TDN Writers’ Room Podcast, Episode 5: September 25, 2019

TDN Writers’ Room Podcast, Episode 5: September 25, 2019

Good afternoon, it is 4:08pm, Wednesday
September 25th, this is the TDN Writers’ room podcast, I’m Joe Bianca associate
editor of the Thoroughbred Daily News this is Bill Finley I’m a correspondent
for the Thoroughbred Daily News and I also co-host a horse racing radio show
with a legendary Dave Johnson on Sirius XM radio called Down the Stretch I’m
Jonathan green general manager of DJ stable and also a part of the green
group tax ins and accounting specialist and the Thurber industry I was fortunate
enough to spend about a week down at Keeneland looking at the horses down
there and just flew home and where my arms tired
this is Alan Carrasco managing editor of the tdn and I don’t have to watch
baseball this week as a fan of the Chicago Cubs who just absolutely think
it’s it’s been disastrous don’t get me started on the Red Sox now very quickly
start doing all right so we’re gonna start this week with a little brief
recap of last week’s racing I think as we get closer to the Breeders Cup we’re
gonna have longer recaps especially next weekend and the following weekend of the
real big weekends for the Breeders Cup will have more forward-looking stuff
after that but we had like they’ll be the last big I mean I guess technically
the Malibu we had the last big restricted three-year-old race over the
weekend the Pennsylvania derby and I thought it was kind of an @ metaphor for
this three-year-old division that five of them hit the line about a length and
a half apart of each other and I thought that was kind of symbolic of the
topsy-turvy nature of this division which I guess the the division got even
topsy-turvy ER this weekend with math wizard blowing off a thirty to one upset
in the Pennsylvania derby just a couple things I wanted to note about the race I
thought it changed a little bit once improbable missed the start
I thought he actually ran a pretty remarkable race considering he was
bogged down in the inside which is not where you want to be at parks all
through the stretch for so for him to be he still be pretty close I think he’s
horse that could make some noise next year as a four-year-old
but the other thing that’s interesting is math wizard was third in maximum
Security’s debut as we all know was for a $16,000 tag and
probably the life of sixteen thousand maiden claimer you could ever find but
math wizards more even more interesting to me than maximum security because he
was in for sixteen the next start and was claimed out of that race and he won
by six and three-quarters and then was in for 25k the next start and won by 18
and a half legs and once again claim so we’ll broaden this out a little bit but
it’s just it shows how even on a regular Wednesday at Gulfstream or whatever you
can you can find a pretty good racing prospect especially early in the
three-year-old year on open the floor up what were your impressions of the
Pennsylvania derby if any just that it added to a weird year with hey very
weird finish now the Malibu is for three-year-olds but I look at the races
that really matter is the to turn dirt races there’s nine grade ones of those
the only horse to have one two of course is maximum security would be three they
weren’t taken down in the Kentucky Derby but you know it doesn’t get any stranger
than this I mean first of all everybody instead of sending you guys down to
Florida next year to cover them Mucho Macho Man and the Holy Bull you better
go down and cover a sixteen thousand are making them Glamour’s I mean what are
the odds what five hundred million to one that to graded stakes winners would
come out of that race to grade one winners so it it put the period on the
end of the sentence not only is this group what did you call it topsy-turvy
or I like that Serbia now it’s even to have Tudor over here but I think it was
kind of a fitting end to a division that just was just kind of a mess the whole
year long of course beginning with well not beginning with
because he had the races before but highlighted by the disqualification of
maximum security in the Kentucky Derby and the lawsuits and all the nonsense
that went on with that it’s a year for three-year-olds that we are going to
want to forget it obviously it was a another strange no strange result and
like that improbable didn’t done leave their
running it gets a an inside trip probably you’re probably right they
don’t want to be on that part of the racetrack also just from a physical
standpoint I mean he looks like a stretchy enough kind of horse and and he
just may not from a physical standpoint like being down in there either and you
know and Mike Smith road four locked tried to get in there up up the inside I
agree with you Joe I think he under the circumstances I thought he I thought he
ran a fine race yeah as for the for the also-rans you couldn’t really make any
excuses for mr. money had it his own way up front and and more of will you know
stopped that easy pace and you know he had every chance the last three
sixteenths of a mile and and just couldn’t see it out John so now we’re
sitting here and it looks like that there’s you know maybe two more races
before the end of the year for most of these horses and you sit there and say
okay who would you vote for who would be your vote fourth we tried this last week
and you still can’t figure it out I mean it’s just you have to scratch your head
and you know with regard to just to put the icing on the cake about about the
claiming races I remember very distinctly charismatic winning you know
one of the Triple Crown races and sitting there and saying wow that horse
was available for 50 I can’t believe that you know I wasn’t there the day
that the horse was running it’s in an eater for 50,000 hours how would you
like to be Wendy Lee farm Enrique Arroyo or lucky seven stable
that actually owned the horse lost it in a claiming race three consecutive
claiming races and I know because we were one of the people I got out shook
for him for 1600 there’s six people you you really really honest truth yeah
there were six people in and I said okay well we got a one in six chance which is
better than a one in 20,000 chance that you have when the Falls are all born and
they’re coming in but the horse was was not only claimed you know three
consecutive races but there were a good 25 people who were in for him in the
three different races so that part was you know it was a surprise the thing
