Sometimes, Good Things Can Come From Bad

Horse Racing Radar
Rich Bieglmeier
Rich Bieglmeier is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Friday, March 12, 2021


Once again, horse racing's reputation is suffering from self-inflicted wounds. Last week, the unforgivable photo of Irish horse trainer Gordon Elliott sitting on a dead horse while on the phone, smiling and giving the peace sign went viral with millions and millions viewing the shameful image. We will not dignify his callous act with a link to the photo.

It is said that a picture is worth 1000 words. Unfortunately, the words that come to mind from Elliott's grotesque lack of self-awareness are unfit to print and do damage to the Sport of Kings. And then... the words Elliott did print in his apology only made things worse, "I apologize profoundly for any offense this photo has caused" was part of his statement.

Some people just don't get it – IT'S NOT THE PHOTO!

It's the lack of respect. The image makes one wonder if horses dying is such a common occurrence that some within the industry think nothing of sitting on a dead horse, smiling, giving the peace sign, and making a phone call. 

It's an over the top, damn near parody, re-enforcement of the negative stereotype that horseplayers and the industry only care about the money and care less about the horses. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

In our short time, Horse Racing Radar has talked with a lot of great people in the business, owners, jockeys, trainers, announcers, agents... the common theme we hear from nearly all of them is they love the horses. As they should. The Player's Edge Podcast listeners might recall trainer Kris Fullerton telling us some owners refuse to allow their horses to run in claiming ranks because they love their horses too much to lose them.

To be fair, we all make mistakes. To fail is part of the human condition. Character or lack thereof comes after we get up. The horse racing industry has had more than its fair share of falls in the last few years. From the doping conspiracy with trainers Jason Servis and Jorge Navarro, to the slew of deaths, to Elliott.

Now is time to accept nothing short of absolute character and put the health and well-being of horses' front and center. Horse Racing Radar supports H.R.1754 - Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2020. It will create national standards for horse racing with an emphasis on track and horse safety. It has passed in the House of Representatives and sits in the Senate. Please contact your Senators and ask them to bring the bill to a vote.

If horse racing doesn't take the necessary steps of putting the best of its character and people to the front, the fans and the good people within the industry should force their hand. Otherwise, the Sport of Kings could go the way of kings.