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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Flop This

Part of my daily morning routine includes a quick swing through the industry news websites—Bloodhorse, Daily Racing Form, Thoroughbred Times and the Racing Post—usually even before “real” news sites (thus being the nature of a horse racing fan). Each has its own unique spin when it comes to certain topics, which I readily accept as part of the media game of promoting their self-interest, but one of today’s article titles struck me as particularly jingoistic and downright obnoxious. Actually, the article was posted in yesterday’s Racing Post, but late enough that I didn’t catch it until this morning.

“Ascot flop More Than Real back at Saratoga.” Not “Breeders’ Cup Champ” but “Ascot flop.” While factually true—she did finish 11th of 12 starters in the ENG-G1 Coronation Stakes back on June 17 (her own 2011 start)—even Post writer Nicholas Godfrey notes further down in his article “the ground came up unusually testing.” He goes on to say: “In contrast, Winter Memories has posted back-to-back graded-stakes victories this season.”

Now, it’s nothing new that certain writers slant their stories in favor of personal preferences or against connections they don’t like. I get that. To remain a turf writer today one must have a passion for the sport as, god knows, much of the general public doesn’t. So you feed into a niche audience (that includes yourself) and become less objective—it happens. But this particular approach really stuck in my craw this morning. It brings into question the underlying anti-American scorn that Europeans sometimes profess about American racing and, in this case, successful though somewhat tainted trainer Todd Pletcher as a manifestation of our evil ways. Obviously, it’s no better than the similar oblivion we have for racing around the world, but this particular example just struck me as particularly mean-spirited.

Just as a horse here is defined by certain successes—a Derby winner, or a Breeders’ Cup champion—so too Royal Ascot as a meet elicits respect. It’s in our very nature it seems to categorize things in simplistic ways. Thus, as written, this headline seems particularly disrespectful, given that More Than Real wasn’t exactly favored in her Coronation start—she went off at 12-1, far behind 7-2 favorite Together (who finished fifth) and even 6-1 Theyskens’ Theory (who “flopped” behind Awesome Feather, R Heat Lightning, Delightful Mary, Believe in A.P. and Joyful Victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies race last year). Sure, "Ascot flop" makes it more relevant to the U.K. audience, but isn't "flop" a little harsh?

My point is, do we really need to be so antagonistic on this sinking ship? Can’t we all just get along?


Anonymous said...

There's a good chance that the person who wrote the headline didn't write the story. May have, but not necessarily.

Valerie Grash said...

True, but in the first paragraph the author does use the same terminology (flop).