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View Full Version : Post-Preakness: racing's image, crisis PR 101



Glimmerglass
May. 23, 2006, 12:42 PM
In the last 72-hours we all can see there is almost an unprecedented amount of mainstream media coverage on the condition and efforts to save Barbaro's life. From it being a key story through today on the big-three news networks evening news and news magazines (e.g., Nightline last evening) to the infotainment morning shows (Today and GMA) to the local affiliate news programs. Tons of electronic news coverage and print media too.

So far it’s largely been focused on Barbaro with prior noted breakdowns - largely those with far less happy endings - added in for historical perspective.

Now the challenge is countering the seemingly more vocal and common anti-wealth and anti-racing feeling from those who likely never watched racing much if at all. People who likely never knew simple things like that the Derby, Preakness and Belmont are different distances and/or that there are standard assigned weights to each horse. Let alone grasp the skill required for a horse to get to the level of any TC race.

These dissidents in the public hear how much Barbaro could've fetched in the breeding shed and call it a rich man's game (of course ignoring that all NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB players are all millionaires after one season) ...

This article I'm sure is just one of many that openly speculates the further woes to be lobed upon racing. This ignores the fact that racing has enjoyed some massive crowd growth in recent years and decent tv ratings. I do feel for ABC/ESPN for what will be a tough sell with the Belmont and making it a must seen event this year.

Just curious, but if you had to now market the sport in this immediate time of image crisis management what would you do? I'm not looking answers of ‘increased testing, expansion of regulations’, etc type of suggestions as those really are more NTRA and JC issues which will be addressed as needed. Rather I’m curious from a PR/marketing respect with the sports image to preserve what it had gained in public interest and maybe even come out of this black eye with gained fans. A tough challenge but oddly this is a sport that looked to the tale of Seabiscuit – an injured horse with a comeback story – on the big screen to boost the sport. The feeling then was to make people appreciate horses as not machines but as humanized athletes … something clearly Barbaro brought to light again.

A related article: Baltimore Sun 5-23-06 "Barbaro's injury may be too much for racing to bear" (http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/bal-sp.steele23may23,0,6185691.column?coll=bal-home-columnists)


Barbaro's injury may be too much for racing to bear
Originally published May 23, 2006
David Steele - Baltimore Sun

The question being asked about thoroughbred racing in America right now sounds familiar. But it's a little different. Thus, so is the answer.

It's sort of like the question of whether baseball would recover from the labor stoppage in 1994-1995, or if the NBA would suffer after the brawl in the stands in Auburn Hills, Mich., in 2004, or if the NFL could withstand a future Super Bowl Most Valuable Player being tried for murder.

But those sports aren't going anywhere. Racing was in deep trouble long before the opening moments of the Preakness on Saturday. Since then, a cruel reality has set in that far transcends mere "trouble," a reality the guardians of the sport don't have the strength or motivation to dispute.

Even if Barbaro doesn't die from his injuries, racing might.

Every sport at some point wrestles with a perception problem; being strong enough to withstand it often determines how much it becomes part of the fabric. The negative perceptions that arose from this incident are showing signs of being too much for racing to overcome.

From all directions come factors that create an image of a sport in which the needless, senseless death of an animal that didn't choose this fate, is a distinct possibility every time the gates open.

If millions of people never consciously thought about that before, they're thinking hard about it now.

But, one could say, is it too early to say the last rites over a sport with such a long, rich history? Auto racing has survived horrifying incidents borne of the nature of the game. So has boxing, countless times. Horse racing should be able to as well. Right?

Not from the sound of those most closely tied to it. Of all people, they would keep their chins up and their eyes on the future. Few, if any, have been able to ignore what is unfolding in front of them, in the wake of the sport's defining moment for this generation.

No less a figure than Nick Zito, as recognizable a face as there is in the business, has compared Barbaro's still-possibly-fatal injury to Hurricane Katrina. In that vein, racing might have to describe its lifespan as pre-Barbaro and post-Barbaro. The name is destined to be synonymous with disaster.

The morning after the race, as he prepared to leave Pimlico, Zito painted a grim picture. "I guess I'm a 100-percent fan of racing. I love the game, and but for racing, I don't know where I'd be," he said, as reported on the Preakness' official Web site. "It's a sad day for racing. Once again, it casts a shadow on the game. That's the last thing racing needs.

"The whole story [of the race], unfortunately, was what happened, and it's part of our business."

It's not Zito's fault, but it's hardly the kind of public relations racing needs. Nor does it help that in almost every paper in the country this week, somewhere close to the list of Preakness winners, was a list of horses that have had fatal injuries in major races. Ruffian. Go For Wand. Charismatic. Prairie Bayou.

Not much about Secretariat or Smarty Jones anymore. That's the story of the sport right now, tragedy and heartbreak.

The problems in racing, the reasons the industry is struggling, have all been well-documented. But until Saturday, that's all they were, impediments that kept a little sport from getting big.

Now, the sport has to worry about going away completely. Good luck to ABC and the Disney dynasty, with all its synergistic power, getting people to watch the Belmont next month. The casual fan will be voting on the sport with its clickers. Any other year, even if Barbaro had been denied the Triple Crown under normal conditions, the Belmont might get a quick peek. The peekers of past years are the conscious avoiders of today.

The hardcore fans, meanwhile, are enraged. Just as the mistrust and the negative perception comes from all corners, so does the anger.

Some is directed at whoever decided to let Barbaro get back in the gate so quickly after breaking through early. "What idiots!" one emailer to The Sun wrote yesterday. "There is a lot of cover-up going on here and it is sad." There's a term that bodes poorly for the sport, "cover-up."

Others are sure that the time between Triple Crown races is too short for the horses to recover, and that there aren't enough good reasons to keep the time the same except to give the sport and its television partners a compact window to conduct its showcase event.

The breeding and training of horses today has come under fire; some say the allure of fast money comes at the cost of the animal's durability, or its life. Others are appalled at the cost of repairing Barbaro, strictly because of the investment made in him.

In fact, the more the discussion turns to money, the more one senses that an unbridgeable gap is growing between the sport's hierarchy and its potential supporters.

So in the face of all of this, how does horse racing survive? How good is its damage control at what has to be its lowest moment ever?

Those are the questions. But those who have to answer them might soon find out that some damage just can't be controlled.

Merry
May. 23, 2006, 12:54 PM
Of course I'm scrambling for my notes here, after something I wrote up the other day... But I believe the stats for TV viewership were already pretty dismal before Barbaro's tragedy. The Kentucky Derby was down 10% in ratings from last year and the Preakness-- which traditionally has far fewer viewers than the Derby-- was down over 3%. Now add to these weak ratings the gut-wrenching spectacle of poor Barbaro, and any TV ad executive knows that watching horse racing is not exactly how the average TV viewer wants to spend their Saturday afternoon. No ad revenue = No Major TV coverage.

And that's just the TV audience.

Other than die-hard racing fans, how many people will now choose not to attend racing, for fear of being witness to a horse breaking down? The colorful, glamorous side of racing is easy to behold. Some of the grim realities? Not so much.

Slewdledo
May. 23, 2006, 01:08 PM
I watched the Preakness at home on Saturday but went to the track on Sunday as one of "my" horses was running. At first, the crowd looked sparse to me. And it was, really, compared to the other days when I've been out so far this season. But I was walking across the track apron and there was a little boy with a ticket in his hand, excitedly running over to the winners' circle because his father had just told him that's where the winning horse would be. Obviously it was the kid's first time to the races and he was clearly having a ball. It made me smile.

