As you watch the Kentucky Derby this weekend, you’ll see all of the pageantry and excitement of the largest horse race in the world taking place in front of hundreds of thousands of screaming fans. But don’t let that fool you: Almost all of those fans are there for the spectacle of race day more than the actual race itself (and also there to get plowed on mint juleps and puke in the infield). In truth, horse racing is in a deep decline that is starting to look like a death spiral more and more every day.
Case in point: Hollywood Park in Los Angeles is one of the most famous tracks in the country, and is currently in the middle of its spring 2009 meet. But for the first time in its history, the LOS ANGELES TIMES said it had to cancel racing today because there weren’t enough horses to fill the field. Apparently, Sarah Jessica Parker wasn’t available to help fill out the vacancies either. She probably would have gone off at 12:1 odds for the fifth race.
While the entire human population of the world is freaking out about a possible swine flu pandemic, this is a scary time for the animal kingdom as well. Just last week, 21 polo horses dropped dead in Florida due to a medication mixup. The other day, 38 assorted animals died in a fire at a California wildlife refuge. If you’re an animal, especially a horse, watching the news as of late has got to be depressing indeed.
Leave it to Major League Baseball’s old and tired leadership to open half of the league’s games in cold climates, many of which will force postponements during the very first week of the season. While the proud and downtrodden denizens of Philadelphia should be have been celebrating the first professional sports crown in the city of brotherly love for decades, they instead found some of their press stolen because of a cancellation of the season opener between the White Sox and Royalsa day before the game was scheduled to be played!
That’s right folks, it’s baseball season, and it’s snowing in Chicago.
It’s ludicrous that a professional sports league that employs as many marketing consultants as locker room attendees could sign off on a plan designed to wreak havoc on the schedule year after year.
There’s a simple solution to avoid the annual cancellations, travel headaches and furious dispossesed fan bases: Play the entire first two weeks of the season in markets that are either: A) on the West coast, B) below the Mason-Dixon line or C) have domed stadiums. Stop kowtowing to the need for a New York opener and season-starting series in places like Cleveland and Chicago, and the season might actually work the way it’s supposed to on paper.
Of course, there’s never any weather-related problems in basketball, but there are plenty of crowd issues when the basketball is being played by women. If you tuned into the NCAA Women’s Final Four last night, ESPN would like to hear from you (they don’t believe the Nielsen ratings could possibly be that low) and Courtney Paris would like to apologize for crying so much the tears started flowing out of your screen.
That’s a shame. After all, when’s the next time an NFL great will have twin daughters playing in a Final Four, one of whom has an impulsively gregarious moment that costs him $64,000? When’s the next time we’re going to get to see that face? Priceless folks, priceless.
Somehow, despite the odds and ethical questions, a 19-year-old jockey is on the verge of competing in his horse racing’s signature event. If that doesn’t seem stunning enough, this is: Joe Talamo has already earned some $4 million en route to spitting range of his ultimate goal: the Kentucky Derby.
What’s even more amazing about Talomo, as first exposed by LAIST, are hisTwitter updates. For instance, check out these recent inputs from the rider of derby contender “I Want Revenge”.
“30 til derby: Am at Santa Anita. Worked out 3 horses this morning…Right Round by Flo Rida is my song of the day. Big month ahead,”
“30 til derby: just got home from dinner at the ivy and tim’s show. great night! going to bed. gotta wake up early”
“29 til derby: Working a couple more horses after the break. Then filming a scene at Clocker’s Corner for Jockeys. LA Times interview at 10.”
Hmmm, tough life you got there kid. Now, about that L.A. TIMES interview. Would you prefer a Bill Plaschke kiss up, or a clueless T.J. Simers job? Your choice.
The Derby was marked with joy and sadness yesterday–almost simultaneously. As the celebration for Big Brown’s victory began, fans noticed that filly Eight Belles (finished second) had pulled a Dan Jansen and fallen to the track.
When the veterinary staff came to the scene, they realized how gruesome her injuries were. Read more…
Jose Lambiet of the PALM BEACH POST reports that the rock legend paid $200,000 to Florida horseman Todd Minikus, after reneging on a deal to buy a steed for Bruce’s 15-year-old daughter, Jennifer.
Minikus took Springsteen to court when the Boss didn’t go through with the $850,000 purchase of 10-year-old gelding Pavarotti. But the Springsteens apparently were put off by the horse’s poor showing at the Pan American Games, and decided Pavarotti wasn’t going to help Jennifer’s fledgling equestrian career.
A source close to the settlement said that the Boss “doesn’t have much of a stomach for a legal battle. He’s not a fighter.”