Operation Christmas Horse and How the Horse Industry Was Saved

It all started with a note on a dark web forum populated by several horse racing people called MIDAS – “messages the industry doesn’t actually see”.

“I saw Operation Gift Horse on twitter and it got me thinking,” wrote frequent BARN guest Inside the Pylons. “Let’s do something to improve the industry.”

"We need a big wall around high takeout tracks," suggested POTUS Capper.

“Gift cards for lower juice,” wrote Charlie Davis, the former wrestling star and NHC third place finisher.

The winner came from noted horse intercourse guru Sid Fernando.

“In my travels with the horse sex crowd, I’ve passed by a secret door at Churchill Downs that houses the takeout control room. I’ve been told there’s a switch in this room that controls industry takeout. If you find a way in, you can lower takeout for all,”  Sid noted, while sipping on a craft beer.

crunk, artist likeness
“Let’s call o_crunk. He can hack the schematics,” added Sea Bass.

“This better be important, I’m watching a Phish concert,” growled Crunk.

Sea Bass explained the plan.

“I can have that for you in two hours, now go away,” said an irritated Crunk.

 How could we pull this off?  For that we were lucky to have a thinker.

“This is easy,” said Superterrific. “We start #operationticketloser on twitter. Everyone’s sends their losing tickets to someone creative, like you Keeneland Gal, and she’ll create a giant paper mache horse. Once Crunk gives us the plans, we FedEx the horse to Churchill Downs as a present to that CEO guy, Scrooge McCapitalist, or whatever his name is”.

Here’s where it got really good.

“Inside the horse will be someone athletic, nimble and quick, like former minor league baseball star Andy Asaro. At night, Andy sneaks out, and with Crunk’s guidance, he will enter the secret takeout room and lower the dial.”

“Incredible,” said Charlie. “You’re like a criminal mastermind.”

"It's sneaky, like how no one knows I'm the one who does the Timeform figures," added Elsie Milkowski.

“I saw something similar on an episode of Law and Order ,” replied Superterrific.

“I JUST WANT TO SAY IF YOU GET CAUGHT I WILL REPRESENT YOU FOR FREE”, interjected Jerry Jam, much to everyone's delight.

“Who else should we invite to help?” asked Gate to Wire. “A lot of people we know work in the industry. Can we trust them? Would they even want lower takeout?”

“I agree,” said Pylons. “I like DeRosa, Beem, Candice Hare, and you know I love Todd Schrupp’s ticket construction, but they’re insiders. The only person I trust to add is Chip Reinhart, because he’s not related to anyone so he'll never get a job in the industry.”

“Thanks ITP” said Chip.

“Well, off we go,” said Multiracewagers.

MONTAGE. People planning; Crunk doing schematics, Keeneland Gal making a horse, ITP playing some track no one has heard of, all to “No Easy Way Out”, the theme from Rocky IV.


It was now the day. 

While the FedEx package was delivered to the front door, Robin Howlett, posing as a CDI employee, was late.

“I parked in Ron Turcotte’s parking spot and it was like three miles away,” he recalled later. 

Arriving just in time, Robin said to the guard, "Send this to the basement, or I’ll have your job!” 

The ruffled security guard complied. 

Andy Asaro was getting sore inside the paper mache horse, but his drive for lower takeout was allowing him to push beyond all physical and mental limitations. It was like he was at Striders OTB, half corked on whiskey, and he had to find the strength for one more bet. 

“The coast is clear,” said o_crunk in his earpiece. “Go” 

Andy, with crunk’s guidance, found his way to the door. But it was locked solid. 

Suddenly, with all seemingly lost, out of nowhere popped Ed DeRosa. “I caught wind of this. Here’s the key Andy. Remember you didn’t get it from me,” he said.

Andy felt tears well up in his eyes. Ed wanted lower takeout, too. 

“Thanks Ed,” he said, trying to hold back the emotion and love he felt for him at that moment. 

Andy made his way inside. At the head of the entrance he saw a sign, “high takeout makes us champions today”, that industry employees would touch when entering. There was a long hallway with portraits of racetrack executives (he thought he saw one of a woman, but it was just an old white guy who looked a bit like a woman). At the end of the hall there was a statue of Frank Stronach stroking a large cat. 

Then he saw it. A big golden dial. MIDAS intel was right - it was turned up to 11. 

With sweat pouring from him, Asaro tried with all his might to turn the dial down, but it wouldn’t move. With so many years of high takeout it was stuck. He tried and tried, but could not summon the strength. 

Then he heard a soft voice.

“Go the distance,”

It was Jason Beem. 

“You can do it, go the distance Beemie Award winner,” he heard in his earpiece again. Unbeknownst to everyone, Beem was visting Crunk's Jersey pad, after a late night snack at the Cracker Barrel. 

With the power of Hercules Andy turned the dial again, and it moved. He had set the industry on course for lower takeout. 

High fives erupted at MIDAS headquarters. Groans turned to cheers. Everyone loved Jason Beem. Beem for President! 

There was still work to do; Asaro still had to make his escape, and because of the delays, racetrack employees were making their way to work. 

“Quick,” said Crunk. “Head out the door, look for the "We Must Crush Kentucky Downs in '19" poster and take a left into the main grandstand” 

Andy made his way but was stopped in his tracks. He saw Stronach, one of Stronach's kids yelling at Frank, and a couple Churchill suits. 

This plan was dead without a diversion. 

Suddenly and without warning he saw Candice Hare. “I got your back Andy,” she said.

Hare sprinted to the program seller, and realizing she had to start a ruckus she did the only thing she could do. She asked for a DRF. 

In the mayhem, with Churchill execs running to the scene, Andy slithered by. 

“Candice is still one of us!”, Racetrack Kyle exclaimed. 

“Yippe ki yay!” Dink yelled. 

Then at the front entrance, with escape only feet away, a row of security guards formed. It was going to be impossible for even someone as athletic as Andy to pass. 

"This is worse than the day I stared at the eclipse," said POTUS Capper.

“We need a miracle,” muttered Angle John.  


That’s exactly what happened.

Todd Schrupp came through the front door and said: “Ladies and gentleman, I am Ed Helms, star of stage and screen and I'm offering everyone free autographs!” He winked at Andy as the crowd converged on the TVG star.  

“I love Todd Schrupp,” said ITP. 

Waiting to pick up Andy was a resilient Robin, who again made it the three miles to Ron Turcotte’s parking spot and back. 

The job was done. 

A year passed and no one in the industry knew what had happened, but there was a hike in handle. The racetrack executives - figuring the takeout dial was stuck on super-high for years - didn’t even think to check. And their internal reports showed people really liked the wiener dog races and concerts. They patted each other on the back. Some even got stock options. The status quo remained (except there were plans for more wiener dog races). 

As for the members of MIDAS, they stayed anonymous. They lived their lives, bet their bets. And to this very moment, none of them have ever spoken about Operation Christmas Horse and the day they saved racing. 


Please allow me to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas.


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