Horse Racing in Georgia?
It’s legal, you know. To race horses in Georgia, that is.
Pari-mutuel betting in Georgia?
Not so much. In fact, not at all.
Yes, it IS a situation that makes no sense. At least, not in a way that American horse racing fans understand. In the U.S., horse racing without wagering is a sport that cannot grow, because the bucks from wagering are needed to pay the bills. (That is the VERY simple way of stating a very complicated system.)
I acknowledge that the conversation about horse racing and wagering is SO long and complicated–and I know that I’m not the ideal person to argue the economic benefits of bringing the sport in its full form to the great State of Georgia. I’m not an economist. Not a politician. I’m not in Georgia.
What I am…is an opinionated Upstate New Yorker, and a woman whose heart is torn to shreds by horses every day, for one reason or another. We’ll get to the shredding part in a minute…because, like a great pulled-pork sandwich (and Georgia knows about barbecue, for sure)…horses and human hearts are the real, best argument for horse racing in Georgia, or anywhere…
I’m not an official of any kind. I can’t help the Georgia Horse Racing Coalition convince the State government to allow the good People of Georgia to vote on pari-mutuel wagering in the state. (Primarily, precisely because I’m not a Georgian, and the folks in the State House in Atlanta don’t care about what I think.)
So I can’t do much of anything to help Georgians enjoy horse racing in their state, or to grow it into an industry that’s flush, fat and raking in the dough. (A reminder: that dough will benefit everyone, from the hospitality industry–hotels, restaurants, etc.–to local and regional Chambers of Commerce; other sports organizations and the government of the State, itself. Hint, hint: horse racing brings jobs, money, tourism and taxes.)
The Georgia Horse Racing Coalition has a Board of Directors and Executive Leadership Committee, both of which are chock-full of people who are very well-pedigreed, themselves. (The list of these dedicated people are below.)
Nope, I’m too far away, geographically, to do much. And none of my talents involve lobbying in the State House in Atlanta,or knowing all the legal ins and outs.
But I can write. I can write, and I can tell you about the one, best argument for horse racing in Georgia–and why his story matters to Georgians, to all of us. This Best Argument has four legs, a mane, and a lightning-bolt on his forehead.
The lightning-bolt forehead-thing makes it sound like our Best Argument is a superhero.
He is, and his name is Mucho Macho Man.
Why is his story important? Why should the tale of his grit convince anyone that Georgia needs horse racing?
Because he makes me cry.
Simply put: Everyone who knows horse racing knows the story of Mucho Macho Man. Knows that he changed hands early in his career. And that his owners–Reeves Thoroughbred Racing–know their horse and believe in him. His insightful, wise trainer, Kathy Ritvo, made some very smart moves for the horse–and together, they won the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2013. (Among other victories, of course.)
Watching Mucho Macho Man (whom I really want to nickname, M3 / M-Cubed) cross that finish line at Santa Anita made me and every other race fan cry. (The tears are merely the outward expression of something so wonderful, that only a weeping heart can express it, wordlessly.)
We connect to the horse and to his story, as a culture and as individuals. His tale rings true in my own heart: the beautiful boy–muscular, swift and focused– has enjoyed a career that very-much mirrors my own life and career. He’s had his ups, he’s had his downs. His truly is a story of second chances and of redemption.
And this story of second chances is one to which 95% of all race fans can relate. It’s a very rare human who starts life with all the advantages, and never is thrown a curve in the road. Almost no one is born with all the advantages and lives their entire lives with no near-misses.
All of us understand how it feels to be given the great gift of the opportunity for redemption. And when we realize that this opportunity is before us–we strive with all our hearts to make it work.
This is one of the key reasons why Mucho Macho Man pricks the hearts of so many race fans, and makes new fans of others who come into racing after they’ve heard his story. He’s been up, he’s been down–but his own huge spirit–and his owners and his trainer— knew that he had that fire inside.
Mucho Macho Man makes me cry because, at 57 years of age–because his story resonates with me on a deep, spiritual–cellular, even–level. You, sitting in your home, in your soul–you know how it feels to really want–to need–to show the world that you really are as gifted/talented/brilliant as you’ve always believed. When Mucho Macho Man crossed that finish line at Santa Anita and won the Breeders’ Cup Classic, he showed us–again–that he IS All That. That he IS mucho. That he does belong in the Pantheon of racing deities.
