03.17.12

Squires : “Luck”‘s Cancellation Obscures Thoroughbred Racing’s Biggest Problem

Posted in Horse Racing, The World Of Entertainment at 7:28 pm by

(your author)

Hey, Everybody! It’s been a while since your jerkface editor —- a man so disliked, he couldn’t secure an invite to Blogs With Balls with all the cocaine in Austin—- allowed me to bring my wit and wisdom to CSTB. And I sincerely wish he wouldn’t bother! While the rest of you are watching “Around The Horn” “Game Of Thrones”and pondering another night ALONE, I’m producing future generations of champions. I’m like the Marv Marinovich Billy Ray Cyrus of horses.

As you’ve probably read elsewhere, the euthanizing of a 3rd horse at Santa Anita during the filming of HBO’s “Luck” has led to the voluntary cancellation of the the David Milch/Michael Mann collaboration. Though I’ve been partial to the program (and not merely because it’s a pleasure to hear Rhys Chatham‘s music on television), I cannot argue with the New York Times’ Jim Squires who argues, “if the future of horse racing depends on the prevention of fractured skulls and broken leg bones, racing might as well shut down today. The fact is, the thoroughbred racing industry is not going to have any luck or much of a future until it quits turning a blind eye to its major problem — drugs.”

On the day “Luck” was canceled, the industry was again ballyhooing the return of “the sale horse” and the extraordinary profits connected with $500,000 and $800,000 prices being paid for horses at a Florida 2-year-old in training auction. Barely 24 months old and younger, these horses invariably had earned their value by running an eighth of a mile in 10 1/2 seconds or less, or a quarter-mile in 20 seconds and change. They did this after weeks of training for that one run down the track at speeds and levels of stress never again required for a successful racing career.

As is routine, some of them had probably already been inducted into a regimen of a diuretic and performance-enhancing drug known to leach calcium out their bones every time it is administered, even though a horse’s bones do not mature until age 6.

Because of unsoundness, Animal Kingdom, the winner of the 2011 Derby, has run only one allowance race since, and this week he was benched again for at least three months while he recovers from a stress fracture. Already this year some of the most promising young aspirants for the 2012 Triple Crown have been sidelined by stress fractures. And there by the wayside along with them are all the reform efforts to curtail the industry’s obsession with speed.

It is a shame that Milch, a knowledgeable horse owner who loves the game, and the impressive cadre of expert advisers he had assembled, didn’t get far enough along to deal with the drug issue, along with a few other horror stories that need telling. Then there would be less mystery about why our retired racehorses can’t even stand the stress of a short movie run and a greater understanding of why things need to be changed.

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