By Bradford Cummings
When I first started working with Ray on the Paulick Report, we both were prepared for this upstart publication to not last through the fall of 2008 especially after the market fell so drastically. There's nothing like launching a new web business a month before the largest recession in 25-50 years.
Similarly, when Ray pitched me the idea of Good News Friday, I thought he had gone a little mad. Yes, even more so than I thought he already was. There was not exactly a laundry list of good things happening in an industry with depressed handle and plummeting auctions, the two economic indicators that best give a snapshot of the state of Thoroughbred racing. Even Liberation Farm's Rob Whiteley, who seems to know a good thing when he sees it and jumped on board soon after our first week to become the title sponsor, expressed some doubts this would have a terribly long shelf life.
But we forgot to consider that despite bad news, there's one thing the economy couldn't kill: the goodwill and ingenuity of the American people.
Though not by design, it is clear that stories carrying the Good News Friday sponsored by Liberation Farm name have fallen into three different categories. The most obvious has been those organizations and people doing good things within the industry. Whether it was covering Nancy LaSala and the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, the good people at CARMA under the guidance of Madeline Auerbach or the “take all comers” approach of the Kentucky Equine Humane Center, these are the organizations that help our industry's image when no one is looking.
Category two highlights those people within the industry who are doing good things beyond our sport. Who could forget Earle Mack, the successful Thoroughbred breeder and owner among other things, flew a team of doctors to Haiti in order to add to the outpouring of aid from an incredibly generous American population. And hearts certainly warmed when we told the story Jonathan Miller, former Chairman of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation who changed his life's direction by starting the Airborne Lifeline Foundation. This organization is like a year round version of Mr. Mack's efforts, flying in health care professionals to key areas of Botswana in order to help the struggling Third World nation. It's always heartening to know that we represent ourselves to the rest of the world in such an honorable way.
And finally, we have found many times to laser focus on the good news of innovation and positive trends when they existed. (We're still looking forward to writing that Good News Friday piece about the blowout Keeneland September sale or the record-setting Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select auction) We've featured an online dating service for your mare in eMatings, foaltrack's Facebook for horse people concept, positive trends in Triple Crown ratings and the multitude of fantasy horse racing opportunities.
We've enjoyed writing these pieces. As Ray often says, it's therapy for the long weeks of mixed-to-bad news our industry seems to be serving up of late. But it's the mark this series has made that really has us proud. As the Paulick Report has grown in size, multiple charities have reported significant upticks in donors and interest after one of these stories. The most uplifting was the email we received from the Horses & Humans Research Foundation Executive Director who was puzzled as to why donations had come in for no apparent reason one Friday. There's also no doubt that Liberation Farm's branding with this product has brought only goodwill to Mr. Whiteley's operation. Is there anyone in this industry who thinks about the Kentucky operation without the words “good news” attached? This series has even been lampooned by the controversial Indian Charlie; farcically introducing one installment of Good News Thursday sponsored by Flaming Liberal Farms.
As it stands, exactly one year later, we still have more stories in the can to tell and stories we don't even know about at this point. Despite our initial skepticism, it seems the state of Good News Friday is strong. But that has little to do with the Paulick Report. What has become clear is that the real good news comes from our good fortune to be associated with so many top class people. With a roster like this, the Thoroughbred industry will have reason to never give up hope on a better tomorrow.
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