Race of the Week 2017

Of Orb, Verrazano, and the Decline of Racing


They say TV ratings took a nose-dive at this year’s Breeders’ Cup. I don’t know why. I was at Santa Anita, and the event was worth watching. They also say that the Kentucky Derby winner is retired, just a few months removed from wearing the roses. I don’t know why. Orb could have been a real stud on the track at four.


Imagine if you will hearing that Kevin Durant, Andrew Luck, Mike Trout, and a number of other of the most promising young athletes of the NBA, NFL, and MLB were retiring this month. They might all be 25 and under, and not yet in their athletic primes, but their team owners decided that their ability to reproduce was far more valuable than their value on the field of play. Crazy, right? It would cause Black Monday for season tickets sales. And rightly so.


I hope racing fans enjoyed Verrazano while we had him. Racing’s rookie of the year in 2013 is one and done. Sayonara, Big V. We hardly knew you. Can you imagine what the Argentines would have done if Messi announced his retirement after his first season of footballing. It would have been worse than the passing of Eva Perón.


Sure, racing has many ills, but I’ve always been able to take the good with the bad. What other sport can rival it in beauty and excitement, and anticipation and mental challenges, after all. I was bred to love racing, and my need for horse speed was well cultivated at a very early age. Without sustainable stars, though, even I might find the breaking point.


Of all the problems that horse racing may have, the most damaging, in my eyes, is the completely disproportionate amount of money that can be made away from racing, compared to what is available on the race track. In essence, robbing the world of the very thing that we all crave to see ... the best in the world. Sending a healthy young star to the breeding shed is counter to any rational idea of what is good for the maintaining of the popularity of the sport, let alone any pipe-dreams of growth.


Seeing promising young colts like Orb and Verrazano head off to the breeding shed, before the realization of any true and real racing potential is understood, is disheartening. More than that, it is infuriating. How can we root, and I mean truly posses longtime fandom, for any young colt, when the rug is likely to be yanked out from our feet before they reach even their tenth race? I honestly have no good answers for that one.

A sport with a dearth of stars is a sport destined to shrivel up in space. I don’t want to see that happen to racing. Something needs to be done. Not allowing a stallion to breed until five-years-old is as good a start as any.  


Orb  |  Verrazano
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Older Comments about Of Orb, Verrazano, and the Decline of Racing...

