Things That Make You Go Hmmmm (6)

The California horse racing industry is advertising a healthy purse increase effective Dec. 26, opening of Santa Anita Park, in an effort to spread the word in advance of the meet and increase field size. The increase will come courtesy of the betting public via a hike in pari-mutuel takeout. … With repeated claims that at least $300 million could be gleaned for purses nationally through a change in the pari-mutuel model, particularly as it relates to ADW, one wonders why the takeout increase is necessary.

Speaking of broken models is it time for Kentucky to revisit the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund, which supplements purses only for Kentucky-bred racehorses? Since most fields in KTDF-eligible races are 95%-plus comprised of Kentucky-registered horses, is it even necessary, and does it discourage non-Kentucky horses from competing at a time when they’re needed to fill races? … The new Turfway Park condition book is out, and for December, the purse for maiden special weight events drops from $21,000 to $20,000 with only $9,300 available to, say, an Indiana-bred or New York-bred. Given the issues in Kentucky racing right now, I just don’t get it.

By the way, an open $5,000 claiming race at the Northern Kentucky track will now go for $7,000 instead of $8,000. ... Anyone paying attention out there in Bluegrass Land?

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has its hands full with the fallout from the performance of Life At Ten in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic. Many of us held our breath hoping she’d get around the track at Churchill Downs, and the jockey did the right thing by not asking her to run. But the issue is what happened before the race and, though stones have been thrown for more than a week, the only answer is a change in or enforcement of pre-race protocol. The mare’s owner lost, and so did the betting public, whose misfortune got no mention from officials after the incident. Not a pretty moment for horse racing. … One individual, in an e-mail to The Blood-Horse, had wagered on Life At Ten and said, “They’ve gotten me for the last time.”

As for the two-day World Championships (the Ladies’ Classic situation aside), I’ve heard the usual complaints but believe it was one of the better ones from a racing standpoint, and the ability of Churchill Downs to accommodate the event shouldn’t be overlooked. … Really like the later post times and having a few races under the lights; in fact, would like to see it go a bit more into prime time. So the question is: If the under-the-lights scenario proves successful, and only one potential host track can accommodate it barring major capital investment? … You can fill in the blanks.

More on Churchill: Keep hearing comments on the condition of the turf course, but none from trainers or jockeys. Maybe it’s me, but after seeing it in person for four racing days and since looking at it on television, it appears green and uniform. It does need rain, but have you seen the turf courses at some of the other tracks now racing? Enough said.

I have no dog in this fight, but can someone explain to me the pharmacological difference in two micrograms per milliliter of the anti-inflammatory drug bute versus five micrograms per milliliter? I’ve been writing about equine medication (not necessarily by choice) for about 14 years, and still struggle with it. I wonder how the public reacts—or if it even cares about such things as therapeutic medication.

As much as I have enjoyed watching Zenyatta run, and don’t expect to see another one like her in my lifetime, some of the post-Breeders’ Cup Classic dialogue has been disturbing to the point of being detrimental to the mare, her connections, the industry, and writers with a passion for the game. A sampling of comments from several related blogs at tell the tale quite clearly. … Pedigree writer Avalyn Hunter weighed in and was told: “You know, Ms. Hunter, you really did not need to post on this topic. There has been more than enough negativity toward Zenyatta posted in multiple blogs on this site.” Note: The negativity in the blogs is perceived, not based in fact. … Jack Shinar’s blog got this comment: “If Blame is a tremendous horse then Spectacular Bid is a god.” Note: Completely off base and off topic. … Jason Shandler got this, along with being called a moron: “It’s a good thing this is only your opinion.” Note: It’s not. … Yours truly was told: “And if you really wanted to write a blog to celebrate Zenyatta, you wouldn’t have brought up the Horse of the Year award.” Note: Completely missed the point. … Ian Tapp was pounded for writing that Blame had it in final hundred yards and in the gallop out. Note: Simply an observation. ... And, finally, from the kingdom of make believe, this comment appeared on Steve Haskin’s blog: “Long live the Queen! It is time to return to a monarchy with Queen Zenyatta as the Queen and Steve Haskin as the King. A kinder, gentler blogging nation.” Note: Hello! Things that make you go hmmmm, indeed. … For those of you, and there were many, who were able to comment and keep on point despite a very emotional topic, it was much appreciated by the bloggers. Racing, its horses, its stories, and its issues are real, not fantasy.

Here’s the tote board morning line on Laurel Park in Maryland closing as a racing and training venue next year: 99-1.

My wife during a recent conversation asked me why horses that participate in equestrian sports are vetted before competition, but racehorses aren’t. I explained to her that racehorses are—at least those that compete at NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance-member tracks that must offer pre-race exams. Then I got to thinking, however. … If Karen, a racing fan, doesn’t know that, what about the rest of the public? Is there a reason this stuff doesn’t appear in every racetrack program to explain to the public just what is done for racehorses and integrity on a daily basis? Why is it a secret if this industry is about transparency?

Sources in the Keystone State said more subpoenas were issued in the ongoing grand jury investigation involving individuals on the racing side at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Pennsylvania. … What exactly will come of this?

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