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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Press Coverage Fading Away

- New post up at, and note that Paul Moran is now blogging there as well. The long-time racing writer for Long Island's Newsday, Moran has retired just this week. You may recall that he was the only mainstream writer that was pushing the story regarding Castellano's incessant whipping of Indian Flare before he collapsed and died following the Ballerina at Saratoga.

Paul has now started a blog of his own, and in his first entry, he discussed the steep decline in newspaper coverage of our favorite sport, a development which led to his decision to retire from the paper.

Only five full-time positions remain in the United States for people writing exclusively on thoroughbred racing for general circulation newspapers. Two of those are at papers in Louisville and Lexington. The others are in Los Angeles, Washington and the aforementioned New York Post.
Newsday was certainly amongst the leaders in coverage back in the day. That's where Bill Nack plied his trade, in addition to John Pricci. My recollection is that it was the first paper (at least around here) to include daily commentary on noteworthy trips and other angles from the prior day's races (again, if I'm remembering correctly, it was written by the sharp Monmouth/Meadowlands analyst Brad Thomas). Now, according to Moran, all that remains is bare-bone entries incorporated into an abbreviated handicapping analysis, results where once there were charts. And of course, in that regard, the paper is certainly not alone.

- John, over at Not to the Swift, is a founding member of the Street Sense Fan Club, and he seems to be satisfied with the colt's effort at Turfway.
In reality the race was more of a public workout; almost like training up to a race and getting paid for it on a surface that Hard Spun likes and Street Sense doesn't.
But Watchmaker disagrees.
But this race suddenly didn't feel like a prep for Street Sense when he drew almost even with Hard Spun in upper stretch, as he was put to strong whip pressure from both sides when presented with a shot to win. Now it seems reasonable to question whether Street Sense has progressed from the spring to the fall as most 3-year-olds do. Street Sense earned Beyer Speed Figures of 110 in the Derby and 111 when he got nailed in the Preakness. Since then, his Beyers are 105, 108, and the 107 he earned on Saturday. [Daily Racing Form (sub. only)]
This time I'll have to actually agree with my TBA colleague. Sure, Borel gave him a couple of smacks from each side, but he quickly stopped when he realized he wasn't getting past his rival.

John is dreaming of 5-1 in the Classic. Hmmm... You gotta figure that Curlin will go off at lower odds than he at this point; Lawyer Ron for sure. I don't think bettors will fall for Hard Spun in the Classic.....but you never know. Don't know about 5-1, but I'd think one will certainly get fair odds.

- Alan Garcia's winning ride on Lahudood in the Flower Bowl was reminiscent of the rail skimming ride he used to boot Shakis to victory for McLaughlin and Darley in the Bernard Baruch. The trainer said that Lahudood will be supplemented by Shadwell to the F&M Turf. She's by Singspiel out of an Arazi mare; and this is the distaff family of the European Grade 1 winning brothers Nashwan and Nayef.


Anonymous said...

I was at the Spa when Indian Flare died. It was inexcusable! Well, not her death; that was part of racing, but some of the events during her time in distress were very troubling. First, Castellano DID CONTINUE TO WHIP the horse when she began to fade at the top of the stretch. She came across the wire last and did not look good. She died about 20 yards past the finish line. What was the worst part of it? The hose did not reach far enough when they attempted to spray (cool) her. It likely appeared to many nearby that she had suffered from heat stroke, but she died from a pelvic fracture, according to the NYRA vet.

Any idea why West Point is selling Irish Smoke? She's a 2-year-old and likely headed for the Breeders' Cup. Where are the racing journalists from DRF and Blood-Horse in asking Terry Finley some pointed questions about her trainer. For example, "Terry, is West Point and Lewis Lakin's decision to sell Irish Smoke based on the allegations surrounding her trainer?" "Terry, have you given any thought of transferring her to a different trainer for the balance of your ownership?"

Anonymous said...

Since your BC blog does not accommodate comments, I thought I’d note here that Steve Haskin on Bloodhorse does not share your view [Slogan and Rail Cam (Sometimes) Catching On] of ESPN’s camera work on Sunday at Belmont. I was watching mostly TVG on Sunday and switching to ESPN only sporadically, so I can’t specifically address that telecast, but I do have some views of horse racing telecasts generally.

I share your view, expressed in an earlier BC post [As Easy As 1-2-3], that the way for horse racing to attract fans is to get them experience the fun of picking a horse and rooting for it. In that vein, the problem I have with most horse racing telecasts is that they make it very difficult to keep track of the horses, particularly those coming from the back of the pack. My particular pet peeve is the tendency of producers to cut to a close-up of the leaders at about the three-eighths pole, just as the closers are starting to make their moves. That not only makes it impossible to see who is moving up and who is experiencing traffic problems, but it also makes it difficult to pick up a horse again when they cut back to a wide shot.

I think the rail cam has its place when the horses are holding their positions down the backstretch, but when the racing starts, I want information, not art. I would also trade the rail cam for a blimp shot any day.


alan said...

Hey BitPlayer - Thanks for taking the time to drop by and comment. Yeah, I wish they had comments over there, but the site is a work in progress at this point.

I don't think I disagree too much with Haskin. I did write that the coverage of the Gold Cup was disorienting, with too many cuts. His criticism of that angle they used in the stretch is right on.

But i thought that otherwise, the coverage was OK, and I obviously particularly like the rail cam shot. Having said that, I think I'm generally less critical in this regard, perhaps because, like you, I've seen so many races and don't have a particular problem picking up horses if the director goes to a brief close up, as ESPN did towards the top of the stretch run.

But you make a good point about novice viewers getting confused. That's where I think that some judicious use of Trakus could be extremely helpful, especially with the saddle cloths all being the same color. I hope to get to that in a future post on the BC site. Thanks again for stopping by.