The Friday Show Presented By Woodbine Racetrack: Changing Of The Crown?

by | 06.16.2017 | 8:54am

Only one horse ran in all three legs of the Triple Crown this year, which has prompted the seemingly annual discussion about whether it's time to make changes to the timing of the races, offer incentives or make other tweaks.

In this edition of The Friday Show presented by Woodbine Racetrack, Scott Jagow and Ray Paulick offer competing views on the subject. Plus, the release of vet records before the Belmont Stakes gave insight into the eventual scratch of Japanese contender Epicharis. What if those records hadn't been released?

Those topics and more in this week's The Friday Show.

  • Canarse

    Start off by saying NO to added bonus to finish all three Triple Crown races. No way should running a horse that isn’t up to it be incentivized. I am not in favor of stretching out the races as far as Randy Moss suggests. Maybe add another week between the Derby and Preakness. Part of the challenge is to have a horse that can absorb the rigors of racing that much in a short period of time.

    In my opinion racing needs to worry about getting attention to more than just the Triple Crown races and only 3 year olds. Over the past few years the Met Mile has become one of the best races of the year. Great performances by horses that have raced in the TC when they were 3. The turf racing in the US seems to get better every year, especially with the Fillies and Mares. There are stars in that division that hang around a while. Why do the stars of the game have to be male and 3 years old?

    • Ruffian31

      I agree there. We’ve had FAR more great fillies and mares the past decade than we have male counterparts.

  • Hamish

    Agree with Scott. Do not put more time between races as it will enable the abusive therapeutic and other drug dosing programs to continue as standard operating procedures. As Ray said, don’t treat the symptom.

    • Lily FaPootz

      that would be a definitive factor and make it very easy for those currently gaming the system and literally stealing from the pockets of honest horsemen with their cheating ways.

  • kcbca1

    Leave the TC the way it is. But I do really appreciate the way both of you talk about change in the industry as far as the Tonko-Barr legislation goes. I like the phrases “clearly needs it” and if you are against it your a “hopeless loser”. I can’t discuss it anymore because the reasoning against change just goes beyond anything that makes any sense.

  • Larry Sterne

    need more time between races and do away with lasixs. looking at Lee just ran out of gas at the Belmont. Hope his spirit wasn’t broken. HE NEEDS MUCH MORE ATTENTION THAN HE IS GETTING FOR HIS GUTTY PERFORMANCE.

    • Larry Sterne

      plus to m ake it a real triple crown event all horses must comply with extreme drug safety protocols and no lasix . with more spacing between races

    • ForLoveOfTheGame

      I totally agree with you Larry Sterne!

  • Longshot


    • ForLoveOfTheGame

      NO! With the close timing of the TC races, the drug assaults on a racehorse’s health, and the uber stress of such hefty long races by an overstressed racehorse, particularly the lengthy Belmont, many a tired racehorse has its spirit permanently broken the way things currently are. CHANGE IN TIME BETWEEN RACES IS NECESSARY. HORSE – HEALTH should be respected and factored in!

  • Rene

    Ray an Scott hit it on the head, changes need to be made. What surprises me are the wealthy owners who in their business lives made it by moving forward with advances. We cannot nor should not live in the past. We must move forward and stop the parochialism which dominates many aspects of our lives. The same forces which are driving the fall of the USA are what will make US Horse Racing inferior. Wake up all you naysayers. Stop resisting progressive change. Join the discussion and contribute to the health of the sport you claim you love.

  • CDFan

    Sir Barton won the Derby on a Saturday, and the following Thursday won the Preakness: Gallant Fox won the Preakness, a week later won the Derby and a few weeks later won the Belmont. Until 1969, the spacing was Derby, week later the Preakness, 4 weeks later the Belmont. In Great Britain the spacing is the 1or 2 thousand Guineas, a month later Oaks/Derby, and then 2 months later the St. Leger and I don’t think the Triple Crowns matters to them anymore. From 2000-2014 we had 7 win 2 of the 3, and American Pharoah. Last year we had 3 separate winners, and out the Travers, Arrogate who IMHO might be one of the greatest. My point, yes we love the Triple Crown. But Horse Racing is so much more. In the early 80’s it was John Henry. In the Early 60’s it was Kelso. From 2007 through 2010 it was Girl Power in Rags to Riches, Rachel Alexandra, and Zenyatta. Leave the Triple Crown pretty much as is. Each year we have a new story. This year’s, how will Arrogate do the rest of the year? Who is the best three year old? That’s what makes it all exciting.

    • Ruffian31

      Actually it’s The Guineas in May, the Derby in June and the Leger in September.

  • Ruffian31

    The TC DOES NOT NEED TO BE CHANGED!! It’s the way the industry breeds horses that’s changed that’s caused all these issues. Many horses over the last decade have proven they can take the rigors of the TC and then compete successfully to the end of the year. Look at how horses competed into the 1990s and how well they did. Then Lasix and drugs are allowed everywhere and suddenly the horses can’t run but every 2-3 months, trainers start whining their horses can’t carry the weight so they refuse to run when assigned 123lbs, and then owners complain because their horses aren’t fast enough to earn a quick return, but oh let’s retire them after the first big stud offer comes into play. When horses races in NY years ago, they couldn’t run on Lasix but there were tons of horses competing all the time in quality fields. You knew what type of horses were running then.

