Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Has it Come to Cheering For Injuries?

I saw a recent post at Paceadvantage.com speaking of the minor injury sustained to thoroughbred Musket Man, who was a player in the Triple Crown. The poster (not meaning anything by it of course) said that the injury was unfortunate but that it would assure fans would get to see the horse race next year, instead of winning a race or two in the summer and be shuffled off to stud. What a sad commentary on the state of racing when an injury is looked at like that. It is like saying I hope Tiger Woods has a hamstring injury before each Major, because he will quit when he beats Jack's record, and it will assure we'll get to watch him golf for awhile.

In harness racing we had a year last year - one which thoroughbred racing needs. The presence of Somebeachsomewhere, as well as injuries, has given fans something to look forward to. Art Official, a talented horse, was hurt late last year and it assured that his stud career was placed on hold. Dali could not get a deal, other than a small one perhaps, because he could not win any big ones with the presence of Beach. Shadow Play had physical issues early, had to face Beach, and did not win enough to warrant a deal. Ditto Bettor Sweet, who recently set the track record at Mohawk in a stunning time. They are all four year olds, they are all racing in 2009, despite two of them setting world records, which any other year would have them off to some farm somewhere, playing with mares.

The breeding game has always been a game of three card monte with racing fans the marks. It is the last great insular fiefdom which has no one to answer to but horse buyers. It is unwilling to change, and unable to fix itself and most would say does nothing for the game of racing in the first place. Despite massive handle losses, despite lack of interest in racing, despite purses being down, despite yearling sales off, we know that nothing will change and it will be business as usual. As strange as it sounds, maybe a quarter crack or two might do more for the fan base and the sport of horse racing than any marketing program has ever done.

Notes:

Wagering is getting killed. Don't say we didn't warn you. Cangamble explores that issue in his last piece.

We're tough on milkshaking here in Ontario. When I see someone get caught with it in California thoroughbred racing it seems they are asked nicely to promise to never do it again. When they do it again, they are asked again to promise never to do it again, but they tack on a $400 fine and a 13 day suspension, so they can enter their horses in two weeks.

I am half done my driver change study, which I have been working on in my spare time. So far all I can selfishly say to those who bet driver changes, is please keep doing it.

It seems another past posting incident might have occurred in thoroughbred racing today. I think I can improve my ROI if I bet horses after the race. I am adding it to the arsenal.

A New York Post writer says racing is finished. Why? "1. Modern racing has no stars. They're all in the breeding shed. No sport can prosper without stars to engage and excite the base. 2. The modern racing program is an endless stream of small fields and short-priced favorites. No competition, no excitement. 3. If a product is not selling, check the price. Casinos and sports betting take an average 5 percent off the top. Racing's minimum take is 16 percent, stretching up to 30 percent. It is priced out of the market." I am not sure if the patient is ready to star in CSI, but the writer sure has the symptoms down pat.

8 comments:

Pacingguy said...

Well we don't need to hope a horse has an injury to keep them racing. It seems the breeding/syndication market is not what it once was and the days of multiple syndication deals are coming to an end. We will be coming back to the point where it makes more financial sense to race rather than heading off to the breeding shed.

Cangamble said...

The answer to solving the breeding problem is simple. Don't allow horses to go to stud until they are 6 and don't allow mares until the are 5.
This will also bring back longevity to the gene pool because the horses that had good 4 and 5 year old campaigns will be the ones sought after as studs.

NewHorizons said...

A bevy of quarter crack issues and trainer issues shuffled Big Brown to the breeding shed faster than you can say, "Belmont Disaster". He was a three-year-old with absolutely no real racing credentials under his belt and yet he now commands a stud fee of $65,000? How's this happening? We need to start breeding for durability and longevity. Jess Jackson left Curlin on the track until he was four, but he too now stands at stud, and with the aquisition of Rachel Alexandra, (who will eventually breed to Curlin), it will ultimately give Jess Jackson a stronghold on the yearling sales market. The industry favors the deep pocketed corporations and refuses to help the old school "mom and pop" stables who are now struggling to keep afloat. I thought racing was suppose to be for every horse owner, not just the ones who can afford the large racing supplementations, the 2 million dollar yearlings, and the best trainers? Keep in mind that there needs to be a single governing body attached to this industry, like NASCAR or the USGA. There's just too many people in the proverbial grain bucket and no one knows who added the supplements! I'll leave you with three words that ultimately define the industry and what it's come too......The Green Monkey...

Pacingguy said...

Actually, I don't understand why we can't do what they are doing in France. Horses stand stud and race during the same season. Let's limit the cover for 4 and 5 year olds to 60 mares a year and then let them race.

NewHorizons said...

Pacingguy: good point, but if they were booked in advance to cover a certain number of mares and then they were injured in a race, I wonder how much money these breeders would lose? I do believe that it should be mandatory that a stallion can only stand once he is at least 5 yrs of age and up until a certain age, same with fillies and mares.

malcer said...

Agree with Cangamble.

This is one case in which those with an interest in the status quo pretend there is no easy solution, when in fact that solution is perfectly obvious.

Anonymous said...

Couple of things, one Shadow Play does have a deal, he is to standa t and be managed by Blue Chip Farm. Second the biggest draw back (in harness racing anyway) to not racing 4 yr olds is lack of money. As a 4 yr. old a horse is forced to race against aged racehorses. It doesn't seem to the average person like that is any big deal, but it can be likened to the amount of College athletes who do not do well in their 1st year in the pros. (AKA 4 yr old year.) There are two reasons for this; one is the learning curve, and yes racehorses are still learning to race even as three year olds. (the best example of that is how many 3 yr olds can make multiple moves in one race? Most aged horses that are good can make at least two and some more.) The second and most important thing is that a 4 yr old is not fully developed, even in the racing breeds, it is shocking how much a horse changes between their three year old year and their 5 year old year. So to keep the stars on the track the first step should be races and stakes restricted to 4 yr olds only. It will take time but slowly the races will fill, and slowly they will become ultra competitive events. A quick look at Mohawk racing shows it is possible. They write several classes for 4 yr olds only, and we have brought back 2 horses for their 4 year old season because of it. In the past we would have always sold them at the end of their 3 yr old season, again because racing gets very tough in the open ranks. That is the best fix for keeping the stars on the track, give them classification relief and money to race for.
P.S. that was the #1 reason Beach retired, even if he won every event as a 4 yr old going against the older horses his bankroll for the year would have been half what it was for his three year old season, that says it all.
PSS I like the idea of breeding and racing they do it in all of Europe and have always done it that way!! Seems to work for them, why not us?
Regards Rebecca

Pacingguy said...

Certainly, if we want our 4 year olds to continue to race we need to have races to make it financially feasible. It would be unreasonable to ask 4yos not to go to stud for puny purses.