Horse racing has been living in its mother’s basement blogging about video games and belly button lint too long. Horse racing’s gut hangs over its stained tighty-whities. It hasn’t shaved in weeks.
Mom calls down asking how it’s doing but not really wanting to know how it’s feeling but rather why it hasn’t seen the sun and eaten anything not packaged by Frito-Lay. Pull your own weight! Pay a bill! Put on a shirt!
Your very own John Pricci wrote possibly his best column just the other day about the powerless numb he felt about the Life At Ten Report where nothing happened. Pricci has been bludgeoned by the apathy, the unaccountability, and the selfishness of a game so indifferent to its horse players.
We would have gotten better answers from an Eight Ball. Reply Hazy Try Again. Sounds about right. At least asking it a question gives you an answer in less than four months. (I heard the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission tried to market a rare Eight Ball with an answer that says “It was Johnny’s Fault” but it wasn’t moving any units. True story.)
In this Choose Your Own Adventure there are two options worth considering to find gainful employment for horse racing. If it is so concerned about money and the un-welfare of its athletes and bettors then quit, yes, you, quit. Turn to the last page: THE END.
Option No. 2—if you have more hope than Pandora—join the Betting Embargo brought to you by The Carryover! And what better statement could be made than by sticking it right to the heart of horse racing and Kentucky? Don’t bet the Derby. Not a dime. Not one freaking penny. So, you like To Honor and Serve? Honor and serve your game by getting the brass to notice by putting your money on two—no three!—Grilled Stuft Burritos instead of Uncle Mo (sorry Mr. Repole, oh, valiant silver lining).
When the 1994 World Series was won by work stoppage that an enema powered by a fire hydrant couldn’t free the fans stayed home. Some never returned. Others took years to come back ... as little as four years in one Clear case of performance enhancement.
(Okay, the suggestion here is that in order to get people to believe in that unemployed slob is to juice up the game to draw the horse player back. Even Big Brown would disagree with that.)
We writers write, but as much as the Pricci’s, the Paul Morans, the Joe Drapes, the Bill Finleys, and the Ray Paulicks expound about the changes this game needs to stay viable, how much has all those miles of sentences accomplished?
I’d wager—wait, bad pun. I’d bet— dammit! ... We all stand at the lectern and lecture to whom? It sounds like each other. We have these discussions amongst ourselves about the sorry state of affairs and have a good laugh or a good talk about how only if Secretariat would walk through that door ...
He did! If the sport can’t capitalize on back-to-back years where a female horse became Horse of the Year, years when Rachel Alexandra beat the boys to become Horse of the Year, or when Zenyfreakingyatta won the Classic, won 19 in a row, and was the width of a betting ticket away from another, then I’m sorry, there’s no hope at all.
Hold onto George, Abe, Hammy, that Indian hater, Ulysses, and Benjamin. Hit the game where it matters.
Maybe this is as bad an idea as Take Your Kid to the OTB Day, but what if handle took a 50 percent whack on Derby Day? What if NBC and its Eclipse Award-winning coverage team took note and broadcast our little movement and the Preakness took an even bigger hit (sorry Maryland, oh, red-headed step child)? Same for the Belmont.
Could it work?
Brendan O’Meara is the author of the forthcoming Six Weeks in Saratoga: How Three-Year-Old Filly Rachel Alexandra Beat the Boys and Became Horse of the Year to be published by SUNY Press. You can read more at The Blog Itself and follow Brendan’s Twitter feed. His web site is http://www.brendanomeara.com.