Return of the Racing Curmudgeon

It’s time for a return of the Racing Curmudgeon, with a hat tip to Frank Deford’s Sports Curmudgeon (who doesn’t seem to have made an appearance recently…another reason to be cranky).

I’m cranky because Ron Franklin, the guy who harassed Jeannine Edwards at ESPN and subsequently got fired for it, is now suing ESPN for his termination. We can file this one under “Doesn’t Get It.”

I’m even crankier because Kenny Rice, host of the Eclipse Awards and a man about whom I know next to nothing, found it appropriate – as did, apparently, the NTRA and the organizers of the program – to use that harassment as a source of attempted, lame, stupid, and un-funny humor when he introduced her as a presenter on Monday night. Also goes into the “Doesn’t Get It” file.

I’m cranky because I got pan-handled in the Man o’War Room at Aqueduct on Monday, where I sat with my father for a pleasant day of decent deli food and wagering on Aqueduct and Gulfstream. I’m cranky because I got pan-handled, and I’m even crankier because of how guilty I feel about not giving money to a guy while I sit there with a sandwich, a beer, and (losing) pari-mutuel tickets scattered on the table in front of me.

I’m cranky about Zenyatta. I’m really cranky about Zenyatta. I was enthralled by her, I voted for her, I’m glad she won. I think. I’m not sure. I might be sorry I voted for her.

I’m cranky because I’m tired of reading that she deserved the award “because of what she’s brought to the game.”  I’m cranky because I’m not sure, really, just exactly what that is.  A couple of thousand more people to the track on a couple of occasions last year?  Several million more viewers of the Breeders’ Cup (maybe?)?

Were those people watching last Saturday’s races? When will they next go to the track? What is their average monthly per capita handle? Can anyone tell me what Zenyatta did for racing that will have any tangible effects or presence in 2011?

I’m cranky that this horse – remember: she enthralled me. I voted for her – who has supposedly done so much for the sport has, I think, riven it more than anything else. When a turf writer whom I respect, whom I consider a friend, and whose work I recently quoted at length takes down in one fell swoop an entire group of other turf writers whose work I respect, whom I consider friends, and whose work I regularly quote…this is GOOD for the sport? Really?

I’m cranky that the racing community, over Zenyatta, seems to have become as polarized as the Tea Party and a bunch of liberal Democrats: If you’re not with us, you’re against us. If you don’t agree with us, you just Don’t Get It. Blame is absolutely, end of story, not even worthy of consideration, and no reasonable person could make such an argument. If you supported Blame, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

I’m cranky because observers of the sport must think that we’re all a bunch of idiots. Last year we had Blame, Zenyatta, Goldikova, Uncle Mo, Blind Luck, and any number of other stories worth celebrating. Instead, we stand our ground, defend our turf, refuse to listen, and look like a bunch of self-righteous whiners that can’t celebrate anything that doesn’t exactly align with our own worldview.  Sheesh.

What doesn’t make me cranky? That Ramon Dominguez won the Eclipse Award.  What doesn’t make me cranky? That on Saturday, Mike Hushion, the guy who trained Sean Avery, has a horse in the second named Henrik, and that this weekend, the Toboggan will be run for the 118th time. 118th!

So yeah, despite the crankiness and the curmudgeonliness, I’ll be back at Aqueduct on Saturday. And I’ll try to remember to bring some spare change.

54 thoughts on “Return of the Racing Curmudgeon

  1. Teresa,

    It sounds like you’re going to be consigned to a life of crankiness. Human nature is what it is and I’ve seen little evidence it has changed over the history of human existence.

    Just when I think we’ve made some advances I read a story like the owner with the ‘stars and bars’ silks. We may be technologically advanced over the Neanderthals but our social skills aren’t much better.

  2. Glad you got that out of your system! And a peek on the bright side shows your Rangers scored 7 goals last night. Plus it sounds like the cats are all feeling fine these days and we’ve had so many Alternate Side Parking days suspended with more to come for sure. So there are some good things to think about in this otherwise hard month to cope with.

