View From the Eighth Pole

View From The Eighth Pole: Does Weight Matter Any More In Horse Racing?

The recent passing of longtime racing official Thomas E. (Tommy) Trotter served as a reminder of what being a racing secretary at a major track in the golden age of horse racing was like, when one of the primary components of the job was compiling weight assignments for horses nominated to handicaps. The idea for […]

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View From The Eighth Pole: It’s Time To Get Rid Of Clenbuterol

It’s been nearly eight years since the late Kent Stirling, then the executive director of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, said during a Congressional hearing on “Medication and Performance-Enhancing Drugs in Horse Racing” that the bronchodilator clenbuterol is “probably the best drug that’s come out in 30 years.” Veterinarians I’ve spoken to have […]

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View From The Eighth Pole: The Irrational Exuberance Of Ahmed Zayat

For many, a horse racing stable is a business. As most Thoroughbred owners know, however, it’s not a business that anyone should count on being profitable. A quick look at the math: In 2018, according to The Jockey Club Fact Book, 46,144 starters competed for about $1.1 billion in purses. The average earnings per starter […]

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View From the Eighth Pole: No Horse Racing Commission, No Transparency In Florida

It didn’t take long for trainer Victor Barboza Jr. to find the winner’s circle after being reinstated at Gulfstream Park by the Hallandale Beach, Fla., track’s owner, The Stronach Group, which reportedly handed the Venezuela native a six-month suspension in November for having unlabeled medication in his barn. Granpollo Stable’s Gran Greyfrost won a low-level […]

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View From The Eighth Pole: American Exceptionalism In The Graded Stakes Process

In December 2018, I suggested the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association’s American Graded Stakes Committee lacked common sense when it came time to assigning designations to the best races in this country. Nothing has changed in the last 12 months to convince me otherwise. I wrote then that the committee – armed with reams of […]

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View From The Eighth Pole: Making Jockeys Part Of The Solution

Javier Castellano was mad. Not fighting with Calvin Borel mad, but the Hall of Fame jockey was mad enough as he recalled a story from a few years ago that bothers him to this day. Castellano had been sitting quietly while a panel of jockeys and racetrack executives exchanged ideas about how the two groups […]

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View From The Eighth Pole: U.S. Horse Racing’s Lack Of Organization, Leadership Magnified During Crisis

Horse racing is in crisis, and not just in California or the United States, where there has been an increased focus on the sport’s equine fatalities since Santa Anita Park went through a particularly deadly period last winter. More recently, Keeneland – in the heart of Kentucky’s Thoroughbred industry – has been on the defensive […]

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View From The Eighth Pole: California Governor’s Actions Tell Different Story Than His Words

Racing in California faces an uncertain future, based on stinging comments about the sport made by Gov. Gavin Newsom to the New York Times this week.  Newsom, a Democrat elected in a landslide last November, expressed his unhappiness with the spike in fatalities at Santa Anita earlier this year along with the regulatory oversight provided […]

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View From The Eighth Pole: Horse Racing Should Heed Lessons From California

The metrics of the horse racing business have changed. There was a time, when I first got involved in the game in the 1970s, that attendance and wagering were the key numbers in defining success and failure of a race meeting. Off-track betting facilities, full-card simulcasting and advance deposit wagering gutted on-track business and made […]

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