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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Deal With It

- So, Big Brown can get the distance. He had as much seasoning as he needed. His feet are OK, at least for now, and he can run more or less in a straight line through the stretch. And yes, believe it or not, he can also rate. Holy shit (no pun intended)!

However, Big Brown is not the big story this morning. The front page of the NY Times sports section features, under a headline that reads Triumph, and Then Tears, at the Derby, a large photo of the stricken and obviously distressed Eight Belles lying prone just minutes before she would be euthanized right there on the track. Just underneath, surprise surprise, is the obligatory column by William C. Rhoden, the Grey Lady's resident racing basher, decrying the sport's brutal side. "This is bullfighting," he writes, in a column that he probably had stored somewhere on his computer, waiting for the next sad occasion on which to roll it out.

Within the racing industry, Eight Belles was a tragic but glorious casualty. The industry is in denial: racing grinds up horses, and we dress up the sport with large hats, mint juleps and string bands.

Why do we refuse to put the brutal game of racing in the realm of mistreatment of animals? At what point do we at least raise the question about the efficacy of thousand-pound horses racing at full throttle on spindly legs?
.....
Eight Belles was another victim of a brutal sport that is carried, literally, on the backs of horses. Horsemen like to talk about their thoroughbreds and how they were born to run and live to run. The reality is that they are made to run, forced to run for profits they never see. [NY Times]
Rhoden is good, even if that last line about horses never seeing the profits is rather asinine. I think that The Times would be wise to utilize his ample talent for hand-wringing proselytizing for more important things like, as one commenter to the The Rail blog (who I imagine is quite surprised to find his/her comment in the print edition of the New York Times today) said, "the continuing genocide in Darfur and civil-rights violations taking place in Tibet." (Among other things, I'd add, like the Times' own role in publicizing and perpetuating the lies that led this country into this tragic war which has cost tens of thousands of human lives amidst the other untold suffering. You want to talk about tragedy??)

This is a bad one for the sport, taking place as it did on our biggest day. Worse yet is the fact that Eight Belles was a filly, running her heart out as she totally outclassed every mere mortal three-year colt in the country. We'll read that she was taxed beyond her ability in a futile attempt to catch the colt who now becomes arguably the best candidate to capture the Triple Crown since it was last done in 1978. Just as we haven't seen a major match race since the Ruffian tragedy, I'd imagine it will be quite some time before we ever see a filly in the Kentucky Derby, which would be a (relatively very minor) tragedy in itself.

But if you're reading this website, you are likely a racing fan, unless you Googled something like 'horse racing is cruel and stupid and should be banned.' If you are a devotee, you've signed up for all the good and bad that comes with it. It's like that movie The Santa Clause, when Tim Allen puts on the suit and then reads a card that says "in putting on this suit, you waive your identity and become Santa Claus," or something like that. Well, when you pick up the Racing Form, you do so with the understanding that these horses are extremely fragile and that they sometimes take bad steps, break down, and die. Really, if you can't deal with that, then go watch auto racing - or equestrian eventing - where you can see human beings get maimed and killed. Sorry if I'm coming off as being flippant, but that's just the reality.

Yes, it's a tragedy, though no more so than the case of any horse who suffers a similar fate, even if they're not on the front page of the Times. "What can be down about it?" is the question that will be posed ubiquitously over the next few days. If that question means 'how can we eliminate these injuries entirely, reduce them to ZERO,' then the answer is to listen to the critics and to PETA, and simply shut the sport down, period. Equine injuries will never be totally eliminated. Like it or not, they're part of the game.

But if the question refers instead to how these fatalities can be made to occur far less frequently, then the answer is that the industry is at least trying to do something. It's called synthetic tracks. Please keep that, and this latest incident, in mind next time you ask 'Oh how could California be so stupid to rush into this,' or if you think that Keeneland is too hard to handicap, or if handicapping the Derby now involves too much guesswork, or the next time you read about some wealthy spoiled owner throwing a hissyfit because he spent millions on horses that would rather run on some paved highway on which closers have no shot.

California "rushed" into them in a good-faith response to a rash of fatalities just like this one. Are they a solution? We don't know yet. Maybe, maybe not. Hopefully, with continued experimentation, refining, research and, most of all, patience, they will help. Add in serious efforts to eradicate the various medications that mask infirmities and allow horses that shouldn't be racing to continue to do so, and perhaps these ugly fatalities can at least be reduced to a level at which the William C. Rhodens of the world can put their talent to better use.