  3. Teresa, Kenny Rice is an embarassment and should be dismissed. Cranky is good. Things always look bleak before they get better.
    I agree with you on the Zenyatta intangibles but at the end of the day she is a better race horse then Blame but I am not sure she is better then Goldikova.
    Horse racing has been limping along in a funk for quite some time so if the Zenyatta debate gets folks motivated for positive change, you crankiness is justified.
    The wheels are turning as evident by your comments.
    Ask your dad if he remembers when Boom Boom Geofrion and Ron Murphy bloodied the Garden ice with a high stick melee around 1954. Some change resulted from that brawl.
    Good post. I was hoping you would throw down the gloves.

  4. I saw the news item on Franklin this morning while reading the paper in the cab en route to the Fair Grounds. Just shook my head, couldn’t believe what a classless, moronic individual.

    Also Re: Mayne – was not impressed by most of the “attempted, lame, stupid, and un-funny humor” that came from him alllll night, but Edwards reference was the most offensive.

  5. Love the post as always. Long Live the Racing Curmudgeon!

    I think you could have made a very strong case for either Blame or Zenyatta for HOY. I was stunned by Joe Drape’s article in the NYT the other day which might as well have been titled “The Case Against Blame.” It was one of the most poorly constructed arguments I have ever read.

    Is that the first time you’ve been panhandled in the Man o’ War Room? If so, you’re doing alright. 😉

  6. BrooklynSaint: in a 24-hour AAA nightmare, my non-functional car had to be towed from its no-longer-suspended parking space…and it’s going to cost $1,000 to get it fixed! Just adds to the crankiness…

    Bob: my father almost certainly remembers that, though it may be before he started going to the old Garden.

    Claire–you mean Rice, right? Or was Kenny Mayne boorish, too?!

    Thanks, everyone, for commenting…nice to know I’m not alone!

  7. T,

    Just be happy you weren’t voting on the MVP vote in baseball in 1947. If you lived in Boston or New York, your home would have been picketed on which way you voted 🙂

    I would not let the fringes get you down. Most people realize that the two planks of voters (DRF versus others) are going at the vote with a diametrically opposed world view, so of course there are going to be differences. HOY and its vote is not a vote on what books to give our kids in school in Nazi Germany, it is a vote on a voters view of a particular racehorse. It’s not rocket science that normal folks would not judge you one way or the other on which way you voted – I certainly don’t.

    PTP

  8. Someone who writes an otherwise decent racing blog from Brooklyn has also not carried off her Zenyatta discussions over the last year with exemplary civility. Care to guess?

    When you assume you know what happened in the Franklin/Edwards clash (and unless you have unbiased friends who were eyewitnesses, you probably don’t) keep the Duke lacrosse fiasco in mind, and the shameful reporting that came from Joe Drape’s colleagues, who had an agenda that overwhelmed basic professional ethics.
    If the event happened as reported, or was even worse, sanctions were in order, and I approve them. If….

    As for Master Drape, I’m with Cheryl: I find his work kinda consistently shallow (true of many reporters relative to their supposed areas of expertise, sports pages no exception).
    The lastbit of Moss-spin Sunday made good points about the relative lack of competitive substance in Blame’s year. I thought, too, it was on the unimpressive side, for a contender for HOY, even in these times of less and less genuine competition.
    But, like so many ardently blind Z-ophiles, he failed to strike even a single word on his machine about the series of nice allowance races, masquerading as Grade 1’s, that made up Z’s utterly safe 2010 course, as admirable as racing her another year seemed at the outset last January.
    It was just typical of the whiny, classless tone from the Zenyatta camp (owners, trainer, jock) that brooked no possibility from that period on, that any observer could find HOY merit in any other steed (just as I was with you, I was a distant and appreciative fan of John Shirreff’s before all the self-absorption surrounding this horse; no more), without revealing him- or herself as an obvious fool
    or churl.

    There was only one horse at the edge of the discussion who
    deserved serious consideration for the title for actual work against other superior horses, and that was Goldikova,
    a victim of a different kind of parochial thinking.

    Re: panhandling: we’re a wee bit past the age of “change.”
    Buy him (or her) a bowl of soup:-)!

  9. PTP: Thanks for a very welcome voice of reason. While I don’t feel particularly judged, my dismay over the comments I’ve read this week hit a fever pitch over the last 48 hours. And of course I feed the beast by then writing about it.

