Signal Fight Land: A Trip Back to 1978

Ask a horseplayer what they like and dislike about horse racing, and signal fights are ranked in that subterranean space, somewhere in between Jeff Mullins and a 9 race card of four horse fields. Each year, however, racing's stakeholders seem to like fighting, so they're here and here again, kind of like reruns of Leave it To Beaver.

The Interstate Horse Racing Act allows for such things to occur. I am sure it does some good things; heck, this fellow seems to really like it. 
  •  "I think we really got this one right the first time. The legislation allows the participants a say in when and how their product is distributed and how much they are paid for the product . . . God help us if anyone wants to start fooling with it.”
I guess it works great; if you are not a customer.

The act was created in 1978. How can an act that was created back then work today, with internets, and twitters and facebooks and instagrams and snapchats and slots and online poker and free markets and low barriers to entry? I don't really know.

When we look back at 1978 in our PTP time capsule, we think it's built for another time. 

In 1978.....
  • The Radio Shack Tandy computer hit stores for $399
  • John Travolta rocked danced discoed his way into the hearts and minds of everyone in Saturday Night Fever
  • Al Gore was in high school where he probably presented a paper on global cooling
  • Space Invaders entered the mall arcade, and I spent my 75 cent allowance mastering it
People dressed like this:
  • In horse racing...........
  • Brad Cummings was three years old, telling anyone who'd listen his idea about creating a report of horse racing headlines to be published in something called "cyberspace"
  • Ray Paulick was Brad Cummings' babysitter.
  • The average thoroughbred racehorse didn't race like three times a year
  • Todd Pletcher met Mike Repole at a Chuck e Cheese birthday party
  • Andy Serling was getting mad at little kids on the school bus for redboarding test scores
  • Richard Grunder got a D+ on his grade four spelling test
  • The mandatory "How to Achieve Perfect Customer Service at Your Racetrack" course, was cut to save money
  • 42,386 people came to watch the Meadowlands Pace. One of them was a future governor wondering how traffic to the Big M ran so smoothly
  • Harness drivers were suspended for kicking
  • You could only read the DRF in corner stores or at the track, and you didn't have to pay extra to see the really good stories
  • Joe Drape writes his first missive: "Mangled subway maps, how I got lost on the way to Aqueduct"
  • Good versus evil was about Darth Vadar and Luke Skywalker, not a match up between Shug McGaughey and Richard Dutrow horses in the Churchill Downs seventh
  • At Central Park Middle school, Steve Byk presented his English homework about why his favorite letters were "N" "Y" "R" and "A"
  • @Keenegal and pretty much everyone on the ABR bus (even the bus driver) weren't born yet
  • Bob Baffert had white hair
  • Andy Asaro's email list was done with stamps
  • Twinspires was a place, not an ADW
  • Frank Stronach made car parts
  • Calder and Gulfstream were mad at each other* (this has obviously carried on and is unwilling to die, like the band Styx)
  • Tracks were raising takeout to "make more money"
  • Your "home market area" was a racetrack
  • Increasing "ADW taxes" was considered dumb, even then, when no one knew what an ADW was
  • It was suggested that the Triple Crown series should be toughened up because it was becoming "too easy"
  • Some dude in Queens wanted to name his horse "Bucky Dent"
  • Some dude in South Boston bet against the horse "Bucky Dent" each time he raced
  • An old lady was cut in front of at the line at the A and P by a NYRA employee. NYRA employees and friends of NYRA employees write the New York Times thousands of letters to the editor blaming the old lady
  • Identical twins Todd Schrupp and Ed Helms were separated at birth
  • The "Players Pick 5" was brought up by a horseplayer at a CHRB meeting. They thought the idea sucked.
OK, OK, some of those things didn't happen. But one things for sure: It was a lot different in 1978. 

Why are home market areas and signal fee fights and all the rest still here in 2014?

Because it's horse racing. The more things change, the more they stay the same.


Anonymous said...

The funniest part of this article is that some people on twitter haven't figured out it's satirical.

Anonymous said...

"There are three types of lies--lies, damn lies, and statistics."

Benjamin Disraeli

Ray Paulick said...

Sad but true, at least the part about me. I remember giving little Bradford his first Chicago Cubs baseball cap, and he flushed it down the toilet.

Anonymous said...

Richard Grunder was the announcer at Portland Meadows in 1978.

(not bad for a 4th grader)


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