NORTH SALEM, N.Y. -- Rob Blassberg’s love for harness racing and horses extends back more than 30 years. Every day the Brewster resident sees the horse his family owned, Quite A Tan, and remembers the joy and thrills the horse provided during a 13-year racing career that saw him win 49 races.
Sadly, Blassberg also knows retired harness racing horses meet cruel and inhumane deaths after their racing careers are over. He’s hoping a new online game he is developing will help end the practice in which the horses end up at auction houses and kill pens.
“Harness racing is my passion,’’ said Blassberg, who also runs Rescue For Love, which finds homes for dogs. “There are no real good harness racing games out there. I’m also doing it for all the horses that didn’t make it out of a kill pen. It’s pretty emotional for me. I grew up with these horses.”
Blassberg’s game, online at ItsPostTime.net, should be available within a year. Earlier this year, he set up a GoFundMe page to help finance the game’s development. Click h e re to visit the Go Fund Me page.
The online game will be regionally based throughout North America with tracks across the United States. Races will be conducted day and night, seven days a week. Each racing card will consist of 10 races, six minutes apart, with eight horses. The purses and winning times will reflect today’s real harness racing.
The game will be a free download, but in-game purchases can enhance the game. Players, for instance, can purchase vitamins for horses to make them run faster. “The game is very similar to what’s going on in the industry today,’’ Blassberg said. “Things they will purchase during the game are items people use in racing.”
Blassberg has been developing the game with a software expert for a few years. He hopes to launch the game next year, and says it will be similar to other online games.
“It’s not your typical racing game,’’ he said. “As fun as they are, they can become monotonous. I made it a story, and I have characters that people can relate to. We’ll also tell people how many horses are being saved, thanks to them.”
Blassberg’s enjoyment for harness racing stems in large part from Quite A Tan, now 29 years old and in retirement in North Salem. He was owned by Blassberg’s father, who sold him as the horse’s racing career started to take off. Blassberg adopted the horse in 2006.
“He was so versatile,’’ Blassberg said. “He could win from in front or come from behind. He was no joke. He raced up until he wasn’t legally allowed to do so after he became 15. He set the world record for the fastest 13-year-old and 14-year-old to ever win a race.”
While Quite A Tan enjoys retirement, far too many former harness race horses meet a far worse fate in slaughterhouses. “They end up in auction houses for many reasons,’’ Blassberg said. “But, they are extremely toxic. Horses are not meant to be ingested by people. It’s not good for you health-wise. These horses are racing for us to make money, and sadly too many people don’t care what to happens to them later.”
With Blassberg’s love of animals, and seeing what transpired to the horses in slaughterhouses, he felt compelled to take action and started creating the idea for his game. He is creating a way for harness racing aficionados to have fun, while also saving horses.
Blassberg traveled to Yonkers, the Meadowlands and throughout New England to race the family’s horses. “Wherever there was a track,’’ he said. And now he’s giving back to the sport and saving animals from cruel and inhumane deaths.
“It’s in our blood to rescue animals,’’ he said. “Sadly, there’s a need for this. I’m not looking at this for fame. I’m doing this because of all the wonderful memories I have from harness racing.”