Based on the responses to this post, I have a couple things to say:
- Horse racing does in fact need changes. The changes are, however, not these, but these.
- Betting does drive a huge chunk of horse racing. Race tracks make their gabillions of dollars off of betting (a huge number, even if percentages fell slightly). It’s also how they have enough money to fund the huge purses on stakes days. But it’s not the whole story.
- Breeding is the hidden element of the horse racing industry. Storm Cat is still going strong for $300,000 a pop (down from the $500,000 high of several years). Distorted Humor and A.P. Indy are hanging strong, also at $300,000 each breeding. Eight Belles’ sire, Unbridled’s Song, is no joke, at $150,000 live foal. And that is, of course, if the mare is good enough to even get a coveted booking spot. Yearlings are still being sold for millions of dollars. Most, (virtually all, with the noted exception of a very select few) will never earn this back, either on the track or in the shed (breeding). And this aspect of the industry really sees the trickle-down effect. There are a couple/few top players that drive the auction machine. So, no matter how much betting suffers, the breeding side of the industry will really continue for a while. It’s almost in perpetual motion, by now. The tracks will slowly shut down, but seriously, the breeders have enough money to fund the tracks they really want. Breeder’s Cup day, horse racing’s largest day, is entirely funded by breeders themselves.
- It is entirely silly to use the Kentucky Derby to predict Obama’s win and Clinton’s “pussy-ness” and perceived weakness. (Note: Obama and Clinton.)There are other elements of the analogy that I could draw out:
- Big Brown’s trainer is a proven cheater. Not just once, or twice, or three times, but so many times that people can’t ever forget.
- Eight Belles wasn’t a fringe player. She was a major player. Handicappers loved her. She ran a scintillating workout and was roaring to go in a year in which all the boys were mediocre.
- Horse racing sympathy is with Larry Jones and Rick Porter, the team behind Eight Belles.
- Big Brown stepped up to the occasion, but hindsight is always helpful, no? The elections are still far away.
- Eight Belles didn’t break down because she was running against the boys. As in the post linked to, Azeri, Ouija Board, Makybe Diva, Rags to Riches, along with Pride and Alexander Goldrun (those are just in recent years, also) have taken on the boys and run so well, they’ve upstaged them with their globe-trotting antics.
- Horse racing agrees it was a freak accident. People want to wish a freak accident on another person?