The management of Santa Anita, in association with horsemen, should demand an end to the state’s grandstanding with respect to racing.
“Work with us. Recognize the efforts we have made and continue to make to increase equine safety, which have produced encouraging results, or tell us we have to shut it down! The Limbo you have placed us in is not acceptable as a sound business model or a way of life for the thousands of people who depend on racing for their livelihood.”
The constant threats and bullying from Gov. Gavin Newsom, Sen. Diane Feinstein and their media cheerleaders, the Los Angeles Times and New York Times, have to stop.
“I feel like we have someone with a gun to our heads,” said Leandro Mora, top assistant to Doug O’Neill.
Sen. Feinstein said prior to the Breeders’ Cup that if there is even one more fatality, “it might be time to re-examine the future of this sport in our state and our country.” Unfortunately, Mongolian Groom was fatally injured in the BC Classic.
If Feinstein wasn’t merely blowing smoke for some face time on the evening news, it is time for that re-examination. If she is going to do it, she owes the more than 70,000 Californians who make their living in racing that it be done as expeditiously as possible. It not she should tend to more important issues in Washington, which is the job she was elected to do.
Santa Anita’s prime winter season starts Dec. 26. A shutdown now is preferable to one in mid-season.
An immediate closure would afford everyone involved time to make other plans. Gulfstream, Aqueduct, the Fair Grounds and other tracks would welcome California’s horsemen and racing stock. The situation would be far more complicated in mid-February or March.
It’s going to rain this winter in Southern California. The track won’t always be perfect. Occasionally there will be an equine fatality. This can’t be avoided.
Let’s put this into perspective. Mongolian Groom was the 38th death on the track this year. This is about three per month. There are 60,000 homeless people on the streets of Los Angeles. According to a story in the L.A. Times, three of these human beings die EVERY DAY.
Three horses a month vs. three humans a day. This is to say nothing of two million Californians having their power shut off to alleviate the threat of wild fires, which many say could be at least somewhat curtailed with better forest management.
Somebody in government doesn’t have their priorities straight. Or are the attacks on racing a convenient distraction from these far more significant problems?
Graham Motion, one of racing’s classiest acts, summed it up well. “Sadly, this is not a perfect world. We put too much on ourselves if we think we can eliminate every single injury. Horses, like humans, get hurt.”
Those beating up on racing have to recognize this.
Everyone in racing had their hearts broken by the tragedy that befell Mongolian Groom in the final quarter-mile of the final race of a glorious Breeders’ Cup weekend. The fatal injury occurred in spite of new safety procedures, Lasix and whip restrictions, and the most thorough pre-race checks ever on the fitness of horses.
What more do those threatening racing want? If the answer is an end to the game, they should make that clear now. Otherwise, they should leave Santa Anita alone and tend to the real problems of what was once the Golden State.
Final BC thoughts
If a turf specialist can be Horse of the Year—I have no problem with that—why can’t a sprinter be Best Older Dirt Horse. My vote in this category goes to Mitole, who will also be my second choice to Bricks and Mortar for Horse of the Year.
To be consistent, I’ll be voting for another sprinter, Covfefe, for 3-year-old filly honors.
Here’s a subtle commentary on the quality of the sophomore class of 2019. It’s possible (likely?) neither the Kentucky Derby winner (Country House) nor Kentucky Oaks winner (Serengeti Empress) will be among the three finalists in the Eclipse balloting for 3-year-olds.
War of Will was so far over the top his head was in the clouds right next to his connections, who didn’t know when to back off a horse, who has been running in one big race after another since January at the Fair Grounds. This isn’t red boarding. I said the same thing in my BC previews. Maybe WoW was over-rated all along. That was one of the weakest Preakness fields ever that he beat with a perfect trip.
You think the Churchill Downs stewards are having second thoughts on the DQ of Maximum Security? War of Will might have been doing what became his characteristic backing out of it when Maximum Security allegedly bothered him.
I suspect Maximum Security will conclude his championship season in the Cigar Mile. But wouldn’t it be poetic justice if he did it in the Clark right under the noses of the Churchill Downs stewards who did him wrong?
Speaking of the Derby, does anyone think Storm the Court is the horse to beat next May? To put it another way, if the BC Juvenile was run again and both were even-money, who would you take, Dennis’s Moment, who ran last, or Storm the Court, who got home first?
Dennis’s Moment could win every one of his Derby preps by a pole and it will still be hold your breath time for those backing him on the first Saturday of May. In four races, he found a way to beat himself twice. This isn’t confidence inspiring.
Peter Miller is the Jason Servis of the West Coast.
McKinzie is the Tin Man of racing. Two wins and five seconds is not an accident. Almost every time another horse looked him in the eye in the stretch, he gave it up.
Uni beat the boys in the Mile and Belvoir Bay did the same in the Turf Sprint. When will American racing join the rest of the world and acknowledge that there is no significant difference in talent between the genders?