First, I wanted to start by thanking all of you for sharing your favorite race moments with me last week. I watched all of the races you recommended and look forward to you letting me know about more of them.
Second, this Sunday being Father’s Day I want to say Happy Father’s Day to all of the fathers, grandfathers, step-fathers, uncles and father figures out there. Speaking of Father’s Day, I would like to tell you briefly about my grandfather. He was voted the President of the UAW Local 420 and served many terms. I don’t know how many exactly, but I know that he was voted into the role in the mid 70’s and kept getting elected until his retirement in 1994. The reason this is important is because as the president, I learned that he was respected and known for being fair. He did the things he thought would be just and honest. He was the symbol of the Ford plant and was a reasonable representative for all of its thousands of employees. He was sent to talk for all those employees; it was his job to ‘jockey’ for the best position for his plant. That is what I imagine John Velazquez to be in his position as the President of the Jockey’s Guild. I would imagine that it is Johnny’s job to make sure his peers are taken care of; I imagine it is his job to back these men who vote him into that role; I imagine it is his job to lead by example with fairness, respect and professionalism…just as it was my grandfather’s job to do the same for so long.
I am shocked by the recent events that have unfolded concerning Johnny V. I have always been a big fan of his; to me Johnny V was the example of everything good about the game. He is not only a great rider, but the epitome of what I think a respectable jock should be. It only made sense that he would be the President of the Jockey Guild, (until now) he was respectable and a true professional. However, what unfolded after the Belmont Stakes is making me second guess.
I watched the race, hell we all watched the race, I saw the incident that took place on the track when Animal Kingdom almost unseated Johnny and what I saw was horseracing! I do not think any malice was involved on the side of Rajiv Maragh. It happens, all too often that is just the way it is…there is no way to help that. I am sorry that Johnny could not get his horse back in the race, so are the thousands of people that bet on him. I myself had to tear up that ticket, I was pissed but I know this stuff happens.
Here is where I think things get out of hand…after the race Johnny had words with the jockey; hey, no big deal. Let them battle it out however they want to in the privacy of the jocks room BUT when Johnny turned to the media and started blaming his loss on another jockey that’s where it went too far. Right or wrong, Johnny should have kept those comments to himself, especially being the Guild Rep. I find it shocking for this superstar and jockey rep to throw another jock under the bus the way he did. This was a terrible display by Johnny.
Maragh was also asked to comment about the incident. He said that it was not on purpose (I know what you are all thinking, ‘that is what he is supposed to say’) and then he went on to ask questions about other jockeys that have done the same in the past. I have to say, I think I agree with him but regardless of whether or not I agree, the point is Mr. Velazquez should NOT have went to the media blaming this loss on Maragh. I wonder if the stewards would have found it to be reckless riding on their own. Or did they need Johnny to tell them that it was?
I don’t really know if the interference was there, but I will say that if there was an objection and the stewards did find that Maragh was riding recklessly, that is fine, I can accept that (even though I did not see it) but when you start leaving your comments, remember that I am sounding off about the way Johnny V handled it…NOT the way the stewards handled it. I expect more of Johnny, because of his place in the jockey community and he really let me down.
I stood behind Johnny through the Life at Ten case, but I have to be fair and reasonable…Johnny, you were wrong this time. There is no crying in baseball and there is no whining in horseracing.