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Dec 18, 2003

ATC Lead

By: Joe Girardi

            As Christmas approaches and the year comes to a close we will take a look at a few wishes that we have for racing for the upcoming year.

  Our first wish for the upcoming year would be that first and foremost all the jockeys and horses return after each race safe and sound. The worst thing that can happen during a race is when a horse goes down and the jockey hits the ground hard. There are too many horses that are lost during the year and many jockeys risk serious injury riding these horses each day. Although we do play the game to win our first thoughts have to be with the jockeys and horses that give their all each and every day. Through rain, snow, wind, excessive heat; they are out there trying to win a race and us as racing fans should appreciate them more. So let’s hope everyone is safe and sound in 2004.

  Our second wish for the upcoming new year is the hope that the NYRA can get everything back on track with the VLT’s. NYRA has been in the news a lot in 2003 and nothing was good. There were many allegations that NYRA was not being run on the up and up. It looks as though that with the deals that have been made and the organizations that are now in place NYRA can concentrate on running a horse racing outfit again. The VLT’s should be in place sometime late next year and will help New York racing immensely. The purses will be much larger when the VLT’s are in place and this will help in terms of having full fields in mostly every race. The best trainers and jockeys are already firmly planted in New York and the higher purses will only add to the competition. Let’s hope that everything will go as planned and New York will get the VLT’s.

  Our third wish for the new year is that we get another chance at the Triple Crown. New York bred gelding FUNNY CIDE won the first two legs of the Triple Crown in 2003 and gave New Yorkers a big thrill as he tried to win it all in the Belmont Stakes. He came up short but he did bring a following and many people came out to see him wherever he raced. The fact that he is a gelding will give the racing fans a chance to see more of FUNNY CIDE and hopefully bring more fans to the game.

  Our fourth wish is much like our third wish in that we are hoping to bring more fans to the game. The superstars of racing that we saw in the 70’s and 80’s and even most of the 90’s are no longer. When we do get to see greatness it is usually only for a year. For example, MINESHAFT was a superstar in the making but he was retired to stud after only a short time on the scene. EMPIRE MAKER, the Kentucky Derby favorite and most heralded three year old in some time never raced again after losing the Jim Dandy back in early August. Many thought of him as the best three year old they saw but the fact that he never raced after August 3rd and that he is retired to stud we will never get to see how good he could have been. The game needs more stars, more stars that stay around for more than one year. It would be the equivalent of basketball losing Michael Jordan after one season. Racing needs more stars to stay around to get new people interested in our great game.

  Our fifth and final wish is a little selfish. As a racing fan and bettor this wish is the hope that there will be many winners in 2004. Enough winners that will put the books in the black for the year. Having fun and being at the races especially in the summertime is great. However remember this, if you go the racetrack and had a great time, nothing beats going to the racetrack, having a great time and coming home a winner. Good Luck in 2004!


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