Did The New York Times Wake Racing Fans or did HBO's LUCK, Saratoga?
By now, you've either read the article in Sunday's NYT or you've heard about it. And, you're talking about the story.
A good conversation for all our friends in Saratoga.
Did The New York Times start paying attention to the problem of jockey deaths or injuries in the thoroughbred or quarter horse world when the three "actor" horse deaths started to occurr during the production of HBO's LUCK, which began shooting in 2010.
I watched every single episode of LUCK. Sadly, that title wasn't very lucky for Michael Mann, Dustin Hoffman, real life jockey/actor, Gary Stevens and the rest of cast, as well as the now out of work production team.
The HBO show shutdown last week caused a ripple effect of interest. I followed this very closely. The show was not highly rated. It was a slow burn. Others called it a ratings bust. But if you have an interest in horse racing, it was good appointment TV.
Did the three horse deaths on the problem plagued production call attention to a larger horse industry issue? The New York Times knows a compelling tale. Expect more stories on this topic in the coming weeks leading up to The Kentucky Derby as THE TRIPLE CROWN series of races starts.
Concerns over the current state of the thoroughbred horse racing as well as the quarter horse/ harness racing industry is now percolating. A closer inspection of tracks, race courses across this country, is a crucial step for the overall horse industry to thrive.
Just as in the steroid scandals of Major League Baseball and bicycle racing's blood doping troubles, self examination leads to reform which leads to a stronger industry. Use of performance enhancing drugs weakens a sport, masking the injuries and allowing the athelete to compete when normally they'd be scratched, sidelined or benched.
As the New York Times continues to investigate and report, where are our New York State leaders?
The politicians know. The owners, breeders, trainers, jockeys know. Now, the fans know part of the story. Did the NYT's do anything but a job, maybe not a perfect job of gathering the facts, but they did what is now considered their job: to spark reader interest.
So, really, who is to blame? The insatiable quest for money or being strapped for money can be a serious root to all these evils. So is a lack of conscience.
Everyone involved may want to take a moment and personally reflect. Decide what is best for their horse, their jockey, their business, for their reputations or foe their media outlet.
For some, this is easy because their conscience is clear. For others, it is a real predicament, a question of character. For those who cut corners, their conscience has never been in question, in their own minds.
Each one knows, down deep, where they fit into that lineup.
The public has so many options to entertain themselves. Drawing a crowd is the business of professionals. Those professionals set their own ethical standards and practices. The industry is often a disjointed profession separate from one another. Is this where the government steps in to regulate? Or is it better to self regulate?
Running horses that break down on the track may entice some in the crowds but will terrify others. Thoroughbreds know to run fast and turn left. It is left to humans to determine if a horse will run hurt.
LUCK's production shut down with no hope of a second season, as originally planned.
As for the current and real life horse racing industry crisis stirred up by the first of many to come New York Times articles, the racing world is facing a critical moment. We all want it to turn out better than LUCK, Saratoga.