Irresistible force.
If you ran screaming out of live horse racing chat rooms years ago when you supposedly REALIZED the infantile level of their common understanding, how come you're still here? You are ever so confusing.
ran screaming out of live horse racing chat rooms years ago when I realized the infantile level of their common understanding
Why are good teams like the Red Sox and Yankees good draws when they come to town....YEARS late someone can say "I saw Poppi hit one out of here 17 years ago and it was great." Jeter, then in his last year, made a catch in the stands behind thrid base like NO ONE I ever saw." I Used to travel to see the great ones and go real angry when I had spend all that time and money to chase them down only to find they had been scratrched..MAKE YOUR CHAMPIONS AVAILABLE!
do any of you guys know like a live chat room about horse racing? Im doubting it but if any comes to mind can you post URL
I disagree with your age group.Unless they have a trust fund,that age group has no money in their pockets to gamble with. They have enough problems beginning their lives.The demographic racing needs as players is 28 and up.Let them be a little responsible first.
tmallios? you said fans who dont make bets dont matter with NBC. NBC would not have coverage on a two hour time slot on a saturday if they were not going for the demographic of the people who do not follow the sport. The demographic horse racing needs is 18 to 24 year old males and their is simply no interest at all
The entire Casino handling was a joke.Buck you should see it.Once you go into the slots Palace it is clean and immaculate.It is like crossing a time machine when one walks into the track.This was the first year in memory,i basically went to Belmont every Saturday and some Sundays. It was the surroundings. Gural,i have heard from people is sharp.
Gural was the go to guy when the NJ standardbred people wanted to save the Meadowlands when Christie wanted to close it down. He has brought in I believe in excess of 200 million to redo the track and grandstand etc.
Also one of the other positives Gural has is that he is greatly respected in harness racing. He is a breeder with a farm in PA and one I believe in NY. He is also a track owner of two other tracks in Tioga Downs, which had been a defunct quarter horse track that he revitalized, and Vernon Downs, which was a storied harness track that he took over to keep it from being developed. I'm not sure if you know, but he was the underbidder on the Genting Casino at Aqueduct. If he had gotten it, I know he would have refurbished Aqueduct race track.
That might be the only way to save the Racing game.Sell it to the Private Buisiness sector.The state would never allow it,they think that the integrity would suffer. Little do they realize,or maybe they do and do not want to admit it.The real crooks are the ones running it right now.A private entity would have the incentive to make money,they would not leave a stone un turned in trying to maximize their bottom line.All fans would be treated with respect and dignity.That is because they welcome the return buisiness. Now,they could give a rats ass. Their paychecks and bottom line are already being tended to. A private owner would clamp down on the illegal medications and rid the track of all the seedy trainers(as the gentleman did at the Meadowlands). Even from the State point of view,it would benefit them.The higher the handle and buisiness.The more taxes for them to collect.
True he is.
That is because he is a private buisiness man Buck.They always think it out logically.The state and the tracks,another story.
Gural lowered take out on bets at the Meadowlands and wagering jumped over 30%
Unfortunately Mike,the basic bets is where the track makes the least amount of sense to them.This is because of the takeouts.The muli exotic bets is where they make their money.
tmallios you are right the tracks need to make it easier to bet and teach people the fundamentals of betting. I noticed Santa Anita had a booth at the Breeders Cup, it was called Betting 101 or something, with people to explain how the different bets worked and everything, but all tracks need to do more. One thing they should do, other people have mentioned this before I believe, is to emphasize bets like win, place, show and exacts. These bets are easy to understand and you have a better chance of winning. Forget about the pick 6 or pick 4, superfectas etc until the player has some experience in the sport. But you are right the tracks have done a terrible job of educating the public about betting on horses. It doesn't make much sense, you would think this would be the most important thing any track can do.
Mike ,when i say racing has no use for them.I do not mean it in a way,where they shun them and say stay out. The game will always welcome new blood,if the potential is there to cultivate new players they will do it.My point when i say that they have no use for them.Look at how they treat new players.Handicapping and betting horses is very difficult.There are so many variables involved.Seasoned pros and handicappers still do not have a handle on it.Do you see the tracks helping out the beginner.Do they have a handicapping seminar as to how to begin to get interested. The answer is no.Currently,if a State has racing and are lucky to have Racinos,they are automatically funded. Racing heads will tell you and all other fans,everything you want to hear. Their actions speak louder . Most of them have their own TV streams. None ,at least in NY have any programs as to the basics of handicapping. I got into the game the same way you did.I went with my brother and dad. But todays era presents so many gambling opportunities at a much easier pace. Racing officials have shown no interest to try and develop their game.
Racing need gamblers, they are the ones who pay most of the bills, but racing needs fans also. The reason is that most handicappers or bettors got their introduction to the sport from going to the track or watching the races on TV. I know a few big bettors and a lot of fans and if you ask them how they got into the sport it is usually some variation of .. I went to the track with my father..friends from work etc, or I saw Rachel/Zenyatta/Curlin run on TV. Where are the new handicappers or bettors who pay for the sport going to come from if no one goes to the track or if racing is not on the main TV channels? Personally I never had any interest in racing or betting until I went to Santa Anita with a friend from work, it happened to be the day that Spectacular Bid set the world record winning the Strub Stakes, I have been a racing fan ever since. I am sure most of the people on the site, including the handicappers, have pretty much the same story.
Bryan, they need Gamblers. Many of my friends love the game , but do not gamble. Unfortunately,the Racing game has no use for them. NBC and TV outlets need them,they need the ratings. The racing game has basically accepted the realization that the only time they will draw live crowds,are for the Elite of the Elite race days. They are very few and far apart. As Buck said,the subsidies they get from the Racinos has delayed the inevitable. Their is no real urgency.Monies are filtering in. If anything,the downsizing will occur to force people to bet from home.They now do not care how they get your money,as long as they get it.
Personally I think one of the best things for NY racing is to get rid of the winter meet. Years ago the meet ended with the Display Handicap in December. The track was closed until March or April. Horses went back to the farm to rest and grow up. Racing resumed in Florida etc.. To begin the haul to the TC. I think year round racing is hurting these young horses and combined with drugs etc. You are contributing to more breakdowns. Frankly the size of the foal crop which is 10-20k less than years ago and shrinking should reshape racing dates throughout the country.

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