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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Keep your heads up horse racing fans

There is a lot of negativity in the horse racing industry these days and there is plenty of reason for it. From high takeout rates to short fields to closing of race tracks, there is plenty of blame to go around. While it is human nature to complain more than to compliment, we’ll take a look at five positive things that the industry can be happy about.

1. Hall Of Famer’s still got it:  Every sport has its young stars, but it also has its crafty veterans that can still teach the youngsters a lesson or two.  Trainer Shug McGaughey won his first Kentucky Derby this year with Orb while trainer D. Wayne Lukas saddled Oxbow to win the Preakness with jockey Gary Stevens aboard.  All three human connections are in the Hall Of Fame and it surely makes fans of the “old school” proud.  It also makes for a great story which the industry seems to thrive on.

2. International racing:  The internet and social media has helped make the world smaller as we can see and find out what is going on all over the world in a few seconds.  Over the last few years, we got to see a pair of superstar horses from overseas: Frankel from Europe and Black Caviar from Australia.  Frankel went undefeated in 15 starts and won 10 Group 1 events.  Black Caviar went undefeated in 25 starts and won 15 Group 1 events.  Horses like these help create new horse racing fans as Zenyatta did here in the U.S. and we were able to follow along with each victory whether it was on HRTV or TVG, via TV simulcast at race tracks or OTB’s, or on the internet.

3. Account wagering: How awesome it is that we can now make a wager from home or from anywhere with a phone?  While there is no comparison to watching a race live in person, we all can’t be at the track every day.  For a long time, we California residents could not wager on all tracks as there was a limit of simulcast races allowed for each day.  Nowadays, we can wager on tracks across the country with account wagering either online or by phone.  This convenience is much appreciated and we have seen an increase in account wagering year by year.

4. Star horses still in training: For a while there, it seemed like when a horse won a Graded Stakes race or two they were retired shortly for breeding purposes.  It is difficult to build a following when a horse is only around for a year or even less.  In recent years we have seen that trend slowly reversing.  This year, we’ve seen the return of Horse of the Year Wise Dan win a pair of Grade 1 Stakes already (of course he is a gelding).  2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom won this year’s Dubai World Cup.  Champion mare Royal Delta was unplaced in the Dubai World Cup, but is scheduled to return to racing in this country later this month.  We appreciate the connections of these and other runners who are still around and let’s hope this trend will continue in the future.

5. The Mid-Atlantic Uniform Medication Program: There is not much nationwide solidarity in the industry and this new program gives us some hope.  Eight states have agreed to enforce the same medication regulation and testing regarding thresholds and withdrawal guidelines beginning in 2014.  Many race tracks in that region are in close proximity of each other and this will make it easier for horsemen to understand the regulations instead of trying to figure them out by each state.  Recently, it was announced that California will join the program next year as well.  Maybe this is a step towards national regulation and hopefully that will lead to other nationwide programs in the future.

All of us became a fan of horse racing for one reason or another.  We did not become fans because of the negative reasons.  Whether it was the beauty of the sport and/or the gambling/handicapping aspect, we want others to understand why we like horse racing.  These are just five and we would like to hear from you why we should all keep our heads up by commenting below!

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