Meanwhile, amidst the sadness, I suspect that many of you are, right now, doping out today's late Pick Four at Belmont, or the early double at Hollywood. Life, and the races, go on. Best of luck and have a great day.

34 Comments:

George said...

Well said Allan. While I have my doubts that synthetics will be the answer,they are, as you point out, at least an attempt.

George
www.thesaratogasire.com

ballyfager said...

If Mr. Rhoden has talent, it's well hidden. I've seen him many times on ESPN's Sports Reporters. He always came off poorly compared to the other panelists.

The statement "This is bullfighting" is a deliberate distortion. Nobody wants to see horses hurt. Nobody cares about them more than the people who actually work with them.

Does Mr. Rhoden care about horses? No, he only cares about his own (and the NYT's) agenda. This is contemptible, know-nothing journalism but it's not surprising considering its source.

Anonymous said...

The real problems here that NEED to be addressed are breeding and racing at a young age. Horse racing isn't inherently animal cruelty, but at this point American Thoroughbreds are becoming so fragile that making them run is wandering into dangerous territory. The average racing Thoroughbred is extremely inbred, and the majority of breeders work only to create speed in foals, not stamina or bone strength. Bring in some foreign blood to strengthen up the bloodlines and make the average race longer in order to force trainers and breeders to promote endurance in their horses.

Also, why the hell can't racing be pushed back until the horses are older? Yeah, you may be able to take 3/400 of a second off the track record with a two year old and not a four year old, but that doesn't matter much if your two year old's bones snap in the middle of his next race because they aren't formed yet. Horses should start their race careers at three years, not two, at MINIMUM. Why don't we follow in the path of Europe or Australia, where horses are started later and race longer? Breakdown rates are considerably lower there.

Maybe something will be done about some of these problems because of Eight Belles's breakdown. This is horrendous publicity for the sport as a whole; every person I speak to, whether online or in real life, expresses their disgust and their future wish to boycott the sport. Whether that reaction is justified or not, it's happening.

Mutaman said...

Allen, you're right, but this is getting rediculous. Its getting to where my main concern when I watch a race is not whether I'm going to cash but whether anybody is going to get hurt. This is driving a lot of us out of the game. Eight Bells, Cherokee, George Washington, Pine Island, Barbaro, ect,ect. Something is really wrong.

I suspect its 40 years of lasix and breeding for speed. It didn't used to be like this. We need to start over again. This can't go on. I like racehorses too much.

Mike D said...

Alan,

You touch on a question I ask myself: Why do these tragic breakdowna always happen on racing's big day? You can go to the Big A just about any day and I'd bet you will not see a fatal breakdown. But put our sport on TV, and bang!, it happens just about every time.

Justv wondering: Is that because the better the qualityb of horses, the higher the chance they'll try so hard, run so fast, refuse to give in to pain ... and that results in more breakdowns?

I had a nice score on the Big Brown tri and when sidekick and I went out for a celebratory Margarita last night we toasted Big Brown and Eight Belles. God bless her galllant soul.

Anonymous said...

The racing industry MUST place the horses' well being as a priority above anything else.

"tradition can be the repetition of mistakes over generations"

Anonymous said...

The one name I have not seen in relation to marquee named horses breaking down is Exogenous.

She would have won the 2001 Breeders' Cup Distaff. How did she die? She reared up and fell over on the way to the track, hitting her head hard on the ground.

She never ran that day.

NBC showed her in a stall at the end of the 2001 broadcast.

She died a day or two later from internal bleeding of her brain.

As for other female horses, how many die during foaling?

Eight Belles' death was tragic, just like Exogenous and Sharp Cat. Yes, Sharp Cat died this past week after foaling.

Anonymous said...

Well put as always, Alan.

A fatality in the Derby was long overdue, unfortunately. With 20 horses running further than they have ever been asked it is surprising it does not happen more often.

As for the actual accident, I am guessing but I fell the autopsy will show she had a heart attack, or just plain heat exhaustion, and the injuries happened when she fell on both legs.

Too bizarre that both legs would break during a pull up. Bramlidge (sic) stated he had never seen such a case in all his years.

While tough to digest right now, the unintended consequences also exclude any chance of Proud Spell ever facing the boys, a shame because she might just be the best 3yo in training.

Anonymous said...

The N.Y Times is a dishonest paper.

