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.