Friday, 20 March 2020 19:17

A Prep For Something

Written by Jon Stettin

The Louisiana Derby may or may not be the only game in town this weekend for horseplayers. As of now, they are planning on running, but racing as with many other things just seems to be hour to hour.

The prep races for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks have points but may lose some of their relevance for the two big three-year-old dances. The Derby and Oaks will be run, albeit tentatively, the first weekend in September. Peaking for a prime points race now may get you in, but won’t help on the racetrack.

The Travers is scheduled to be run the Saturday before the Derby. If that happens, the centerpiece of Saratoga probably takes a hit. Most with a good three year old will opt for the Run for the Roses.

Our industry faces a lot of uncertainty. We have recent indictments that followed a rash of breakdowns that resulted in a media and activist frenzy. Now we have a pandemic crippling the world and our sport along with it. Obviously, we and everything must and should take a backseat to the health and safety of all. Some jockeys are concerned about riding. Who can blame them?

Maybe this imposed downtime can give us all some time to reflect without spending as much time in past performances and watching replays. The Horse Racing Integrity Act before Congress does not as widely thought and even reported out the government in charge of regulating doping in racing. It mandates the appointment of an independent third party to do that. Considering we are an industry that has proven beyond any reasonable doubt we can’t self govern or police, this is the only thing actually on the table that makes sense.

Will it solve everything? No, it addresses doping or juicing, a widespread problem not solved by the recent indictments. The rest of our issues will remain, and the industry bigwigs should welcome at least one major problem being removed from their overloaded plates.

We are in a state of chaos. We have a small chance to at least go a few strong rounds against juicing. That can lead to a win. I say we support the act and go for it, at least until I see something better and real on the table. The Louisiana Derby may be the only game in town this weekend, but the Horse Racing Integrity Act is the only game far beyond that.