Archives for May 22, 2018

Justify’s Win Illustrates a Major Problem in Horse Racing

By Charles Simon

Justify ran his eyeballs out in winning the Preakness and, truly, he has done some amazing things by being pushed to the limit in a modern racing world where risk taking is seemingly a foreign concept. He is headed to Belmont with a chance to win a quite unique version of the Triple Crown. However, one of the biggest underlying issues of horse racing is being exposed during this fantastic and rapid ascent by Justify.

The very top of racing is polluted with conflicts of interest, with too few horsemen training all the best horses for a narrow group of very wealthy people that have increasingly chosen to join together rather than compete against each other. When Triple Crown-runs and our most important races are now potentially compromised because of that situation, how much longer until the validity of the results of the sport are questioned?

Derby144 workout Justify at Santa AnitaAx Man won the Sir Barton over the same track as Justify did on Saturday with a better speed figure (99 to 97). Does that mean he would have won Preakness or is better than Justify? Absolutely not, but it does mean that him not participating in the Belmont Stakes because his trainer is shooting for a Triple Crown with a different horse is a little unsettling. I completely understand why they wouldn’t run, but it’s still an uncomfortable situation to try to explain away.

Audible might have won the Preakness considering the 1/2 length margin that Justify won by over clearly inferior horses with running styles very similar to Audible’s running style. If Audible who is owned by the same group that owns Justify doesn’t run in the Belmont and goes on to be the best three year old post-Triple Crown season, it could be the first modern day Triple Crown that comes with an asterisk.

Sure, Justify is a great horse who will have earned it if he completes the Triple Crown with a Belmont win but having potentially two of the arguably top five, healthy three year olds not competing because everyone seems to be on the same team… well, to be kind, it is not a ‘good look.’ We have no idea if they could beat him but the whole idea of racing is to race to see if they can.

These are our very best and most important races, and they are increasingly fraught with conflict of interest which are more readily apparent because of the spotlight focused on the Triple Crown. Think about how compromised our regular graded stakes can be affected in a similar though more subtle manner? We won’t even go into regular overnight races and the issues created there.

The entire premise of the sport of horse racing is competition. “My horse is better than yours. Let’s prove it on the track”. The more bastardized the top of the sport becomes, the more the foundation of the entire game is weakened. If this past week’s white-hot debate over the ‘future of racing in a sports betting legalized world’ doesn’t make this situation even more troubling, you just aren’t paying attention.

Imagine if the owners of the Golden State Warriors bought a 20-percent stake in the Houston Rockets before the Western Conference Finals? How do you think that would go over with sports fans? And our sport is supported by people BETTING on it!

 

  • Charles Simon is a successful, veteran trainer based out of South Florida.

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Belmont Man o’War Card Soars over 50%

Saturday’s stakes-packed card at Belmont Park, highlighted by Hi Happy’s victory in the 60th running of the Grade 1, $700,000 Man o’ War, generated all-sources handle of $15,642,446, a 50.6% increase over 2017. The 11-race card, which included 4 graded stakes and 5 total stakes, had an average field size of 7.82, a 7.6 percent increase over 2017.

Despite cool temperatures and intermittent rain throughout the day, on-track handle was $1,812,370, a 48.1 percent increase over 2017.

 2018 Man o’ War Day
  • May 12, 2018
  • Races: 11
  • Stakes: 5
  • All-sources handle on NYRA races: $15,642,446
  • On-track handle on NYRA races: $1,812,370

2017 Man o’ War Day

  • May 13, 2017
  • Races: 11
  • Stakes: 4
  • All-sources handle on NYRA races: $10,384,063
  • On-track handle on NYRA races: $1,223,589

Source: Press Release