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Racing's Encapsulation

We spoke about the NFL and horse racing a couple of days ago, and once again (like most of these silly blog pieces) it got me thinking.

I was watching a conversation between Sid Fernando and sportswriter today on twitter. The NFL writer writes for the about sports business only; behind a paywall.  Sid writes for a number of magazines, blogs and what have you, and he is immersed in many facets of horse racing. Sid's writings - for the most part - are available for free.

If you go to DRF.com, the Paulick Report, the Racing Post in the UK, or any other news and information site in racing you will see stories listed that are something like this in the scroll:
  • Frankel to stand for big money
  • Dutrow's appeal denied
  • Synthetic tracks safer
  • Lasix banned for 2YO's
  • Havre De Grace sells for $10M
  • Remsen Stakes preview
  • Purses up 20% at Calder
  • NYRA revenue up 12%
And so on. These are the stories we read each day.

For NFL.com, or ESPN.com's section on the NFL you'll see:
  •  Brees throws five interceptions
  • Giants-Redskins Game of the week
  • Manning leads league in QB rating
  • Rookie of the Year tight race
  • Playoffs if the season ended today
And so on.

What you won't, or what you'll rarely see at NFL.com is a big story about the financial stability of the Oakland Raiders. A change to the playing surface at Giants Stadium. How Peyton Manning's salary is structured. A new type of flak jacket for running backs.

The intricacies or the business of the game is behind a paywall, or it takes a back seat. It's not that it does not matter or it is not interesting to the fan - surely it does matter and it is interesting. Just look at the NHL strike for that. But it's simply not the story. The story is the game this week, statistics, handicapping - everything is about the final product.

Racing is encapsulating. Every one of us who have been handicapping since we've been five years old have read the insider headlines. They've shaped how we think, what we are.

We read about track surfaces, we read about raceday meds, we read about where a horse is standing stud, we read about the costs associated with injections or palate surgery. We read about Mark Verge, frog juice, vets, suspensions, NYRA financial statements, when slots will be open at Beulah, the science behind changing a horse's ph with Arm & Hammer baking soda.

Everything racing is thrown at us. And we have not even handicapped the third at Gulfstream, or made a bet yet.

I wonder if it's a blessing or a curse. The curse is that we are so entangled in everything  - and maddened about much of it - that we throw our hands up and can't even enjoy the end product. The blessing of course, is that with such an impassioned group of people, it (fundamentally) should be able to spin off into bigger and better things for the sport.


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