By now, everyone in horse racing knows that Olympics medalist, Alpine skier, Bode Miller has announced his intention to become a Trainer of Thoroughbreds. That's nice.
I've read everything I can about his thoughts on the subject, because I don't want to write this Open Letter to Mr. Miller and come across as being, well, judgmental.
I want to be fair, of course: I understand his passion for the sport. And no one understands his love for horses more than I. But there's a big gap between being a lover of horses and becoming a Trainer. If love for the animals and the sport could make one a Trainer, I'd have had my license 50 years ago.
So, sans any more ado, here are my thoughts, written as a letter to Mr. Miller. (Everyone who's not Bode Miller is invited to read, of course.)...
It's October 8th, 2014, and by this time everyone in the world of international horse racing knows that Cigar, one of the world's greatest Thoroughbreds ever, has died.
Race fans all know Cigar's background and statistics; I have nothing to contribute to the enormous body of knowledge about the magical horse's achievements.
The only things I have to offer are personal memories, but maybe those, too, will help add to the story of how this one extraordinary horse touched human souls, and give insight into the inner workings of such a horse of steel...
For 11 years now, I've ranted, cajoled and begged for the world of horse racing to See it This Way, that women must participate fully in the sport in order for it to grow and thrive--both in the United States and elsewhere around the world. (I must note here that this argument applies only to Thoroughbred horse racing, for it appears that in the world of Arabian horse racing--misogyny and gender exclusion is noticeably absent.)
I awoke this morning at 4AM because words were going through my head, as happens too often. The words pummeled my brain and invaded my sleep until finally two hours later, yawning and all watery-eyed, I surrendered, got up and turned on the computer.
I have a story to tell you, and this story must be told in order for the title of this article to make sense. It's a very personal story--one that very few people know. It almost frightens me, the thought of sharing this story with anyone--never mind, with the entire Universe, via Internet. But apparently it's important, or the words wouldn't have assaulted me with the intent of being written down with a specific purpose.
Aware of the fact that you, my readers, are viewing this on the Internet--and therefore, are part of the generations of humans who glean information virtually--I'll keep this as brief as possible. I need to think that you get through the story, in order to understand truly the moral of the tale.
Unfortunately, that means that there's a trade involved: In order to shorten the story to a length that won't drive you away--I'll have to use some words that are unsavory. Not "dirty" or socially unacceptable--but rather words that challenge the Great American Denial of Mortality.
Please read this article to the end. If you skim it, you won't get the full meaning, and you need to understand the message here. Horse racing in general needs to Get It, and we can't Get Something--Anything--if we don't fully understand.
So read on--take your time, work with me here, folks. This story and the moral at the end are worth your time and energy...
In upstate New York--just a few miles from our renowned and elegant Saratoga Race Course, an evil man named GERALD (JERRY) HERRON has been abusing horses for years. He abuses and neglects all the other animals on his "farm," as well.
His most recent offense is that, among other sins, he starved a precious colt to death. YES, he did.
I'm too angry and upset to write anything eloquent: instead, I'm going to give the proverbial keyboard to MR. BRAD SHEAR, Executive Dirctor of the Mohawk & Hudson River Humane Society, to tell you about the horrors. Please read all the way to the end, and follow Mr. Shear's instructions for phone calls that MUST be placed, in order to get this evil man into prison and animals--especially, horses--out of his hands. If he is allowed to keep animals, he'll kill them. Period. Do you want to be complicit in his crime, simply because you couldn't be bothered to pick up the phone and make two calls?
I don't care if Herron is crazy, certifiably a lunatic. I don't care if his Mommy left him as a child, and he's sad so he acts out and hurts animals. I don't give a damn about his problems. Tough life? Too bad. He has no right--legally or morally--to abuse the animals who were entrusted to him.
Please read, and then act. It doesn't matter if you live in New York, France or Mars. If you truly care about animal welfare, you'll care about this, and act. Thank you, very much...
Effective immediately, I'm giving up my previous mission, of working to create a horse racing media empire and striving to help women become fully part of the sport's media landscape. In my heart, that mission served as the foundation for my obsession to help save horses from slaughter, abuse and neglect, by getting more females involved in racing media and on the boards of racing organizations.
Forget that. Yes, effective immediately, I'm overthrowing all previous vocational notions in favor of my True Calling. I'm slapping on a coat of Chanel red lipstick. I'm going to don a saucy black lace veil and acquire a large, bowling-ball-sized crystal ball.
Effective immediately, I'm trading in my laptop and microphone, and accepting my true role, as Horse Racing Psychic...
I shan't go into much detail--you can find the details elaborately laid out on the pages of my new website.
Yes, on Wednesday, September 10trh, a new horse racing cyberdestination was foaled, and her name is http://www.fillyracing.com ...
The curtain has come down.
The Saratoga race meet is over.
Tom Durkin has left the building.
For all intents and purposes, now it is the Autumn Racing Season, and with it come Belmont, Keeneland, Breeders' Cup, etc.
So today's the first day of going back to Business as Usual. No more sultry Saratoga nights. No more parties, and running into friends I haven't seen in years.
No more gentle amusement every time I hear Lily, the pygmy goat, bleat.
No more gentleness, at all. As the camaraderie of the backstretch and Lily's plaintive requests for attention slip away with the last Summer breezes, we begin to hunker down for Winter.
Autumn is the transition time, that gracious space in-between the blood-boiling heat of Summer's many lusty conquests and the same blood, freezing dead-still in your veins.
Along with the bright orange, red and yellow leaves and the crisp Autumn air comes the b***h-slap of Reality. And today that Reality beat me out of my nostalgia for Saratoga, and headlong into the painful realization that the Suffragist movement hasn't yet made it to American horse racing, for we women get virtually NO vote. And you know it's true...
It's taken me weeks to write this article, chiefly because writing about AmDubai Racing Stable and the two people at its core is a far-more complicated task than merely whipping up a profile of a Trainer and his/her horse.
Anyone who can answer the questions,Who/What/When/Where/Why/How can write a profile.
But Trainers Seth Benzel and his partner, Trainer Joanna Patejuk aren't surface people. To write about what they're doing--why they're doing it--and their five-year plan requires a tool that I''m going to call a soul microscope. I don't want to tell you just what they're doing, but Where, and Why.
And my observation is that the Where and Why are deeper than that which merely meets the eye, or the pages of a turf magazine...
Two can't-miss screenings in one:
Secretariat's Jockey, Ron Turcotte and Penny and Red, the Life of Secretariat's Owner
THIS Sunday (August 24) at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. VIP reception prior with Secretariat's jockey, Ron Turcotte and other racing celebrities.
The evening will benefit two wonderful, worthy organizations: the Secretariat Center at the Kentucky Horse Park--founded by Penny Chenery, herself--and my favorite museum in the world, the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
6PM, VIP Reception
7PM, Screenings, Q&A
Tickets are $50 for VIP reception and screenings, $20 for screenings alone.
Get your tickets ASAP, folks. This is the only Saratoga/upstate New York screening of these two extraordinary films.
For more information:
National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame:
For more information, and to purchase tickets:
Be there, or be forced to listen to your friends talk about it for the entire next month.
A thought came to me a few minutes ago, and it's something I really must pursue. If you're up to it, come along for the journey...