The 'video' is certainly causing a lot of consternation in horse racing the past several days. It's been quite interesting to read.
This episode has one key difference from the "24 horses a week" New York Times meme from a year ago, in my opinion. At that time the reaction was "ya, at quarterhorse tracks in New Mexico, so what?". Now that can't be said. Many things on that video happen each day - getting a horse healthy enough to run.
The seasoned handicapper, owner, or racing insider can lie in two camps with this: One, those who want change, or federal oversight saying "things need to change". Two, the backstretch insider who says "they did nothing wrong, they were just getting a horse ready to race and its how the business works."
To many casual fans, however, this stuff is very new. And it's making those people - the mushy middle - think.
Sid Fernando and his "gifs" on this tumblr blog often uses the fictional "Skip" to share opinion......
Years ago things were different. It was, "The horse has a little chip, Skip, and we gotta get that fixed up. We'll have him ready in eight months. He'll need to be kicked out in the field, but he'll be back better than ever and should have a long career"
Now is it, "Skip, I'll patch him up and drop him and get him claimed. I know the stable needs turnover or we're f***ed. Don't worry, we'll get rid of him."
The casual fan is asking themselves "Is this why horses make so few starts now?"
Years ago, we'd see horses claimed for $20,000 and race in purses under $20,000. Most common was "Want to claim a horse Skip? I've researched Bill's Boy and he is sound, he makes 14 starts a year and competes well in twenties. I think we can give him a month or two off, fix em up and he can make a little money in 30's and he can be a good moneymaker for us."
Now it sounds more apropos to hear, "We can claim this horse for $20,000 Skip, inject everything, drop him into a 12 and race for two times his purchase price. Who cares if he gets claimed?"
The casual fan is now asking, "is this the right way to do things? Aren't the vets making the slot money?"
The casual fan is asking themselves questions like,
"I see those men talk about how much they love the horses all the time, why are they laughing about buzzers?"
"Is this why so many horses never race the same after the Kentucky Derby?"
"I see smart people saying those guys are doing nothing wrong, so is everyone doing this?"
"A big trainer called us idiots, saying if we knew what goes on we would not make a bet. Was he right?"
The casual fan is getting an education; they're learning the modern culture of racing.
Regardless, it does strike me (I am not sure you agree or not, it's just my opinion) that I see some innocence with the casual fan base that's being lost. And that is much different than what we saw after last year's New York Times study. This feels like more. It feels real.
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