A BloodHorse article Monday is noteworthy not for its focus – synthetic track surfaces, which as ever is but a distraction – rather for the growing realization among racing people that the proverbial clock is ticking. My favorite is this from Jeff Platt, president of the Horseplayers Association of North America:
“I have friends who are not horseplayers. A very close friend of mine told me, ‘How do you reconcile horse deaths at Churchill Downs? How are you any different than Michael Vick supporting dog fighting?’ … It stings a little bit, and how do you reconcile that? Look at what happened to dog racing. They got it on the ballot and it had no chance. In any state in the U.S., a guy like me would be vastly outnumbered by everybody else.”
There was also this from Bill Casner, former chairman of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association:
“Churchill is the pivot because of the Kentucky Derby. There has been a resistance by the traditionalists to change that surface because it’s always been dirt. (But) What does that matter if the Kentucky Derby goes away, which it very well could? There was a bill introduced in California to ban horse racing. It didn’t gain traction at that time, but that you even have that kind of dialogue is terrifying.”
One man’s terrifying is another’s encouraging. Unrelenting pressure, folks.