On the local level, I think that in most places, racing is doing wonderfully well. There was a HUGE Mother's Day crowd at the local track. On the national level, not so well. After retirement, horses are forgotten about. If Barbaro continues to do well, or even if he doesn't, one day he'll be the answer to a trivia question on some game show. But he's going to fade from the public consciousness, the same as Smarty Jones has.

I think Barbaro's breakdown has actually caused an overreaction as far as "tarnishing" racing's image. Until the top horses run over several years with consistent success, national interest in racing will remain low. That certainly doesn't mean people can't go out to their local track and find a hero to cheer on for the whole season. If you live in the Seattle area, I can make several suggestions, in fact. :winkgrin:

StrawberryFelidos
May. 23, 2006, 01:30 PM
I'm pretty sure that racing is not going to "die" any time soon, considering how many horses are being bred daily to accomodate the sport, how many tracks (even very small ones in Nebraska and Arizona and Missouri) are still running, etc. Plus, there's the support of those extremely rich dudes who keep us afloat at the higher levels- we owe a lot to rich dudes as well as to the average horse worker, breeder, etc. :yes:

It's hard to promote interest in a sport when you know that, at any single moment, a publicized race could be marred by a severe breakdown and appal/lose many of the fans they have worked so hard to gain. I don't have an answer to solving this problem, other than by increasing safety measures and trying as hard as possible to decrease the possibility of tragic accident. Which is not the TV broadcaster's job, it's the Jockey Club and other officials' job.

All in all, racing is a very "niche" kind of sport, not a mainstream, and I don't think there's any real changing that. But if Putt Putt playoffs can survive, and ESPN can take timne out of their schedule to showcase guys rolling in mud and scaling foam walls (what in god's name was that sport?) then I have no doubt that they will still find time for racing :lol:

StrawberryFelidos
May. 23, 2006, 01:34 PM
By the way, that article is just depressing as heck :no: I can't even stand to read it... the average "gloom and doom" of sensational journalism... bleah.

msrobin
May. 23, 2006, 01:57 PM
In regard to the article I have and always will believe that the horses are started and raced way too early.
Racing has had it's share of "accidents" how many of those so called accidents do we not hear about ? I would say 99% to the average non track worker.
There has got to be some change in the racing world. We cannot as a family of horse lovers allow for these things to happen.

It is possible that Barbaros breaking down was a true accident , however he was still very young as they all are. Something needs to change and after Barbaro I think it will.
Fans of racing do not want to see this. This shows in the tv ratings , track attendance etc.

This site below has many good articles you may wanna check out.
http://www.twincities.com/mld/dfw/sports/horse_racing/

War Admiral
May. 23, 2006, 02:01 PM
Here's an interesting stat: a poll on MSN (not sure if link will work b/c I think you have to vote first, but here it is: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12916472/ ) as to whether racing is animal cruelty still shows 65% feel it's a worthy sport despite the tragedies that occur.

merry98
May. 23, 2006, 02:11 PM
re poster who wrote: "Until the top horses run over several years with consistent success, national interest in racing will remain low." See story in Philly DN by Dick Jerardi. Goes to the point.

Glimmerglass
May. 23, 2006, 02:33 PM
As I said I am still curious what people think it will require to "right the ship", so to speak, back on course to retain what had been a renewed interest in horse racing.

To ensure that NBC, for example, next year doesn't chop the Derby down to a half-hour program, etc.

Agreed that a few years of champion horses that last beyond the TC chase (Smarty didn't, Alex didn't, Barbaro won't) is one of those critical missing elements. Funny Cide is still popular despite the spotty record since his quest for imortality.

merry98 cited an article in the PA DN by Rich Hofmann: is this it? Hofmann: Racing brings up the rear in safety, Penn Daily News (http://www.philly.com/mld/dailynews/14645236.htm) ?

Certainly TV is a big partner in broadening the sport so they have an interest and responsibility in managing the reputation.

Per this article NYTs 5-23-06 "Breakdown Echoes in Broadcasts of Past Stumbles" (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/23/sports/othersports/23sandomir.html?_r=1&oref=slogin), the morning after kudos to NBC for its coverage seem to be giving way to detractors. It isn't helped by their own staff:


Stevens said he felt the pain more acutely as an analyst for NBC than he did when he was a jockey and would hear horses' bones snap every week. "I think our sport makes us a little cold to it," he said by telephone. He said seeing the grief of Edgar Prado, Barbaro's jockey, "made me feel emotions I hadn't experienced for so many months."

He criticized NBC for showing too many replays of Barbaro's breakdown.

"It reminded me of when they showed Joe Theismann break his leg on 'Monday Night Football,' " he said. "It was grotesque."

When asked if he was repulsed at a lengthy shot of Barbaro raising and lowering his broken ankle, Stevens said angrily: "You saw it. Don't make me be graphic."

So should NBC have been blaise about the breakdown and simply suggest "life goes on" and focus on Bernardini and the victory? I think NBC myself did an admirable job with covering the situation, keeping fans informed and did not exploit the footage. What affiliate stations have done since as well as other media outlets is out of NBC Sport's control.

Sandbarhorse
May. 23, 2006, 02:41 PM
horses that have had fatal injuries in major races. Ruffian. Go For Wand. Charismatic. Prairie Bayou.

Not at all making light of the situation or what happened to Barbaro or any of these horses, but I just have to ask: Has anyone told Charismatic that he had a fatal injury? :winkgrin:

I enjoy horse racing and I think most of the horses do too. But, i am not familiar enough with the sport to know what percentage of horses running on any given day break down, on average. Anyone?

Slewdledo
May. 23, 2006, 02:45 PM
Breakdowns are much more likely to occur during morning exercise than in races. Barbaro's breakdown, I believe, was either the first or second in a race at Pimlico this meet.

I have seen one race breakdown at the local track thus far. Breakdowns haven't been kind to the Breeders' Cup the last few years - Spanish Fern, Funfair, Landseer.

lizathenag
May. 23, 2006, 02:47 PM
I have been to the track the last few times that Lost in the Fog has raced and there were lots of people having fun.

I also had the fun of taking my nephew to the track for the first time. He picked winners in the first three races and was ready to quit 1st grade and become a professional gambler.

For my partner's 50th birthday I did a day at the track for a bunch of friends (who had never been to the track) and we got a race and a winner's circle photo and in general a good time was had by all.

But I am not quite ready to own a racehorse.

War Admiral
May. 23, 2006, 02:47 PM
Well, another article on the MSN horse racing site quoted a marketing exec as stating that "The TV audience for horse racing skews female, unlike any other sport."

I think that's how TV is going to have to sell it... Seems like a no-brainer to me.

Anne FS
May. 23, 2006, 02:56 PM
http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/14645235.htm

People are just getting tired of the breakdowns of the best. Andrew Beyer of The Washington Post also ran a column the other day (as he does periodically) on how TBs just ain't what they used to be and it's unfair to them to pretend they are.

flshgordon
May. 23, 2006, 02:57 PM
As a racing outsider but longtime lurker on this board, I'll put in my $.02 worth on your question.

