Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Instead of Kentucky Derby Blog...A 19 year old perspective

Instead of Kentucky Derby Blog

The link below contains the article that I will be discussing the blog post below.

For the last three years I have done a Kentucky Derby blog with an analysis of every horse, and at the end I made selections. I can tell you I like California Chrome to win, he is the best horse in the race and is an extremely exciting prospect. I like three horses; Intense Holiday, Ride on Curlin, and Commanding Curve to run in the money behind him.

This year is different. As a nineteen year old in the racing industry I felt a responsibility to share my opinion on the recent developments in the racing industry regarding Churchill Downs. At times, the Thoroughbred Industry can be too negative. I am not attempting to attack Churchill Downs. What I am trying to do, is provide a perspective from a young racing enthusiast, in the hopes of making drastic positive changes in the future. 

I have wanted to train racehorses since I learned how to say “I want to train racehorses.” I have always dreamt of one day hoisting the Kentucky Derby trophy above my head, and having a horse I trained and cared for winning the Run for the Roses. As I grew up and matured, I learned that the racing industry was not perfect, and until about a year ago I can firmly say I was in denial. As a young person with a passion for one thing and one thing only, I could not wrap my mind around the fact that there were so many problems in the sport I so dearly loved. I followed every single horse that ran in graded stakes racing with such focus that I never focused on industry issues. I celebrated Zenyatta but ignored drug violations.

This year I have a different perspective. My dream is still to put the Kentucky Derby trophy above my head, but I want it to be in a better sport, with better leadership. Recent letters by Rick Porter and Ron Turcotte in regards to the blatant disrespect Churchill Downs has shown them have infuriated me and I cannot help but share my opinion. 

 I was not alive when Secretariat crossed the finish line at Churchill Downs in 1973 with Ron Turcotte aboard, but that was one of the races I grew up watching. Secretariat is the most well known racehorse in North American history, and that would not be possible without Ron Turcotte. Many well respected members of the industry have not been surprised by the disrespect Churchill Downs has shown. This is the saddest aspect of the whole story. How is it not surprising that a legendary jockey in a WHEELCHAIR due to a racing accident is treated so poorly by Churchill Downs? Did everyone know that Churchill Downs was like this? Maybe it is my fault for not opening my ears and digging deeper, but I could not fathom this. Churchill Downs should not only be treating Run Turcotte up to par, but they should be treating Ron Turcotte like royalty. It appears that Ron Turcotte has done more for Churchill Downs than Churchill Downs has ever done for him. Last year, Ron Turcotte was not able to find a seat at Churchill Downs, instead he was stuck unable to watch a race he loved. And then I remembered seating was not the only issue, it was also parking. Churchill Downs would not provide free, or cheap parking (Ron Turcotte should NEVER have to pay for parking at a racetrack) to Ron Turcotte. One handicapping space should not be about affordability it should be about doing the right thing. 

Rick Porter opened up the conversation when he wrote an open letter to Churchill in which he stated that he could not get two seats, as an owner of a horse in a $300,000 race. The race is on the undercard of the Kentucky Oaks, and by itself this letter was infuriating. As someone who is trying to make my way in the industry, this kind of treatment towards owners is both disconcerting and scary. My future livelihood is going to rely on new and enthusiastic owners. If arguably the most well known track in the country is going to treat one of the most well known owners in the country with the disrespect shown to Mr. Porter by denying him two tickets, why would any owner consider getting involved in the sport?

What the NBA is going through right now, Donald Sterling's controversial and despicable comments are the biggest story in sports right now. The NBA has dealt with a potentially disastrous situation to its league's reputation but because of being one united league with a strong commissioner the NBA was able to ban that man from ever attending or participating in the NBA again. With the addition of a racing league or a commissioner, which so many within the industy are so desperately crying out for, racing would be better suited to deal with mishaps and crisis, like the NBA did, with strong leadership. 

The youth in racing is the future of racing; I believe in thoroughbred racing and its future, and I still believe in Churchill Downs. Churchill Downs is bigger and better than this sort of petty behavior, and if they take the necessary steps in the future, Churchill Downs has the ability to lead this industry in the right direction. 

Corbin Blumberg 
Freshman, University of Kentucky 
Equine Science and Management