Does Anyone Know What Really Happened?

I wait for the first Saturday in May like Christmas. – Any money I have is earmarked for wagers on this glorious day. – I’m the fan you try to reach through marketing, advertising, and giveaways. – I come out when it rains, in the heat, and during the winter. – I talk up the game and write and do radio about the sport. – Working in racing has been the best job for this fan, gambler, and lover of the sport. – This morning has a little different feel. Kinda’ like a hangover with a hammer on the head chaser.

What I have experienced in less than 24 hours is confusing. – Friends and fans text and call me about the big race. They want to know what happened as I’m the guy who champions the sport may be able to answer their questions. – Well, I can’t. I’m on the outside looking in. Here are a few thoughts about some of the questions I’ve read on social media and texts.

1. – For the young man who said people were only mad about losing money. – He must have never made a wager. It is his version of tough love to get us all back to his way of thinking. – If it were not for the gamblers they would be running for blue ribbons. We keep the game moving and growing (if possible). It is from the wagers where money is spread around to pay bills, salaries, purses, make improvements, and have the party giveaways fans enjoy. – But, I’m sure they’ll all forget about it because you tell them tough cookies.

2. – Wouldn’t this have been easier if they “popped” up the inquiry sign? – There is a disclaimer in the program that says: ” The opinions and decisions of the stewards are final and binding to all participants.” – If the red-sign came up on the tote board about 60% of the confusion would have went away. The inquiry sign would have communicated to the fans they were going to examine the race in great detail. Fans would have grasped the idea and process. – Some tracks have the stewards come up on live TV and explain the decision. Not hours later, as that has the feel of not knowing. – The qualified people in the booth know the rules inside and out. They make the tough calls and get paid accordingly. If they would have came up on screen immediately another 20% goes away. – The other 20% would split between those who support the call and those who will argue until the end of time.

3. – Stop telling stories of how you scored, your kid had a show ticket, and grandma had the exacta. That has a “look at me” feel. – You’re not making much sense other than bragging. – This day is the biggest on the world stage for the sport. There is much to be gained and lost, and fans may be lost forever on one decision. – If you don’t understand, just take a picture of your dinner and post it on Facebook instead of adding to the confusion. – This black eye won’t go away soon.

4. – Quit posting pictures, videos, and wild rants. – Let the professionals talk. I want to listen and understand.

This will have a negative effect on racing. The interests of the gamblers must be paramount. – If you disagree, they’re the ones who keep the lights on and sport rolling. – There won’t be a purse increase if you eat more popcorn or buy a hat at the gift shop. The purses are what the owners / trainers try to win and keep the barn alive. – I have to give kudos to the owners Gary and Mary West. He handled the rain soaked confusion with tact and patience. That’s not to say there won’t be any calls to lawyers on Monday morning. – As his horse was taken down from Derby history he handled it with patience and calm trying to make sense of the madness.


Final thoughts from this fan, gambler, and lifelong employee in racing:

* Hang the inquiry sign

* Inform the public immediately other horses claimed a foul and not hours after.

* Have immediate TV coverage where the stewards go out over the airwaves and explain the process of why a horse was taken down in a timely fashion.

* Put a leash on TV coverage begging the point to disqualify (or not) any horse – We live in the times of immediate information. – Not leading the public, but explain the process and let the professionals work.

* Whatever the call. Move on and accept the decision.