Courtesy of Becky Johnston
I'm a glass half-full kind of girl
when it comes to horse racing. You would
be hard pressed to find a more enthusiastic supporter. I admire that we are doing things to try and
make horse racing safer for both horse and rider. I realize they are the stars of the
show. I know that good research is being
done at some of our leading universities.
I admire the people that are trying to find ways to fund thoroughbred
retirement regardless of the times they get kicked in the teeth. I admire their tenacity about what should be
a no-brainer. I know there are many
caring people that have lobbyed and worked to get rid of horse slaughter. To remove the loopholes that still see our
horses traveling to other countries for just such a purpose.
But, do you ever feel like you are
living in some parallel universe, a twilight zone per se'? A place where there is no sheriff but Barney,
Goober and Gomer are telling us all what we should be doing.
When did it become the law that
everyone should be punished for the sins of a few.
When I heard Zell Miller tell
Chris Matthews "I wished I lived in the day when you could challenge a man to a
duel", I thought it was a ludicrous statement, I am beginning to understand
what he meant.
I don't want any real bullets
flying, but I can understand the effect it might have if you were forced to put
yourself up as witness to your principles. A little common sense and civility would go a
long way in the gentleman's sport of horse racing.
Now I have taken everything in
stride, except for a few whip misuses, until this week.
It all came to a head for me this
week when an important industry message board was nuked due to a fight between
a handful of posters. Instead of making
their problems their own, they took down the whole lot of us. That was my one place where I could escape it
all and be with horse racing fans. You
see, I don't live in a place where there is horse racing, I live in the middle
of NASCAR Country, where they believe the only horses that matter are the ones
that sit under the hood of a failing GM model car. So my message board friends were my horse
In today's world, there is nothing
but bad news at every turn, but I could always go to the horse races and my
horse racing buddies in cyberspace and be set free for just a short while.
I've watched tragic racing losses,
track closings for no reason, ADW fights, people telling me what tracks I
should bet because of the takeout, states looking to open humane
slaughterhouses, people dumping their horses while those of us that could
pooled money to rescue them. We all
cringed and befriended one another through everything.
I don't mind telling you that I
feel a little like Howard Beale in the movie Network. I don't want to take it anymore.
So I'm going to lighten the load
right here. Let me just start right off
with the ADW dispute. I know where we
are now, but can someone tell me if anyone benefited on the way here. The "I won't share" theory, were there any
winners? Certainly not the wagering
public. I've forgotten how to handicap
tracks like Churchill Downs and Calder, but I understand that Rolling Stones'
fans like the track and American Idol auditions went off well. Gulfstream
Park will never be the same for me.
Secondly, now Bay Meadows is a
pile of rubble. The only benefit to that
debacle is that the bankers that financed it to begin with won't need more TARP
money to fund it. While it sits there as
a heap of history, Magna talks about "developing" Golden Gate Fieldss. I hope that works out for them, real estate
is something they definitely need to put their money into right now.
Speaking of Magna, there was no
place I would rather have spent a winter day than the huge open-air grandstand
at Gulfstream Park. It was like a warm
hug, even during a rainstorm. When the
antique lights came on, it felt like sitting in your grandmother's parlor. Now with a $140 million renovation to "un"
racetrack it, I don't even know what to call it. Why not just spruce the place up, add a
simulcasting and slot machine facility and leave the beautiful grandstand
structure and paddock area as it was.
Gulfsteam's turf course was
expanded to host more turf racing and certainly made it an international
surface, but there will be no World Championship at Gulfstream because you
would have to sit people at slot machines just to find a place for them. Who won here?
Turf horses, owners of turf horses get a slight win, but the people that
sit and drop coins into machines like a Laundromat, someone needs to tell them
that chances are they are losing money.
The losers in Florida? Too many to count.
Now we hear of horses that are
found on feed lots in terrible shape, yet their owners show up at the racetrack
to get their smiling faces photographed with their horses that are still viable runners. Horses that may someday suffer the same poor
fate. Meanwhile the owners that truly do
care what happens give and give and the rest of the poor slob horse lovers try
to scrape enough money together to buy them from killers and rehabilitate them,
that is if someone can go and get them and has room for them. It would be more merciful to euthanize
them. Why is that not an option rather
than making them suffer?
Then there is one thing I've been
hanging on to for a while. This Eight
Belles' situation and Larry Jones. Larry
Jones has taken every punch from PETA and an uneducated public. Journalists that should know better write
insensitive reports and find every fault they can with the connections, from
her breeding to her exercise rider, the jockey, you name it. Meanwhile, a truly good man for our sport
plans to retire to get away from it. Who
wins there? Certainly not the racing
enthusiasts who know full well that no one hurt more after the loss of this
filly than this man. His owners will not
find a better training combo than Larry and Cindy Jones. They love their horses like children. The racing public will have one less trainer
that knows how to make a superstar the right way. The winner of course will be PETA who will
most definitely turn a profit on the whole deal.
I wanted to be positive this
week. I wanted to talk about Alysheba,
the first Derby winner I ever saw, but I had just had it. Just like Howard Beale in the movie Network I
feel like telling you just as he did.
"I want you to get up now.
I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the
window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, 'I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND
I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!'