Thursday, February 28, 2008

Drugs, The Real Breeders Cup Classic and The Moon

We have all heard about drugs and racing; as I noted before we are track and field. When a 100 metre winner bolts across the finish line we hear “cheat”, and when a horse does the same, we hear the same. Perception is reality. People in this business are starting to realize it.

Today on the Hill, NTRA President Waltrop was being grilled by congressmen about the use of drugs in the sport. His answers were fairly well received, but a couple of the congressmen pressed on:

Despite those assurances, some lawmakers - including Rep. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, the top Republican on the subcommittee - argued horse racing lags far behind other sports in dealing with the problem of performance-enhancing drugs.

Whitfield suggested that if the sport doesn't take more aggressive steps to rid itself of steroids, the federal government might mandate the changes.

"Is it time to call the federal cavalry and send it chasing into your stables with guns blazing to clean up the sport of horse racing?" Whitfield said.

That is what this business must get through its sometimes-thick skull: If we do not fix this business, someone else will. The status quo is not an option.

Speaking of not doing the same ol’ same ‘ol, how about this gem? For owners who send their horse to the Dubai World Cup - a race some call the real Breeders Cup Classic – the organizers are rolling out the red carpet.

Sheikh Mohammed told me: "I would like to make the whole experience of winning a race in Dubai something special for the owner, not just [a matter of] walking up after a race and collecting a trophy. We will offer much more than prize-money."

His message is that the owner should be treated as a king - a policy that should be welcomed by those paying the training bills in the United Kingdom, Europe and elsewhere.

I think it’d be cool if he gave an oil well. Ya, that’d be pretty cool.

Tomorrow morning Curlin has a prep race for the World Cup, and has been preparing. At least the thoroughbreds have a star to cheer for. The news about our sports stars' this month, is that Donato Hanover and Tell All are planning to have sex. Yippee!

Great horses are smart; I don’t care if an animal psychologist on Oprah tells me otherwise. They really are. And Curlin certainly is no different. In a piece up on, his trip is discussed:

Curlin this morning paid his first visit to the Nad Al Sheba starting stalls, which are designed differently to the machines he is used to in his native America. However, he walked straight in without any hesitation, and stayed totally still in the gates before backing out when the routine was over.

There is a picture of him in the starting gate in the piece. The caption could easily read “yah guys it is a starting gate. A little different than the one at home, but really, can I just get some paddock time?”

Lastly, I have said many times on the blog that the business can not seem to fix itself - using slots cash to grow, lower prices, doing what the Sheik did in the UAE, many other things. I have said once or twice that “we put a man on the moon almost 40 years ago, but these guys can’t fix racing?” Well that thought came about tonight again. I opened my email to see an update on what google is doing on the advertising front. It seems they are going to the Moon. Well, they themselves aren’t, but they are sponsoring a contest, with a $20M first prize.

The Google Lunar X PRIZE is a $30 million competition for the first privately funded team to send a robot to the moon, travel 500 meters and transmit video, images and data back to the Earth.

Ok let me get this straight, private citizens are going to send a robot to the moon through nothing but smarts, passion and cajones; yet in this business we can’t even watch free video for some tracks that we want to bet.

Sometimes I sincerely think we are doomed.

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