Looking Back Over the Past Few Months

by Ed Meyer

posted on August 16, 2020 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, Kentucky Derby, WinningPonies.com | Comments Off on Looking Back Over the Past Few Months

It was back in March when the announcements began. – Life as we knew it was changing drastically. It seemed as if our worst nightmares were coming true and uncertainty the rule of the day. – Families were being asked to keep distance, and the economy was short of collapse. All seemed bleak and there were more questions than answers. A great deal has happened in the past five months.

I was driving to the store. Just like the masses we were all looking for something to sustain our household. – I was passing by the track and saw a lone trainer with his horse. He was leading him around and stopping ever-so-brief for a sip of water. I pulled over and watched from a distance. This simple morning act between horse and man caught my eye. – It would have been taking place in the rain, snow, or sunny day. Watching this man tend to his daily routine gave me a sense of normalcy. No matter what, his horse had to be fed and exercised as that’s what he does. His horse didn’t know of any dire news reports and it was another day at the office. This early morning routine gave me a new sense of direction. Life would go on.

I heard many tracks were closing like most businesses, and since we’re a non-essential operation to the nation. Tracks were putting dates on hold and some canceling altogether. – The horses were fed even if the horsemen ate later, if at all. That’s the job. One of love and obligation, and never a doubt of who comes first. Every racing fan needs to spend a morning watching the hard-working men and women rise with the sun and tend to the horses. There is something magical about this simple task, and one that would make you proud of the people involved.

As the days went by, all sports were put on hold. No playing due to the danger of spreading the virus. – Horse racing was being conducted at a handful of small tracks without fans in the grandstand. – The handle was at an all-time high and people were waiting with bated breath to play tracks they normally didn’t. Most hadn’t heard of the connections, and some riders made the trek to sustain themselves. – Racing was the only game in town and fans couldn’t wait to play Will Rogers Downs and Fonner Park. Eventually Gulfstream, Tampa Bay, and Oaklawn were racing. While many sports were guessing if they would play, Thoroughbred racing was in swing.

Since then, we’ve gradually allowed a limited amount of fans back and life is feeling a little bit better having the lifeblood of the game in the stands. – Bad news about the Colonial meet being canceled, but safety first. – With that being said I’ve heard the same question that is circulating in the racing industry. “Should Churchill Downs go without fans, or are they doing the right thing?” This has been picking up speed in every conversation, and the results are about 50/50.

I love the Derby; love Churchill Downs and the incredible race card. – But, when I’m asked by colleagues. I have the same answer. – ” There are just too many people, and no matter how much you cut back attendance, it has a dangerous possibility.” – Think about it. What happens if the Churchill Downs has a huge outbreak from this day? Will there be a Breeders’ Cup? Will the rest of the Kentucky circuit close until next spring? – Too much uncertainty. Not my place to question Churchill plans, but it seems a big gamble. When the Indy 500 is going to race without fans. That pretty much made my mind up. – I would love to see the races, the pageantry, and the one-of-a-kind things that only the Derby can provide. Once again, not my decision to make, and I lean to the conservative. I just want to see racing continue, and gathering that many folks can be a tough call. – I sure hope it goes without a hitch, as this year of uncertainty has a solid Derby winner.