American Turf Magazine
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Dec 23, 2005

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


As we draw closer to the end of 2005 we can look back at the good times and bad times in racing this year, unfortunately for most they will have seen many more bad times than good and there still needs to be a lot of changes to get racing back to where it was in its hey day. We have a few wishes for the upcoming year for what can make racing better.

1. Our first wish for the New Year as always is that all the jockeys and horses return after each race safe and sound. There have been a few deaths this year of jockeys that fell during the running of the race. We must remember that these jockeys are always risking their lives each and every time they take a mount, whether it comes at a major track in New York or a small track in another state, one wrong move can lead to the most dire of consequences. So even if you don’t like a ride or upset with how the race turned out, always give them your respect as they are giving it their all while putting their life on the line. The horses on the other hand are at the mercy of their conditioners and are sometimes, unfortunately forced to run even when they are hurting. We know that all the horses can’t return safe, it is just the nature of the game but let us hope that the majority will return safely after each race.

2. Our second wish concentrates on the most important in the racing industry— that’s right the gamblers, whether it be those people betting on the races or those betting at the video lottery terminals, either way without those gamblers there is no horse racing, no Breeders’ Cup, no NTRA, no nothing. Let us hope that those in charge start to realize that the bettor needs to be treated with the utmost respect, make them want to come back and play each time. Give them the necessities to play the races, give them food, give them admission, give them parking, give them more than one reason to want to come out to the racetracks. With the new teletracks popping up all over the place, the racetracks are beginning to draw less and less people, unless they start making it popular to come out to the track there will soon be no crowds to run in front of. The opportunities are there especially in New York. Let us wish that the New York State racing and wagering board give NYRA or whoever is in charge of New York racing the leeway to make changes and that goes for the state off track betting facilities also. Anything that would be good for the bettor and good for the racetracks and the off track betting companies, this is a win-win-win situation.

3. Our third wish, similar to the second is that we are hoping for the popularity of racing to increase. We want that to happen on the racetrack. We have seen many stars on the racetrack come and go and retire too quickly. In 2005, we lost GHOSTZAPPER to injury after one race, we lost AFLEET ALEX, Preakness and Belmont hero to injury after the Belmont and he is now retired. His injury was probably brought on after his win in the Preakness when he was cut off badly at the top of the stretch, stumbled to the ground, recovered and still went on for an easy win. We need the star power that we have lacked for many years, it seems when we do get stars they don’t stick around long enough and they certainly don’t run more than a few times a year. This is the nature of the game these days, we need owners who say for the good of the game I will run my star for another year, but the money in the breeding shed is too much to turn down. The NTRA needs to work on this, it is their job to promote racing and right now is the time to take over and get it back in the public eye. Form a big racing series with purse money big enough to keep these stars on the racetrack. Remember these are only wishes but let us hope they can come true.

4. We will cut our wish list to four this year, with our final wish being that the winners will be plenty on the racetrack. It can’t hurt to get a few winners at the track to make your time there a better one but hey, if you’re at the track, having a good time with friends and watching some of the best athletes in the country it doesn’t get much better than that. Good Luck to all in 2006!!



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