I have a good friend who came up with the best life quotes. Well, I thought they were his until he told me they came from sage-like family members. They wanted him to learn and apply their experiences as he was growing up. To this day, when I find myself reaching for an explanation or relevant wisdom. I smile and go to the grab bag.
“You can’t un-ring a bell”
Tracks lamented for years that any form of alternative gaming was needed to keep the sport afloat. Well for many it has come, and it wasn’t in the savoir they thought it would be. The business model looked good on paper, and it seemed the sport of kings would ride shotgun to slot machines and video VLT’s. OK, that was dandy and our dreams have come true. What more could we ask for? Well, the tempo has changed and we’re dancing to a different beat. As the old saying goes, “Be careful what you wish for, you may just get it” seems to fit the times. How many casualties have you seen since the electronic saviors first plugged in? Some tracks received subsides to boost purses and take the strain off of racing. There were going to be casino/track cross-promotions that would drive traffic from the bustling casinos to the depleted grandstands. Now you’re hearing states cutting breeding incentives and turning their back on the sport. Let me pose this question. Do you think the country would have gone casino-crazy, and demanded to jump in waist deep if there wasn’t a dying sport of racing, dog racing, or anything that has been going on for decades? No… Getting the lottery in many states was a long-shot, and it required an act of God. But people started buckling in to pressures, and the idea of less tax was appealing. The same premise seemed to carry over to racing as it was facing extreme competition, and needed a life preserver. We have opened Pandora’s box, and “you can’t un-ring a bell.” The future is more uncertain that it ever was, and where she goes nobody knows.
“Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes it’s no, and sometimes its wait.”
The New York Times unveiled a PETA probe about the cruel and ugly under-belly of the Thoroughbred racing world. There was a nine minute video showing a profanity laced visit to a shed-row. It was all about wrong-doings on the backstretch of race tracks. Sometimes the coverage is correct, and the answer is yes. We should police and punish accordingly. But there are times when the investigation can be wrong or incomplete. They should take time and thoroughly investigate the entire story. Don’t point the dirty end of the stick at anyone just yet. After further review, the answer could be no. If common sense is applied, do you think every athlete is on PED’s ? How about the gained edges from natural remedies to keep out players healthy, and some test positive from a seed or a plant extract. The sport of racing has been around since the nomadic tribesman of Central Asia first domesticated the horse around 4500 B.C. There are some issues in racing that needs to be addressed, and it doesn’t need a one video to label the entire sport. After watching the one-sided attack on a trainer. This does not begin to define, or understand what the industry is about. Racing has plenty of issues to mend and eradicate, and it wants the game to be more transparent. But it won’t come at the expense of the entire industry for the mis-deeds of a handful of bad eggs. For those that love the sport, work in the industry, and are a part of the proud tradition. Now more than ever it’s important to keep your head up. Be proud of the great strides that have been made, and the safety regulations that protect our equine and human athletes. Just like the sage-like saying goes, “Sometimes the answer is wait.” Racing is more than a sport. We love our horses, and care about the welfare and of all that participate. Now more than ever, we should not convict anyone in the court of public opinion. Sometimes the answer is wait.