Finley: More match races, please

by | 08.09.2011 | 1:30pm

ESPN columnist Bill Finley writes that yes, Sunday's Battle of the Exes was “hokey” and a gimmick, but with apologies to racing purists, Finley “found it to be a lot more entertaining than anything else that happened in horse racing over the weekend.”  Specifically, he says, because it was a match race:

“If matching two maiden claimers could do this, what about two star horses squaring off? How much fun would a Blind Luck vs. Havre de Grace match race be? Or top 3-year-old colt Shackleford vs. top 3-year-old filly It's Tricky? What if they were ever able to get Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta not just in a race together but in a match race?”

“… There hasn't been a significant match race in 36 years, since Ruffian and Foolish Pleasure at Belmont Park in 1975. The Ruffian tragedy soured just about everyone on match races and turned conventional wisdom upside down. Because of what happened to the filly it became accepted that they are too dangerous. Are they? It's hard to say, but it seems to be reaching to paint match races with such a broad brush because of one tragedy. Unfortunately, horses break down all the time, in all kinds of races, with big fields and small fields, on all surfaces at all distances.”

“Racing could use some more excitement. It could use some high-profile match races.”

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