Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Perfect Storm

A "perfect storm" is an expression that describes an event where a rare combination of circumstances will aggravate a situation drastically, such was the experience I witnessed at the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) meeting earlier today.

In one corner you had Frank Stronach, the owner of Santa Anita Racetrack and Golden Gate Fields (among many other business interests inside and outside of horse racing) and the other an incredulous Racing Board trying to put a finger in the dike of California Racing. Those in attendance waited hours to hear what Mr. Stronach would say with respect to his plans for Santa Anita, the Oak Tree meet (whether or not it would be held at the aforementioned race track as it has for the past 41 years), and what was his long term business plan. It was as I say "the Perfect storm".

But back to my note, while listening to endless bickering, and the at times non-sensible approach to problems voiced by Mr. Stronach, I wrote on my note pad "Someone Needs to Be a Hero". What I didn't know is 45 minutes later a hero would in fact turn the tide of the meeting. The hero you ask? Mr. Mace Siegel.

Mr. Siegel's voice commands attention. His gravel, deep voice swept through the room and people listened, including Frank Stronach. Somehow with the delivery of reason, Mr. Siegel was able to have the Board "hear" miraculously what none of us did, that somehow he knew that Mr. Stronach could be reasonable. And so after listening to both sides, mediated by Mace Siegel, Frank Stronach recanted his statement and with the approval of the Oak Tree Board, which was in attendance, the race meet would be reinstated for one year (this race meet only). It was in a word, extraordinary.

I don't begin to know all the answers, in fact I have many more questions than answers. I also do not have the history and background in racing that many of the distinguished members in the audience had, however I do know a sinking ship when I see one, and I know a life jacket and an anchor when I see one too. We need both in California.

We need many heroes to save horse racing in California, my hope is that this will be the first step.

Speaking of Storms.....after the CHRB meeting concluded, I went to the backside to see Delta Storm.

Delta Storm is a nine year old gelding, that last year ran fourth in the Breeders Cup Sprint and found himself last week in Stockton entered to run for $ 3,200. His story too was a perfect storm for those that want to find one more reason to not like horse racing. The Second Race, with his former trainer and owner, worked to secure his retirement to CERF (California Equine Retirement Foundation).

Which brings me to what concerns me the most about the future of horse racing in my State and that is the horses. What is to happen to all of them? Where are they to go? How can we support them when or if the industry pulls up stakes and either leaves the business entirely, or abandons racing locally for more profitable jurisdictions? There are literally thousands of horses that need to be accounted for in our actions.

The Second Race hopes that while many more arguments and meetings will transpire in the coming months, we take a moment and think of the responsible retirement of the horses. Without the horses, there isn't racing. And that is a fact that can't be argued inside, or outside of California.


  1. Sharla - I love this page, this blog, this site and your intention! I offer Eponassage, a flex, stretch and collect massage routine for all runners, foaling mares and event performers. I'd like to figure out a time to talk more about this with you.

  2. SK Racing StableJune 23, 2010 at 8:37 AM

    Nice writeup. Yes, racing needs our heros and some of the greatest of our time live right in our state!! The connections of Zenyatta have opened her to the world and all of her fans. Mike Smith was great before the TV show Jockeys, but that combine with his continuing success, he should be a household name, a celebrity, and a hero. California and the racing industry has another horse celebrity that being Kinsale King, winner of the Dubai Golden Shadeen (G1) and just this last week was 3rd in the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot. I hope we can celebrate his accomplishments with perhaps a giveaway or something to bring attention to his accomplishments and his outgoing trainer (another heart warming story) and to our sport. There are many racing horse and people "celebrities" that the public would be interested in. I go on ... but you get the gist. We need to celebrate our racing greats and share them with the public ... to draw in more fans and potential owners, breeders ... and bring back the glamor and excitement of horse racing.


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