It is like the ingredients are mixed right to cook a sweet Red Velvet cake (my favorite), but we need the chef to bake it correctly or a bitter taste could replace a delicious opportunity.
If the Thoroughbred Industry can't do anything to help it’s self this year, then I vote the industry is just at a sad place internally.
seriously; we just announced that Zenyatta is returning, Rachel is returning, so drama will be loaded all year. These ladies are prepping to dominate the land.
ASIDE from the girl power of Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta, I am speaking more on the many graded stakes winners returning to race this year. I don't want to try and list them, Steve Haskin mentions a nice list in And They're Off. I will post ATO at the end of this blog entry. (Winners of the 2009:
Haskell, Florida Derby,
Jockey Club Gold Cup,
Santa Anita Handicap,
Hollywood Gold Cup,
United Nations, and
Steve is correct in that I can't remember a time since I started in the industry, when these winners would not be retired for stud duty.
The recession may be the cure horse racing has been looking for to grow the sport. With logical reason, there is less value in breeding in the current market, so fewer horses were retired to the shed. Purse money is available to win as these older, talented horses have a nice shot to win it. So let's race them.
I am secretly excited, or maybe not so secretly, about seeing the Rock Hard Tens chase the Kentucky Derby trail.
Anyway, on top of the talent returning there are a great deal of new opportunities to place hope in. It was recently announced that NBC has partnered with Churchill Downs to carry a few of the Kentucky Derby prep races. That is prime real-estate for the industry to promote not just horse racing and the Derby, but also its superstars… other races to watch and gain a place with the common fans’ hearts.
"On March 27, the USA Network will air the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) from Fair Grounds in New Orleans as well as the Lane’s End Stakes (gr. II) from Turfway Park in northern Kentucky. The following week, April 3, NBC will televise the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) from California and the Wood Memorial (gr. I) from Aqueduct in New York. On April 10, NBC returns with the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) from Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., and the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) from Keeneland in Lexington.
"According to NBC, last year’s Derby was the most-viewed in two decades, with viewership growing 26% over the past two years.
"We promote racing to both men and women by focusing on the fan’s entire experience of racing, not just the race itself. This includes food, fashion, and celebrity.
"'Adding the broadcasts of these important Derby prep races allows us to introduce key storylines that continue to build the broadest possible audience for the Kentucky Derby and the sport of Thoroughbred racing."
This past week's Blood-Horse magazine, January 16th 2010, held a number of items that are working for horse racing and so we should take those items in stride. Build on the successful ideas and use them as examples to form similar ideas that also grow the sport side of the industry.
The Blood-Horse listed The Kentucky Derby, boutique meets, returning stars, film and TV with "Jockeys" and "Secretariat" the movie, the rise of exposure for After-Care programs and retirement funds, night racing at tracks previously only holding day racing, and the exposure of safety alliance progress.
I am personally excited about the night racing at Churchill. A bunch of co-workers and friends went up one evening and it was A LOT of fun. I did not get to stay and dance, but I do love to dance. (Some of you may have seen me on the ESPN Zone dance floor for the BC media party)... anyway, I have unfinished business and that is to dance at Churchill.
With all of these opportunities, are we going to invite people inside to admire our industry and offer hospitality or are we going to allow the door to stay shut as we become lonely and in need of company?
The Final Turn in this week’s magazine is a great challenge to the horse industry. I have never been a huge fan of the gambling solution Band-Aid for our growing wound here in Kentucky. BUT there has been no other serious, viable solution presented to help an immediate need. So I have passionately supported whatever options we might have to maintain an industry that is now losing out to other states.
Martin Stiles raises a few good points that I always wondered about the industry. Here is his article and feel free to comment here or there on it.