I'm probably a bit different than the opinion you wanted because I already own 3 horses (one exracer) so I probably think differently about this than the average TV race fan. But what would spur me to become more interested in racing would be to showcase the good things trainers/owners/jockeys/associations do for their retirees. Organizations like Canter and the Exceller Fund as well as local TB retirement foundations....spotlight them during all that run up time (Geez I think ESPN had 4 hours of coverage before the 1.5 hour primetime coverage). Horse owners know about these things, the average "tune in on race day" types may not. There are a lot of really caring owners & trainers out there who really are concerned about the lives their TBs have after racing and it seems to me the public should know more about it. Especially to combat the all the "rich people" stories, etc. It should be a mainstream thing. The way many of these people care about their horses should be in the primetime coverage when the average Joe is watching, not buried in some ESPN2 special. The more the average person hears about what is/can be done for these horses, perhaps they will be encouraged to learn more, become a donor, become a volunteer or even a horse owner for one of these lucky animals. Then maybe the big time owners will donate more seeing that this is what the public wants.

I know it's all kind of idealistic, but playing the stories of the rich and privileged becoming more rich and privileged before each major race isn't going to bring in more fans so maybe it's time to try a different approach. Who knows, maybe if someone involved in the inner workings of things could offer a major stakes race for older horses that pays big money....something people could strive for

War Admiral
May. 23, 2006, 03:04 PM
http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/14645235.htm

People are just getting tired of the breakdowns of the best. Andrew Beyer of The Washington Post also ran a column the other day (as he does periodically) on how TBs just ain't what they used to be and it's unfair to them to pretend they are.

Good Lord Almighty, what an ignorant article!! :rolleyes:

luvmytbs
May. 23, 2006, 03:06 PM
In regard to the article I have and always will believe that the horses are started and raced way too early.
There has got to be some change in the racing world. We cannot as a family of horse lovers allow for these things to happen.

It is possible that Barbaros breaking down was a true accident , however he was still very young as they all are. Something needs to change and after Barbaro I think it will.


This is such a valid point. There are a lot of trainers/owners who would agree that 2yo's do not need to race or even be in training.

However the mighty dollar dictates a quick turn around for your investment. Most do not want to wait another year to see their dollars roll in (if they do).

However, I am hoping that this incident will encourage everybody to look at the long term benefit of horses starting their racing careers later in life.

If you do the math, you could actually end up making more money, as your horse will most likely last longer. But these bigtime races would need to be rewritten according to the age problem.

Dressage Art
May. 23, 2006, 03:11 PM
"Even if Barbaro doesn't die from his injuries, racing might"

That is a bit of a overkill. Horse racing is the largest horse sport and if it can "die" so fast - what will happen to 3 Day eventing or Jumping (Superman?) where horses and people get injured also?

saratoga
May. 23, 2006, 03:16 PM
I enjoy horse racing and I think most of the horses do too. But, i am not familiar enough with the sport to know what percentage of horses running on any given day break down, on average. Anyone?

I seem to recall reading several years ago that the statistics was about 1 in 1000 starters at the NYRA tracks was a catastrophic injury. If you figure there are 9 races a day, with say 9 horses in each, that would be one breakdown in about 12 days of racing. That sounds about right, off the top of my head. Of course, that doesn't include the ones that break down in the mornings.

It was intersting reading Gary Stevens saying how people on the track get cold to hearing horses' bones snap. OF course, you would have to, seeing it so often, but most people wouldn't admit it and it was a very honest reply.

Glimmerglass
May. 23, 2006, 03:20 PM
http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/14645235.htm

Whoa!


While we are changing things, get rid of the mile-and-a-half Belmont. Like the 2 weeks, 3 weeks, that is another thing that is never done anymore - except in one race. It's just stupid. The sport has changed. Make the Belmont a mile and a quarter.

Damn I guess the Breeders' Cup Classic at 1 1/2 mi forgot the memo! Also, hey you turf horses stop running past 1 1/4 mi ... you're making the dirt horses and that author look bad :)


It's just stupid

:)

Of course the Belmont stakes was from 1867 - 1873 and then 1896 - 1925 run at 1 5/8th miles and its first running was won by the filly, Ruthless, then later by Tonya in 1905. I guess the boys of today just aren't as tough as the gals were back in the day.

saratoga
May. 23, 2006, 03:29 PM
Whoa!
Damn I guess the Breeders' Cup Classic at 1 1/2 mi forgot the memo!

.


Isn't the BC Classic 1 1/4 miles?

Glimmerglass
May. 23, 2006, 03:33 PM
Isn't the BC Classic 1 1/4 miles?

Doh! Corrected: [b]Breeders' Cup Turf @ 1 1/2[/url]

Drvmb1ggl3
May. 23, 2006, 03:50 PM
While we are changing things, get rid of the mile-and-a-half Belmont. Like the 2 weeks, 3 weeks, that is another thing that is never done anymore - except in one race. It's just stupid. The sport has changed. Make the Belmont a mile and a quarter. (http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/14645235.htm)

You have to wonder about dumbasses like that, do they live in a vaccum? Have they honestly never heard of the likes of the Melbourne Cup, Ascot Gold Cup, St Leger, the Arc, Japan Cup etc etc. If horses can run 2miles in Australia for a purse of $4.5m, without breaking down, surely the china dolls on the TC circuit can stretch out to a 1½m.

Slewdledo
May. 23, 2006, 03:54 PM
Hey, the guy is a Daily Racing Form columnist as well.

Hopeful Hunter
May. 23, 2006, 04:00 PM
I think there is a lot of legitimacy in asking what Barbaro means for Racing.

We were asking the question already, in a much happier form, true, before he broke down. But now I think the industry needs to very honestly look at itself and carefully evaluate this moment.

I'm not "in" the racing industry, but I'm an OTTB owner. My farrier shoes for Bonita Farms, and my vet does a lot of work for them and Country Life, so I hear about it a lot.

First, there ARE great "stories" in racing - stories of salvation, stories of triumph, stories of determination. I thought the profiles they ran before The Preakness were just the ticket -- PERSONALIZE this already! Not with shots of the latest sheik's stable, but with tales of Alex's Lemonade Stand, of the sorta regular guys who pooled their money and bought Funny Cide - tales of people that the average person could imagine knowing, if not being.

Second, acknowledge the risk. Horses DO break down, but this is not the ONLY sport in which that happens. Heck, NASCAR kills humans, and football and hockey do some serious injury, too. But racing has always seemed to me to want to sweep that under the rug. I'm NOT saying to trumpet it, but I am saying to acknowledge it, and - this is the important bit - be ready to counter it with information on care, treatment, post-race-career lives of horses (injured and not), etc.

Third, outreach. This is one that's desperately needed, but not done. I tried to contact the DeFrancis crew at MD Jockey Club some years ago about marketing racing, and tried again when Magna took over, but to no avail. Racing needs to market itself as an affordable, fun, family activity. It needs to educate people. Let's face it - most young girls are horse nuts. And most parents haven't got a clue about horses, but they probably know the things race.

Imagine if the local track could reach out to those families, invite them to come, offer education on racehorses AND other equine activities in the area (with a focus,'natch, on those that use "recycled" racers - heck, I'm sure a simple plea to the local horse community for pix of ex-racers in new jobs and brief descriptions would get them a billboard full of locals!). Provide information, talk about life before, during and after racing. Talk, yes, about injuries, and how most of the horses go on to productive lives. Provide links to positive websites on current and ex-racers.

HAVE a website! Tracks and local Jockey Clubs should have fun, usable websites, ideally with free links to local horse organizations. Reach out to local business groups to host networking events, with teaching sessions on how to bet, a pat the pony ring, etc. Develop a speakers bureau of area breeders and trainers who can present to schools and groups on topics of general motivation that use the horses to illustrate the moral.

It's NOT rocket science, as I say on my website. But it will take looking at the sport differently, and opening it up a bit to outside eyes. People will have to join hands and play together, and they'll need to do it soon.

