If you have ever read Glamour magazine, you know in each month’s issue it has a page devoted to the “dos” and “don’ts” of fashion trends.
Since that publication is one of my guilty pleasures whenever I am in need of mind candy, I am taking a cue from the longtime glossy and putting together a list of racing dos and don’ts I would love to see those in the industry heed in the New Year and beyond.
(drumroll, drumroll, drumroll…)
No. 1 – If you have a healthy, sound, brilliant 3-year-old who has only given mere hints to his/her real potential, and you have more money than you could ever spend, please DO keep said horse in training so they can showcase their true greatness and give racing fans another hero to cheer for. Heroes can do wonders for this sport. Exhibit A: Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta.
No. 2 – If you employ a trainer with a rap sheet longer than the Bay Bridge, DON’T act indignant when you get on a big stage (i.e. Triple Crown/Breeders’ Cup) and people keep bringing up said rap sheet. You knew what you were getting into when you hired them.
No. 3 – DO remember where you came from and be nice to the fans. Since the sport’s main stars (the horses) are by and large pretty inaccessible to the average patron, it is up to the human participants to fill that void. So if you find yourself with a spare second and a respectful fan approaches you for a picture, autograph, or just a little wisdom: Stop. Smile. Genuinely thank them for their time and their interest. Because without them, there is no racing. Period. Track operators, this goes for you too.
No. 4 – If you are a trainer with multiple drug violations, DON’T keep using the fact you weren’t physically at the track where the infraction occurred as an excuse. If you’re going to get the credit for every victory a horse in your care earns whether you saddled them or not, you’re going to have to take the heat for the violations too.
No. 5. – DO your due diligence before getting involved in this business because, like any industry, there are some bad apples out there. And if you chose to do business with said bad apples anyway, DON’T be surprised when it ends ugly and/or you don’t get your money. Can’t say we didn’t warn you.
No. 6 – DO savor the moment. Whether you own a horse outright or have two percent of a partnership and regardless if you’ve just won a $10,000 claiming race or the Kentucky Derby, simply getting a horse to the winner’s circle is an amazing, thrilling experience. Enjoy it for everything it is worth.
No. 7 – DON’T complain about overproduction and then book a stallion to 150-plus mares or breed to a stallion with an extremely large book. The most mares Storm Cat ever covered in a season was 123. Just saying.
No. 8 – DO work together to enact positive changes for the sport. Uniform drug rules would be a great start.
No. 9 – DON’T underestimate the “little guy” or the underdog. Did anyone have Mine That Bird on their list of Derby contenders this time last year? Did anyone outside of his connections even know Summer Bird existed last December? How many people outside of racetrack insiders knew who Hal Wiggins was? Exactly.
No. 10 – DO love this sport with all your heart and don’t ever think it can’t survive its rough spots. Think of how many people wrote racing off in the aftermath of the Eight Belles tragedy – or at the very least, wrote off females displaying their brilliance against males. Then think of the outpouring of passion that was generated this year on the days of the Oaks, Preakness, Haskell, Woodward, Lady’s Secret, and Breeders’ Cup Classic. In the words of Indian Charlie, we ain’t dead yet.