    Mr/Ms. Dew: I can’t guess to which lapse in civility I’ve perpetrated you are referring – there are probably far too many for me to be able to single out one. Even without your evidence, I can probably plead guilty as charged.

    As for the ESPN incident, I can only go by what I’ve seen reported; if the situation were different than what is being said, perhaps we’ll be enlightened. Even, though, in the absence of further information, I’ll stick to my opinion on this: whatever happened, it was tasteless and inappropriate to refer to it on Monday night; it further devalued Edwards, whose introduction should have been highlighted by references to her accomplishments, not to a demeaning incident that had more to do with the reported boorishness of her colleague than it had to do with her work.

    Thanks for reading and taking the time to leave such a thoughtful and detailed comment. I hope you’ll drop by more often.

  10. I’d argue any reasonable person and real racing fan saw the good in all three HOY finalists. Let the others fade away as they will.

  11. Why be cranky over Zenyatta. She was the best horse and she won, as she should have. She didn’t cause the polarization of which you speak. It takes stupid people to do that. Your vote was the right one. Don’t regret it. And as for what she did for the game…she did do something very important, and I dearly hope racing takes a clue and builds on it. Beyond whatever fans she brought in, and I think she did make lasting fans for the sport, she did much to burnish racing’s rather unsavory reputation. When people saw a Zenyatta-related story, they saw, first in racing publications, then on the local news, then finally in the middle of the mainstream, a story about an extraordinarily gifted horse with a huge personality, and her caring, skilled, articulate human connections who clearly loved and respected her deeply. She and her team dispelled many negative stereotypes. No drugs, no scandals, no gruesome breakdowns. Just a brilliant, endearing horse with caring, generous connections. Racing needs to capitalize and further this reservoir of good will. Because it means a great deal to its future to do so.

  12. Hear, hear!

    It is an affront to people of intelligence to have viewpoints dismissed as quickly and violently as they have been in the Zenyatta-Blame debate. Smart people welcome dissent, as it forces the closer examination of their beliefs. With the 2010 horse of the year debate, a “my way or the highway” philosophy was enacted by so many on both sides that it took all of the fun out of it.

    Your reference to politics is all too appropriate, as the horse of the year argument really did sound, at times, like a nasty politcal campaign. I haven’t a clue as to how something that should’ve been a celebration for the sport turned into something that contained so much vitriol.

    On Franklin/Rice: We’re still making way too little progress, clearly, on issues of sexism. Still, at least Rice’s horrible joke was uniformly denounced. I feel like that wouldn’t have happened 5 years ago.

    On charity: It hurts to turn away anyone in need, but you’d probably be better served viewing your charitable contributions through a wider scope. Sure we could all do more, but I don’t think it’s fair to look at one panhandler you rejected (at the track, no less. what was he or she going to do with the money?) and come to the conclusion that you need to do more for charity.

    I always enjoy your writing. This piece was certainly no exception. But I will admit that I eagerly look forward to the return of “glass half-full Backstretch.”

  13. Joe Drape’s criticism of DRF is ridiculous…the HOTY award was anything but clear cut. DRF somehow lacks “authority” because the majority voted Blacme? Whatever happened to respectfully disagreeing? Attacking another’s credibility b/c of their opinion on who should have won HOTY is pretty childish IMO.

  14. Teresa — I often stop by and read along, but have never before been as moved to comment as I am now.

    I just wanted to say that I couldn’t agree more with this entire post top to bottom. Edwards is, in my opinion, an excellent reporter (racing and otherwise), and she was one of the most absolutely gracious individuals I’ve ever met — as someone who watched and admired her work on racing telecasts long before I was ever lucky enough to meet her at the Arlington Million a few years ago, I think she deserved better on all accounts.

    And as for the Zenyatta issue…I think she’s a better horse than Blame. I don’t think I’ll see another mare quite like her in my life. I think her streak was incredible given her style, regardless of the competition she was facing at times. And I think Blame should’ve won HOY.

    It has seemed that no matter how many superlatives one lays on her, recognizing her greatness, soundness, and gameness, if one dares to veer off course and say that they feel she didn’t earn HOY of the year this year, they’re automatically a “hater,” and all previous comments about her are immediately thrown out the window at the first sign of curious questioning of any kind.