that was it was also a surprised was him coming down the stretch at 30 to one and
running the kind of numbers he did the I know from a from a Sheetz standpoint
math wizard and yen 20/20 hindsight math wizard had the numbers that look like
that he could compete so surprising he came down the middle the racetrack
the way he did and B he came down to thirty to one the way he did but it was
again topsy-turvy ER I think we’re gonna try to name a horse that yeah you know
next year all right just don’t put him in for a tag but yeah I mean it’s it’s a
good point I assume there were a million it was a million ways shake for those
horses but he I thought he ran really well in the Ohio derby when he was
beaten by Owen Dale by a half-length thought that he ran a really good really
brave race in there no one Dale kind of tripped out but it
did this happens to me in my handicapping all the time I kind of
forget back races if the last couple weren’t great and it was a little hard
to take him after he got drugged by mr. money twice in a row but he certainly
stepped up when it mattered the most though I was just gonna man mention that
I mean how can you like a horse that just got beat by 11 and three-quarter
lengths by mr. money yeah I mean how do you how do you as a handicapper say okay
he’s gonna reverse that 11 and three-quarter links I mean so it makes
this game so frustrating and the reason why the horse was 31 to 1 even though
John you think that was a little bit of an over like we don’t want to beat this
to death but might as well since were we have this weekend coming up put in Kotov
on or into the discussion now right now it looks like maximum security is gonna
back into the three-year-old championship I think there’s only one
possibility that he doesn’t because the Pennsylvania Derby eliminated the
chances of everybody else in that race unless some kook who’s gonna vote for
math wizard but if Kotov on or wins of the jockey club Gold Cup is he the three
world champion over maximum security now you know they would both have officially
have to grade one wins but I think you know there’s a lot of just sort of
negative feeling around maximum security and also what’s what have you done for
me lately and that’s that to me that’s the problem is that you know obviously
with his Kentucky Derby went or win this Kentucky Derby perform as the Florida
Derby win is Haskell win these are things that stick in people’s minds but
I think what also sticks in people’s minds is he didn’t show up for the
second half of the year and I think and especially now when the
three-year-olds like code of honor are starting to run against elders I think
that that’s gonna be a negative that’s held against him is that he didn’t even
collects a code of honor doesn’t win the jockey club Gold Cup but runs well
doesn’t win the Breeders Cup Classic but runs well runs second or third for me
I’m not a voter but for me I would give more credence to that then something
maximum security did in March just because the this is kind of when the
cream rises to the top and this is when everybody is pretty much going for the
same goal it’s much easier to just pick your spots earlier in the year it’s just
a personal thing we’re gonna talk about the cotillion for a little bit as well
John obviously had a principal I would prefer we don’t talk let me finish is
that she had no chance with that pace so I’m not gonna not gonna hold that
against her against jaywalk or anything like that but that date is really
interesting because there’s a supersonic pace and the cotillion which we kind of
talked about and kind of predicted last week and then they were dawdling in the
Pennsylvania derby which actually to me made at max math wizards it’s a hard
name to say math Wizards performance better is that he had to close into that
slow pace the cotillion we had an extended discussion on guarana last week
and her Hall of Fame credentials Joe could you please pass me that roll of
paper towels so I can wipe all that she ran great honestly because the the
statue that they were gonna erect to her then he’s on hold right now yeah they
haven’t broken ground yet yeah but so she took a little stumble out of this
out of the gate and she was the only one near that pace that really stuck around
and she was clear for a second so I think you got to give her a lot of
credit for that and I still believe what I said last week that I think she
ultimately is gonna be better going over a 1 turn mile or shorter races and I was
much more impressed with her performance running second
on Saturday than I was in her winning the coaching Club American Oaks anybody
have any feelings about that well one thing I’d like to add is um now you’ve
got Dunbar Road back into the equation of course for the three-year-old Philly
championship but can any of those horses beat midnight be sue and a late in the
Breeders Cup distaff I don’t think so I think the older fillies the mayor’s
are just in another league it’s taking nothing
away from the to Chad brown horses I think they’re terrific and I think also
what you’re looking at with 300 fillies similar to the boys I mean it’s just
such a muddied group you look at all the horses that ran number of grade one
winners that ran in the cotillion and then on top of that I think that
personally the most impressive race of the of the weekend was confetti you know
winning the the sprint race and she’s a three-year-old filly as well so you know
last year living through the Eclipse Awards and and being fortunate enough to
have one of the three nominees and and ultimately having the winner you know
that was exciting I wouldn’t want to be one of the decision-makers to limit it
to three horses at this point is that calf Effie is that Dunbar is it you know
Street Band guarana is assuming that they you know again that that she runs
back and and wins or runs best next time out but you know bill to your point they
are no match for the older mayor’s right now
midnight Basu and and and monomi girl or just you know off the charts better
you’re still looking at 300 fillies that for buyer numbers haven’t broken triple
digits yet that the winner of street band ran a 99 buyer number in the in the
cotillion and I think on average the older mayor’s are averaging like 103 to
105 can we just stop and give some props to Ella Caruso picks street band on this
very I don’t think next to John here huh what’s your what’s your wingspan you