    Horses today ARE more fragile than their counterparts even 20 years ago. I don’t care what anyone says. Horses can barely make 8 – 10 starts during a career before being whisked away to stud. You can’t even follow a racehorse anymore because they’re gone before you get excited abou them. Horses like Cigar, Easy Goer and Holy Bull would scoff at today’s TB’s. Campaigns like they had, will never happen again. And you know what, they had fans because they RACED. American Pharoah has already proven you can win the TC and run in all three races without an issue. So I fail to see why this debate keeps coming up year in and year out. First it’s “it’s too hard to win the TC” and now it’s resorted to “no one wants to run in the TC races.” Seriously? It’s happened many times over the years and again I fail to see why people are up in arms about it. The industry catered to just about everyone for a long time and now there’s fall out. I saw it 20 years ago, it just seems to have taken others a lot longer to figure it out.

    I’m TIRED of seeing these races get shortened, they’re BORING…7f to 9f races are a dime a dozen and frankly, ridiculous. I quit watching racing for the most part because there’s nothing left to watch. Some of the top races in the country are now either gone or in diminished capacity. I don’t understand how people can’t see these longer races tend to attract bigger fields. Look at how big the fields have been for the Brooklyn and even Belmont Gold Cup. There’s a want for those type of races. There is no need to change the TC. How about looking at other problems the industry has first? There’s a lot more that needs attention…like GETTING RID OF ALL DRUGS. Shoot not one state or jurisdiction can even get on the same wave length there. Or maybe limiting race days since there seems to be such a drastic problem filling races these days. Or how about actually PROMOTING the sport outside of racing days? I NEVER see a horse racing ad anywhere on any station unless a horse race program is on.

    Every time someone changes something in the industry, it turns out to be negative and isn’t for the betterment of the horse. If they ever do change the TC, that’s it, I’m done with horse racing. The prestige behind the TC is the tough schedule. You have to have a very good horse to handle it. If you don’t, then start breeding for them. The industry should be PROMOTING better breeding for soundness and durability. But I guess that’s too much to ask. I will say this, if any changes to the TC do occur, it will cheapen the series from here on out and will mean little when accomplished and every TC race winner should carry an “*” after their name because the races at that point will be practically given to them.

    • ForLoveOfTheGame

      Dear Ruffian: “Horses today ARE more fragile than their counterparts even 20 years ago.” IS EXACTLY WHY IT NEEDS TO BE CHANGED!

      • Ruffian31

        Oh good let’s cater like everyone else to a more fragile breed by changing conditions to suit them because they are so fragile they can barely make a career on the track as it is. We dumb down everything else, so why not this too right? NEGATIVE. Change the breeding and the way the industry operates and MAKE a stronger horse. Good grief humans caused this problem and made horses this way. And they can sure damn well fix it…without touching the TC.

        • WhistlerBC

          How would it be good for horse racing if winning the triple crown was a relatively common occurrence? The reason it captures the public is because it is so challenging and would rob it of some the races of some of the fun of comparing the challenge of the series with those that ran it in past eras. It is meant to be hard. I agree with Ruffian. Humans made this problem. Stretching out the timing of the races won’t help the breed just further serve to cover up other problems in the sport that led to the weakening of the breed to begin with. Start w Lasix.

          • Ruffian31


  • Bill B.

    This will not be popular and it will not happen, but keep it just the way it is except make it for 4 year olds. This would eliminate the rushing and damaging and ruining of young horses & it would keep horses in training longer, a growing & much bigger problem in this sport than if there should be 2 or 3 weeks between the Derby & the Preakness. If we don’t do something about the best running so seldom with such short careers, one day there will not be a TC to worry about. Do something to help enrich the sport for new fans all year, not just 5 weeks.

    Things sometimes have to change.

  • john

    What’s the fuss? so what is horses don;t run in two or three races……..There is nothing wrong with adding new shooters in these races as long as they are quality , remember Tonalist!!….stop all the whining….California Chrome almost won TRiple Crown and Pharoah got it done…….. the only one change that should be made is Derby field needs to be reduced for safety reasons. Otherwise, keep it the same!

  • Michael Castellano

    I have often said, but will not hold my breath that it will ever happen, that the TC should be changed to for four year olds. There could be a different series developed for three year olds, one in which the races are much more spaced. The breeding interests are running racing and race horses into the ground by having the TC remain for 3 year olds who are both immature and slowly grow more unsound and distance challenged as each year passes. Racing desperately need to form a national body, under which there are nationwide rules and regulations, no drugs, and under which each track acts like a “team” in other sports and must qualify for the franchise. The national body can also oversees scheduling of major races. Of course, it will never happen. Two many divergent and competing interests.