    So little in horse racing is all or nothing. There are so many gray areas in every aspect of the game from awards to wagering to breeding, etc, and it’s incredibly unfortunate to me that discussion of Zenyatta’s career continues to be, for the most part, the one thing that seems to have no room for gray areas according to a large and vocal contingent.

  15. Hi Teresa, cranky is okay. It happens. For someone not used to it, or simply realizing that they are uncomfortable with how they are currently feeling, it can be a bit of a jolt. Life does have it’s annoyances, and then, there are those situations, things, and people that are out of mainstream mindset that are so incongruent that it causes us to say, “Now, what just happened?” We’ve all experienced that disturbing sensation. I know I have. I’ve tried to learn not to get so caught up in what is disturbing me and throwing me off-kilter; separate what is important from what is not important, try and remove any strong emotions from what I’m trying to bring into perspective. If all my efforts fail to bring me back into a level of comfort, I think of what a friend once told me about G-d sitting back watching and chuckling about the expectations and plans that we humans sometimes like to make. Anyway, I hope that you feel better.

    On another issue, I was in the Blame camp, as you might recollect. I was disappointed that he did not win. I thought he raced against the best horses in the country, even though he didn’t win every race he was in. He beat the leaders and the best, when he needed to. Zenyatta was a freak on her California synthetic surface. She raced against vastly inferior competition all year, with the exception of the Breeders Cup Classic. And, for a contingent that was so focused on presevering her undefeated record, they failed. The contingent promised after last year’s Horse of the Year loss, that they would bring Zenyatta East, and face the best horses in the country. Outside of the Classic, which she lost, they didn’t. What I did notice was a great “advertising campaign” on the part of the Mosses, Shirreffs, and Smith to try and convince anyone and everyone, that she was “short-changed” last year and deserved the award more than Rachel Alexandra did, which was pure silliness in my opinion. The contingent advertised their opinions about their horse throughout the year. I can remember reading every month some comment from someone in the contingent talking Zenyatta up, as to how great she was. Hancock, Dilschneider, and Stall were very modest and unassuming, throughout. They seemed to focus on Blame by taking his races one race at a time. This group appeared to me to be, never “full of themselves.” They never assumed, except for Hancock saying after the Classic win by Blame, that he thought “The Horse of the Year had just been decided on the racetrack.” I did, too. Blame did it the old-fashioned way; he earned it by racing against and beating the best horses in the country. The Daily Racing Form people predominantly recognized the snow job the Zenyatta group was giving everyone. It’s a shame, is my feeling but, we’ll all survive. I recognize some people can be fickle, and don’t recognize when someone is pushing so hard to win something that they/Zenyatta really hadn’t earned and, what they were really saying. Hey, maybe, it’ll start a trend. I’ll talk my horse up starting now, find the least competitve horses who have never won a Grade 1 stakes race, win those, and he should be a shoo-in for 2011 Horse of the Year even if he finishes 3rd or 4th in the Classic. No problem. And for the coupe de grace, I’ll teach him to dance and play the fiddle (hmmm, I’m hoping he’ll learn to do both at the same time), and make him as accessible to the public as I can. Yep, that should seal the deal. It’s a piece of cake.

  16. Thanks, everyone, for the voices and opinions you’ve offered, especially those that have offered counsel and perspective! Of course you are right, and fortunately, cranky fits never last too long. Joe, by this weekend, the glass will be half full again. 🙂

    I really appreciate the time that you all took to write such thoughful, detailed responses…your opinions challenge, inform, and temper me. Thank you!

    Chris: good question. I voted for her because she raced in Grade 1 races (the quality of which were, admittedly, varied); because she had a campaign that led to the most prestigious and competitive race of the year; because she ran in that race with courage, ability, and talent, coming up just barely short; and because I had an eye on history. I admit that my heart probably paid a bigger role than my head did. I recognize that each of those reasons is arguable, and I can’t disagree with anyone who voted for Blame, as I nearly did myself.

  17. It was a toss up between Blame and Zenyatta. Both horses were deserving but the augument was political. Two fractions debating horse racing philosophy. The side who evaluates greatness with a slide rule and a speed figure lost.

