June 25, 2008

The UNluckiest horseshoe on earth???

There have been several significant stories (some largely unnoticed) on the national and international racing scene that are worthy of mentioning.

1) Spike Lee, aka Mars Blackman, coined the famous Nike ad with Michael Jordan, "It's got to be the shoe." The "shoe" now in the limelight is Big Brown's back right shoe, which as photos captured came loose towards the beginning of the Belmont Stakes. Many have authoritatively claimed this as the excuse to why Big Brown ran so poorly, while others discounted the importance of a loose shoe during a race, especially when the horse shows no inflamation in that area following the race. It's too bad for IEAH et al that all of Brown's shoes weren't glued on, like the front hoof getting all the special treatment with the quarter crack. One thing for sure, this shoe saga is now every bit as famous as the safety pin incident with Spectaculat Bid in 1979.

2) Jeremy Rose of Afleet Alex fame (2005 Preakness, Belmont) and Eclipse Award holder as top apprentice jockey has been suspended for six months for "extreme misuse of the whip" in a race yesterday at Delaware Park. Rose struck his mount, Appeal to the City, on the face which resulted in bleeding around the left eye. Certainly not a positive for this sport that is under attack on all fronts (see next point). I have yet to see the replay but I would like to give Jeremy the benefit of the doubt and hope this falls under the "accident" category. Which still leads you to wonder why these wire bound "tools" are permitted if something like this could EVER happen in a race. While I can understand the value of using a whip (keeping horses straight in stretch, telling a horse it's GO TIME), perhaps the nature of the crop should be given a gentile makeover or eliminated altogether (it's a level playing field if no one has one, right??).

3) Thoroughbred industry leaders reported for testimony last week in Washington at the House Energy and Commerce Committee's commerce, trade and consumer protection subcommittee. Congress basically reminded our sport that they gave horse racing the legal right to broadcast races and take bets across state lines, and now the industry needs more regulation. Rep. Ed Whitfield, a Republican from Kentucky's 1st District said that he expects to introduce legislation to ban the use of drugs in racing and require uniform collection and disclosure of medical information and injury and fatality data. He said that given the small amount of time left in this Congress, the legislation was likely to be proposed next year (seems like I've heard that one a few times!). However, this will not address the issues in breeding (or should I say, inbreeding) for SPEED, SPEED, SPEED leading to a more fragile horse running fewer races, all topics discussed by Arthur Hancock, a lifelong horse breeder.

4) A Queen is back in the winner's circle at Royal Ascot for the first time in 9 years. Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her first victory since 1999 at the famous English track when her horse Free Agent won the Chesham Stakes. "The queen was absolutely thrilled, and after they passed the post she said, 'I've done it!' " reported her racing manager, John Warren. And we were led to believe that racing was the Sport of Kings...

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