The Horse Race Insider is a privately owned magazine. All copyrights reserved. “Bet with your head, not over it.”

The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


As we know, all politics stop at the waters edge, but anything in between is fair game.

So let’s begin at the top, with the nation’s chief executive who obviously believes that the Federal Production Act is something that is talked about but not acted upon. Past performances portend that this dance will continue until he runs out of breath, time, or the office.

He will continue to dawdle while those he swore to protect and defend, die at an exponential rate. Until the polling gives him no choice, there will be more too-little, too-late solutions.

Make no mistake: The giant shadow he casts effectively keeps the free world hostage, such is his ominous omnipresence.

In his chosen home state of Florida, where I live, his mixed messaging has scared the state’s chief executive into waiting until Tuesday afternoon, April 1, to mandate a shelter-in-place order, extending from the bottom of the Keys all the way to the Georgia and Alabama borders. No April Fool he.

Pleas from mayors of major Northern Florida cities weren’t enough. It wasn’t until the chief executive had an epiphany and an electronic media questioned his lack of dominion over God’s Waiting Room did his state take a tiny step toward lowering the apex of pandemic.

These “civil servants” were incapable of understanding that while the lives of actual human beings and economic life must be in balance so America can fulfill it promise, both failed to recognize or care that for this goal to be met, one problem needed to take precedent over the other.

Droids do not run the world, not yet anyway. But maybe even that would be preferable to spineless journeyman politicians whose inaction raised the lever of doubt and fear to paralyzing levels. No wonder confusion reigns.

Given these examples, it’s not unreasonable to expect that anyone tethered to horse racing would be confused about a prudent course of action. To race or not to race? Is horse racing an essential business or is it not?

I would argue yes because horse racing isn’t just a gambling business or sporting pastime. At its core, horse racing is an agri-business that celebrates one of God’s most glorious creatures, one that helped settlers to tame the West.

Racing industry green space is a boon to the ecology, especially now that emission standards have been rolled back by venal retribution decree.

If racing were to disappear, would it effect the lives of a non-racing public? Of course not. Horses have not been part of the culture for well over a half century. Horse racing would be lucky if culturally it were a significant part of the one-percent.

For the uninitiated, unconcerned and disinterested, the 411 is that horse racing is precariously perched on the edge. It’s the ultimate damned if you do/ damned if you don’t scenario.

For all the back and forth about public perception on drugs, race fixing and the like–I’m from the perception is reality school–I have not seen, nor have I heard overt criticism from mainstream media beyond a few bored sports columnists who never had much use for horse racing in the first place.

Those of us who love the Thoroughbred way of life know the reasons why racing matters. At minimum, backstretch life at America’s racetracks needs to continue. Even well meaning states, when not competing with each other or the feds for ventilators, or for betting handle, recognize the dichotomy.

This issue was amplified when it was spelled out in a recent ruling that allowed the business of caring for animals that were, quite literally, born to run.

The Ohio State Racing Commission mandated that tracks with operational backstretch life including on-site dormitories remain open until further notice. Counter to that, however, was an order to suspend racing during the pandemic be extended to April 30.

But backside-yes/front-side-no is an arrangement that will not be allowed indefinitely. In fact, horsemen’s organizations, or any racing permit holder, must submit 30-day and 60-day plans indicating how it can best comply before a compromise is made official.

Ohio stated that it is willing to work on a compromise solution while events on the ground continue to develop. Never has any situation in this country, world war notwithstanding, been this fluid. At this posting, licensees had 24 hours to comply.

Fundamentally, backstretch life will continue everywhere for four reasons: To prevent horse abuse or abandonment; preclude homelessness for backstretch workers living on-track; consolidate feed and care operations and finally to prevent injury due to unnatural inactivity.

The situation in California worsened with the cancellation of Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby as it abides with a Los Angeles County Health Department mandate with respect to essential businesses.

The Derby and Santa Anita Oaks has been rescheduled for “later in the season.” Talks between Santa Anita and the county continues, the track making the case that tracks in other states are racing because the industry contributes parimutuel taxes directly into state coffers.

North of the border, Woodbine is considering a postponement of their signature event, Queen’s Plate 160, the oldest continuing stakes race run in North America.

Woodbine’s meet, scheduled to begin March 23 but delayed until April 19, will be postponed again. The city of Toronto has canceled all major mass participation events through June 30; the Queen’s Plate would have been run three days earlier.

This represented forward thinking which generally happens only when the principals are on the same page. They looked at data, not polling, and they looked at the models. These damn fools actually put stock in science. Reason, acting on behalf of the citizenry. Discipline: What a concept.

Facebook Share
Twitter Share
LinkedIn Share

⚠ Before you comment

Our staff likes nothing better than to engage with the HRI Faithful and provide a forum for interaction on horseracing and sports. In that spirit, please be kind and reasonable; keep the language clean, and the tone civil. Comments from those who cannot comply will be deleted. Thank you.

3 Responses

  1. I understand it was PETA who placed a phone call to the Health Department.

    So now, should someone from SA call to complain that the magnificent Arboretum, located across the street, is playing host to 1,300 a day? How does that make sense?

    Allow me to answer my own question. We are way passed making sense in this country…way passed. Thanks for the share, I

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.