Sometimes you just have to let it out. Fellow blogger Teresa Genaro (Brooklyn Backstretch) expressed her cranky side in a post yesterday, primarily about the boorish behavior of Eclipse awards host Kenny Rice (right on!) and the huge turnoff fanatical Zenyatta supporters have become (amen!). So today’s my turn.
What chafes my hide about the Eclipse Awards isn’t necessarily how they are presented, although a free live streaming broadcast online (via NTRA perhaps) and more consideration given to having a quality host (Jeannine Edwards comes to mind) would be nice. It’s not even the diverse methods of evaluation that industry voters apply in making their decisions without set criteria or the lack of fan participation in the process—a little healthy controversy keeps things interesting. What does tick me off is when voters blindly cast ballots for Breeders’ Cup winners without considering the body of work that animal produced during the entire year. I didn’t harp on it in advance of the show, but it is completely unfathomable to me why any horse racing expert (let alone poseur) thinks Dangerous Midge was one of the best turf horses to race in America in 2010. This is a horse that, before his Breeders’ Cup Turf victory over one of the weakest turf fields ever assembled, had only managed a Group 3 victory in Europe and finished in the money in only half his races last year, all but one without black-type status. Seemingly left out of the Eclipse voting equation are turf sprinters. Are they turf horses or sprinters? From the votes, it looks like neither, simply ignored. Thus, turf sprinter Chamberlain Bridge who won five of eight races in America last year, including the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, merited only 1 person’s first-place vote as top sprinter, but no consideration as male turf champion? Don’t get me wrong: I believe, as weak as American turf racing is, the right horse (Gio Ponti) won the award, but why if you consider the totality of his 2010 campaign would anyone—let alone 22 supposedly-educated voters—give Dangerous Midge the nod as American champion male turf horse? Mind-blowing.
This past Monday, dense fog completely enveloped Oaklawn, making it impossible for veteran track announcer Terry Wallace to call races (although he certainly gave it the old college try). Today, with the temperatures here hovering in the single digits and a fresh coating of six inches of snow on the ground, I sat down to enjoy some Florida racing at Gulfstream—and dream of warmer climes. Unfortunately, an intense rain storm hit just as the horses were loading into the gate for race 1—and for nearly the entire one-mile event nary a horse could be seen, leaving track announcer Larry Collmus at a loss for words. With today’s available technology, there’s no excuse for this. How many times must fans struggle to see how their horse is doing, or do without fundamental information about pace and speed collected via Trakus? As part of the overhaul so desperately needed in horse racing, put installing Trakus or similar technology on every race horse on the list.
Why in the world is serious consideration being given by the Mahoning Valley Development Group into building a thoroughbred race track near Youngstown, Ohio—just 30 miles away from Mountaineer and less than an hour from Presque Downs? Isn’t it bad enough that there already is a glut of tracks and races in this country that perpetuates poor quality racing with small fields, turning off bettors and fans alike? Why must the sport be exploited merely as a tool by gaming entities to acquire casino licenses? Isn’t it time for someone—anyone—with their sole motivation being improving the racing experience for fans to take the lead? Enough is enough, people! If the industry continues to put self-interests ahead of what’s good for the sport, it’s doomed.