By T.J. Simers
When Barbaro went down and was cremated, horse racing buried his ashes at the main entrance to Churchill Downs. How appropriate a dead horse reminding everyone what a dying sport it had become.
The latest news is the last straw of hay, though, news coming that Forte tested positive from drugs last year after winning a big race. Forte was the favorite in this year”s Kentucky Derby until he was scratched the morning of the Derby.
I love horse racing, but something stinks here.
The suspicion here is that Forte was scratched after trainer Todd Fletcher learned of a pending New York Times story naming Forte as a cheater. How would it have looked if Forte won the Derby and then had to explain the cheating charges?
The LA Times is paying some guy living in Florida to cover horse racing for the Times. He didn’t have a word, or hint, Forte was up to no good and the Times for his airfare to Louisville, hotel and meals. It would have been a whole lot cheaper to hire the Associated Press or refer every one to the NY Times.
What I’d like to know is how they kept it out of the public eye for more than a year. Bob Baffert, I’m sure, would like to know the same thing, getting the boot and prohibited from competing in the Derby. Otherwise, it’s just another racing coverup, and it’s like my wife says every time I bemoan the fact that I had the worst luck betting the horses. “It’s fixed,” she screams.
A number of years ago I bet a Pick 6 in my dead dad’s honor. I lost learning later, one of the horses had a surgical procedure to allow it to breathe, the trainer, Vladimir Cerin, telling me it wasn’t the public’s right to know the horse could not breath.
At the same time I challenged trainer Jeff Mullins, who had been accused of milk shaking horses —sticking a hose down its throat and loading up a horse’s stomach with baking soda which allows a horse to run further without fatigue becoming a factor.
When I quizzed Mullins, he said the problem with racing “are all the addicts and idiots crying because they lost a $2 bet.”
I noticed on the Internet Mullins was suspended this past January for cheating.
Horse racing just doesn’t care about the people who still find the sport fascinating.
What if we covered the backside like we do the Dodgers or Lakers? There are stories everywhere and they can’t be covered from Florida. As long as there is money involved, people are going to cheat. And with Baffert and Pletcher involved, that’s two of the very best in sport, so what are the guys who are trying to catch Baffert and Pletcher doing?
I know this, none of them are going to get my money anymore.