  18. Zenyatta ran 20 times and only ran in 2 OPEN races, going 1-1. Doesn’t this horse get WAYYYYYYYY to much credit for beating up over matched fillies over and over again? Doesn’t she get way to much credit for beating Gio Ponti on a synthetic surface in her own backyard? By the way How many horses have beaten Gio Ponti this past year? IF he is the measuring stick of greatness, then a whole lot of horses must be great. Zenyatta is a good horse, but never proved she was GREAT.

    Blame should have been HOY, he beat her, but yet people keep saying she is better then him and you can’t even argue it, I say O really? He heat her, that’s my argument.

  19. There are no guidelines for HOY but the sensibilities of those who are a given a vote. Sometimes I wonder if the voters even watch the races the nominees ran in before they decide. IMO the Breeders Cup was a demonstration of Zenyatta’s powerful late speed. She walked out of the gate, gave the field a half mile lead and still managed to almost win. In fact, she ran so powerfully after the wire Mike Smith had to let her run on before pulling her up. Had she not struggled with the track footing Blame would not have won. She is a much better horse by far than Blame. She is a champion and future Hall of Famer on the first ballot.

  20. Thank you so much Teresa, I’ve been writing so many curmudgeony comments on the blogosphere lately, I’m starting to wonder what’s gotten into me.
    I used to be a Zenyatta fan before the “teapartiness”, as you put it, turned me right off….not to the horse, but to the fanaticism. And I’m afraid it’s just the beginning.
    Penny Chenery’s new “vox populis” might be a trojan horse. Today fans are flocking to Uncle Mo’s facebook page, watching Oprah and driving blog traffic – but what happens when they start to understand that Zenyatta isn’t really dancing, that Uncle Mo isn’t really texting and (God forbid) their talking horse breaks down on the track? They’ve already demonstrated they can’t handle defeat. Will they be “good for the sport” when they start lobbying to shut it down?
    This insanity (and greed for readership) has weeded out the sportswriters I’ve “unfollowed” from those I’ve gained new respect for. It took a strong spine to write this article and I thank you for it.

  21. I applaud your comments and your posts re Zenyatta. For all the hundreds+ of posts, only yours stated what many are thinking: What exactly did Zenyatta bring to the game? What is the 2010-2011 per capital wagering (churn) of each of her legions of fans? How many of those fans bet any of the AQU/GP/TAM/SA races last Saturday, either in person, simulcast or ADW?

  22. Excellent prose as usual Teresa.

    to #26 (YourHost 51): Several others besides Teresa have questioned what Zenyatta brings to the game, especially in terms of wagering including Ed DeRosa of Thoroughbred Times. I have also read many people on Twitter in the past week all questioning how many of her fans actually bet. I even tweaked Z a bit on Twitter after the HOTY announcement. I love her, but a bit of rationale is needed.

  23. Teresa honey,
    It’s a cranky time of year.
    Call Lenny Hale. I spoke to him the other night and his take on the whole Zenyatta, Blame, and HOY was interesting. I prefer the seasoned opinions of the old timers (don’t tell him I referred to him that way) who have been there/seen that/done that. Someone who wrote the racing card or trained one of the greats or was at the track and actually saw Secretariat, Forego, Seattle Slew, Kelso, Zenyatta and Blame go tends to have (to me) a more balanced or weighty perspective otherwise, as we know everyone has an opinion
    PS: According to mental health experts, this is the lowest or blue-est week of the year, so take heart, maybe you are just human and just cranky.

  24. Pam,

    You said Mike Smith had to let her run on before pulling her up in the Classic because she was running so powerfully. Well IF this is the case explain to me why she NEVER passed Blame any point in the stretch or in the gallop out. This is my whole point, she never once passed him, but yet everyone swears she is so much better than him. Give me a break, the whole Zenyatta worshiping that goes on is a joke. She is nothing more than a nice horse, her claim to fame is beating Gio Ponti on synthetics and losing to Blame by a nose on Dirt. Before we crown her the best ever, where does Gio Ponti and Blame rank all time?

  25. Only want to say I never met a panhandler at a track looking for a bowl of soup. . . unless it came with a mutual ticket. If you do take some spare change, insist it’s a loan. That way you’ll never see him again.

