Since I graduated from Wilson College on Sun, May 20, life has been a bit of a blur. Okay, well not really. I went on a two week beach vacation, not too complicated. With limited internet access and an ever-active mind, I did my best to brainstorm future job possibilities and determine the best paths for me to take. This included sifting through several equine publications in the Pennsylvania/Maryland regions (since I don’t exactly have the funds to move out of state).
I have created a pretty substantial list that I plan on sending my resume and portfolio, but there’s a problem with all of them. From what I have been able to find, none of these publications are actively hiring. Now, that won’t stop me from sending in my packet, but it does increase my chances of being rejected. It’s a part of life, but it doesn’t mean I want experience it over and over again. So I’m keeping my fingers crossed and networking as best as I can.
Only a few of those publications cover Thoroughbred racing, but beggars can’t be choosers and in no way will I be too picky as long as I get a job offer. Of course, the main goal is to eventually report on all things Thoroughbred (racing, breeding, training, etc.).
I don’t want to continue droning on about my adventures as a college grad on the job hunt, so I’m going to talk about several non-Triple Crown topics in racing today. As with all of my entries, I will probably give you a lot of my opinion.
First on my agenda is the Maryland Racing Commission is conducting a review on Secretariat’s 1973 Preakness Stakes win time. A faulty electronic timers caused discrepancies about the official time for Big Red’s Preakness victory. In fact, there was so much confusion that the official hand clocker announced the time several days later as 1:54 2/5 – a small beat of Canonero II’s 1971 time of 1:54 flat. Three other horses (including 2007 Preakness winner Curlin) have beat the 1:54 mark, all tying with 1:53 2/5, but the all time record for 1 3/16 at Pimlico is held by Farma Way with a time of 1:52 2/5.
Since Secretariat set the record for the Kentucky Derby (1:59 2/5) and the Belmont Stakes (2:24 flat), I can see why people believe he would have had a faster Preakness time – especially since two clockers got him going 1:53 2/5 (a big difference from the electronic timer’s 1:55). I’m just pleased that the matter is finally going to be settled and the controversy can be left behind. Whether or not the horse set, equaled, or ran slower the record is irrelevant to me for the sheer purpose that his talent is unmatched on nearly every level. If Curlin ran fan a faster Preakness, is it really a big deal? Curlin didn’t win the Belmont by 31 lengths and he surely didn’t run ten furlongs in under two minutes. It will be interesting to know, but I don’t think the ending result could make Secretariat shine any brighter (or tarnish his legendary status for that matter).
1973 Triple Crown winner, Secretariat
I read this piece by Mary Simon on Sunday and found myself reading it again Monday and even today. She simply takes the words from my mouth when it comes to I’ll Have Another and race horses of recent years in general. I’ll Have Another was prematurely retired, the details of his injury are a bit vague, if not sketchy and he never became one of the immortal greats. Instead he became another Super Saver, Big Brown and Stevie Wonderboy.
What happened to the Spectacular Bids, Seattle Slews and Cigars? When did our breeding model change from sound, durable horses to light boned, fragile creatures with no longevity? Was it when stud fees increased? When colts made more money at stud than on the track? I’m not sure, I may have been too young to have watched the trend and times change. Yet I have been watching Classic race winners retire at age three since I can remember. I remember when Smarty Jones retired, and I consider myself a big fan of his, but more so I remember Eddington winning the Pimlico Handicap in 2005, at the whopping age of four. I remember being thrilled when Quality rode came back for his four-year-old season. But I couldn’t care less about Animal Kingdom’s Derby win. In fact, I really just had to think about won the Derby last year – pretty scary, but pretty poignant.
For me, Mary Simon hits the nail on the head. She’s frustrated with racing for a lot of the same reasons I am. She wants the best for the horses and the sport, but unfortunately the two seem to be working against one another. Whether it started in the breeding shed or on the track, I don’t know but something went wrong somewhere.
But alas, as she also says, horse racing fans are pathetically optimistic and always looking to welcome the horse that could change it all. And that is always a live possibility. Horses like I’ll Have Another are fun to watch and root for, quick to disappoint and easy to forget. When is the last time people talked about Super Saver or Mine That Bird? Horses like Spectacular Bid, John Henry, Cigar, Azeri and Zenyatta restore faith and hope in the racing community – and their names are difficult to forget, because they stayed around, because they were everything a racing fan wants.
19 time winner, Zenyatta.