Money isn’t everything. This is never more true than when it comes to ranking the best of thoroughbred racing.
Strictly based on earnings, Midnight Bisou is about to become the fifth greatest horse who ever lived and the all-time best filly or mare, ahead of Zenyatta, Rachel Alexandra, Personal Ensign, Ruffian, Songbird, Goldikova, even Monomoy Girl, who outran her the past four times they met. (Monomoy Girl was disqualified to second in one of those races.) Midnight Bisou is good, just not that good.
The ranking isn’t official yet. In light of the scandal surrounding Maximum Security, the Saudi Arabian Jockey Club has announced it is reviewing the results of the $20 million Saudi Cup. This, of course, is a nation where allegations are tantamount to conviction.
Jason Servis is lucky he got out of Dodge quickly. In America, he’ll probably get a swat on the wrist. In Saudi Arabia, he might have been beheaded by now. Maybe beheaded and crucified. The Saudis do that.
When the Saudis finally go through the formality of declaring that Maximum Security cheated and take him down, Midnight Bisou’s second-place prize of $3.5 million will be elevated to $10 million and her career earnings will swell to $13.75 million. She will have made $185 more in one race than No. 10 Cigar earned in 33 starts, 19 of them victories.
For further perspective, Midnight Bisou will have earned more money in the Saudi Cup than Secretariat, Kelso, Forego, Dr. Fager and Spectacular Bid did in their careers–combined. Earned might be a generous term. She will have been elevated to first for an infraction that had nothing to do with her performance on the race track.
The reason for the disparities are obvious–inflation, casino doles and Middle Eastern oil nations trying to buy undeserved respectability.
Be that as it may it doesn’t change the fact that career earnings have become an interesting but not particularly relevant statistic, kind of like including the race-to-race weight of thoroughbreds in the past performances.
Nevertheless, breeders, the bandits of racing, will continue to trumpet them as it serves their purposes, another example of how statistics can be made to say anything a person wants them to say. Consider this: If Midnight Bisou’s sire, Midnight Lute, has 100 offspring racing in 2020, their average annual earnings in a breeding ad will be inflated by $100,000.
None of this is meant to diminish the achievements of Midnight Bisou, an exceptional filly, who would rank with the best of recent years if she had never made the trip to Saudi Arabia.
The point I’m trying to make would be just as relevant no matter who had been declared the official winner of the Saudi Cup.
‘It is not post time’
Any hope that Gulfstream’s post times will ever again bear any relation to reality have been dispelled during the coronavirus scare.
Gulfstream has been racing without spectators since the middle of March. Ergo, there is no chance fans will be shut out waiting in line to make a bet. So the disingenuous explanation that posts are being dragged so that people are not shut out has been exposed beyond dispute.
Almost all betting now is being done on ADW sites via computer. There are no lines on personal computers. Bets can be made seconds before the field is released.
The sad reality is fans have become so accustomed to races going five or six minutes after the listed post that it would probably take months to retrain them that post time means post time.
Let Preakness be Preakness
The Maryland Jockey Club doesn’t know when the 2020 Preakness will be scheduled. It doesn’t even know if the race will be run. We can only pray that this cursed virus will be overcome by the targeted new Sept. 19 date and we can resume the lives we are learning should not have been taken for granted.
The one thing the MJC does know is that if and when the Preakness is run, it will be without the customary InfieldFest. In most cases, an announcement such as this would be a step toward sanity. But the concerts, inventive game-playing, such as port-a-potty surfing, and other Woodstock-type excesses are a big part of Preakness Day.
They are more of a draw to young fans than the horses in the feature race. A Preakness with the infield closed is like Mardi Gras with Bourbon Street closed.
The worst part is the decision makes no sense. If it were done because the youthful lunacy has gotten out of hand and detracts from the dignity of the event, it would be justifiable. But this isn’t the explanation being offered. It’s the coronavirus, which has taken a fierce toll on many of the beloved events of Americana.
Social distance spacing isn’t possible in the packed Pimlico infield. But at least it is out in the fresh air. It is unfathomable how it’s considered preferable to herd people into the confined quarters of the glass-enclosed grandstand, the most decrepit facility for a major sports event in America, where people have no alternative to being elbow to elbow and the same air keeps recirculating.
It’s not a stretch to assume that all plans for the Preakness are dependent upon the coronavirus plague having gone into remission and all the restrictions we are living with being lifted, common sense being the exception.
In this case, the Preakness should be allowed to be the Preakness. If we aren’t all reasonably safe, there should be no Preakness.