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Dec 31, 2004

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


As we come to yet another year’s end we will take a look at our wishes

 for the upcoming year.

1- Our first wish for the upcoming year as always is that all the jockeys and horses

 return after each race safe and sound. There have been many falls this year,

 some where the jockeys have been injured badly or even killed. They are going

 out there and risking their lives on every horse they get on. One misstep could

end it all in a matter of seconds. Despite the weather, the rain, the snow, the wind,

 they always give their best efforts. The horses on the other hand know

nothing else but to run. They were born to run, born to win and they always give

 their best. Even if they are injured and there are far too many horses that

 run when they are injured, they always put forth the effort. Let’s hope that the

jockeys and horses can stay safe and sound throughout the year.

2- Our second wish for the upcoming year is that the racing industry gets it

 together and realizes that the racing fan is the number one priority. Without

 the fan, there is no handle, there are no purses and I can almost guarantee

 no one would be running horses for no money. Racetracks would not be able to

 exist without the racing fan. They come to the track, take the abuse of paying

for every little bit of information they get. There is admission, parking, programs,

 racing forms, $3.00 bottles of water and yet, handle always seems to go up.

However, attendance at most tracks goes down each year. There is just too much

 competition out there for the racetracks. The racetracks are not doing enough

 to get the fan back. It would be nice to see them fight over the fan because then

 the fan wins, then the racing industry wins and this will make the racing

industry stronger.

3- Our third wish is very similar to last year’s third wish. We wished for another

 chance at the Triple Crown and we got it, we had the best chance to get a

 Triple Crown in 2004. SMARTY JONES came along and electrified the racing

 world for five weeks in early May until early June. He was undefeated when

he entered the Triple Crown races and he brought that undefeated record into

 the Belmont Stakes as the .35-1 favorite. After racing up close to the lead,

 he took on a few challengers, put them all away but could not hold off

BIRDSTONE and he settled for second. Although the publicity that

SMARTY JONES brought to the game was great, racing needs to get that

 back on a daily basis. That is the job of the NTRA and the racetracks

around the country.

4- Our fourth wish again, similar to last year’s wish is that the big stars can

 stick around the game for more than just one year. After the Belmont

SMARTY JONES came up with an injury and was retired. Although it may

 be selfish for the fan to want to see another year the owners have too much

 money at stake in the breeding shed. The problem is that these horses are

 syndicated so quickly that there is never a chance to see them race beyond

 there three year old year. Unless obviously if these horses are geldings we

 don’t get to see them more than one or two years. We don’t get the great

match-ups of years past and that takes away from the game. Every year in

all major sports there is a champion, the two remaining teams that fought

 their way through the playoffs face off and you can say that one is better

than the other. We cannot do that in racing, the Breeders’ Cup was designed

 for that but so many horses are skipping that now that it becomes a moot

 point. It is very rare to see the best horses face off with each other on the

 biggest day. Racing needs to get that back, they need the weekly exposure, the

 daily exposure even to make it what is used to be, the greatest game in the world.

5- Our fifth and final wish is that as a racing fan and a bettor that there will be

 many winners in the New Year. Going out to the racetrack, especially the

 summertime racetracks, can be loads of fun. However, winners will always

make your time at the track a better one. All the crowds of yesteryear could

not have been wrong, there is a certain feeling you can get at the racetrack

that you can’t get at home or an OTB. Let’s hope the tracks do their part and

 the fans will start to come around and racing can take its spot at the top

 of the list, once again. Good Luck to all in 2005!



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