By Alex Cornella
Johnsonburg, NJ USA

This spring I sent three birds to the IF Convention race hosted by the Northern Catskill Racing Club in New York State. Traditionally, these convention races were good tests against the cream of the country and winning was an accomplishment to make any fancier proud.

These are the only birds I entered in a futurity this year, as I am not big on gambling on pigeon races, especially since I am retired and have to watch my pennies. A handler for the convention race informed me that a big pigeon stud has entered 64 birds in this race. This was confirmed to me by an IF officer. Apparently, the owner of the stud has entered 30 birds in his name and 34 birds are entered under other loft names. So what is up with this? Is he trying to buy the race?

I am more than willing to put up three of my birds against 10 or 12 birds from any loft in the country, back them up with a little money, and let the best loft win. But, three against 30 or 64, those are skewed odds. I am wondering how many entries the other big pigeon farms have entered in the IF convention race.

Funny thing, when you see the ads in the pigeon magazines touting a stud farm’s win in a big race, they never mention how many birds they entered. Breeders enter birds under his name, his wife’s name, his daughter's name, his son-in-law’s name and on and on. The entry is spread over many lofts with positions in the short end, long end, west side, east side. You get the idea. No matter which way the wind is blowing that have a shot. The little guy who sent three or six birds to a handler whose loft was not favored by the right weather might as well have flushed his entry money down the toilet.

However, when the bid studs advertise their wins, they forget to point out that the birds were listed under someone else’s name or how big a mob they entered. After a race, the big name breeder will tell the race committee that they actually are the breeders and submitters of the birds that placed well and demand that only their name be used in listing the results. This way if the birds do not score, they are not associated with the entries that did not fare well, but if the birds do place well, they have the entries changed to their name with the permission of their co-partner.

When you are submitting 60 - 100 birds under other loft names spread across the area where the birds home, it is not hard to hit a good placement here and there. And when you don't place well, there is no need to explain why your birds could not get on the sheet.

This situation where flyers with deep pockets inundate futurities is not good for the sport. And it is not sportsmanship. The professionals will drive the little guys out, for sure. Before long, we will be like Taiwan, where only professional or super wealthy flyers complete in the money races and the hobbyists sit on the sidelines. It is not an honor to win a national convention race when the playing field is not level for all comers. Perhaps futurities need several categories based on the number of entries from a single loft. I am not sure what the answer is, but win, lose or draw, I can tell you this much -- I will not be sending any more birds to futurities where the deck is stacked against me.