Last Time Around - By Eric Mitchell

(Originally published in the March 19, 2011 issue of The Blood-Horse magazine. Feel free to share your own thoughts and opinions at the bottom of the column.)    

For 18 years and nine months the last page in The Blood-Horse has been home to a wide range of opinions from participants and observers of Thoroughbred racing. The “Final Turn” became the industry water cooler or a counter seat at the local diner where everyone shared opinions on the issues of the day. We’ll continue to provide a home for those opinions, but they will have a new location in the magazine and be published under a banner more indicative of what they are—“Industry Voices.”

The “Final Turn” was introduced in the July 4, 1992, issue with a piece by Steven Crist, now publisher and columnist for the Daily Racing Form. In 1992 Crist covered New York racing for The Blood-Horse. He wrote about the “Hero Myth,” the belief that a superhorse or a Triple Crown winner will come along and save racing. The subjects of the “Final Turn” have covered a broad spectrum—a lot of prescriptions for fixing racing and even advice for breeders about dealing with international competition. We have had many great remembrances, too, such as one from Sean Clancy about an estate sale he attended for the late Hall of Fame trainer Sidney Watters Jr. The piece on Watters won the Eclipse Award for news/commentary writing in 2009.
Most pieces submitted for the “Final Turn” have challenged us or called us to action.

In his inaugural column, Crist reaches the following conclusions: “No superhorse can save racing from itself—from its mismanagement, lack of vision, and absence of leadership. This game will change radically over the next 20 years and will wither without preemptive, innovative planning to react to those changes.”

Innovative ideas are essential, so we want everyone with an interest in and a passion for Thoroughbred racing to continue submitting thoughtful and provocative opinions. These will be published regularly on the “Industry Voices” blog, one of our editorial outlets on started in May 2010. The best of what is submitted will run in the magazine on a page following “The Wire” news section in addition to appearing online.

What will appear on this page beginning in the March 26 issue is a new feature called “Winner’s Circle.” Here you will learn more about the owners and breeders whose substantial investments in time, money, and effort make the Thoroughbred industry work. These one-page features will give you insight into who these people are, how they became involved and enraptured with Thoroughbred racing, and what has brought them success. These stories also will be posted on in a new “Winner’s Circle” blog, where readers are welcome not only to post comments and observations but submit their own suggestions for the subjects of future stories.

Because the industry has so many interesting tales, we’ll slip in a couple of features now and again about extraordinarily successful broodmares, a new trainer that is catching fire, or a racehorse with a compelling story that may not be a graded stakes winner but is finding success at other levels of the game. We want to hear suggestions on these subjects, too.

For our first “Winner’s Circle” feature you’ll learn more about John D. Gunther, the co-breeder of Triple Crown hopeful Stay Thirsty, whom he bred with his son, John Darren Gunther. Later we’ll visit with George Bolton, co-owner of The Factor, who won the San Vicente Stakes (gr. II) and is headed for the March 19 Rebel Stakes (gr. II).

In the “Winner’s Circle,” you’ll learn more about the people who share your passion for Thoroughbred racing, and you might pick up some tips that could lead to your own success story.

Whether it is making connections or sharing ideas, The Blood-Horse is here for you and wants to hear from you.

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