Industry Voices

Outside commentary from the people who care about and participate in Thoroughbred racing

'Valley of Modesty' Has Others Taking Notice

There is much ado about the meet at Monmouth Park in New Jersey, where the track operator, the NJSEA, the local Thoroughbred horsemen, and their breeder counterparts agreed after a lengthy debate to slash race dates in half, which would lead to large purses and, hopefully, bigger fields, higher attendance, and increased pari-mutuel handle.... Read More

Red, White, and Renew - by Kevin Lay

For six weeks in late summer, top Thoroughbreds, owners, and trainers assemble in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., to put on a one-of-a-kind equine display. Saratoga Race Course is often referred to as “America’s Great Race Place” or simply “The Spa.” My wife and I have made the sojourn each August since 1999 and we admit—we’re hooked! As we bask in the afterglow of celebrating the birth of our great country... Read More

It Isn't Dead Yet - by Craig Bandoroff

If there is anyone who has worried about the health of our industry more than I have the past 20 years, I feel sorry for that person. Always, it seems, there is bad news: declining attendance, declining handle, offshore wagering issues, drug positives, reduced field size, aging fan base, high-profile breakdowns, diminished soundness of the breed. Have I missed a few issues? I’m guessing I have. Here... Read More

Subsidize or Downsize - by Robert Laurence

I don’t gamble. Shoot, I don’t even fill out a March Madness bracket. I do follow the games to see how the seedings play out. The win-or-go-home format makes irrelevant that great artifice of the gambler—the point-spread. I have no high-minded, moral principle against gambling; I just never caught the bug. I recall playing golf in my college days, when someone in the foursome said, “Let’s put something... Read More

Rooting Interest - by Lenny Shulman

Why do racing fans coalesce around one horse and not another? Favorability can be as simple as a catchy name (Smarty Jones) or backing an underdog (Funny Cide). Unfavorability, since horses themselves don’t usually rub us the wrong way, is tied to the animal’s human connections. Nobody should question Big Brown's talent. Yet, other than vying for the Triple Crown, he has not captured the public’s fancy... Read More

Telling Time - by Evan Hammonds

It’s amazing that six weeks can go by so quickly, yet also seem like an eternity. Was it just last month, or was it last year when we saw Big Brown bound past us on the Churchill Downs backstretch during a chilly morning in Louisville? Was it just a few weeks ago, or was it a couple of months ago that we witnessed a coronation off the Northern Parkway in Baltimore? We’re certain about June 7 on Long... Read More

Great Pretenders - by E.S. Lamoreaux III

No matter what happens in the June 7 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), the 2008 Triple Crown season will always be defined by the triumph and tragedy of the heir apparent crown prince, Big Brown, and the fallen heroine, Eight Belles. And tradition says that this Belmont, factoring in Big Brown’s pre-race hoof injury, will come up as a “hold your breath,” arduous race that’s guaranteed not to be won in a New... Read More

Rule V.6. - by Gary Fenton

“History consists of a series of accumulated imaginative inventions.” - Voltaire As a Thoroughbred owner, I stand on the shoulders of giants. Horse racing’s tradition and history are like no other. However, in the past 30 years, we’ve been surpassed by the major sports leagues. Being a traditionalist, I don’t blame the caretakers for this lapse. When you have more than 100 Kentucky Derbys, it’s easy... Read More

Mr. Arbuthnot at the Races - by John McEvoy

Recently as I re-read some of the late humorist Frank Sullivan’s pieces, I thought what a shame it was that this gifted writer never turned his sights on horse racing, a sport he loved. During his 40-year newspaper and New Yorker magazine career, Sullivan was widely read as he poked gentle fun at a variety of subjects in politics, sports, and life in general. He was best known for creating Mr. Arbuthnot... Read More

It Just Is - by Joel Turner

It is what we owners and breeders fear the most. A call from a farm employee, trainer, or vet with that oddly familiar, awkward tone foretelling the bad news we have lost one of our horses. Or, perhaps even worse, in the moment of excitement and anticipation of competition, one of our horses goes down on the track or falls over a jump. The end result is the same. It is as if one�s heart is ripped from... Read More

Feeling the Chill - by Evan I. Hammonds

Cold lies the heart of Thoroughbred racing following Eight Belles� untimely end after Kentucky Derby 134. The dark side of the toughest game in town showed itself once again on the national stage, this time in the nation�s biggest race. Even prior to her tragic ending as the shadows began to lengthen May 3, there seemed to be a chilly vibe to this year�s Run for the Roses in Louisville. And by chill... Read More

Farewell to the Meadows - by Morton Cathro

"Memory draws from delight, ere it dies, an essence that breathes of it many a year�" � Irish bard Thomas Moore, 1779-1852 Bay Meadows, California�s pioneering racetrack, has been this aging fan�s delight for nearly my entire lifetime. Now, barring an unlikely last-minute reprieve, it is marching inexorably toward May 11, the final day of its final meeting. Doomed by commercial real estate developers... Read More

Affirmed Career - by Patrice Wolfson

Affirmed was both the focal point and cement that would bind my husband�s and my wonderful 35-year relationship. From the outset of our marriage in Miami in 1972, we dearly enjoyed driving up to spend time at Harbor View Farm near Ocala. It was there, in 1975, that we first noticed a flashy little chestnut colt that loved to show his heels to his contemporaries. We watched, as time went by, how the... Read More

He Touched Many - by Headley Bell

My mother, Alice Chandler, and I were scheduled to meet with the Editor-in-Chief of The Blood-Horse April 4 to reflect on her life and the transition of our family�s Mill Ridge Farm. But it was hard that morning to also not reflect on the life of our dear friend Buddy Bishop, who had passed away the previous night after struggling with cancer for more than two years. It is so rare that families carry... Read More

Piece of Cake - by Joe Hickey

Stepping down from his Windfields jet, E.P. Taylor bounded across the tarmac into the terminal building, where he pulled up short in front of a vending machine. �Help me, Joe. I don�t have any U.S. change.� As I sorted through my change for quarters, the Canadian tycoon described by biographer Peter Newman as �the ultimate personification of the riches gained and power wielded,� fumed, �Never mind... Read More

More Anna Houses - By Donna Chenkin

Transformation of a dream often begins with acts of imagination that elevate a starting vision of change above the intimidating presence of things as they are. When the Belmont Child Care Association was incorporated in 1998, a child care center was just such a dream. Yet, if such a dream is passionate and clear, and if it can call a great many people into its service, the dream may ultimately shape... Read More

Let's Get Fiscal - by Richard Zwirn

It hit hardest at the supermarket, when I noticed that a pound of carrots, our horses� favorite treat, cost $1.49. While not an economist, it was clear that these are difficult fiscal times. Costs for just about all goods and services have risen dramatically. A few years ago, a five-pound bag of carrots could be purchased for the same price. It seems like many in our industry, including this breeding... Read More

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