weren’t you weren’t the only one that was that was picking somebody over than
us and and rightfully so that’s okay yeah I mean every setup for 1st Street
Band she came through but I’ll want to go a little bit and my handicapping
successes are so few and far between I I mean I obviously a a nice result you
know so many times you look at a race and you and you dope it out and you map
it out and and then it runs upside down and you know occasionally everything
comes together and and it runs exactly like it looks on papers Aryan yeah but
listens you got a good ride from Sophie Doyle who you know knows her very
well you gave her a patient ride from from behind and you know at the
five-sixteenths you’ve you felt good as a street band back or she was traveling
she really hadn’t been asked yet it was a question of whether she was gonna go
inside or out I thought there was some chance she’d go for maybe a three path
run but uh you know came wide and and you had the guns to peg back or on there
in the final sixteenth of a mile so no gloating opportunity at least one whore
is one of the words I wanted to mention before we turn the page from last
weekend was King Jack lightly raced Horace tdn rising star was his graded
stakes debut I believe he ran in the shared belief and was it was second to
improbable before that ran a 111 buyer and the Calabar which you just don’t see
really much anymore at all from from from horses but especially from a three
year old sprinter he might be able to make a late run at the Breeders Cup
sprint he’s got some tough competition but bill I know you were pretty
impressed by him as well well definitely and they he had run second to improbable
and the start before but III think there’s something about him and and I
don’t want to get out of order here because this is sort of relevant to
Santa Anita which we were supposed to talk about coming up a little bit later
but one thing that’s going completely unmentioned is right now Jerry Holland
or fir has two very good horses for the Breeders Cup in King Jack and vasilica
and with Santa Anita ready to open and and you know what 48 hours or whatever
we haven’t heard word one whether or not he’s going to be able to race there or
not and if I assume I can’t imagine they
changed their mind if he’s not allowed to race there what happens to these
horses well he’s got been studying in the chandelier on Saturday and Dan Ward
is listed as detroy so maybe that’s what it would be okay we’ll be the trainer
okay so it looks like they’re still holding
out on that and now they all go to court and the lawyers goodrich yeah and let me
just add on a personal note what a great story for Mike Stinson who recently put
in so much money into the business but a number of top bred yearlings and
two-year-olds over the past couple of years through the you know the selection
process of McGreevy who did so well with you know with all the horses like jostle
and and all the horses for Sox Fox hell thank you for Fox Hill and he hand
selected this horse King Jack and and I remember talking to McGreevy about it
after that after the sale and said you know are you sure you know why’d you
spend so much money on a Jimmy Creed and he said this is this is the one that has
that you know look to it and I said can you explain to me what that look I’ve
been looking at horses for 30 years in the sales could you in you know import
that kind of knowledge on me and he said this is the cut this is a Saturday horse
it’s a Saturday horse and and sure enough it took a little while for him to
develop but a 111 is off the charts yeah I lied I just one other words I wanted
to mention because John is here I wanted to talk about Colby winning the
two-year-old Stakes Saturday night at Charles Town did you make it to
Charlestown were you able to do the Daily Double
I didn’t as a matter of fact I watched all the races from home all the ones
from parks and and Charlestown and incidentally we also did have a horse
running for mate in twelve five at Monmouth that day so you know we don’t
want to forget that are there any claims no claims on that
one either no I got a run him at Gulfstream Park for sikhism but yeah
thank you very much so hopefully we’ll have the the next jaywalk coming down
the down the pike was with Colby was interesting raised too because it kind
of seemed like she was retreating a little bit on the turn and you would
think like with a short stretch like they have a Charlestown that’s like the
end but then she managed to come alive and get up yeah and not to bore the
listeners is she the first time she ran she was coming down the stretch he’s a
come-from-behind sprinter right now because they were you know primarily
running short races for two-year-old fillies and she’s coming down the
stretch in in fourth place and took like a weird jump step and then ended up just
kind of running even after that she won her next time out and again as you
mentioned Joe at Charlestown coming down the stretch and she took like a weird
hop step like a round a shadow or something because it was
night racing and and then you know Ortiz was riding her went inside and outside
and finally you know got her on a good path of the racetrack which is a little
muddy that day and she accelerated down the racetrack so yeah hopefully we’ll
see bigger and better things for her you know two turns especially I was right in
the race recap and you see the horse you see the winner before you write it out
and then you watch the replay and I was watching near the top of the stairs like
how was this horse winning no way yeah exactly yeah so that’s pretty cool I
mean it that would suggest that she’s gonna be okay stretching out I would
think so I would think so in that Charles Town racetrack is a goofy track
in the sense that it’s you know seven furlongs I say it’s like seven turns
four seven furlongs really it really is kind of a strange racetrack and you have
to know that track so coming in you’re a little bit of a disadvantage and I think
that’s why that the filly ran a little skittish early but you know it’s only
her third start so like anything else is only my second podcast so I’m sure
there’s room to improve and for her exactly thank you for mentioning yeah so
I thought about you guys when I was watching that race I turned the page
from last week’s races we’re gonna wrap up Keeneland September real quick
finally finished after it’s three-month run or at least seemingly so it’s a
