I still haven’t made it all the way through the six hours of TV coverage of Saturday’s races. Next time, I’m going to TiVo hour by hour, so that I can delete after each segment, instead of having the whole damn show take up space on my TiVo.
On Inside Racing Tuesday, Jason Blewitt and Eric Donovan (NYRA’s oddsmakers/ handicappers) explained why it took so long to cash winning tickets after the Classic. Apparently, there was a problem with the Pick 6 payoffs posted by Monmouth Park, and when the computers at Aqueduct got the prices for the race, the race was flagged, halting all payouts. They didn’t specify what the problem was, but added that NYRA made admission to Aqueduct free for Sunday, so that people could come back to cash their tickets.
I didn’t know that George Washington had been put down until after I got home Saturday night, and like so many others, I was sickened and saddened. I expected that, given his popularity and the size of the stage, there would be enormous coverage and likely an outcry. I expected that George Washington’s connections would be questioned about their decision to run this horse in the Classic; I expected that people would call for installation of more synthetic tracks.
I didn’t expect people to accuse George Washington’s connections of callousness verging on abuse, and of virtually committing equinicide.
I didn’t expect the esteemed British press (of which I am a big fan, having lived in England for three years) to steep itself in sanctimony and look down its stately nose on U.S. racing.
I didn’t expect that George Washington’s breakdown would be attributed, without question, to his running in the mud.
Is it possible that the muddy track contributed to the breakdown? Of course it is. Is it a fact? Of course not. Should questions be asked about why the horse was entered in the Classic? Of course. Should his connections be pilloried for making that choice? Of course not. It seems inhumane to point fingers at the grieving connections, and I simply cannot conceive that they would knowingly put this treasured colt in jeopardy.
I’ve watched horses race on muddy/sloppy tracks my whole life, and it has never seemed to me to be necessarily any more treacherous than good/fast tracks. If you have an informed opinion with which to weigh in, please do…I’d love to hear from people with more experience/information than I have.
Back in action at the Big A on Wednesday.