If racing becomes a resource and a part of the community, it can not just survive, but thrive.

Barnfairy
May. 23, 2006, 04:06 PM
Many people don't realize that this kind of injury could happen to any horse. Fractures are not unique to racehorses. Furthermore, fractures that are as complex as Barbaro's are not common, even amongst racehorses.

The trouble is, when a high-profile horse like Barbaro breaks down, everybody hears about it. Would people question the ethics of turning a horse out to pasture if they found out that little Suzy So-and-so's pleasure horse down the road broke a leg while playing at turnout and had to be put down?

I'd focus on highlighting the good that comes from the racing industry, such as the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation (http://www.grayson-jockeyclub.org/), and how breakthroughs in treating thoroughbred athletes ulitmately benefit ALL horses.

Daydream Believer
May. 23, 2006, 04:12 PM
Well, eventing has had it's share of image problems also. During the Barcelona Olympics, NBC showed fall after crashing fall (and few successful Jumps) in a sensationalist clip and expounded on one horse that died during XC from Russia or (some country not heavily involved in the sport). It was that event and the public outcry that has led to many many changes in the sport geared to horse welfare... For instance, 1st fall of horse is mandatory retirement, etc.... For many years, riders could remount and go on if their horses were OK to try and help rebuild the confidence of the horse after a fall. Not anymore. The sport has become very different in a short time from what it used to be.

Eventing is now short format at the olympics...yet another response to the grueling XC day and the horses injured. Many feel like it is the deathknell of the ultimate test of the horse...the full 3 Day Event and the last mainstay of the TB in sport (non racing) surrenders to the WB now that endurance is no longer so important. To think that horse racing is immune to public outcry or opinion just because it's been this way forever is very naive. I think some positive changes could be made in racing to really help the image and most of those are centered around the welfare of the horses who have no choice in being there unlike people who participate in high risk sports.

My personal perception as an outsider also...correct or incorrect...is that racing is way harder proportionately on horses than any other discipline in sheer numbers of horses injured permanently and retired as well as those destroyed due to the injuries/breakdowns. I think if horses were at least not raced until 3, (note I say raced, not trained) you'd probably see a lot more horses lasting a lot longer.

The last race I watched was Smarty Jones in the Belmont and my dissappointment at the letdown over him not winning that damn race to a fresh horse was so great due to all the hype leading up to it, that I just can't get excited anymore about the next supposed wonder horse like Barbaro.

Barnfairy
May. 23, 2006, 04:14 PM
Check out some of the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation's achievements:

http://www.grayson-jockeyclub.org/grantsDisplay.asp?section=5

What Our Research Accomplishes

Since 1940 funded research has resulted in the following:


The first vaccine for equine influenza, which allowed some control of race track cough.
Identified the cause of virus abortion and led to the vaccine for that malady.
Defined many aspects of passive immunity in foals.
Enhanced understanding of basic aspects of Equine Infectious Anemia (the disease for which Coggins Tests became mandatory).
Led to development of the field of biomechanics in horses.
Defined the cause of Colitis X.
Control of the Shaker Foal Syndrome.
Defined the nature of the Wobbler Syndrome.
Developed vaccine for Equine Viral Arteritis.
Corrected assumptions about the actual cause of abortion in placentitis cases.
Verified dosages of Xylazine as an efficient tranquilizer for horses injured during high exercise.
Quantified the increased risk of injury from use of front toe grabs.
Increased understanding of various aspects of Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis.
Facilitated improvements in protecting soundness and repairing injuries.
Current and recent projects have and are addressing such subjects as:

Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome.
Use of serum markers to detect impending injury to bone and joint.
Improved immunities through DNA vaccination.
Clearer understanding of equine gastric ulcers.
Solving the Laminitis puzzle.
Refinement of knowledge regarding safer horseshoes and the horse/racetrack interface.
Use of stem cells for cartilage repair.
Gene therapy for Equine Arthritis.
Factors involved in Vesticular Stomatitis in horses.
Details of cause and diagnosis of placentitis in mares.
New approaches to vaccination against R. equi pneumonia.
Muscular factors influencing size of airway in exercising horses.
Dietary implications for colon impaction.
Studies of immunity to EPM.
Thoroughbred or grade pony, these are advances that benefit all our horses!

aahunterjumper
May. 23, 2006, 05:04 PM
Good questions Glimmerglass!

I'm more marketing than PR, but if the Jockey Club put me in charge right now, I'd focus on the industry's efforts to reduce/lessen the severity of injuries. The Grayson Foundation does quite a bit of research on footing, injuries, etc. EQB in Unionville, PA pioneered the use on onboard heart monitoring; less fit horses are more prone to fatigue (understandably) and catastrophic breakdowns. Obviously not an issue with Barbaro's injury. I'd make sure people knew about the diagnostic imaging done prior to purchase to ensure a horse's fitness for racing. Emphasize that a racing stable with long-term success is a partnership of good training, good care, good farrier/blacksmith and attention to what's going on with the horses.

I'd do as at least one poster suggested - promote the good "give back to the sport" activities. Promote Blue Bridle, Thoroughbred Charities, Exceller Fund, CANTER, ReRun and the like. I'd like to discourage some of the indiscriminant breeding that goes on. Based on Jockey Club statistics, 40K foals are registered in each year's foal crop. Since only one will win the KY Derby, that's a very inefficient breeding program. I'd like to see more research $$ to identify genes associated with racing success.

Long-term, I'd love to implement a program I've been kicking about for a while. (I have to win the big Powerball lottery first.) I'd like an organized way to keep tabs on the 38K horses per breeding year who don't make it as racehorses. (Jockey Club statistic based on approx 40K TBs registered each year.) I'd like to match these horses up with inmate and teenager/job training programs. The ones who have talent could go on to sporthorse careers. With tracking so the American-bred success stories are known. The ones who are pasture pets, I'd like to match up with horse-crazy kids and adults who want to learn how to work around horses or just be around them. Partnering with universities, farrier schools and vet schools could continue mutually beneficial learning opportunities. Beyond the educational outreach, you'd be fostering a horse-aware public and increasing racing's fan base.

Wouldn't be part of this job, but I think there should be some way to get a good 3yr to the KY Derby without racing as a 2yr old. Even if you think you have a legitimate contender, I don't think you can earn enough in the early months of 3yr old year to get a post position even with supplemental entry fees. Maybe as a trial, they could hold one or two slots for 3yr olds who didn't race as 2yr olds.

Alagirl
May. 23, 2006, 06:03 PM
Maybe I am just a farm girl...

And so envious of you guys who have a *local* track you can actually bring a youngster to...

I hadly ever watch racing on TV, it's boring. The horses turn over so fast, and I like the thrill of the thundering hooves coming down the stretch! My boy felt it, too, three years old or so at Churchill Downs!

I saw horses break down, the first when I was about 10 or so, right in front of the Grandstands, the other one at the same raceday my son enjoyed so much. It's that sickening feeling in the pit of your stomach...

If there was a track nearby, I'd have a horse yesterday. Because I love it. I love to prepare my horse for the race, the heartstopping moments of the start, the breathless anticipation if he will make a decent showing at the finishline, and the *we live to run another day* when it didn't turn out.

But we where an unusal bunch anyway, even a forth place had us tracking to the champaign bar, after all, when everybody comes back in one piece, it's a good day of racing!

Friends of our's lost their beloved son in an racing accident that also took 1the lives of ten horses (on running for our silks) and ended the carrier of one tallented female jockey...you have 10 horses laying there, impaled on the pipe fencing, with broken limbs, that is gruesome...