pretty pretty big marathon shout out to everybody at the tdn who was there
covering it great job great sales coverage but I’m glad that we have John
here to talk about it because I feel like I’m more of a layman when it comes
to analyzing sales I feel like Bill would say the same thing I don’t know
about Al alum I was a check of many trades but uh but yeah so I’m glad we
have John here it seemed like it was a slight drop off from last year overall
but still a pretty strong market and it seems like this is something that they
say pretty much after every sale the Boyd browning or Bob Ellison will say
that it’s a polarized market you know the top horses are selling really well
and there’s not that much in the middle John you’re kind of our middle mock
market shopper I would say how do you think do you think that that squares
with reality that there’s there’s a consistently polarized market whether
it’s Keeneland whether it’s basically whatever do you agree with that and how
do you try to navigate that and find those middle market horses no question
about it instantly I’ve been called a lot worse than a middle market buyer so
that’s nice actually okay III would agree the
sentiment that there’s definitely a division amongst the buyers and and Bill
I think you mentioned it if not last podcast two podcasts ago about you know
in in the United States the wealth is is you know that is going up and up and and
and leaving kind of the middle class and the unconcentrated hands are very few
yeah exactly exactly yeah I couldn’t have said it
better uh-huh and and you know I think that’s what’s happening with with the
yearling sales especially where it’s getting more polarizing and you see
horses that are selling for half a million six hundred seven hundred
thousand dollars that previously you thought would bring two hundred thousand
not that two hundred thousand isn’t a lot of money because it is but it almost
gets to the point where the super-rich are going to a horse sale and they’re
saying how much is the horse worth okay that’s great but it’s worth more to me
for me to win this battle and the battle being the 62nd you know battle in the
auction and I remember standing there actually watching the horse sell for 8.2
million dollars the filly and saying to the trainer I was with there’s no way in
hell this horse is gonna be worth eight million dollars there’s there’s just no
way out there’s no exit strategy from a financial standpoint and at that point
it dawned on me that it wasn’t that the horse in question is going to be worth
the american pharoah phillies gonna be worth 8.2 million dollars or not it’s
were the combatants the two human people who were bidding on the horse
what was their ego worth to be able to stand there and say who was the under
bitter by the way um whose chief oh yeah I’ll shake mouth yeah but but needless
to say whether they get on the cover of a publication or not that’s really what
it came down to because unfortunately you’re you know there’s no guarantee the
horse is going to win a big enough race to be on the cover but it damn well will
when it leads you know the the is the topsail horse yeah and the thing I was
saying then we’re talking about this a little bit last week that and Bill was
saying that this is the the price of a dream everybody everybody’s got the
lottery ticket or whatever they have that dream that nothing is not
necessarily a sound investment but you have a goal in mind that you’re willing
to take a chance on and that’s that’s the case with these super rich people
and the thing is like like you say they get the headlines
now nobody remembers if these horses don’t turn out to be any good you know
there’s no there’s no follow-up story two years later to say hey this horse
sold for $5,000,000 why is it such a bad runner you know it’s kind of its kind of
forgotten over time and they get they get the press upfront and don’t really
have to deal with the ramifications later no question about it and the other
thing I noticed just a fly on the wall for the book one in book two is just
looking at the number of million-dollar horses and I know in 2018 it was 27 or
28 horses I think that were there were million-dollar horses and there were
only 22 this year yet the average of the sale went up so you say okay well why is
that well obviously the top end is continuing to drive it but what you’re
saying also is that the number of buyers at that and are partnering up and and
it’s almost like you know last call at the bar where you say okay well who can
I partner up with tonight you know to make it home and and you look at some of
these partnerships and you know China horse club has enough money to buy
anything they want but then same thing with magner and and
Pete Brant and repo League you know SF or all those guys they have enough money
where they could walk into any sale and buy any horse that they want it to but
strategically what they’re doing now is they’re partnering up with their with
their combatants and saying okay rather than us knock heads and Alan I bidding
on the same horse and and making the consignor and the owner of the horse
more money let’s pool our resources and as long as we can work together and
agree on a trainer we’re gonna go ahead and buy the horse and though and
therefore I’m getting rid of other combatants in there so the horse may
still sell for a lot of money but now it’s easier because it’s only 50 cent
dollars and they’re getting rid of some of their competition so it’s an
interesting strategy yeah and so can’t beat them join them kind of thing and is
there’s you know most of these most of these people want to unless you’re
buying a filly of course so most people want to be in the starting gate for the
Kentucky Derby and there’s only it’s only 20 stalls so you know if you’re
partnering up with a lot of people instead of competing with them directly
you give yourself a better percentage chance then they should be watching
those 16 maiden claimer cycle wanted to bring that up also just because of this
that we talked about a little bit last week by racing is kind of a meritocracy
in that way and that the horse doesn’t know how much they cost and once they
get on the racetrack they can either run or
can’t I think there was no better example of that than math wizard a
maximum security’s maiden claimer and math wizard being available three
different times for a claiming tag that makes it fun for everybody that it’s
great to get the splashy headlines with the big auction buys but and it doesn’t
