Old habits die hard. BloodHorse, which has stuffed mailboxes weekly since before the Great Depression, will transition to a monthly publication with the April issue. Apparently too many subscribers are too far behind in their reading and would prefer to be served with just one issue a month instead of four. The website and Daily are the drivers of today’s news, data, and insight.
A lot of great stories written by a lot of great authors have graced these pages. Thomas Cromwell, who moved the publication from a monthly to a weekly in the spring of 1929, found the work too arduous for one man and had the foresight to hire a young Joe Estes to take the reins in 1930. Joe Palmer joined Estes’ staff as managing editor in 1934, and the publication had a power duo that quickly gained towering reputations as the foremost Turf journalists in the land.
“At some point while serving as editor-in-chief, I came across a file box with index cards meticulously documenting by subject matter and date the various commentaries written by Joe Estes, who led the magazine from 1930 until 1961,” said former editor Ray Paulick last week.
“It was stunning to me then, and remains so today, that many of the pressing issues addressed on these pages by Mr. Estes and later by Kent Hollingsworth and Edward L. Bowen are still unresolved. Alternatives to claiming races. Uniform licensing. Medication reform and other regulatory issues. What strikes me after examining racing’s mostly self-inflicted problems is that it must be one hell of a game to have survived.”
Hollingsworth was named editor in 1963 and was joined by Bowen and Charlie Stone, along with ad director Erbert Eades.
This editorial space—“What’s Going on Here”—began in the fall of 1965, penned by Hollingsworth, and in the column’s formative days appeared more as a string of notes from the week, but it soon took shape and was considered must-read commentary. As the sport evolved through the 1970s and 1980s and medications such as Lasix and bute became legal, it was Hollingsworth who was most consistent in his message of “Hay, Oats, and Water” that the magazine still strives for.
Hollingsworth departed The Blood-Horse at the end of 1986 and sadly departed this earth in May 1999.
Bowen took the editor-in-chief role and steered the ship into the 1990s. A fine historian and a Versailles neighbor, he was asked to weigh in on the final weekly edition.
“Since the first steps in daily information taken by the publication in the 1980s, BloodHorse has marched through various advances,” he said. “These, in the aggregate, now support the decision to publish a magazine monthly while continuing to improve the daily product of information, analysis, and industry leadership. I expect the magazine to be robust and important as a monthly, in the tradition of monthly publications serving a range of audiences, such as Smithsonian.
“It might be hard to imagine today, but for years the weekly stakes reports from racetracks were sent by our correspondents by mail and the magazine went to the printer late on Wednesday nights. Of course, another weekend of racing and other news had taken place before any reader received an issue. The advent of fax machines and later communication, photo, and printing technology guided many improvements in timeliness during the decades of the weekly magazine.”
Eric Mitchell, currently the Bloodstock Editor, had command of this space for several years.
“Advocacy is a major responsibility of the column. BloodHorse was founded to be a resource for owners and breeders, so ‘What’s’ provides the forum to raise issues and advocate for changes that benefit both these groups,” he said. “Much of this advocacy involves regularly promoting integrity in racing and at public auction, so the industry is attractive to new owners and keeps the active ones involved, which in turn helps breeders continue their livelihood. All of it centers around the responsible care and management of the horse.
“The column also is a platform to share colorful stories from the myriad of characters met at racetracks, sales, and events. These behind-the-scenes ‘slice of life’ tales were the most fun because they give readers a taste of how challenging and how exhilarating the horse business can be.”
“What’s” will continue in its weekly format on BloodHorse.com and a video—gasp—version will be posted on the new BloodHorse+ starting April 1.
The first weekly edition, published in May 1929, noted: “WE ISSUE EACH MONDAY.” See you then.