One year at one of the two race days, one competitor lost one of his two horses - unloading, the track vet had not been on duty yet...the meat man (also a racer) had to take care of business...freak accident that happens like this hundrets of times everyday all over the country...

Personaly I like the rule Germany has/had, 2yo. cannot be raced untill june of their two year old year...by that time the TC is all but history...the German derby isn't untill July...

I am not a fan of the track layout over here, it's cookie cutter, and not made with the horses in mind, but all for the bettors...same with the surface...

The racetracks here are more of a shady institution...over yonder they are the park of the city...it's an even to see the horses...not a dirty little secret...

And last, half the media outlets in this country need to be shut down, more isn't always better. To make their voices heard in an ocean of likeness they splurt out the most rediculous, sensationalistic BS possible, dragging the rest of them into a choir...there is no reasoning, and no sense behind it...no moderation...

Am I making sense, the coffee isn't working right...


Oh, did I mention...Derby entry in Germany was (pre Euro) 2500 DMarks, paid in installments...because you have to enter your steed when they are barely under saddle, at 15 month, for each date you don't scratch you have to pay...accordingly the field of hopefulls starts at several hundret to twindle to about 20 come post time...

Barbaro's influence on racing...I dare say nill. There have been too many before him to not get past the Derby, breakdown or not...he had a little bit more notoriety than the rest of the field, because of his connections, but other than that...

(And Charismatic will tell you * Gomen?! I am very much alive, domo arigato!*

colliemom
May. 23, 2006, 07:01 PM
Good Lord Almighty, what an ignorant article!! :rolleyes:


What is worse than the ignorance of the article is the publication itself. At least I am assuming it was the Philadelphia Daily News that I saw today at work.

This tabliod style paper had a full color cover photo (the entire cover) of Barbaro on the track being pulled up, with the leg clearly not right, and a HUGE headline (probably 2" letters, easily read from a distance) : "Cripple Crown".

It made me sick.

JER
May. 23, 2006, 08:11 PM
If horses can run 2miles in Australia for a purse of $4.5m, without breaking down, surely the china dolls on the TC circuit can stretch out to a 1½m.

Never mind 2 miles -- how about the Grand National? 4.5 miles, 30+fences (GIANT fences), 40 horses, many millions in wagering (the UK's biggest betting race).

Dynaformer, sire of Barbaro, is also the sire of McDynamo, one of the top US chasers. No coincidence there as the Roberto line produces horses who can gallop a distance and also jump.

As far as PR, I think there's a real positive here in that the public is getting an education in modern veterinary medicine as well as getting to know Barbaro's connections who really show the caring side of racing. I think if you took a poll on horse anatomy at your local shopping center, you'd find a surprising number of people who know where the cannon bone is.

And while it's not exactly PR for racing, Barbaro will raise Dynaformer's profile even more, which is great because he's getting older and there aren't many Roberto sons to breed from anymore. Of course, they all won't succeed on the track but -- blatant self-interest here -- they'll have great potential as eventers!

Alagirl
May. 23, 2006, 08:14 PM
You forgot the Parurbice Steeple chase! Even harder....

TL
May. 23, 2006, 08:54 PM
I actually think some good may have come from the Barbaro tragedy; I'm going to look at this from another perspective to try to avoid parroting Hopeful Hunter, Barnfairy, et al... If it's handled right, I don't think the industry has to shy away from this; it's a conversation starter. Or, look at it this way, it could turn into an unintended viral campaign. How many of you have talked about Barbaro with not-necessarily-horsey people? And taken that as an opportunity educate them a bit on racing as well? My mom was just telling me on the phone, he's a hot topic of conversation among the non-horse folk she hangs out with... they were asking her all sorts of questions about horses and riding and racing.

Someone, in another thread, commented that he has become America's / The People's Horse... which was a thought kicking around in my mind, noticing that a whole lot of non-horsefolk have rallied around him and taken an interest in his condition, his treatment. They're invested in him which is why I hope the media continues to follow Barbaro's progress (this is probably the only time you won't hear me grumble about the MSM under-reporting on wiretapping and phone records and other issues of the day in favor of Michael Jackson's latest escapades).

Done right, it's an opportunity to further cultivate the interest of as well as educate these people whose imaginations have been captured by Barbaro...

but yeah, the best way to defuse critics during this senstive time are variants on the themes (coupled with action and examples of action):

The horse always comes first.

Accidents, as in any sport, do happen but we will learn from them and always examine and address health and safety issues head-on because "the horse always comes first."

Barbaro has amazing heart and courage; a pure athelete despite the money involved in racing... unlike some pro players we can name, you won't see him tossed in the back of a patrol car... he's, in short, a dream client.

TBLvr
May. 23, 2006, 10:54 PM
Never mind 2 miles -- how about the Grand National? 4.5 miles, 30+fences (GIANT fences), 40 horses, many millions in wagering (the UK's biggest betting race).


Not being in the racing world I don't know the relationship between the Grand National and the race in the story below, but it sounds like a horrific event:

http://www.animalaid.org.uk/press/0604grand4.htm

War Admiral
May. 23, 2006, 10:58 PM
Consider the source, TBLvr. ;)

I will say, however, that I do think the GN field is much MUCH too large to be safe for the horses really (didn't 40 or so start this year?), and that's what I would change if I were elected God!

TBLvr
May. 23, 2006, 11:06 PM
Oh yeah, obviously they have their own agenda and message to convey. But I would think that the bare statistics of the number of fatalities would be valid.

It does seem strange that a country that outlawed fox hunting because of concern for the fox would turn a blind eye towards this type of public slaughter.

TBLvr
May. 23, 2006, 11:15 PM
A question: I use and see others using terms like "the racing industry" etc. Who exactly is this? In other words, who is the governing body that controls, set rules (ie race length, age of elegible horses etc) for TB racing in this country?

Who would have to mandate, for instance, changes that I see being discussed here, ie track surfaces, ages etc?

Glimmerglass
May. 23, 2006, 11:33 PM
Lets not get all racing and every death so blurred together. The deaths arising during this year's Cheltenham Racing Festival in the UK were discussed thoroughly on this board when it transpired.

I posed the original question with PR as it will be interesting to see how ABC frames their first coverage of a TC race in many years. The handoff, so to speak, from NBC is a tough one as they either will have to continue to make Barbaro a large center of the story or look to start fresh. Undoubtedly they will have a segment on how the TC chase brought the field assembled that day to the Belmont.

I expect them to have a highly polished segment on the status of Barbaro, Prado and Matz as of June10th. But perhaps such an 8 minute piece upfront will be "it" and they'll push forward with the business at hand.

If anyone watched ESPN on Friday and Saturday before the Preakness they did one hell of a good job with a reflective story on Prado and coping with his mother's passing this year. That could win an Eclipse media award IMHO.

ESPN when they cover racing its less glossy then NBC with more stand-up live if not raw interviews in the shedrow with the trainers and other connections. Their reporters know their stuff and by and large are asking what you want to hear. Not to mention ESPN (and I assume ABC too) aren't afraid to admit as NBC is that racing means betting and the odds are part of the show.

I'll be happy not hear Donna Brothers (sorry) but the trade off sadly is seeing Hank Goldberg who couldn't make a steady comment (let alone one of value) on air if his life depended on it. Jerry Bailey's contributions to ESPN have been far more insightful in my view then Garry Steven's so I'd look for him to give more of the same - and even touch on injuries - when ABC does the Belmont.