  26. The more substantial argument for Blame. A terrific race horse and he won the BCC on the square. Questioning “what exactly did Zenyatta do for the game” is alot of political drivel. She could strut, dance, RUN WITH THE BEST but she shouldn’t be required to carry the sport on her back and lead the fans to the betting windows. The asleep at the switch racing leadership needed to support the windfall.
    Many of the eloquent subscribers to this blog [#10, Mr.Churl] are treating the mare as if she were an equine politician from Alaska.

  27. Joe Drape was way off base with what he wrote. There were valid reasons to vote for Blame or Zenyatta. I’m don’t know who was the better racehorse and never will. Made for a great year for racing.

    My main comment is aimed toward the Eclipse Award telecast.

    I like Kenny Rice and assume he simply reads what is written for him. But the writers could really use some new material – please. Not that yearly sex jokes aren’t funny, especially those about men who cheat on their wives….

    Kenny Rice, during the 2009 Eclipse Awards telecast (from DRF article): Later, as the Horse of the Year decision neared, Rice said, “I just got this text. ‘If the fight’s only between two women, I really don’t care. Tiger Woods.’

    Kenny Rice, during the 2010 Eclipse Awards telecast (from DRF article): Rice’s best line came when he said he had received a text inquiring about how a retired male athlete gets to go to stud in racing.

    “P.S., I’ve enclosed pictures. Brett Favre,” Rice said.

  28. Here is to 2011 when most of this unproductive carping will be trail off. I’d like to think that anyone calling themselves a fan does have a variety of horses they enjoy watching. There are a few hard knockers in the claiming ranks that I like to see out there in addition to the ‘household name’ big graded runners.

    Maybe its just the internet and the ability to voice an opinion in anonymity [present company included] but I do wonder if there was any vocal decent to the degree it exists now (and sadly seems to be par for the course) back when say Kelso took HOY for the 5th consecutive time in 1962.

    There must have been fans, owners and supporters of other horses such as Northern Dancer who was took the Eclipse that year for his 3-YR old season. Did they suggest voters were sheep following the heard by not appreciating a rising star?

    My guess is that the new era of the computer-based fan is someone who is sadly less apt to have been to a track and seen racing in the flesh. I really hope that people who were inspired by Zenyatta make an attempt to plan a trip to a Saratoga or Keeenland if they can. It will be good for you, I promise.

    While not intentionally dismissive I tend to view a lot of the fresh faced Z fans who put her on such a lofty untouchable perch (e.g., “and don’t you dare fail to call her The Queen”) as being evolutionary Barbaro fans. Demanding in their voice, often failing to respect the long history of racing, and bitter if they are dissed they aren’t in it for just the sake of seeing what happens.

    I wasn’t around when Princess Doreen ran but come on folks she earned her stripes likely running with more weight and on terrible surfaces yet hit the board almost always. Yet here comes fans who dismiss that and demand X horse be the best female that God ever put on the earth. Again, respect history a bit please.

    Hopefully anyone calling themselves a fan will derive the pleasure I did from simply watching an excellent race like last year’s BCC. More importantly anyone who is a fan can watch (and will watch) a random race from a Thursday afternoon at Gulfstream and appreciate that each horse is trying their best just as if it was the First Saturday in May at Churchill.

    Anyhow rant off and hopefully Teresa I’ll see you at the track this year!

  29. Speaking of history’s greatest race mares, like Princess Doreen….goodbye to Miesque – who didn’t mind beating the boys and traveling around the world! Miesque was the champion 2-year-old filly in France, top 3yo filly in France, champion 3yo filly in the UK, French champion miler, champion miler in the UK, and two-time champion turf horse in the United States.

    Not a bad resume – and that was before her amazing career as a broodmare.

