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Hi Clint. We came from the same place, in the 70s. We saw the same deterioration. It caused me to write this on LinkedIn…
What’s eating away at the thoroughbred industry?
Licensing! We license some of the worse people possible. They have no desire to become horsemen. They know very little about the horse and how to train one. Read the form. It’s all right there. The test is ridiculous when you think about what is at stake. Horsemen are becoming a thing of the past. Any of us probably can point to less than a dozen. So very few trainers know that when horses reach 5 years old, they go through a mental change. They become adults, if you will. How many times have you seen an older horse get a freshening and expected to need one, romp with top speed numbers? Only to be run back in 21-28 days and watch the numbers digress, race after race. Now, the horse is mentally ruined because he told his trainer, the only way he knows how to communicate and got ignored. Now he starts a pattern of cheating. He gave up. Why? Because his trainer has no desire to become a horseman.
The fix: Anyone applying for a trainers license must take a horsemanship course, designed to teach about speed horses and stayers and the vast difference in training. Training the horses mind. Knowing how to get a horse ready for 2 turns without it being a big surprise. A course that also sets them on a path to horsemanship. I mark really nice horses to stable mail and watch 80% of them go right down hill due to shear ignorance. I’m SICK of it. Back in 1972, I remember full fields, all day. I also remember no shortage of true horsemen. As they died off, they left us with pretenders. They intern turned out more pretenders. It’s time to stop this destructive snowball and teach trainers how to train. Make testing far more intensive. Employ real horsemen to put together a course that works.
What can we do? How do we get Congress involved?
Jason, Wow – big and broad topic and some great points you raise here. In my opinion, there is no quick or easy solution. I am of the mindset that if the entire racing game were restructured from the bottom up, not the top down, a lot of what you’re writing about would take care of it’s self. The sport/game would then (return to) demanding better horsemanship from all involved or they would get pushed out by those who are consummate horsemen and women.
Personally, I received my apprentice jockey certificate, my assistant trainers license and my trainers license under Kentucky State Steward, Keene Dangerfield. He did not play games and never thought twice about denying a license to those not up to the standards of the sport.
My only other thought is this; I think it would be a mistake to get politicians (Congress) involved. Those largely corrupt retards, who know next to nothing about almost everything except how to get re-elected would only serve to screw things up worse. Racing is already regulated almost to death. The best policy is to always police an industry better, tougher and more thoroughly than an outside entity that knows nothing of your business. The key of course is the proper courage and will to act, make tough decisions and follow though on enforcements.
The sport can be fixed. We need bold new action and need to go against the power structure currently in place that rewards the beneficiaries of the issues to which you speak. – Clint
Enjoyed your column on fixing the Kentucky Derby money-making circus.
It a universal problem.
There is still some dignity in Europe where I’m based.
Wish the fans behaved better, but they are not really horse people; they are there for the parties.
I shared your article in Racing International’s facebook and twitter pages: https://www.facebook.com/RacingInternational/ and @racingint
Thanks for trying.
Website undergoing redesign.
Thank you so much for reading my blog and for sharing with your countrymen and friends. I always appreciate hearing from people who are on the inside who get it! You are totally correct, it is a universal problem..
This is Leanne McGarity (the trainer in training LOL) I love the “jockeycentral” idea, I have wondered why there isn’t a clearing house so to speak. I would rather make a phone call to someone …1person…and say “hey Clint, I’ve got this filly that is a real pain in the butt, I have been through 3 gallopers and 2 jockeys.What can you find for me” and you say…” I’ve got a guy named blahblah and that is his specialty” or “hey Clint, you know I am a women trainer…I want to support the women jockeys so send me all the women that want a shot.” If you can I don’t know how difficult it would be but if you could gather info from the trainers and such. Sometimes there are personality clashes , I get that but…if you somehow keep a log next to their name and you see that the last three trainers said he was a good rider but never showed up on Monday mornings, or like I mentioned before when a trainer says” man that girl just made that nasty little filly purr like a kitten, I got more work out of all my fillys this week than I have in weeks” then you might write down next to the jocks name…REALLY GOOD WITH NASTY FILLIES. Well I am sure I am not telling you something you don’t know but…just thought I would like to give my perspective too. I hope to one day soon to use your services. Also I really enjoy your articles, they are super informative, interesting and bang on right on the money. So you can count me as one of your “groupies” LOL!!! I am a big fan of INTELLIGENCE and experience and practicality. You deliver all three most definitely. Thanks for letting me give my opinion whether you really need it or not! LOL!!! Leanne
Thanks for the thoughts, Leanne. The “old guard” rule makers have made this very difficult to implement or I would have tried to launch it sooner. Horse racing is not known for embracing change, that’s a big reason the sport has been on the decline for 2+ decades. That and lack of central leadership.
Riders pay agents too much money and trainers go crazy trying to track down the dozens of different agents handling many dozens of riders.. My idea makes so much sense, it’s not even funny. That, however will be one of the biggest problems – it makes too much sense! We’ll see if I can get it off the ground!
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