You know Jerry can actually be funny ... if anyone heard him tell the tale with deadpan delivery a few weeks ago (which he recounted while he was on an horse and using a remote mic) of his first ride which went bad and he flipped onto the horse's head and tried to get back in the saddle but couldn't ... and if had not been the for manager at the A&P unplugging the thing who knows what could've happened .. well it was funny :D

onthebit12000
May. 23, 2006, 11:38 PM
Excellent ideas Hopeful Hunter. In fact, Arlington Park has incorporated a lot of your ideas. Others need to do the same if they are want to thrive rather than merely survive.

on that note..TVG is advertising that their round table discussion on Thurs. will be about the Barbaro tragedy,what can be done in racing to make it safer. They certainly are not trying to hide under the covers on this. I think that is the only way to go...

Albion
May. 23, 2006, 11:44 PM
I realize that in some ways, comparing 'chasing to flat racing in this country is sort of comparing apples to oranges, but are these sorts of discussions taking place in the 'chasing world, too?

I realize it's much smaller, more localized, and not broadcast on national TV, but every meet I've been to in the past 5 years or so has been packed with people. And I've seen more catastrophic injuries at those meets than I've seen splashed across NBC during the TC chase. And not just "horse breaks bone" (that's awful enough) - I was at Montpelier the year there was the bad accident with the wooden wings they used to have. But people still show up in droves, kids in tow.

Maybe it's because it's NOT splashed on TV? People aren't covering it in newspapers?

Or am I really out of the loop and people are talking about the death of 'chasing? I personally prefer going to a hunt meet over heading to the flat track, I think the atmosphere is much better & my non-horsey friends always have a better time ... just curious, though. What are the overall stats? Numbers declining, rising?

SBT
May. 23, 2006, 11:56 PM
Personally, I think the sign of the apocalypse for Thoroughbred racing will be the demise of harness racing, which IMO is far more imminent. Think about it: the KY Derby gets primetime coverage on multiple major networks; the Hambletonian, almost nothing.

Currently, the harness industry is surviving largely on betting revenue. Financial support from co-dependent organizations and communities is also a help. But this is a dying sport, and I've been told as much by some VERY big names...one of whom pointed to a bloodline chart in front of us and said, "The whole story is right here. Most of these famous lines are all but gone." At that moment, the "death" of the sport became very literal to me.

I think as long as people want to bet on horses, and as long as tracks have communities depending on them for revenue, both forms of racing will continue. But my DaVinci-esque prediction is that IF extinction is looming, harness racing will go first.

And I should know; I tried to "sell" it to the public for 3 years. The hardest part was convincing people that it WASN'T inherently inhumane. After preaching this message ad nauseum, I arrived at a race one day to see a driver pull up a horse because it broke, and proceed to beat the shite out of it in front of a "family" crowd.

I handed in my resignation not long after that. :no:

NOBODY can sell a sport when the players often behave like a$$holes, the animals may or may not be subject to abuse/misuse, and the bigwigs represent a tiny, nostalgic sector of the "old money" upper class.
Rest assured that if the public at large couldn't gamble on it, there would be no racing. At all.

Drvmb1ggl3
May. 24, 2006, 01:30 AM
NOBODY can sell a sport when the players often behave like a$$holes, the animals may or may not be subject to abuse/misuse, and the bigwigs represent a tiny, nostalgic sector of the "old money" upper class.
Rest assured that if the public at large couldn't gamble on it, there would be no racing. At all.

And yet the post before was talking about the crowds, the family atmosphere and enjoyment by non-horsey people at Hunt meets, where there is no betting, (and often fairly primitive facilities to boot).

I think what is killing racing (and harness racing, with it's endless 1 mile races, is the supreme example), is that it is being turned into a cookie cutter product for handicappers with little variation.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for betting, but I think that to Joe Public Remmington Park, Sam Houston, Hoosier Downs, Penn National all look the same and if most of the races on the card are 6f out of the chute one turn sprints, people get bored real quick.
Racing is thriving in other countries, maybe someone should ask why that is.

yellow-horse
May. 24, 2006, 04:20 AM
I am not involved at all in racing but even though i say i will never watch another race again, after watching the more famous breakdowns, it pulls me back because frankly to me there is nothing more awesome than seeing tb's running flat out to win
it might take me a while to watch another race after the last preakness but i know i will at some point, because there will be a horse that i catch of glimpse of or hear about that grabs my attention
one of the most thrilling moments i've seen of a horse was watching holy bull go wire to wire at monmoth, you could tell he knew he was the best and the other horses running with him knew he was the best that day, it was an awesome race,he owned the track tht day
so that's basically why i will go to the track, because a horse will tug at something and pull me there but it's going to take a while
it is hard to stomach the wrecks, i think it needs to be addressed by the racing industry, it's hard to get the image out of your head

Sannois
May. 24, 2006, 05:22 AM
I am not involved at all in racing but even though i say i will never watch another race again, after watching the more famous breakdowns, it pulls me back because frankly to me there is nothing more awesome than seeing tb's running flat out to win
it might take me a while to watch another race after the last preakness but i know i will at some point, because there will be a horse that i catch of glimpse of or hear about that grabs my attention
one of the most thrilling moments i've seen of a horse was watching holy bull go wire to wire at monmoth, you could tell he knew he was the best and the other horses running with him knew he was the best that day, it was an awesome race,he owned the track tht day
so that's basically why i will go to the track, because a horse will tug at something and pull me there but it's going to take a while
it is hard to stomach the wrecks, i think it needs to be addressed by the racing industry, it's hard to get the image out of your head
The sky is falling CRAP!!! And to say anyone would never watch another race is so pointless. Thats like saying, I will never event again or go to another event cause a horse died or broke down on course. Do you think if it was a regular race card, other than the preakness or a horse other than the derby winner there would have been any press?? NOOO!!! Come on, Why give in to Media hype. I never take anything the media says seriously~! :no:

CC
May. 24, 2006, 09:30 AM
Albion,
I've only been a chasing fan for the past 2 years. And only because I was given an ex-timber horse who happened to win a couple of races on the MD circuit. He is an amazing horse (and a Barbaro look-alike : ) ) and I wanted to see what he had been doing before coming to me.

I have noticed changes (at least here in MD), mainly in fence design, in the 2 short years I have been spectating. I have pictures of my horse (in 1999 and 2000) jumping what basically look like your 3 board pasture fence or a split rail fence. Now, at 2 meets I went to this spring, the fences are sloped more filled-in. I suppose it is supposed to be a safer and more solid fence to jump? But I've heard through the grapevine (farrier gossip!) that some trainers refuse to run over these type of fences because they are smaller and less respected by the horses. But, there does seem to be some move to try and address horse and rider safety.

Hopeful Hunter
May. 24, 2006, 10:08 AM
Glad to hear Arlington is implementing some basic PR tactics - that's promising.

I do think, though, we also need to acknowledge something up front: Barbaro needs to survive. The outpouring of support and attention is great, but the horse needs to live, and that's sadly nowhere near assured.

