Guest Blog: My Horse is Faster Than Yours...Let's Race

By Larry Sealy 

"My horse is faster than yours."

"You're joking right? Mine is way faster than yours."

"Oh yeah."


"Okay then, let's race."

"Okay, you're on!"

If history is to be believed, this conversation took place sometime around 4500BC and the result was the sport of horse racing. As the centuries passed, the sport evolved. The breed got better, silks were introduced, jockeys refined their riding skills, field sizes grew, organizations were formed to police racing, legalized betting was introduced, and so on. Yet, despite its continued evolution, racing remained true to its original identity. My horse is faster than yours...let's race.

The people came - like when half of New York turned up to see American Eclipse vs. Henry in 1823. And if they didn't come, they were listening. Forty million people tuned in for Seabiscuit vs. War Admiral and the 1967 Woodward was broadcast worldwide on the Armed Forces radio. And when television came along, they watched. Eighteen million viewers saw the ill-fated race between Ruffian and Foolish Pleasure.

It's no small coincidence that match races remained the most popular. If it's you versus me, why should anyone else be involved? When two fighters square off, the only other person in the ring is the ref - and he's not allowed to fight. The match race is the original horse race, its racing in its purest form, it takes us back to the very beginning when the racing wars were settled head up, one on one. Racing was in its pomp, it was the in thing, it was front page news, and only boxing could rival it in terms of its popularity.

Then it all stopped. Racing began to lose its identity. The focus shifted from actual races to the lucrative breeding industry. Owners began to covet the next great stallion instead of the next great horse. The truly great runners became scarce, as horses were hustled off to the breeding shed. The match races ceased and the great races were few and far between. And then the unthinkable happened. The very conversation on which racing originated, the conversation on which racing is based, began to change.

"My horse is faster than yours."

"You're joking right? Mine is way faster than yours."

"Oh yeah. How about a race?"

"Is it on dirt or plastic, ‘cause I ain't racing on plastic."

"I'll race on dirt, but I ain't too keen on shipping and for damn sure I ain't letting my horse near no detention barn."

"Okay, then we'll let the voters of the NTRA, Daily Racing Form, and the National Turf Writers decide."

"Okay, you're on. Who doesn't love a great debate?"

"You're right. If only racing had more debates like this."

Is it surprising then, that save for the five week period between the first Saturday in May and the first Saturday in June, racing is all but ignored by mainstream America? The population has increased, yet fewer people are coming to the track. Has anyone seen the Breeders' Cup TV ratings? More viewers watched poker.

As this comical Horse of the Year debate rages on, it has never been more apparent how far racing has fallen from its glory days. It has now been reduced to a game of politics, with owners, trainers, and supporters trying to sway voters. There is ridiculous chatter about changing the voting process, and we even have a racetrack publicly campaigning for who they think should be voted the best horse in the country.

There was a time when such effort and energy was used to make an actual race, a time when horses made their own noise. I'm sure the ancient originators of this great game would be laughing their heads off at the idea of 250 people voting to decide who is the best horse in the country. It goes against everything that racing stands for. That's why racing was invented in the first place, so we wouldn't have to depend on what people think. The fastest or the best is a debate that can only be settled on the track. The year 2009 should be remembered for a lost opportunity to restore racing's true identity, a lost opportunity to make racing relevant again, if only for a fleeting moment.

The owners and powers that be need to return to the simplicity of the racing. My horse is faster than yours...let's race. That what racing is all about. That's what it should always be about. Not about stud fees, not about breeding value, not about Eclipse Awards.

Hopefully, the next time two great champions come along during the same year, we will not be left once again with a shallow and silly debate over a meaningless and overrated award.

Recent Posts



More Blogs