Keep Calm and Bet to Win - By Evan Hammonds

COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, is for real. So, for a minute, let's deal with it.

Local and state governments are trying their best to "flatten the curve" by stopping all gatherings of more than a few hundred people. The president just declared a national emergency. That means all major, and most minor, sporting events have been canceled for the foreseeable future—with the exception of spectatorless Thoroughbred racing. We get that.

What we don't get is the panic across the country that seems to be gaining traction. By now, most everyone understands that toilet paper is currently one the most precious commodities on the planet. Who knew? Now, "dry goods" such as pastas, breads, and rice are flying off the shelves here in the Bluegrass, and there are plenty of videos online of long lines at grocery stores in much larger municipalities than Lexington.

It's reminiscent of the run on the bank in Bedford Falls in Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life."

It's also reminiscent of the last financial crisis in this country just more than a decade ago. When the stock market was at its nadir, the stock price for Ford Motor Company reached $1. We recall some pundit on cable news asking whether people would rather have a share in Ford or a piece of pizza. Most opted for the slice.

People bought fewer cars in 2009—a lot fewer—but the bet on Ford, and the stock market was for the future. Were we going to stop buying cars? Was transportation going to consist of the horse and buggy a decade later? Of course not.

Those wise enough to keep their wits about them were well rewarded down the road as the economy recovered and roared for more than a decade.

And the same can be said for this crisis point, so let's use some foresight.

Connections who send a Thoroughbred mare to be bred during the 2020 breeding season won't see her foal go through a yearling auction or grace their paddocks in anticipation of a homebred racing program until 2022. Even if precocious enough, that foal won't get the opportunity to start until the spring of 2023.

Those of us in the Thoroughbred business can't shut down for two weeks. Horses need daily care—yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

But what to do for now? Beyond the regular routine with our majestic creatures, let's band together—but not hold hands—and help one another. Tune into TVG this weekend and support the industry. Though you can't go to the track, play a race or two online from the couch. There are classic preps at Oaklawn Park and Turfway Park.

Be smart: wash your hands. If you feel ill, stay home. Practice social distancing.

Keep calm—and bet to win.

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