Preakness Headlines, Good and the Bad

This weekend's Preakness Stakes card (and the accompanying Black Eyed Susan card) produced great numbers. Considering the weather on Saturday, this was a little surprising. However, as we've been seeing for some time now, big stakes days (not just in the US, but in the world) keep growing.

I found the race itself entertaining, with Exaggerator cashing in for the slop players with a very nice middle move and victory. Nyquist, game as he always is, never gave up while racing on the pace. He's a really good horse. 

What was not so nice was the fact that two horses on the card perished. When such a thing happens on big days, we tend to forget the horses rather quickly, because the conversation makes a quick and predictable veer -- Those who knee jerk and try to make hay that racing is cruel, and those who push back, trying to protect the industry while being completely tone deaf.

In a lot of cases, it really is as banal and transparent as:

"Wow, we had 135,000 people show up, 9 million watched on television, and handle was almost 100 million, yippee, horse racing ain't dead!"

"Wow, we had 135,000 people show up, 9 million watched on television, and handle was almost 100 million. The mainstream is reporting on two horses that died, how dare they!"

The media will report tragedy, because that's what's reported. In any industry.

I am sure Exxon really doesn't like oil spills, or want them to happen; why would they. Good people work there, who like whales, who don't deserve to be called names in newspapers by writers who don't like oil companies. Air Egypt didn't want a plane to crash and has a good safety record. It employs nice people, I am sure too. But what happens happens.

What happened tragically in horse racing on Saturday was not something new, or out of the ordinary. It happens a fair bit, and it was a statistical certainty it would happen on a big day like Saturday, in front of millions of people. People reporting it, or asking tough questions of a business or industry is commonplace.

It's certainly not about chickens, or whatever insiders are talking about in their endless quest to carry water for the sport.

If after such a tragedy, commentators want to ask why a major track went to dirt, after being safer on polytrack; why a certain trainer with drug positives is still racing when he or she should not be; why the industry is resistant to federal oversight, etc, etc, it should not surprise anyone. In fact, in some cases it's perfectly fine. With other bizarre, odd, out-there opinion, well, that's not just for horse racing. It's life in this click bait media market.

As Aussie breeder and web radio show commentator Brett Coffey once said, "racing craves  mainstream attention, but not mainstream opinion."

One way or another, it better grow up and start accepting this opinion. Racing is an industry just like any other, but it's an industry with one big difference: The sport is built on horses being bred and used for entertainment and money. In 2016, when something bad happens, that's an elixir that drives headlines.

What a nice first weekend for Canterbury Park. Handle was up over 20% all three days, culminating with a nice 49% bump on Sunday Well done everyone.

Have a great Monday folks!


Ron said...

At the current rate they'll announce 200000 as the attendance in 10 years. Do you have any explanation why Stradavari never appeared to be 3-1 or 4-1 in the betting? He just seemed to magically appear at 7-1 then 8-1. Someone said out of state money wasn't commingled until well after that 80000 dollar bet. That would be a logical explanation. The way it stands now, many people think the bet was pulled back

Pull the Pocket said...

Hi Ron,

A few reported the Stradiveri bet was pulled as a mistake, but I have no idea if it went on another horse. I suspect it would have been though.

Ron said...

Who makes an 80000 dollar mistake and bets that kind of money 6 hours before the race. Sounds awfully fishy


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