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…
Perhaps I should just pose this question:
Are you aware that none of the American horse racing authorities (including organizations and corporations, both non-profit and for-profit) have Boards of Directors that reflect or address the needs of women in horse racing?
Go ahead–I won’t name any of them–but this morning I conducted a thorough Google session–and I invite you to do the same. Check out any American horse racing organization, either profit-making or non-profit–and tell me how many women are on those boards.
A random sampling:
* Six Board members / one is female
* 13 / one
* 14 / one
* 11/ zero
Again, I refuse to call out organizations and companies. The reason is not that I’m afraid that I’d “…get into trouble.” Oh, please. I thought you knew me well enough by now.
The reason is that, if I call out specific companies and name names, then I’m diluting the message of this article. The message isn’t to slap anyone specific on the hand and say, “Bad boys!”–the message is that we, the professional women in horse racing and the female fans–deserve better.
We deserve to be represented, fully, on every single Board in North America.
An extensive survey released by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers’ Association confirmed several years ago: that females are the majority of the fan base of horse racing.
The Nielsen company confirms it following every major televised race in North America–females are the majority of those watching on TV.
Women participate in horse racing in deep, significant, economically-important ways. We’re not here just to don pretty hats, or to be the date of someone who really understands the sport.
We’re trainers, exercise riders, jockeys, media professionals, owners, accountants, operations managers, farriers, administrators, PR and marketing professionals, handicappers/analysts, grooms, hotwalkers, assistant trainers, horse truck drivers, feed sales consultants, bettors, fans–the list is endless.
There’s no facet of horse racing in which we females are not actively participating.
So why is it, then, that a few of the Boards have ONE female–a token?
Is that one woman–or ZERO women?–supposed to represent the needs and views of women professionals and fans?
And what ARE those needs?
More pretty champagne cocktails on major stakes days, and photo opps with Justin Timberlake?
Or the demand to end horse slaughter, once-and-for-all?
Perhaps the Female Agenda includes bigger issues like slaughter, and the demand that every horse racing company and organization in North America work with local, regional, state and national authorities to protect horses under domestic animal laws, instead of under livestock laws? (Such as is the case here in New York State.)
We women in horse racing have many things on our agenda, and it’s all about the horses, our equine athletes who give us such pleasure and joy.
We want–we demand–that the days of all-male, or 99%-male–Boards of Directors be over. We are the majority of the fan base–we are those who drive the economic bus. We buy the sourvenirs; order the hay; rock the proverbial cradle.
We have things to say, and those things are best said in the context of the Board rooms that control horse racing. The face of the current Boards do NOT reflect the reality of horse racing’s demographics.
Why, we must ask ourselves, do we allow it to continue this bad practice?
* Because it’s easier than fighting?
* Because men at the helm DO represent all the needs of women in the sport? (This is patently NOT TRUE.)
* Because it’s always been that way? It’s “tradition”?
As I wrote just yesterday, not all traditions are good. Cannibalism is a tradition in some cultures, and not everyone involved in the transaction benefits thereof.
I do not hate men.
I do not love or like women more than I love or like men.
I love horses.
Everything that I do is motivated by my obsessive, single-minded focus on horses.
What’s good for horses is good for the sport of horse racing.
And women–yes, we who comprise at least 52% of the viewing audience, according to Nielsen–are good for horses.
If you run a Board in horse racing: invite us onto your Boards in appropriately proportionate measure. If you have 13 members, seven of them should be females.
(OUCH!! That’s gotta hurt, I know, but that would be the fair reflection on your Board. Now, imagine how WE feel…)
If you’re a woman in horse racing, claim your right to use your voice. Get yourself onto one of those Boards. The Boards need your talents, insights, service and strong work ethic.
If you’re a man in horse racing–again, professional or fan–please let your voice be heard. Surely you gentlemen know that the scales need to be re-calibrated. Hall of Fame trainer, LeRoy Jolley, doesn’t hesitate to speak up on the matter–why should you?
Weigh in, and help get more women onto those Boards.
Horse racing will not thrive in North America as long as:
a) The horses are represented by only 48% of the human population, who are in a position to speak up for them; and
b) That other 52% aren’t able to participate in the decision- and policy-making process.
Welcome, race fans and pros, to the Future.
Hello, horse racing Boards?
It’s the 19th Century.
They want their misogyny back.
And they suggest that you go Blinkers Off, to get the picture from both sides.