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. I too am very happy Ramon got the Eclipse he so well deserved and that The Toboggan will run for the 118th time. I was thrilled to watch that race for the first time from the rail two years ago when Ah Day won it. I liked reading your curmudgeon post. It is an honest frustration felt by many who have felt the polarization you write of. This sport doesn’t need it. Blame every bit as deserving as Zenyatta and I agree with August Song on the Zenyatta advertising campaign.

  2. And Colin comes to the rescue! I’m working on a historic post about the Toboggan to go up in the morning…and I remember that Ah Day race very well. Thanks for stepping in!

  3. I regret to report that one of the truly great distaff members, mentioned prior, Miesque had to be put down, infirmities of old age. Rest in Peace

  4. Very bummed to read this Teresa. Loved that you voted for her,and enjoyed your TTimes article explaining your vote. You were right about Zenyatta the racehorse,hope it comes back to you someday. Maybe someday people will recall her incredible 19-0 win streak,and give her the respect that alone deserves!!! I won’t hold my breath though.

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