I truly believe that racing must look beyond handle to develop an audience first, purses second. The purses will come with the people, but for too long the emphasis has been the wrong way 'round. I hope things change, but I also fear that in 10 years or so racing may be a quaint relic in America.

yellow-horse
May. 24, 2006, 10:13 AM
it is a lot of media hype but so be it, the big races are publicized and if something happens at one, the world is a witness, you can't have it both ways, the media hype works great for racing or any other sport when it's promoting itself. but this is what the public sees and understands little of, most people are not devoted race fans, they get caught up in the media hype promoting racing just as much as the hype when something bad happens on the track. for me, when i see this, i won't be quick to go back to the track for a while, it is a thrilling sport however, that is the attraction i think, it's the horses that appeal to the general public, not betting so much. people that hardly go to races, like myself get caught up in the media hype over a super horse and wind up at the track once in a while, if there is a catastrophy, that's what we remember

Albion
May. 24, 2006, 10:17 AM
CC, I was referring to the wing portion of the fence - which I believe now MUST be PVC safety wings (I think that rule passed the NSA?). The setup at Montpelier was admittedly quite strange, as they had natural hedge fence - gap - timber fence & the National fences (the regular hurdles) went in between (they weren't permanent). So there a horse couldn't just run out to the side. without going around either the hedges or the timber. It was a nasty accident. Horse wasn't racing over timber, horse was racing over the National hurdles.

Like I said, I have no problem with 'chasing. I just think that considering I've seen MORE fatal and/or serious accidents at hunt meets, if THAT was the huge turn off, you wouldn't continue to get comparatively huge, mostly non-horsey crowds flocking to hunt meets.

TL
May. 24, 2006, 10:34 AM
The sky is falling CRAP!!!

(B) Today, front page story in the Pgh. Post Gazette, above the fold -- about all the people following Barbaro's story and pulling for him.

When has racing garnered that much attention? This sounds mercenary no doubt, tactless, tasteless, psychotic perhaps, but somebody asked about a PR problem... Yes, we have tragically lost an amazing talent in Barbaro the Racehorse, but Barbaro the Survivor could make an amazing ambassador (already is an amazing ambassador for the breed). -- and yes, right now all we want is for him is simply to to survive... that's true... but looking at the bigger picture, if all goes well and right ...

Crisis management isn't just containing a problem ("yes, we can, should and will always improve the health and safety of our horses, here's what we're doing"); it's also turning it to your advantage (cultivating new fans from people following a dramatic "equine interest" story).

But good Christ... speaking of "I can't watch this sport / perhaps we should end it," how about boxing, folks?

I don't hear a whole lot of people calling for an end to a sport where you know going in that somebody's going to get hurt... and people can retire with brain damage... I know, I know, humans exercising freewill and all that but still ... boxing's crazy, crazy when you think about it.

Alagirl
May. 24, 2006, 10:51 AM
Personally, I think the sign of the apocalypse for Thoroughbred racing will be the demise of harness racing, which IMO is far more imminent. Think about it: the KY Derby gets primetime coverage on multiple major networks; the Hambletonian, almost nothing.

Currently, the harness industry is surviving largely on betting revenue. Financial support from co-dependent organizations and communities is also a help. But this is a dying sport, and I've been told as much by some VERY big names...one of whom pointed to a bloodline chart in front of us and said, "The whole story is right here. Most of these famous lines are all but gone." At that moment, the "death" of the sport became very literal to me.

I think as long as people want to bet on horses, and as long as tracks have communities depending on them for revenue, both forms of racing will continue. But my DaVinci-esque prediction is that IF extinction is looming, harness racing will go first.

And I should know; I tried to "sell" it to the public for 3 years. The hardest part was convincing people that it WASN'T inherently inhumane. After preaching this message ad nauseum, I arrived at a race one day to see a driver pull up a horse because it broke, and proceed to beat the shite out of it in front of a "family" crowd.

I handed in my resignation not long after that. :no:

NOBODY can sell a sport when the players often behave like a$$holes, the animals may or may not be subject to abuse/misuse, and the bigwigs represent a tiny, nostalgic sector of the "old money" upper class.
Rest assured that if the public at large couldn't gamble on it, there would be no racing. At all.


Harness racers are a different bunch, from what I gather, they are not essentialy the upper crust, no sheiks and such (Heck, the bush leagers resemble more a bunch of Gypsies than anyhting else!:yes: ) Born from the same roots as stock car racing, let's see how fast the family buggy horse is...:)

Glimmerglass
May. 24, 2006, 11:00 AM
But good Christ... speaking of "I can't watch this sport / perhaps we should end it," how about boxing, folks?

Actually to some degree racing has been like boxing in that it rises onto the general public's radar when there is a charismatic or dominant fighter with an impressive record. Yes there is a current heavy eight boxer champion out there - anyone have an idea what his name is? I don't. Yet I and eveyone knew the name of a fighter like Mike Tyson back in the day (mid to late 1980's before he went crazy in public) and you couldn't sell subscriptions to HBO and PPV events fast enough for his fights when he was on top.

Some goes for a Larry Haggman, Sugar Ray Leonard, George Foreman, etc. You and most anyone in the general public knew their names like Seattle Slew and Affirmed.

My starting of this thread wasn't to say that racing is now dead because of Barbaro. Rather the momentum that had been building in racing - on track betting is way up and so are the crowds as evidenced by the second largest Kentucky Oaks and largest Preakness attendence ever, tv coverage was expanding - will be deflated now for a bit and I asked what can be done to prevent it being just one step back and not three.

This article is very nice and points out counterpoints to any suggestion that racing, at least race horses, means little to the public ...

Statesman 5-24-06 "COMMENTARY: A catastrophe for a horse, but not for the industry" (http://www.statesman.com/sports/content/sports/stories/other/05/24barbaro.html)


This also might be difficult to comprehend, but for the past four days, the sport has exhibited a couple of things that are not generally associated with horse racing anymore — personal relevance and true drama. That might sound cynical, but Barbaro has become the protagonist in a dramatic plot line that has created a true emotional attachment between the horse and the American public.

Considering that Barbaro was not widely known before Edgar Prado guided it to that resounding victory in the Kentucky Derby, that's saying quite a lot about the potential of horse racing to at least maintain its current place in the hierarchy of American spectator sports. It will never be what it was in the 1930s, when the match race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral lifted the spirits of a Depression-racked country, but it would be a big mistake to write horse racing's epitaph just yet.
Another NBC Commentary from Bob Neumeier 5/23 "Don't overreact to Barbaro injury" (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12938859/)

excerpts

To the neophytes of the sport, it seems counter-intuitive to listen to those of us who love racing the most, who look at Barbaro's injury as an unfortunate accident, as part of the game. Horses are athletes, subject to the same physical demands as men and women who play football, basketball, or hockey. This rational and reasoned view of the Barbaro incident is likely taken as cold and callous by the vast majority of viewers and fans that watch the three Triple Crown races and nothing more.

That view leaves them empty and unsatisfied.

Therein lays the rub for the racing industry. While some turn on their TV hoping for the next NASCAR crash, nobody flicks on the tube for the next horse race for fear of experiencing a repeat of what they saw in the Preakness. If you have burned your hand touching the kitchen stove, you probably have been eating take-out since.

Where does racing go from here?

Sadly, it must take the hit and move on. Sure, people can debate the merits of pushing back the Preakness a week and stretching out the rigorous Triple Crown campaign, but to them I ask, will this truly safeguard the sport from further injuries? Is it fair to the legacy of Seattle Slew, Affirmed, and Secretariat to change the rules in midstream?

NMK
May. 24, 2006, 11:04 AM
This is a very complicated issue but I'm going to try and simplify what I think is at the root of the PR problem. Your average track (like here in Ohio) survives based on handle from the BETTING public. The BETTING public is interested in gambling, and not necessarily interested in being a spectator or "follower" of racehorses on an emotional (or purely spectator) level. At some tracks (Arlington, Santa Anita) they have catered to a family events, and at TD they host special events to get groups to attend (rib cook offs, etc.) but the bottom line is that they are surviving (or not) based on handle from the betting public that shows up week after week. The two groups of people --horse lovers and gamblers-- are worlds apart in profiles.