  30. Horse Racing has been marginalized a long time now and has fallen from mainstream sports coverage. Those remaining have reduced the sport to a series of figures and statistics to make money at the track. Thus when a star like Zenyatta emerges many in the Horse Racing media don’t know how to respond or capitalize on it. This is something that is quite normal in the NBA or NFL, passionate fans who support their teams. The fact that this occurred because of Zenyatta is a good thing for Horse Racing and would happen more often if sound horses were not prematurely retired to the breeding shed. I don’t doubt that Blame might have built up a following if he had raced in 2011. Or Looking at Lucky. The goal should be to get casual fans to show up at the track to follow their favorites, have a good time and yes, place a few bets. Some of these folks might become horse players and long time fans. That’s how you grow the business. And it doesn’t help when established Handicappers and Writers are being less then gracious and welcoming to the new fans. This is a direct result of how far horse racing has fallen off the map. Imagine horse players taking the fans of Seabiscuit to task in the late 30’s!
    The Bread & Butter players that show up everyday are important and they shouldn’t be penalized by the industry by high take out rates. But new fans are vital to the future of horse racing and the industry should always be willing to welcome everyone, no matter what road they take on the way to the betting windows; whether they bet everyday or show up at the track on big race days.

  31. Francine-you used to be a fan? Sure it wasn’t “until Blame won with Garrett Gomez?”. Lots of teapartiness happening on Blame’s side as well. There are always the loons-on both sides and it seems you are guilty of lumping every one of Z’s fans in same boat-not fair. I “know” she isn’t really dancing and Uncle Mo isn’t texting and know you aren’t fair in your assessment of all of Z’s fans.

  32. Elizabeth, Bravo!!! Well said.
    There is an old sports proverb. “When the focus is mnoney, the athletic performance suffers” or words to similar effect. In horse racing the focus is money on every front. Horse Racing’s focus needs to be producing sound athletes and top notch racing, the public wants to see. This year demonstrated there is interest. Perfect the product{racing} amd the money will follow.

  33. Let me get this straight—you are ‘cranky’ at Zenyatta for among other things not knowing YET if her fans will stay or if any of us will go to a track or place a bet ever again? How is that Zenyatta’s fault? All she could do is draw attention to the sport—it IS up to the sport to do something to keep the interest isn’t it? You are cranky because she might not have singlehandedly solved all of horse racing’s ills?? She brought massive POSITIVE attention to the sport. Not because of a breakdown or drug scandal or betting scandal—ya know not the normal reasons. It really IS up to the sport to capitalize on that-not her or her connections. They’ve done enough for awhile.
    Exactly what did Blame or Hancock do that was so “good for the game”? Why aren’t you crankier about Blame being immediately retired to stud duty? You’re cranky because Zenyatta fans are cranky with non-Z fans? Oh that makes sense. How unifying indeed. You blame “this horse” for a writer who’s work you quote etc taking down a whole group in one fell swoop—now that’s flat dumb—she didn’t make him/her do that—he/she chose to do that and perhaps because of long standing crankiness endured from that group. You going to blame Zenyatta for the Tucson shootings next?
    Blame was a brilliant race horse-brilliant. I made a very strong case for him to be HOY. I made a very strong case for Zenyatta to be HOY. Many of us aren’t cranky or delusional or teaparty fervor fans or as unbending as racing’s resident curmudgeon, Andy Beyer. I’ve heard repeated references to how divisive the Smarty Jones HOY debate was and others. I’ve watched many a writer bemoan Zenyatta or her fans but sure do use her name so they can be assured of readers and then gripe or get cranky when they are disagreed with.
    Zenyatta inspired a lot of us and I made and am making several trips to my nearest race track and spending money there and betting—things I have never done before Zenyatta and might not do much longer with such a GREAT group of people around the sport. Guess we should let them keep it just the way it is. After all it IS thriving that way, isn’t it?

  34. Now, here truly was a Queen. We were never “beaten on the head” with a formulaic advertising campaign by the owners and trainer and jockey of this horse. This horse faced the best, in every one of her races, no cookie cutter racing campaign for her. She put it all out there, even when the race conditions for her were less than ideal. Her talent and ability left us in awe. This is time when a more modest and more respectful owner, trainer, and jockey convinced us of their horse’s ability and greatness. They let the horse do it, and there was never any argument or disagreement by anyone who saw her. No advertising or snow jobs were ever needed.

    Enjoy her greatness, again. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oILJ6IYoZso

  35. Thanks, August and Barbara, for the wonderful reminders of Personal Ensign and Miesque.

    And Barbara, given Rice’s comments last year, one wonders what it make take to get the mike handed elsewhere for next year.

