Sometimes good news comes in the mail (I just won $1 million!, Publisher’s Clearing House), or maybe via an owl ala Harry Potter (that’s the dream), or when you look for something to write about and along comes this slice of two-tiered carrot cake with cream cheese frosting: Kentucky Horse Racing Commission Chief Steward John Veitch was fired. Wait, I don’t like the passive voice. Rephrase: the KHRC fired John Veitch. Ah, more punch. Mmm, pass the almond milk, please.
Three hundred eighty-seven days ago Life At Ten felt like doo-doo while Veitch et al sat back and let her stumble away from the gate looking like she was on the ninth leg of a bar crawl. And, viola, here we are.
Remember the days when Veitch trained Alydar? Probably, at least a little bit, but remember when Joe Paterno coached football? Or when Barry Bonds’s head didn’t mirror his ego? Point is, it takes very little to wipe out a legacy.
Think how bad it must be for the KHRC to can a brother. This is like Kermit firing Gonzo.
Imagine how easy it could’ve been 387 days ago. “She’s not warming up well? No question. Scratch her. Too much to lose: a horse’s life, bettor confidence. Yeah ... I agree. No brainer ... Oh, yeah, maybe, certainly, Rachel Alexandra would eat this field alive ... Well, irrelevant, not our concern, take Life’s saddle and get her home. Job well done, fellas.”
Instead, 387 days later, during a 30-day window where the donut’s creamy middle will spill, the KHRC handed a cause-less pink slip to Veitch. Who knows what the print will read on the chief hearing officer Robert Layton’s report. I think they’re giving Veitch a head start. Haven’t you ever seen the Sopranos? Head starts are about as fun as a rhombus.
We should, but we won’t, reserve judgment for after the publication of Layton’s report. Perhaps Veitch did some things right. Now it seems that he is the poster boy for a scandal gone horribly wrong (as opposed to the scandals that go horribly, right? Stupid, stupid, stupid.)
According to the Blood-Horses’ report, Veitch said that he’s getting raked over the magma over disagreements he shared with former KHRC executive director Lisa Underwood. Beware the person whose name is the alias of Frodo Baggins in “The Fellowship of the Ring.” Just saying. She resigned November 16 to become a partner at a Lexington law firm. Don’t you love how these people always land more upright than a gymnast?
Look at all the connections involved: Underwood leaves for partnership; John Velazquez wins the 2011 Kentucky Derby on another jocks horse, Todd Pletcher wins yet another Eclipse Award, and Veitch will likely find work. Smarty Jones’ spent an unsuccessful stint in Kentucky but found work in Pennsylvania, another proud state that boasted controversy with the owner Mike Gill. Yama hama!
Look on the bright side, Mr. Veitch, 9 percent of the country is right there with you.
There’s always training horses. Worked out once.
That’s right. Dual post. I’ll keep this relatively short.
Lots of discussion took place since last Tuesday about whether or not Rapid Redux, a horse that runs in glorified claiming races in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, should be a candidate for Horse of the Year after his 20th straight victory. I lobbied for his chance at Horse of the Year. Many fans agreed, but folks with the votes (for those who think I get a vote, I don’t. I am an associate member of the National Turf Writers Association, I think. I’m a blogger and relegated to the children’s table where we blog about selling Thanksgiving leftovers to family members for a dime. Nobody’s buying.) disagree.
Where are we going? The argument against him is that he’s not “brilliant” enough, he doesn’t run in graded company. If the award for Horse of the Year went to the fastest horse then Fabulous Strike, Commentator, and Uncle Mo would all be Horses of the Year.
The Eclipse Awards and the Academy Awards are identical. The Academy even opened up Best Picture to include ten films, some blockbusters (your graded stakes horses) and some independent films (your allowance and claimers). Normally the independents never have a shot against the “Gladiators” and the “Titanics.” But every so often a “Hurt Locker” drops in at the quarter pole and beats an “Avatar.” “Hurt Locker” It grossed $14.7 million. “Avatar?” $2 billion ... in half the time. That’s a 120 Beyer if I ever saw one.
The class and the year, needs to be factored. If Rapid Redux had this streak during the same year Zenyatta had hers there’d be no question. “Avatar” would be the richest and best movie. With so few standouts in 2011, so few horses unwilling to step up their game, why not let this award fall to the independent?
Brendan O'Meara is the author of "Six Weeks in Saratoga." He will be signing copies of his book at The Open-Door Bookstore in Schenectady, NY on Saturday Dec. 10 from 1:00 to 2:30 PM.