Most tracks around here cater not to showcasing horses, but to get the handle up, hence their PR department is focussed on that. Those that have risen to the pinnacles of racing are also concerned about it's survival--its handle. So asking them to create PR about this tragic episode has probably had them scrolling through a rarely used rolodex. I hope they find the right numbers to call, because they are out there. Imagine a press conference with the NTRA, The Grayson Foundation, TCA, The JC, the Keeneland Polytrack people, a group from TB Rescues, etc.. I would like to see them all brainstorming on their mutual interests and how they present them publically.

If this tragedy brings even two of those groups together it will be a miracle of sorts. I hope they take advantage of this opportunity, but I doubt it.

Nancy

FourWands
May. 24, 2006, 11:06 AM
I really hate to say this and it's going to make me look really cruel and heartless. I'm not. I stayed up late Saturday night too... scanning the boards or any other source to see how Barbaro was managing.

But... why do people watch Nascar? (and yes, I think the question is related).

saratoga
May. 24, 2006, 11:22 AM
Well, my husband thinks that part of the appeal of horse racing is that horses and jockeys do get into wrecks....when he first said that, I got really pissed and defensive, but its something to think about.... I know that when I've been at the track and a breakdown occurs, 99% of the people rush to the rail or the tv to get a better look. I don't work at the track or aspire to have my own racehorses anymore but I still watch the races. Ever since I was a kid, I've thought that the sight of a talented racehorse is the most beautiful thing ever but I've decided I couldn't put a horse that I cared about on the track.

TL
May. 24, 2006, 11:28 AM
Quote:
Where does racing go from here?
Sadly, it must take the hit and move on.


I guess what I'm saying (ad nauseum) is that it doesn't necessarily have to be a total hit.

We seem to have the attention of the non-racing public and those with a passing or casual interest... what's going to be do with it? To take it as "a hit" is a waste of an opportunity to build and retain the interest of the non-betting and notoriously short attention span public.

If Barbaro is our four-legged Ali...

shutting up now,

:)

SBT
May. 24, 2006, 02:17 PM
Harness racers are a different bunch, from what I gather, they are not essentialy the upper crust, no sheiks and such (Heck, the bush leagers resemble more a bunch of Gypsies than anyhting else!:yes: ) Born from the same roots as stock car racing, let's see how fast the family buggy horse is...:)

Hee hee... :lol:

In GENERAL you are correct, but rest assured there is still some BIG money at the top. :yes:

It's interesting (from a PR standpoint) that harness racing DOESN'T have more of a following among average joes, particularly since it has historically featured FAR more "rags to riches" stories than TB racing has. Hambletonian was a butt-ugly horse born to a backwoods farmer, but he could trot like nobody's business. Became the "granddaddy of 'em all" and his stud fees made Rysdyk a rich man. Driver Cat Manzi was just an ordinary horse-loving kid from Monticello who worked his way to the top of the sport, winning millions in purses. And so on.

You'd think these stories would strike a chord with the public, far more so than sheiks and gazillionaires and baby TB's bought for millions of dollars. But such is not the case. Had me scratching my head for 3 years, and I never did figure it out...

Alagirl
May. 24, 2006, 03:07 PM
Hee hee... :lol:

In GENERAL you are correct, but rest assured there is still some BIG money at the top. :yes:

It's interesting (from a PR standpoint) that harness racing DOESN'T have more of a following among average joes, particularly since it has historically featured FAR more "rags to riches" stories than TB racing has. Hambletonian was a butt-ugly horse born to a backwoods farmer, but he could trot like nobody's business. Became the "granddaddy of 'em all" and his stud fees made Rysdyk a rich man. Driver Cat Manzi was just an ordinary horse-loving kid from Monticello who worked his way to the top of the sport, winning millions in purses. And so on.

You'd think these stories would strike a chord with the public, far more so than sheiks and gazillionaires and baby TB's bought for millions of dollars. But such is not the case. Had me scratching my head for 3 years, and I never did figure it out...

But people want to be rich not work to get there...:no:

In Germany the trotters where more popular with the crowd (maybe because they had almost daily races before the TB people even considered it) even if only the Derby (yupp, a Derby for everything...) is televised...

But - as the rest of the horseworld - it is steeped in tradition with tight connection to the rural world...it is not so much *the Horse Industry* as a part of farming, etc...especialy the trotters...most of them where bred on small farms...a little different than their TB cousins...

StrawberryFelidos
May. 24, 2006, 03:33 PM
Personally, I always thought horse racing was more pupular than harness racing because the horses run a heckuva lot faster without the cart :D

Americans like fast things- fast food, fast cars, fast women (:rolleyes:). Just watch our commercials!

Glimmerglass
May. 24, 2006, 03:34 PM
I think I'm rather informed on raced vs. the average joe but I just have always had this odd view of trotter/sulky racing as being shady stuff. Having been raised in upstate NY it was seen as Meadowlands and Vernon Downs (near Utica) run by the mob with fixed races and the like. All racing and equine sport has had some tained parts during its history so I'm not trying to paint trotting with a negative view today. However that image has always stuck with me.

Saratoga - due to my physical proximity - as a kid was always a happy place with great cheer and people going just for the sake of going to have fun during the day. While trotters raced at night with seemingly people there to make a buck. I'm sure I'm not the only person who had that view ...

Alagirl
May. 24, 2006, 03:36 PM
I think I'm rather informed on raced vs. the average joe but I just have always had this odd view of trotter/sulky racing as being shady stuff. Having been raised in upstate NY it was seen as Meadowlands and Vernon Downs (near Utica) run by the mob with fixed races and the like. All racing and equine sport has had some tained parts during its history so I'm not trying to paint trotting with a negative view today. However that image has always stuck with me.

Saratoga - due to my physical proximity - as a kid was always a happy place with great cheer and people going just for the sake of going to have fun during the day. While trotters raced at night with seemingly people there to make a buck. I'm sure I'm not the only person who had that view ...

That pretty much covers it for me...though I had more exposure to the gypsilike crowd of the small tracks...my TB was seriously opposed to those guys! As mellow as he was...they freaked him out! :lol:

Drvmb1ggl3
May. 24, 2006, 03:45 PM
I think I'm rather informed on raced vs. the average joe but I just have always had this odd view of trotter/sulky racing as being shady stuff. Having been raised in upstate NY it was seen as Meadowlands and Vernon Downs (near Utica) run by the mob with fixed races and the like. All racing and equine sport has had some tained parts during its history so I'm not trying to paint trotting with a negative view today. However that image has always stuck with me.

Saratoga - due to my physical proximity - as a kid was always a happy place with great cheer and people going just for the sake of going to have fun during the day. While trotters raced at night with seemingly people there to make a buck. I'm sure I'm not the only person who had that view ...

Interesting, because I have gotten that same vibe from many people about TB racing, but then their experience has usually not been the Saratogas, Keenlands and Santa Anitas of the world, but the more charmless industrial looking tracks you see in many places that crank out races for the handicapping crowd.

This brings us back to the Hunt Meet angle that someone brought up earlier, and the ability of some of those to draw large, often not neccesarily "horsey", crowds, and do so without needing the betting angle or plush facilities. People obviously get a different vibe from it.

laserRob
Mar. 5, 2011, 06:08 AM
PR101..........meet PR102:

http://forums.delphiforums.com/alexbrown/messages?msg=54601.19