    Zigaro, please re-read what I wrote: “cranky about Zenyatta,” not “at” Zenyatta. I didn’t criticize her, or blame her or her connections, at all. Please take a look, and I’m glad to hear that her effect on you has been more than ephemeral. As you point out, the sport needs it.

    Glimmerglass: See you at the races. 🙂

    Lucky: One more reason to TGIF!

    Bob: Would that all were as reasonable as you.

    And thanks, everyone, for the civility with which the conversation has taken place here, in stark contrast to discussions elsewhere on the topic. 🙂

  36. Teresa, thanks. One more that I didn’t want to neglect was the great rags to riches distaff star, Ipi Tombe, who epitomizes that you never know what you’re going to get for $30.00.

    For her incredulous story: http://www.ipitombe.com

  37. Teresa, I didn’t understand your comment Remember I am a border cowboy who flunked third grade English, Did I get a D or F. That Glimmer fellow got a gold star. Do I need to bring an apple each morning? You can always give it to your favorite horse, the one you voted for, Zenyatta.

  38. Nice hair splitting! “At” was used once and mistakenly-should have been “you’re cranky because” as it was thru out what else I wrote. But since you bring it up, these comments are directly at the horse tho–espec when one says “this horse” instead of the ‘subject of this horse’ or “what did Zenyatta do.” You’re not saying “i am cranky that SOME people who support Zenyatta can’t satisfy me about what she did that was good for the sport” You’re memory is also real short-it was vicious last year and the year before with Jess Jackson fueling the divisions-what good did that do the sport? You furthered the divisions here–you lumped Zenyatta fans all in one category as unreasonable and not doing much good for the game so far in 2011–and yet gripe that all writers and followers of the game were done in in one fell swoop And if you might be sorry you voted for her because of other humans and their reactions, then you shouldn’t have a vote. Same if you voted for Blame and said might be sorry for same reason.

    “I’m cranky that this horse – remember: she enthralled me. I voted for her – who has supposedly done so much for the sport has, I think, riven it more than anything else” Supposedly? Right–again when was the last time horse racing got national headlines and coverage that was positive and FOR FREE–free positive publicity?? when did that last happen.

    “Can anyone tell me what Zenyatta did for racing that will have any tangible effects or presence in 2011?”

    “I’m cranky about Zenyatta. I’m really cranky about Zenyatta. I was enthralled by her, I voted for her, I’m glad she won. I think. I’m not sure. I might be sorry I voted for her.” I’m sorry you did too. I’m sorry this has become yet another divisive column like oh so many out there. Instead of celebrating or looking forward, you chose to share ‘cranky’ to better the sport.

    and whoever talked about how many in “open” company Zenyatta ran in, how many did Rachel run in? One. The rest were 3 yr olds only. So?

  39. I’m now cranky because Teresa, who writes an endlessly interesting blog throughout the year, writes a well timed introspective entry that discusses this subject fairly, while far too many others, on both sides, can’t seem to get their priorities straight, and her commentors keep the faith by almost universally responding in kind, enough so that for the first time in seemigly forever a light seems to appear at the end of the tunnel, and then Zigaro shows up.

    Shud up!

  40. Right–thoughful if you agree with her take and we must ALL think like you want, right Just Asking? How very civil and mature “shud up” is. Brilliant! Point for your side-feel powerful? Very ‘curmudgeonly’ of you but funny. And of course not personal. I read Teresa all the time, I know her blog well. If points Robert is making is helping see the light by his comments on Zenyatta, how dark has it been for you guys? Same old comments-synthetics and “open races” and even dragging Gio Ponti in it but probably not okay to say well then how many horses has a Macho Again beaten since or a Mine That Bird since.
    I own race horses and have a lot at stake here. Felt for a few days it was a great time ahead for horse racing. Then I see this link on Equidaily about someone reconsidering their vote for Zenyatta. That is thoughtful.

  41. Well, the civility was nice while it lasted. I’m going to morph into my best teacher self here and say that if we can’t bring the discourse back to a level of respectful disagreement, I’ll close the comments. And perhaps, really, there’s not much left to say anyway?

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