amount to a hill of beans until they actually step on the track and and try
racing out and that’s that’s what keeps everyone coming back at all levels upper
middle and the bottom tier and one more observation just from the Keeneland
sales just to bring it up I went through and I’m a numbers guy so I went through
statistics and and trying to figure out what you know if there’s any patterns to
previous cycles and in 2009 the RNA percentage at Keeneland was 27% okay
this year for the same period of time that the book books three and four
anyone wanting to wager a guess as to what the RNA percentage was mmm it’s
gotta be lower 22 22 19 19 20 20 okay it was 26% so it
was almost exactly the same and other years though you guys would be right it
was under 20% for the other years so what do you what does that mean is that
is that really analogous to anything what it’s showing is that as we’re
reaching the you know climate of the climax of sales RNA numbers go up
because the you know people are putting more money into these horses therefore
they’re expecting to get more money out if they don’t get more money out at the
sale then you know then they’re they have to be willing to run them and it’s
just a cycle that you’re seeing now where are any numbers are starting to go
up because expectations are so high and you know my feeling just from a
financial standpoint is that things are going to start to curtail you know
coming into the horse industry okay any thoughts al no you know what John I
you’ve got more experience hands-on than I do I I would say just as an observer
of this for many years and 26% is not at the end of the day is not a horrible
playback rate and I think the sale and it just right around twenty four point
nine or 25% rnase on the whole you know people are sitting there their reserves
realistically and you know it prize money is good
people are maybe more willing to you know to buy back a horse and take it to
the tracks oh wow you know it’s hard to say it’s always an interesting dynamic
there’s no question about it and the only other thing that I would add to
that Alan and you’re exactly right is that you say okay well is there another
reason why the RNA numbers are different you know that than in previous years in
and I believe actually wasn’t in in tdn where the withdrawal rate for the sale
was actually higher by 5% than it’s been in the past couple of years so again
people are willing to say I’m gonna bring my horse to auction and if I’m not
getting the kind of action that I think I’m gonna get I’m gonna scratch rather
than RNA so I think where the RNA numbers might even be artificially
higher if you include the you know the number of withdrawals of horses that
came on to the sales grounds and didn’t actually go to the ring mm-hmm oh I mean
often times I find that the better or more interesting metric is to add the
outs and the RNAs and see what that percentage is as a ratio to the number
forces catalog I didn’t look at it John’s giving me a sheet of bands you
guys actually did it and that’s where I got my numbers from sighs the thing
about props so it is actually it increased from 15% to 19% the the amount
of withdrawals and if you add that to the 25% that you’re talking about now
it’s just to keep the math easy that that’s almost 40 in a little more than
40% 24% to the exact the forces that are either scratched or or rn8 and so this
is from our weekly sales ticker from the edition of the 24th in 2015 the
percentage of horses sold as a ratio to the number catalog was touching 66% this
year that number was 61.4% so I just I’ve always thought that was an
interesting way to Curtis you guys were actually putting those numbers together
that was really it opened my eyes we’re gonna shift gears now and start to look
towards this weekend big weekend erasing Santa Anita in Bell mind this is
something – honestly could have led the show but we’re Santa Anita opens Friday
and so that they released their veterinary team they got 7
Ariane’s doing pretty pretty extensive work and green-lighting horses to get on
the track some people might be in favor of that some people might think it’s a
little too cumbersome either way they are they are trying to do a positive PR
blitz I think ahead of this meat and then rightfully so because like it was
the last night or the night before that gavin newsom the governor of california
had a press conference and was asked about racing and basically said either
reform or die those were basically exactly okay there you go
say dangerously close to being out of business then he said I’ll tell you talk
about a sport whose time is up unless they reform I mean those are very very
strong comments from someone I don’t know obviously I don’t think the
governor can just signed a some sort of executive order just saying horse racing
is out of business but nonetheless the last guy in the state you want saying
those sort of things is the governor and it is the meet at Santa Anita you know
we’re gonna see all these graded stakes races this weekend we’re gonna see the
Breeders Cup coming up this meet the only thing that matters is safety that
that’s it and you know there’s no reason to
believe that we’ll have a repeat of what we had in the spring because I think
Santa Anita has done everything they possibly they could do to to make sure
that the racing is as safe as possible but there’s also the luck factor
involved too and God forbid if you know the first week of racing four or five
horses break down you know I can’t even imagine what that’s gonna mean for Santa
Anita in California racing in for rate horse racing in general or the single
breakdown I mean yeah yeah forget four or five yeah one horse the public and
the public at least with Santa Anita if not for racing and racing in general I
think has a zero-tolerance mindset now when it comes to that I wanted to talk
about the Breeders Cup specifically you know I’m gonna be out there covering the
Breeders Cup I hope this doesn’t get my credential revoked but
I was I was pretty surprised when they decided to keep the Breeders Cup there
after they met about it and I understand it’s a big event you know with tens of
thousands of people coming and it’s it’s hard to reroute that kind of thing you
know however long it was four or five months in advance but to me the problem
this is this is an optics problem you know this isn’t this isn’t you know
about this safety measure that safety measure or you know that’s the public