I know a lot of people have stopped buying the paper.I can only hope more will do the same.

Synthetic tracks are definitly not the answer.

The drugs are the problem not the surface.

Glimmerglass said...

Thank you Alan for you commentary as it is appreciated by those of us who do love racing despite all its flaws.

I met Larry Jones last year at Saratoga and was a supporter of Hard Spun. He's a straight shooter who would put the welfare of a horse well ahead of any 'glory'. The same goes for Rick Porter who knew 'when to say when' with Rockport Harbor and other runners not performing up to form.

Neither Rick nor Larry put Eight Belles in harmsway by entering her in the Derby or just running her in general. Period. She rose to the occasion and took a solid 2nd to a freak runner - BB.

Her fatal injuries could not have been predicted and it cannot be attributed to going 1 1/4 mi, facing the boys, running on dirt, or any other conjured up fault that throws Porter or Jones under the bus.

For as much as some cling to the Ruffian theory of girls shouldn't face the boys, that is just idiotic.

What perhaps irks me the most is the hijacking of this sport by agenda-based people who just hate the idea the horses race. Adjusting runners to only start at 4 just isn't realistic so why even blather on about it? The anti-racing wouldn't stop there anyhow. They would just take that victory and demand more and more.

The New York Times it seems as of late has been on a really against horses in general: from their Eventing coverage to the wretched 'review' of the First Saturday in May to now the knee jerk, sensationalized article on Eight Belles.

What all of this seems to beg as a basic question - if we effectively outlawed racing what becomes of TB horses in our society? Do they take jobs in the accounting industry? Perhaps are retrained as baristas at Starbucks? Learn to make soccer balls for a nickle a day for Wal-Mart? A race horse is a race horse, that is their purpose and drive.

Eight Belles was a beautiful filly and I liked her a lot. I thought it took moxy to enter her but with 9 prior convincing efforts she was well seasoned and mixed with her 17-hand frame she could take any possible bumping. It is repugnant that anyone or any organization might try to use her in martyrdom to further paint racing as one notch above dog fighting.

Anonymous said...

Yes, seeing Eight Belles die hurt like hell. But anyone who watches the races regularly knows something like this is an anomaly.

That's why the NYT's race coverage today ticked me off. It played down to the stereotype of the typical Times reader and insulted the intelligence of people who follow the sport.

Rhoden sounded like an idiot. Jane Smiley's essay was gibberish. And, as if to reinforce the idea that horse racing is horrible, the NYT's sports editors decided to run a six-column photo of Eight Belles in her death throes. At least Joe Drape did a reasonably decent job.

At least the Daily News, perhaps the last daily newspaper in America with decent racing coverage, didn't stoop to the NYT's level.

jk said...

Here is some Derby coverage from Newsday:

http://tinyurl.com/685o5x

Couple leave baby in car to watch Derby, police say

11:29 PM EDT, May 3, 2008

But we left the heat on!

That was a Southampton couple's excuse for leaving their 9-week-old baby alone in the car while they were watching the Kentucky Derby at an Off-Track Betting site, Southampton Town police said Saturday night.

After the infant had been in the parking lot for more than 20 minutes, the new parents came out and tried to drive away, police said. But the cops detained the couple, Krystal Rose Downes, 24, and Jhimy Alban Vintimilla, 28, and charged them with misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child, according to a Southampton Police news release.

Downes told the police that she wasn't endangering her baby, "because after all, she didn't leave the baby out in the cold," and "she made sure she left the vehicle running so the heat could be kept on," police said.

George said...

I think these breakdowns happen more often in the big races because i believe the tracks, try to get the track as fast as possible to create flattering times for these "big" races. While I'm sure the tracks will deny this I think we all acknowledge that there is a very high probability this is so. We have to stop worrying about times. Then maybe we can stop worrying about the track surface. Just make it as safe as possible and as consistent as we as possible.
As far as Rhoden is concerned I cannot take him seriously. I will not take him seriously. This is a wonderful sport, with wonderful tradition. If he wants to play devils advocate so be it! I know that there probably are fans that could care less, or at least are not affected by breakdowns but I do believe that they constitute a sample that is hardly measurable. As Allan said so well he likely has a column waiting for the next best opportunity to play to a particular audience. If he really didn't care about racing why does he pay so much attention to it? He's a race fan in sheeps' clothing. Dismiss him. Let's just all try to influence those we are able to make the sport as safe as can be. That is all we can do. Breakdowns and injuries are inevitable. They are not the death toll of the sport. These atheletes die trying. I can only hope for as well for myself!