  • Bryan Langlois

    The veterinary client/patient relationship is written into almost every practice act and is strictly enforced. It will always be an issue because horses are owned privately, not by the public who wagers on them. I do think an easy fix would be to mandate that any owner wishing to get a license has to agree that the vet records on their horses will be made public. This way the consent is given ahead of time and there would be no legal argument.
    I also agree with Ray that it would be incredibly hard to get a proper system in place. It would have to be some sort of national database of electronic medical records that all vets working on the horses could access to put their notes in. No vet (and I happen to be in agreement on this point) will be willing to spend the time to either duplicate their records or transmit them in to some sort of other database to be viewed. They will not spend the time to do it nor should they have to. A simple EMR system that they could enter their records into that will serve both as the official medical records and records that perhaps can be viewed in a confidential way by the public so no sensitive owner information is released would be the workable solution to this. I believe the COMPASS system already exists for some record sharing. Perhaps expanding on this to include medical records or seeing if there could be a partnership made with the Equibase company to get a database going would be solutions. Seeing that happen?? Well I think we have a better chance of the whole porcine defying gravity thing happening first.

  • Saratoga Bob

    We should cut the purses for any horse that doesn’t run in all 3 triple crown races Example run in Derby skip Preakness Run in Belmont you would only be eligible for 66% of the purse structure Simple but they will never do it !!

  • Lily FaPootz

    How about a movement away from glorification of three year old restricted races? As Ray pointed out in his article, it is not done in Japan’s very successful racing industry: the bigger purses and public attention is on older horses.

  • Jack Frazier

    I agree with Scott on this issue. The Jockey Club could be an asset in this if they did passed a ruling that a filly or colt could not be bred until they are full horses, mares and stallions. Everyone knows that fact that neither are mature until their five year old year. Racing is now controlled by breeders instead of those who race and that is just wrong because just as American Pharoah, they are rushed to the breeding shed years before they should have, Owners are complicit in this practice.

    As far as the Lasix issue, having fit horses and using the methods that worked before, withdrawing hay the day before and water the morning of the race, would help. It naturally helps to stop bleeding but the legalization of Lasix, a masking PED drug, lets unfit horses run. If horses are observed after the race, many have difficulty breathing or are spent and fatigued. Lasix is a reason for this.

    As far as vets keeping records, using the technology we have today, veterinarians could be issued an IPad or Notebook that has a program to enter the name of the horse and what was given to them. This would be owned by the track and would be turned in each night and the information downloaded into a computer base where it would be maintained. The next morning they would be given back to the vet for that day’s drug work. In addition, trainers would be issued one and it would have to match the records the vet had downloaded. I’m not sure every thing a horse is given is recorded.

    It is too simple an idea but one that would work. Trainers, most of them, don’t really keep good records. When I trained I did not keep as good a record as I should have. Using a computer this way should be mandatory and for those who cannot use one, a class should given that also is mandatory.

    Leave the Triple Crown as it is. That is the draw for many. To space it out would dilute the races and they would become just another race.

  • ForLoveOfTheGame

    I agree with you Ray and Scott, that giving EVERY horse on the track Lasix is insane!

    Why on earth do otherwise reasonable people who purport to love their horses, participate in this harmful action so difficult for horses to bear? It’s unthinkable to rob a race horse of ~30 pounds of its much-needed body-fluids during the tremendous physical stress of racing, just because trainers (representing owners in agreement) INSIST that “everyone’s doing it and I have to be competitive”. This is illogical, harmful to the horses and the sport, and, insane to put a race horse through that dangerous situation, just because “everybody’s doing it”!

    If a horse “is a bleeder” it SHOULD NEVER BE RACING. If a horse it not “a bleeder” it should NEVER be given Lasix! It is hard enough on the horses, that racing pushes them to the point they COULD BLEED. Racing on Lasix poses extreme danger to the health of race horses (therefore jockeys, too) and is especially harmful in hot and humid weather.

    This is easily stopped. DECIDE to stop it. CREATE and INVOKE no race day meds LAWS. COMMIT to upholding them and ENFORCE THEM. Pursue integrity in horse racing! Racing needs to be cleaned up for the horses and jockeys and the future of the sport. It’s time to WAKE UP AND MAKE THE CHANGE.

    Thanks so much for giving voice to what should be obvious. All racing fans, owners, trainers, et al., need to have this conversation and support the sport by making this IMPORTANT change, thereby giving the future of the sport a fighting chance. I believe those fans (who bet and buy food and spend money at the track– aka, the lifeblood of the sport) who have an opinion on the subject of Lasix, want it gone!

  • David Worley

    I’ve said this bunches of times on the PR comments. Regarding Lasix, why not require every horse who runs on it to also carry additional weight appropriate to age, sex, and distance so as to make the performance enhancement moot? This doesn’t seem complicated. If Lasix improves a 3YO colt by five lengths in a 10F race then add weight equal to about five lengths. This accomplishes two things: 1) horses who genuinely need Lasix will still have access and 2) those who do not will stop using it.

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