doesn’t care about any of that the question is gonna be and God forbid a
horse breaks down during the Breeders Cup because you know until the Derby
that’s the last time all eyes are gonna be on racing what is people are gonna
ask why did you run this event at this place where there were dead horses where
you were in the news for dead horses for months at a time and I don’t think the
Breeders Cup is gonna have a good answer for that and to me there was no you know
adequate explanation of why they were keeping the event there other than
logistics that’s the only one that I can think of so you know I’m hoping for the
best we’re all open for the best this is not gonna reflect well on our sport if
something bad happens but especially if you had a chance to move this away from
this kind of spotlight and didn’t and then something happens I mean god help
us mostly Joe could not disagree with you
more first of all the other option was Churchill Downs and the statistic came
out in the Louisville courier-journal the Churchill Downs was the second most
dangerous race it doesn’t know that the public knows about Santa Anita okay but
look a horse could break down at Churchill Downs as well and there’s
still maybe the firestorm would be slightly less than it was at Santa Anita
but Santa Anita more so than any other track most tracks are still just sitting
on their butts doing nothing absolutely nothing to solve this problem Delmar and
Santa need are leading the way at a great meet at Delmar when this track
bends over backwards and does everything possible to make racing safe how can you
take you they need to be rewarded for doing that now you’re right it’s a it’s
a horrible it’s a big our own risk but it just I don’t think
you say to a racetrack you got to go out and do everything you can hire all these
extra vets check out the horses before the workouts do this do this do this
through this oh thank you for doing that and oh by the way we’re taking the
Breeders Cup away from you I think would have been completely unfair to San Anita
and you know that they can they could hold the Breeders Cup with the Muskegon
fair and six horses could break down there too
and and it is like I understand what you’re saying the Fuhrer is going to be
worse at San Anita than other places and again we get into this a lot on this
podcast of what you know insiders like ourselves understand about the sport and
what Outsiders don’t and you’re right people are gonna say that that you know
this is the death racetrack why’d you let it run at this but I think it would
have been incredibly unfair to send Anita after what they did to try their
very very best to make horse racing safer there and and frankly I’m shocked
that more racetracks have have not followed suit we really don’t see anyone
else with a possible exception of Del Mar you know really doing the things
that Santa is doing in and I think these damn tracks better to start doing it
real quick because you know they’re gonna have a sandy like problem on their
hands too if they don’t start doing more we mentioned this last week and I agree
with what you’re saying that it wouldn’t technically be fair to Santa Anita but
the stuff that they’re doing is reactive and we talked about this last week the
difference versus action and reaction when it comes to these things so yeah I
commend Santa Anita and Del Mar for what they’re doing they’re doing a great job
by all me by all reports that they’re doing the best that they can to make
sure and minimize the level of breakdowns and injuries so I’m not
saying that they’re doing anything wrong right now I’m saying that this is a PR
crisis and I don’t think it makes sense when you have the option to run it to
run this event this worldwide championship event at a track that go
ask someone on the street if they’ve heard of Santa Anita and we ask them
what they’ve heard about it and I don’t think it makes sense if
there are other options to keep running it there and again it’s not because of
saying you know sending it could have just been bad luck everything that
happened at Santa Anita I’m not even suggesting that they did anything wrong
but to say that they’re like in stating reforms after the track but the entire
sport in the crosshairs because it couldn’t stop dead horses from dropping
left and right for six months like I don’t know that you were you necessarily
have to reward that you know what I mean it’s just the kind of thing this is a PR
crisis this is an optics crisis and I don’t think that just because now
they’re doing the right thing safety wise and they could have always been
doing the right thing safety wise like I said it could have just been bad look
but I just don’t think that’s a good enough reason to run the event there
that this they’re now doing all this stuff to to increase safety god bless
them and I’m happy that they’re doing it but this is an optics crisis this isn’t
about minutiae no III know exactly what you’re saying and I don’t necessarily
disagree with that but you know I’m gonna stick to my guns and it was ya
shouldn’t go and notice that the Breeders Cup board voted unanimously to
keep it at Santa Anita yeah you know I just I just don’t think they should have
been thrown under the bus on this one we’re just gonna have to agree to
disagree no and I’m not this isn’t this isn’t
like a personal thing against Santa Anita it’s just again like I think this
is about public the public impression at this point and I don’t think like I said
I don’t think they’re gonna have a good answer for why they kept the event there
if something bad happens and what happened at at Del Mar bundu does
anybody have a theory for why it was a clean meet is it was there something
magic in the mist off the Pacific Ocean John you’re the statistics expert aren’t
I mean you know just there aren’t there just Clausen statistics you know the
clusters of things happen that are out of the ordinary I mean remember what
happened at aqueduct six seven years ago that they had that problem there as well
well you know I’m not a racetrack expert you know some of the criticism of them
sealing the track and then beginning when they probably shouldn’t have been
racing is probably pretty valid but my guess is the the the main contributing
factor was bad luck and the main contributing factor at Del Mar who has
also had meets with with very high breakdown
rates was good luck but would a statistical person say about this no