George
www.thesaratogasire.com

Jen R said...

I absolutely agree that everybody in racing would like to see fewer breakdowns, and that they are making an effort with things like artificial surfaces. The real problem is that they'd like to bring down the breakdown rate without doing anything to change the economics of breeding. It's like wanting to eliminate abortions without having contraception or real sex ed (just to make this message as non-controversial as possible). Can't be done.

Obviously nobody's deliberately breeding fragile horses. But there's little economic incentive to breed stout ones, and huge incentives to breed big, fast, precocious ones. As long as a horse with the "right" bloodlines can make a fortune for his owners by running a few times, winning a big race or two, and retiring to a lucrative stud career to produce 200 more horses per year like himself, I don't see how things are going to get any better.

Anonymous said...

A thoughtful post, Alan . . no question its all part of the package. It could be a much better package . . . polytrack (if the stats hold up), and, clearly, not racing 2YOs, or even 3YO (sorry, glimmerglass, but it will become realistic to think about this if the anatomical realities are more widely known).

The question for each of us . . and for the casual fans who watch the Derby, and could love the sport or be repulsed by it . . is whether to buy the package, in some present or future form, or not. Each well-publicized tragedy turns many away. How many people do we all know who haven't been able to deal with racing since Ruffian, or GFW, or (fill it in . . . )?

And . . here's a point that's seldom mentioned. Dealing with tragedy is something that many adults can handle. But its especially disgusting when tragedy is coupled with disrespect. Yesterday . . the NBC coverage chose to minimize Eight Belles' breakdown and death. The shots of Rick Dutrow's celebration were obscene and nauseating . . and in this case, I'm not even sure that it was his fault. Did he even know about Eight Belles? Most people at the track didn't, and evidently there was no announcement. Couldn't the NBC people have told him (worse, maybe they did!) The impression given to the casual viewer is that nobody cares. I'm not a media person . . but there simply has to be a way to couple the two big stories in a better way. I'm sure that NBC (and the other networks who cover racing) have thought about this, but yesterday was IMO a major failure. At least five people told me today that they'[ll never watch another racing event. These people didn't read Rhoden, or anyone else . . they watched the race and formed their own conc lusions.

BTW, Alan, equestrian eventing kills horses too . . two at Rolex last weekend, as well as one very badly injured rider. (Eventing is going through a major identity/PR crisis now because of this) And racing kills people as well as horses. Also part of the package, for both.

Mitch

onecalicocat said...

I was talking to a friend Friday who has a lifetime of experience in horse racing.
His comment before the race:
"There is the occasional filly who can run with the best colts but they are never the same afterwards."
Is he wrong?

Anonymous said...

Obesity kills Tens of tousands of people a year.

Where is the outrage!

Anonymous said...

if big brown did not fire,the filly won and still broke down,can you imagine?the industry might never recover as there would be no new racing fans for a long time

Anonymous said...

This is a gruesome picture.

http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/j/NBCSports/Sections/Personal/Chiappetta%2C%20Mike/Slideshows/8Belles/8BellesTragedy.hlarge.jpg

Michael said...

I stood next to rhoden during the Jones press conference -- I was pretty sure this is what was going to happen.

Anonymous said...

ReggieHammond says this is unbelievable

Sunday May 4, 2008
PETA requests that Eight Belles jockey Gabriel Saez be suspended Story Highlights
Eight Belles broke both front ankles while galloping after the Kentucky Derby
PETA asks that Saez be suspended while Eight Belles' death is investigated




Eight Belles was euthanized after she was injured following a second-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.
AP



NORFOLK, Va. (AP) -- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is seeking the suspension of Eight Belles' jockey after the filly had to be euthanized following her second-place finish in the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.

Gabriel Saez was riding Eight Belles when she broke both front ankles while galloping out a quarter of a mile past the wire. She was euthanized on the track.

PETA faxed a letter Sunday to Kentucky's racing authority claiming the filly was "doubtlessly injured before the finish" and asked that Saez be suspended while Eight Belles' death is investigated.

"What we really want to know, did he feel anything along the way?" PETA spokeswoman Kathy Guillermo said. "If he didn't then we can probably blame the fact that they're allowed to whip the horses mercilessly."

Eight Belles trainer Larry Jones said the filly was clearly happy when she crossed the finish line.

