Monday, November 29, 2010

GIANT OAK to the rescue

The Clark Handicap ushered out the 2010 season, which like the race went out swinging. Somehow through the illuminated dust-up Giant Oak's big run finally came through. Not first to the wire, Giant Oak has always been a gentlemanly horse, GO won thanks to the contrary nature of Successful Dan who learned the price of Success at all costs: a DQ. Dan's French cargo, Julien Leparoux, got three days for failure to control his bump- and grind-happy mount. Watching the race it looked like Successful Dan might have been reacting to some very precarious angling by the ten horse, but in his efforts he blasted the surging Redding Coillery about three times. Speaking of Redding, he kept away from the front end and was running a very smart race. Keep your eyes on him if he sticks around.

Zenyatta's loss in the Breeders Cup Classic will probably define the year. Though the game in Illinois faces bigger losses if the huge purse cut at Hawthorne and the looming charge of the one-armed bandit point to the future. How ironic that an Illinois Bred, Giant Oak, should take down the G.I Clark Handicap just as Hawthorne's purse cuts which support Illinois-breds takes a hit.

I've said before, I'm not excited about slots making their way onto the oval. The cheaper the criminal the gaudier the patter -- one of my favorite lines from the Maltese Falcon sums up my sentiments for the prospect of slots. But that's just my snobbery. The real problem strings back to the complicated nature of horse racing in America, which was for a long while given the lone provenance of legal gambling. It was provided this because it was able to use our more base, human nature to promote the bettering of our equine stock. We needed to do more than award 4-H blue ribbons at state fairs to keep our animal husbandry up to snuff. Since gambling, like the rest of technology and modern world, has unfettered itself from the horse, the racing industry's perils continue. Maybe a complete rethinking of the Illinois meets and the idea that less is more might be the answer, but most in the industry disagree.

Unfortunately I have no answer. I'd love to see the tracks hold off the bandits, but that thinking is very wishful.


  1. Ryan -

    I somewhat share your distaste for slots, but at this point the tracks need to grab for any life preserver they can find.


  2. I think most people would agree with you Vic. Thanks for posting.