During the last three weeks, I have been getting Derby fever… I know, I should know better by now. But, it wasn’t for the big payoff, or getting seen at the big dance. Simply put, some events have me thinking about how special an honor it is to watch history. Many will be cheering that day, and no matter where you are there is not a bad seat in the house.
The current state of racing has me guessing. Tracks in Kentucky being bought and sold, dates cut, and trainers going to other tracks for more money. I grew up watching this glorious sport with my father. I learned how to first hold the Daily Racing Form before I was taught the magic that lay within. I have wagered on many things in my gambling life, but nothing could take the place of Thoroughbred racing. It is not like tossing dice in the air, or pulling slot handles. It is cerebral, and for me it has the feel of studying for the big test in school.
Hard to think that the state known for the Thoroughbred is lying against the ropes being pummeled by tracks with slot-infused gaming. I believe many are tired of talking about bailing anyone out. I can’t blame you, but there are so many jobs at stake. I have known families that have passed the art down from generation to generation. It is hard to believe when you hear a Kentucky lad like Dale Romans looking to run elsewhere. Hell, this guy is Kentucky… He comes from a racing family, and he has created a barn that could compete anywhere in the world. When I read the transcript of an interview with Mr. Romans, it began to be a reality. He is a businessman, and has owners to answer to. He has bills, employees, and a family that depends on the sport. Take away players like Dale Romans, and you will start seeing the ripple effect. Lack of horses, and fewer dates that can be filled. The purses will take a hit, and the roller-coaster ride is far from over. Where do you think he gets his feed? Where will his employees find work when he pulls up his tent? Are you starting to see any weight to this issue? This is not a mirage where the tracks have gotten together to cry wolf. This is the new reality, and it is coming soon to a track you love to visit.
So, when you hear ” My Old Kentucky Home” being played by the Louisville marching band, go ahead and wipe away that tear from your eye. Think of the history and pageantry that has lasted for all of these years. Think of the great equine athletes that have graced the oval. Oh, and think about what it would be like if the Kentucky Derby were run at another track. Now that brings tears to my eyes, and the song isn’t even playing. If there was ever a time that I would like to be wrong, it is now. But, the call-to-the-post bugle is growing silent, and racing is in trouble. If I had one wish for racing it would be simple. But, there is no genie in the bottle, and the future is in our hands. Better hurry, it is almost post time….