you’re exactly right I mean everything’s gonna fall back to the the back of the
baseball card so if a hitter is hitting 400 the mean of the year but he’s a 200
hitter then eventually he’s gonna go over 40 and and the numbers will line up
again you know so just like you know if San Anita had at a quote unquote bad
statistical period and Del Mar had eight equally good statistical that the norm
is gonna be the same I think what a lot of people don’t hear about in the
business though they see it Joe to your point they see it on TV and they see a
horse break down and that’s tragic it is I’m not just saying that because as an
owner but just for the sport and as a human being you you feel you know that
empathy for you know for the for the athlete what a lot of people aren’t
seeing though also is that in the mornings horses break down you know not
just when they’re competing in the afternoon and and that’s the rural part
of the business is that it just happens unfortunately but I think that that San
Anita is doing everything in their power to try to rectify that situation and the
fact that Del Mar had such a clean quote/unquote clean period of time is
helping California Racing buddy you know Joe didn’t go back to your point it was
a logistics situation if Keeneland was offered the the Breeders Cup a year
earlier to swap it if Li they could do it in the hotel room something like that
I think they would have done that and then they would have said okay San Anita
were rewarding you for doing all these things to make the track safer and we’re
gonna have you be the premier for a year and we’re gonna hype it up and
everything like that here’s the one thing that I really worry about no
matter what San Anita does a horse will break down at the meat there’s just it’s
completely unavoidable and we got to the point where the animal rights activists
and maybe the American public at large and when that horse breaks down it’s
going to be on the front page of the sports section of the Los Angeles Times
it’s probably going to be reported on every six o’clock news report in Los
Angeles how close are we to the point where the American public PETA all these
other groups are going to say nope one too many the only number that
we accept is zero and if that is gonna become the mentality that is out there
whoa I don’t know what horse-racing is gonna do yeah I mean that’s that’s the
problem is that it becomes a fundamental argument for a lot of people that horses
shouldn’t be used for this purpose for entertainment for money for whatever a
lot of people don’t believe in domestication of animals really and you
know it to any point like a lot of people PETA people don’t believe in
having dogs or cats or you know the problem is with sanity to me is that
they’ve already led the animal rights activists in the discussion they’re
already at these CHR B meetings and asking all these questions and making a
stink and everything that happened during Santa Anita there was always we
always had to print the reaction from PETA or whatever so they’re already in
the discussion so it’s a good it’s a good question you raised Bill that and I
think they’ve been kind of evasive on whether or not zero is the only
acceptable number so it’s a good it’s a good debate to be had but the problem is
like at the same time I don’t want to you know kowtow to them and do
everything just to make the animal rights activist happy but they’re also
now in the discussion they’re now part of racing’s landscape I guess I would
say well let’s just hope it is zero is probably impossible but let’s hope for a
miracle or if not zero let’s just hope for as small a number as possible and
then you know if if in fact Santa Anita can have the kind of meat that Delmar
had it’s every day the story is gonna get a little bit quiet or a little bit
quieter and a little bit quieter and that’s what they need I think San Dena
benefited greatly from from Delmar where you know the news trucks just drove away
well nothing’s happening around in this place so you know if they would have had
a horrible meet at Del Mar that woulda just made things even worse for there
was a time where I used to be like really excited anytime iRacing story
broke through into the mainstream and now it’s like please don’t talk about
this could always be a drug story instead you know so last week what that
can do the Racing’s image as well but yeah we’re all knocked on would hear
that nothing goes wrong at this Antonina meat
especially at the breeders cup so we’ll just quickly talk about next weekend’s
races we are almost already touched on a little bit with code of honor the jockey
club Gold Club I think is the weekend headliner somehow there are only five
horses this isn’t the jockey club gold cup but it’s an interesting little field
he’s got Tacitus who I think has been knocking on the door of entering that
top three-year-old conversation this year but he just he doesn’t have the
great one win so at this point he’s kind of an afterthought code of honor
preservationist you know could make a late run for older male here he’s
obviously the worst of beaten here vino rosso and then a horse named olympic
village who i’ve never heard of but it’s ron pallucci Racing’s it’s a loose horse
oh yeah and we also got the the Belle Dame we have the pilgrim at Belmont we
got the Vosburg another six horse filled promises fulfilled Imperial hand friends
a fire so some star power there but but short group overall and we got the great
ones for two-year-olds it’s in I need a code of honor I agree with bill that
that’s the most interest interesting storyline this weekend is whether or not
he can tackle elders and it’s an interesting race because there’s no real
speed so it’s gonna become a real riders race but build anything you want that
stood out to you coming up this Saturday and Sundays yeah I’m really interested
in the Belle Dame because we’ve been talking so much about the three year old
championship but how about horse of the year right now bricks-and-mortar is is
the leader in the clubhouse he’s undefeated on the year and if he wins a
Breeders Cup race I assume he he would be horse of the year now it’s
interesting Chad Brown has yet to decide whether he’s going to go in the mile and
a half race of the mile the horse has never run beyond a mile on a quarter and
has won at a mile my guess is he’ll wind up in the mile and a half race but if if
bricks-and-mortar were to lose in the Breeders Cup
