting began.
The full complement of Safford steaks is still on the menu because steaks don't produce fat. But almost everything else went the way of all flesh.

The heaping portions of potatoes are-missing. So is butter, bread, dessert, lima beans and a variety of other fattening f oods.
And apparently the process is bringing about the desired results. The driver's jacket he bought in October wraps around him now like a parlor rug. His waist has shrunk from 50 to a svelte 44. His weight is right at 210.

And the asthma is gone too! For 25 years in a row, the asthma was always there. But it's gone now and that 'in itself, according to Safford, is enough reward for the slight discomfort suffered during the early days of dieting.

"Feel like a new man," Safford declares, "if I can keep my horses in the same kind of trim I might have a pretty good season.
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Regards Don
Mel from Moline
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« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2010, 09:35:09 AM »

In my 20+ years in the business....this question comes up and at some point in the early 90's hoof Beats even had an article about it. The answer....of course a 150lb driver would be better physically behind the horse....however the science of it says their is virtually NO difference BECAUSE of the rolling start. I'm a fat guy myself and I have NO trouble asking or getting a decent horse to go. A good driver is a good driver no matter what his weight. The best example is Cat Manzi who's probably 6 1'/190 or so.....and always has been.
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Croft
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« Reply #12 on: December 22, 2010, 10:35:10 AM »

I rely on the brain use  or lack thereof of a driver.  Anyhow I located the following link that addresses your question. Hope it helps you http://www.rjwalsh.com.au/i_weight&balance.htm

Very interesting read, thanks for posting it.

According to the link, two interacting and conflicting phenomena are at work with a heavier driver.

In a properly balanced bike, a heavier driver reduces the weight on the horses hooves which slightly increases the horse's speed.

However, a heavier driver also increases the friction experienced by the rolling wheels which slightly decreases the horse's speed.

The two effects pretty much cancel each other out and the very small advantage and/or very small disadvantage of a heavier driver is swamped by all the other factors that determine a race's outcome.
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Homeboyhanover
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« Reply #13 on: December 22, 2010, 10:55:24 AM »

Give me a 120 lb driver over a 220 lb driver anyday. I say that because in my days, I have seen many no talent 200 lb drivers and very few 120 lb talentless drivers.
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FILLYNATION
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« Reply #14 on: December 22, 2010, 11:11:42 AM »

I think the weight matters but the three most important pounds (Average) is the brain of the driver . I also think the race bike makes a world of difference . I remember a bike called the cheetah that did wonders for drivers but was too dangerous . Many races at Hawthorne racecourse had the announcer tell the public who was racing with a cheetah prior to the race . I think Anthony Morgan won a lot of races before others purchased or rented the cheetah . While Morgan was talented he also had the advantage of the cheetah for awhile . When other drivers drove the cheetah Morgan cooled off a bit which led me to think the bike made a difference .
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Lame But Game
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« Reply #15 on: December 22, 2010, 01:15:10 PM »

Josh Bisquit Marks does well and he is as heavy as pigland, almost
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Fillmore Bear
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« Reply #16 on: December 22, 2010, 02:25:41 PM »

Find a fat guy,borry a bike and you'll find YOU can very easily pull him with one hand.You do need to be careful about holding the shaft level,
so your fat friend doesn't land on his head.
This doesn't test for wind of course.
It seems to me that a tall driver woul;d catch more wind than a fat one.
If the driver is heavy enough to bend or break the bike,then HE IS TOO HEAVY.
At any rate whether yo're betting or choosing a catch driver,the drivers' weights don't change much.If you rate drivers based on their demonstrated ability,you don't need to change your evaluation unless they change their weight.

On a long term basis,a catch driver wannabee would be well advised to get in shape to avoid wear and tear on legs and to hit the ground a little softer in the inevitable accidents.

Large drivers were much more common up until harness racing came to cities and t-bred fans got involved.
 
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Claiming King
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« Reply #17 on: December 22, 2010, 07:11:05 PM »

I think the reason most great drivers have been smaller guys has more to do with their comfort level in the bike. It's just uncomfortable for a bigger guy. Every relatively tall driver I know has chronic back trouble. Now those miles take their toll on all of us, but I think it's much tougher on taller guys.
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Hooked
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« Reply #18 on: December 22, 2010, 09:32:55 PM »

The greatest thing sulkies have in their favor is inertia-...... trotter
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