Written by Brendan O'Meara

VINELAND, NJ—How serendipitous, it’s a Carryover Christmas.

I hadn’t planned on writing anything because like any rational person I expected to be dead, swallowed by a fireball, crushed under the weight of a tsunami, hit in the temple by a rock from the slingshot of a survivalist. Horse racing wasn’t quite on my mind. And to think John Cusack and his estranged wife endured so much and all for nothing.

But, since the planet’s white blood cells has failed to reject us like the flesh-eating bacteria we are, I guess we have to turn our focus back to the track, Mayan Apocalypse (great horse name, by the way. A horse that’s all hype, that is, and maybe gets a major motion picture filmed about it) be damned .

While driving down to see family (so I can be put on stage like some circus freak. “So, like, what do you do and stuff? Wow, what’s that like? Fun?”) I gave horse a lot of thought. Hold on, a lot of thought is a touch of an overstatement, since I was also thinking how twisted in concept The Hunger Games is and how powerful Jennifer Lawrence (born in Louisville, KY, by the way) is in the movie.

I heard wmcorrow comments echoing in the vast Grand Cany--—wait, just canyon of a skull I have, and realized there’s a dichotomy to this game.

Some people will argue that star horses don’t matter (matter, matter, matter). From a pure horse player-standpoint, there’s truth to that statement. But there’s no narrative to the pure horse player-standpoint.

Horses have names and character. They fight, they battle, they train, they run, they race. As Joan Didion once said, “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” Without the big names, the spaghetti doesn’t stick to the walls. They are the engine to sustain the greater narrative throughout 365 days.

As Simon Bazelgette told CNN.com, “It's a bit of an eccentric world, horse racing. But once you understand the theater of it, once you know the big names, it becomes so much more enjoyable.” (In maybe the most superficial story on horse racing I’ve ever read.)

He was referring to Frankel’s final race on Champion Stakes. You don’t get that on Laurel’s third race in January … which isn’t to say Laurel’s third race in January is unimportant. It is to those connections and the horse players.

Individual races on a card are largely isolated constructs. One doesn’t need the other. It’s nine or ten games within one big event. Multi-race exotics tie them together, but are no more united than electrons buzzing around a nucleus.

I don’t play the races enough to know what’s important to horse players. Heck, I consider second-hand smoke my prize for a job well done. So, what do you want for horse playing Christmas? What could a racetrack or simulcast facility do to garner your attention? Or, even better, make you feel appreciated?

A Mayan Apocalypse (still, even 400 words later, a great name for a horse bought by D. Wayne Lukas for a racing partnership looking to make a splash!) may have been the best thing for horse racing, but now since we’ve survived, what will the game do for its unsung heroes? Those who speak in terms of keys and boxes, wheels and carryovers?

Think the Mayan’s forgot to carry the one or something?

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