and if midnight beasts who can run the table isn’t she horse of the year yeah
and it’s interesting to have that discussion at this point that the horse
of the year is between the turf horse and their territories and a filly and I
know if that’s ever happened before but yeah there’s no math wizard you know
or the other maiden 16 claimants right back door I who is the horse advance
second in there we gotta go find it oh yes seriously John anything about this
weekend stick out to you the one thing that
stood out to me just not necessarily about the specific horses but just the
number of horses that are running in these when you’re in races so many of
the winning you’re in I mean the winning you’re in concept is phenomenal I know
as an owner that’s something that we shoot for as we’re mapping out you know
the the horses career path for the year racing path of the year but I was
astonished to see that there was a five and a six or seal for the other to win
and you’re in here on the East Coast and we’re so close to the Breeders Cup now
that you know does that mean that these other horses that have won earned enough
points they’re kind of you know just you glide into the Breeders Cup races and
and and not take that extra race or you know or is it just things are thinning
out because horses the Phillies are getting retired and or they’re going you
know just running it straight three-year-olds at this point to try to
get that last three-year-old grade one I don’t know what the answer is that you
know it’s it to that but I’m shocked as a as a fan of the sport I always like to
see eight ten twelve horses in the field and to see a five or six horse and I
know I pick on Lucci because you know because he’s always running a horse in
all these big races and usually it’s in our way there that versus usually in our
way but in this case in this field I actually you know think that it’s a good
idea to run a horse in there as the fifth horse because you never know
what’s gonna happen I don’t think he’s gonna win but you know you get second or
third in a race like that and that’s big dollars yeah I’ll open up a whole nother
can of worms and I don’t want to keep this podcast going for another 45
minutes but we also have the subject of there’s too much racing and not enough
horses as the full crop goes down and you know we don’t see you know I don’t
want to say the Beldame should go away or the jockey club go club should go
away but there’s just way too many of these preps you get the same situation
for the Kentucky Derby there’s just too many of these races and not enough good
horses to fill them and you know I and you know and unless we get that full
crop back up to 35,000 don’t see how that’s going to happen I
I think you’re gonna be seeing a lot more this John I think the the
Pennsylvania Derby has cannibalized the jockey club Gold Cup in a way since it
became a grade one specifically and and that’s a you know a case in point in the
breeding site just if I can go to that side of the industry as well I’ve been
told time and time again by Kentucky hardboots that unless your horse wins
agreed to don’t even bother sending the pedigree
down here to be a stallion prosper it’s just not the way it’s going to be done
and you know that you can you can stand the horse regionally that hasn’t won a
great two but for the most part you better win a grade one or a great two
and and I think that’s why you know so many these racetracks are trying to get
these grade one races you know on their on their venue because otherwise the
people just aren’t interested in running there if they have prosper standing of
broadway’s hmm and just to follow up on your point about the Breeders Cup win
here and I remember one that you first and stated that and I was like just
seems kind of redundant because every horse that wins these races gonna end up
at the Breeders Cup anyway but it does seem to be like a motivating factor
where if people are choosing between two similar races they’re gonna pick the
winning around but the big difference now is they pay your entry fee no
exactly I just didn’t item wasn’t sure like how much of a motivating factor
that would be but I guess it is yeah yeah and then you also get you get your
entry fee taking care if you also get $10,000 for expenses for travel expenses
which is you know which is great when you’re running in California I mean if
it’s if it’s here in New York or if it’s Kentucky you know it’s 500 bucks to fly
to it’s a bluegrass but for $10,000 you know to gala California that just about
covers you know all your expenses plus maybe a little bit extra for drinks and
a known extra curriculars yeah hope they don’t make you itemize it anything yeah
I mean we also have the Oklahoma derby this weekend with 9:30 on Sunday night
that’ll be fun yeah I’m closing okay so not that it’s attracted you know a good
terrific quality force but almost like tact is gonna end up in that race and
and like you said in terms of cannibalizing the Gold Cup there’s a he
also claimed as well it’s a year of the claimer yeah alright that’s it that’s it
for this week’s episode of the teen Ian writers room I want to thank Bill Finley
Allen Rosso and returning champion John Green
we hope you can join us a couple more times and we’ll see you next week all

1 thought on “TDN Writers’ Room Podcast, Episode 5: September 25, 2019

  1. Angle: I don't believe that horse racing's problem is that "we let [PETA] in". This is the same line of thought that lef the CHRB to withhold information from the public. The problem is that racing does nothing to counterpoint the characterization that PETA presents in that all involved are a bunch of mustache twirling monsters revelling in the abuse of equines. In past eras, we had horses that captured the imagination of the public, but because of the change in economics that leads what few truly talented horses that still exist to go directly to the breeding shed, that option has been extinguished. One would expect that a possible solution would be to present the good side of racing – sires frolicking in an open paddock with a coterie of mares, babies being born in clean, well-lit facilities, humans who have gained opportunities that never would have been available to them without the sport, et cetera. There are far more murderous industries in the US (think military?) that enjoy nothing but the utmost repsect from the US populace. It's amazing what a little marketing can do.

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