"I don't know how in the heck they can even come close to saying that," Jones told The Associated Press on Sunday. "She has her ears up, clearly galloping out."

Guillermo said if Saez is found at fault, the group wants the second-place prize of $400,000 won by Eight Belles to be revoked.

Saez, a 20-year-old Panama native, was riding in his first Kentucky Derby. He frequently rides for Jones.

A call to the jockeys' room at Delaware Park, where Saez raced on Sunday, went unanswered.

Eight Belles, the first filly since 1999 to run in the Derby, appeared fine until collapsing while galloping out after the finish.

The letter to the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority also sought a ban on whipping, limits on races and the age of racehorses, and a move to softer, artificial surfaces for all courses.

Glimmerglass said...

Not that I want to spread this ignorance, but what has me utterly infuriated is both Sports Illustrated and the Associated Press being willing media puppets for the animal welfare agenda crowd.

Fair warning - do not click on the link if you want to see the gratuitous image of EB down: (link is to Sports Illustrated by the author is AP) AP May 4 'PETA requests that Eight Belles jockey Gabriel Saez be suspended'

Makes me mad enought to spit.

The NTRA needs to set the record straight and address the whole matter directly, quickly, with compassion, and with as much public detail as possible. Otherwise the continued media feeding frenzy with devour the whole Triple Crown.

forego is my witness said...

I just want to point out a minor sadness added by the major sadness of Eight Belles's breakdown and death: Big Brown ran an amazing race. He looked as though he could have run around another time. I thought he was a "sucker's bet," and now I'm seeing him certainly easily winning the Preakness. The horse looked unbelievable.

I'm mentioning this because, if Eight Belles hadn't broken down, the only story anyone would have been writing today would be how amazing he looked, and maybe he can go "all the way." What a boon this would have been for our sport! We need more people excited about thoroughbred racing.

But instead, his accomplishment is in a way pushed into the background, and to me that's a shame. Twelve days from now, as Preakness (and Triple Crown) fever hits a boil, the tragedy of Eight Belles will still linger. I'll actually be rooting for Big Brown that much harder. Our sport needs it.

case said...

I liked Exogenous in the '01 Distaff. In those days before youtube and race replays, I purchased a Breeders Cup prep race dvd and remember her lugging out down the stretch in almost every race. She was a neurotic filly, but she was fast.

The Eight Belles story has legs. It's on the front page of alot of media. The PETA people are using this as a cudgel for their whip issue. If the press wants to dig deeper, they might latch onto any kind of story, maybe the Biancone snake venom story. This could get messier.

Brett said...

How can anyone compare bullfighting to horse racing? Don't these two events/sports have two very different goals? One is killing and one is having a championship horse (not killing the horse).

Damn, is Rhoden an idiot. I am actually surprised he did not make it a race issue though.

Anonymous said...

Did you notice that It is only Liberal Democrats making an Issue of this Peta,Rhoden,etc..

Wake up people!

steve in nc said...

Bash the Times all you guys want, but Jim Squires' piece up there on their website now is generally free of hysteria, but also free of the chronic denial that characterizes the racing industry's approach to almost all of it's problems.

Surely we should take a serious look at breeding stouter animals. How? I'm just thinking aloud (not having thought through all the ramifications) but how about barring horses that do not race as 4 year olds a certain number of times from breeding (or having their progeny being allowed to race)?

If the horse doesn't have genes that can help a horse last through a few years of racing, sorry, no nookie. And this would keep top horses on the track longer, which would certainly make racing a better game, and a more attractive sport for the casual fan. It is time for the racing do to start getting the breeding tail under it's control.

How about starting 2 year old racing later in the year and drastically reducing purses on 2 year old stakes races? How about doing away with yearling auctions so the youngest horses aren't pressured into fast times before their bones are ready?

How about saying traditions that endanger horses are bad and changing them -- place the triple crown later in the year, with more time between races. Everyone involved in racing knows how hard the current schedule is on the horses. So why wait until, god forbid, we have Big Brown breaking down during/after the Preakness to make people willing to reform the sport?

And most of all, let's return to the days of no legal raceday medications, and put some energy into serious pre-screening of the horses before they race, as per trainer Ward's comments. Again, if you can't stay sound without snake venom, no nookie.

