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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A Mea Culpa

- Just a brief note about a recent post. I've written a lot of words here, and it's only natural that some of those I'd like to take back....and not just the lousiest of the lousy picks. On Sunday morning, I wrote this post about the events surrounding the Derby. While I don't regret a thing about the post itself, I would have entitled it something other than 'Deal With It' if I had it to do again.

I was trying to express the point that these incidents are, unfortunately (and I know it's not politically correct to say this right now) part of the game, and something that one must be able to deal with if you want to play, even as we work towards encouraging meaningful change. Even if the industry here is able to bring the fatality rate down to the levels seen in Europe and, especially, Hong Kong, breakdowns will still occur. Hopefully, a far lower attrition rate will ensure that they don't happen, as computed by Pat Forde on, at a rate of five out of the last 13 Triple Crown or Breeders' Cup national telecasts. That is an unbelievable statistic. I mean, c'mon, give us a freaking break here!

Anyway, I was really pissed about Rhoden's column in the Times (and I still am), and that's what I posted, what can I say? Then I went to the gym, and I started thinking there, 'wait, Deal With It?' It just seemed pretty cold and crass. However, at that point, it was already up there, and it's kinda against blog ethics to go back and change things without leaving a trace. Anyway, you know what they say about things never disappearing. I'd like to go back and change it to something more sympathetic, like I'll Help You Deal With It. Or some clever wordplay, like, For Whom The Belles Toll. But I can't, it's there, and I'm sorry if any of you found it offensive.


Anonymous said...

Alan, I considered "Deal with it" the best thing I had read all day.

Anonymous said...

I was a little take aback by the title myself - as the post was (as usual) completely reasonable.

Tis a risk that comes with making regular and public comments. Congrats on seeing it yourself.


Michael said...

Still can't figure out why Rhoden was there -- I didn't see him until Saturday...

It's certainly possible he was in the press box and I didn't notice him, but part of me wonders if he flew in after Chelokee broke down just to do that story.

Anonymous said...

I thought "Deal with it" was a reference to Dutrow winning the Derby, when clearly a lot of people were rooting against him.

Btw, it amazes me that Eight Belles can run a huge 2nd in the Derby, and people are now coming out of the woodwork to say she didn't belong in the race. Unbelievable. I'm willing to bet that if, say, Tale of Ekati had broken down after the race, this would've already been swept under the rug.

That injury could've happened to any horse in the race. But because it happened to a filly, people point to her sex as the reason. Probably the same people who didn't think she could be competitive in the race, and are looking for some type of redemption.

Btw, i'd like to point out that fillies have now hit the exacta in each of the last two Triple Crown races. Deal with that.

Anonymous said...

It must be a wonderful feeling to hit exactas with two fillies that never raced again.
Arthur Hancock, who knows a little something about thoroughbreds, wrote yesterday that it is not a good idea to race fillies against top colts.
It is not that they can't compete -- they can. It is that the preponderance of evidence demonstrates that the effort does take something out of them.
The world can live without fillies in the Triple Crown races.

John said...

Shit I violate blog ethics all the time because I don't know how to do that cross out thing.

Hey we all hurt and are confused after this Derby!

People at work are looking at me as if I torture my cat, I am dealing with it .

Anonymous said...

The 134th Kentucky Derby
The 1st breakdown...

George said...

Alan, I echo Anonymous' statement. I was little surprised by the title because having read your blog for quite a while it was not what I was expecting. But -again in agreement with Anonymous- I found the entry was as well considered as could have been expected considering the timing, emotion and subject matter. It's a damned if you do, damned if you don't subject that provokes a lot of strong opinions no matter what side of the issue one comes down on.

Anonymous said...

The 134th Kentucky Derby
The 1st breakdown

Anonymous said...

It is a sad commentary that we have to be worried about who we offend every time we make a comment.

Bob From NJ

SaratogaSpa said...

Your comment was honest and was written by someone who loves the sport. I don't find your title offensive at all.

rather rapid said...

contraire. you skillfully articulated the prevailing view. If this is on further thought still your position, that EB was a freak accident that happens, then you have a view that is diametrically opposed to my own. May some good come out of it when we clarify things!

Anonymous said...

You should not feel sorry.

It is an honor to offend wackos!

Erin said...

John reminds me of a point that proves to me this time really is different (to play on Bill Finley's article title from, featured in today's TDN) - dealing with the reactions of people around me has been almost as hard as watching the filly go down. I've never listened to so many ignorant and reactionary comments about horse racing as I have since Saturday.

Some paraphrased samples, some overheard, some directed at me, all from people whom I've never heard dedicate one breath to racing before:
"No filly has ever completed the Kentucky Derby before"
"They [trainers, owners, presumably] say they love horses but jeez, look what they did"
"She must've been younger than the other horses"
and the most dreaded, which I expected the moment it happened:
"You shouldn't race fillies against males"

The Wall St. Journal article on her was folded and placed so I would see it upon arriving to work at my second job, and I find out the person who placed it there was ranting about racing=dog fighting all day prior to my arrival, and I get greeted with the silent treatment.

My point is, I think there's plenty wrong with racing (and agree with Finley on many of his points, but only as a result of this debacle), but it's really, really easy to get defensive. And who can blame us when the general population, as well as journalists, so quickly lose sight of reason and established facts.

It's been harder than ever walking the line of defending this sport from stupid assumptions and incorrect conclusions while still acknowledging that some of what people are saying is justified. But as Finley said, what matters most isn't which side is in the right, but that people think these things at all.
All the public seems to be expecting every racing supporter to defend and justify what's happened, while we're struggling just as much within the industry to answer these big questions for ourselves.

Anonymous said...

Rags to Riches did run again (after the Belmont). And as Alan mentioned, there are plenty of colts who were "never the same afterwards", whether it's the Derby or the Belmont or Dubai or whatever else. Hell, a lot of colts don't even make it to the Derby. I guess we can say that War Pass or Georgie Boy or Crown of Thorns or Into Mishief or Massive Drama were ruined by their tough races earlier this year. No mention of their sex as the reason though.

Regarding Rather Rapid's comments about Eight Belles being under-prepared for the Derby, i find them to be a little odd. She had run 9 times before the Derby, more than any other horse in the race. 8 of those starts came around two turns, also more than any other horse in the race. So, somehow Big Brown was better-prepared for the Derby off 3 career starts, none which came on less than 5 weeks rest? I just don't see it.

Jen R said...

Erin nails it.