And this, folks, is the most compelling argument why horse racing should be alive and well and thriving in the great State of Georgia. Mucho Macho Man–bred in Florida, owned by Georgians, very much belongs to everyone who loves racing. In Georgia, he’s the Home Team–his family lives there. He’s a Hero, in the classic Greek sense of the word. The Hero who rises above, and wins in the end.
But in Greek mythology, the Hero’s victory isn’t a one-time thing, or even a lifetime thing. It’s not a stagnant story. No, the Hero’s Journey is one that teaches a lesson for the ages.
The Hero’s victory belongs to all of us, to all who know his tale and are encouraged to go and do the same.
Mucho Macho Man’s heroic journey makes me cry. His journey makes me examine my own lifepath, and to know–really know–that I can rise above anything that’s thrown at me.
And so can you.
And, just like the Big Horse, we can see that finish line and rush toward it, knowing that victory is our destiny.
I’m not the only one who cries when I think about this wonderful horse and his journey of heroic proportions.
Many Georgians cry,too. And they deserve to see horse racing LIVE, on their own doorsteps, just as we fans in New York, Florida, California, Kentucky, etc., etc., etc.–get to see. We who live in states with tracks take it for granted–but imagine being a race fan in Georgia? They have to travel extraordinary miles–take vacation time, and spend a ton of cash–JUST to see one horse race, live.
They’re willing to travel many miles in the off-chance that just once in their lives they may see a horse of such monumental soul that the ground and their own souls shake when he thunders past.
Georgians deserve to see racing live in their state, and wagering to help their economy grow. They deserve to stand at the finish line, screaming their brains out and weeping buckets when their favorite horse wins. When they witness Greatness, horse-sonified.
Horse racing makes fans cry, because this is the sport in which mythological horses like Mucho Macho Man rise up out of the same primordial soup as every other horse–but then go on to serve as role models for the rest of us. I truly believe that the beautiful, strong,swift, magnificent animals who run for us and for their connections are the design of God’s own Mind.
And horses with the spirit, the guts, the grit of Mucho Macho Man are the very archetype.
The human spirit resounds with that of The Horse. Georgia’s Hometown Hero gives us all hope for our own lives, precisely because of the immediacy of that connection–and our hopes for our own redeemed lives. Georgia must get horse racing–the fans deserve the chance to be inspired, blessed, encouraged and redeemed.
Only horse racing offers Heroes of mythological, eternal proportions.
Please check out the Georgia Horse Racing Coalition, and find a way to help them achieve their goals to bring horse racing fully into their beautiful state. Mucho Macho Man makes you cry, doesn’t he? Foals yet-unborn deserve the opportunity to race in Georgia, and take along thousands of Georgians for the ride. To create their own legacies, on Georgia’s renowned red soil.
The Georgia Horse Racing Coalition deserves your attention. If for no other reason than that–at some time in your Life, Mucho Macho Man or another horse–brought you to tears. And you realize that you want to share this amazing experience, of wailing at the finish line–with our friends in Georgia.
Thank you. For more information–to learn more; donate or otherwise help the cause, please contact:
Georgia Horse Racing Coalition:
Board of Directors:
Hal Barry: Chairman of Barry Real Estate Companies; Senior MFH of Bear Creek Hounds;
former Chairman of the Atlanta Steeplechase
Carl Bouckaert: Founder and Owner of Beaulieu Group LLC; two-time Olympic Equestrian;
MFH of Bear Creek Hounds
Dean Reeves: Owner of Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and the Champion stakes winner,
Mucho Macho Man; CEO of Reeves Contracting Co.
Jack Damico: Partner, Matson Driscoll & Damico; General Manager/Owner of The Posse Racing Stable
Tom Schulte: Senior Vice President, Dominium Benefits
Executive Leadership Committee:
Tyler Alexander, VP/Partner, GCI Graphics
Fred Fletcher, EVP, Jones Lang Lasalle & Manager, Big Stick Stables, LLC
Elaine Boyer, DeKalb County Commissioner
Greg Barckhoff, GM, CSS Sports Properties
Doug Dillard, Attorney at Law, Weissman Nowack Curry & Wilco
Bob Meier, Attorney at Law
Dennis Morgan, Owner, Diamond M Stables; Morgan Farms
Patti Reeves, President, Reeves Media; Owner, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing
Mark Taylor, Former Lieutenant Governor of the State of Georgia; President and CEO, Fred Taylor Company, Albany, Georgia
Angela Veugeler, Owner, Veugeler Design Group; Publisher of Suwanee Magazine
Martha Woodham, Owner, The Blythewood Group
Breeders’ Cup Photos (c)