As a bettor, I also concur with Squires' idea about scratching horses that struggle to stay out of the starting gate instead of manhandling them into position. He may or may not be right that this will cut down on breakdowns, but it will certainly cut down on bets that have suddenly become hopeless.

Alan, your comments about the surface are spot on, but we've got to go further.

I was a big Big Brown fan going in, and like Forego is my Witness (I'm sure glad I got to witness him!) I'll be rooting (but not betting this time) that much harder for him in 2 weeks.

Anonymous said...

I know you guys love your racing, but this is bad,real bad. There are going to have to be major changes in many areas. The general public is absolutely sickened by this. If it means no 2yo racing, synthetic at every track,much tougher drug rules etc, so be it.

Anonymous said...

Where are the stats on Unbridled's Song? Isn't he the sire of Eight Belles?

It seems a large percentage of his progeny have issues. Wasn't Buddha one of this sons? He developed a foot bruise on the eve of the 2003 Kentucky Derby and they retired him.

There has been a lot of negative press for racing over the past five years. Anyone remember the Jose Santos' buzzer saga following Funny Cide's win? Of course, Barbaro won big, and then met his demise.

Would this be an even bigger story if Eight Belles had battled Big Brown head-to-head for a few more yards? I mean, what if Eight Belles and Big Brown had endured a stretch duel that rivaled that of Go For Wand and Bayakoa? Like, what would be the reaction if Eight Belles broke down in deep stretch instead of in the gallop out?

As for the other stories that hardly get a mention, now really, what is the deal with Biancone? Why do they allow him to worm his way out of a stiff suspension? Ban his fat ass for years, not months!

Does anyone want to come up with a medication positive list for all of the trainers in this year's Derby? Mott, Zito, Dutrow, Pletcher, and Asmussen have all been found guilty this decade. Those are the names I can think of off the top of my head.

Anonymous said...

I am hoping that Eight Belles did not die in vain and that we all get to asses what may have contributed to her dying on the racetrack. I would like to know what vet pre-raced her for the Derby and what she was given. How about her prior health records, x-rays and soft tissue scans. Was she on anabolic steroids or had she ever been given EPO or any other blood doping agent. What was her training regiment coming out of the prior race and leading up to the Derby? Why did one of the country's best jocks Ramon Dominguez take a 30-1 shot mount for Pletcher instead of riding the filly he had one the last two races aboard? This is not about a conspiracy theory, but a sharing of critical information so that the industry can learn. No more secrets. We must talk. Anyone that follows our sport knows for certain that we need the help.

Anonymous said...

Come on guys. 80% of thoroughbreds either don't win or break down and are sold for meat. A hideous and suffering end for the animal. At least agree that 2 year old racing should be banned...these babies develop muscles that are too strong for their baby bones. THAT is not subject to debate.

alan said...

>>This is not about a conspiracy theory, but a sharing of critical information so that the industry can learn. No more secrets. We must talk.

I don't disagree with your suggestions, but I think it would be more useful and revealing if your questions were asked in the cases of, say, the 5K claimer types who break down in the 3rd at Evangeline. I'd suspect that Eight Belles and Larry Jones would come up clean. (At least I'd HOPE so!) But I shudder to think what would be found in the far less publicized cases with cheap horses at smaller tracks.

hrsgurl said...

This blog is a breath of fresh air. I was disgusted to see the news media clamoring over the tragedy of Eight Belles instead of Big Brown's blowout victory. Finally someone is putting it in the proper perspective.

Kudos to NBC for the balanced coverage of the triumph and tragedy with a little more emphasis on the triumph aspect.

pizzaman said...

In my opinion, the horse racing industry is getting just what it deserves.

Wait before you go thinking that I'm one of "those" people. I've been a fan of the game for 40+ years. I will always be.

What I mean by my opening statement is that, as an industry, horse racing needs to stand back and take a look at itself. Right now we have horsemen fighting with track owners over simulcast signals. Who suffers? The horseplayers. The Thoroughbred Championships being run at Santa Anita two years in a row because of a rift between Churchill Inc and the Breeders' Cup. Again, the fans take a hit. Breeding is out of control as are the drugs being administered. Jockeys are refusing to ride unless they get a bigger cut of the purses.

The industry needs to police itself. Everybody seems to be pushing their own agenda instead of what's good for the industry. The media, God forbid, can't do it. The fans can't do it. It needs to come from the inside. And here's the rub. Many people make a living on the inside of this sport. Someone will need to bite the hand that feeds them in order for things to change.