Ask Me Anything! (Round One of many…)

If you’re reading this, you’ve successfully found Horse Sense’s new format on WordPress!  To celebrate this kick-off, I asked my Twitter followers to submit questions about anything – racing or non-racing.  Since I didn’t get all that many, I’m opening this up the first of every month.  Also, beginning with next time, you’ll have the opportunity to ask Stephen Wong questions on Twitter as well.

Without further ado, here’s what you guys asked!

Is there anything about European racing that you envy that you feel US racing doesn’t have?

I particularly like the whip rules in European racing.  I’m a horsewoman myself and know that the whip should be used as a minor aid, not  as the end-all-be-all.  It makes me sad when I see a horse opening up by several lengths, but its jockey continues to repeatedly smack it with the crop.  “You guys are obviously comfortably winning,” I say, exasperated, “so why are you still hitting that horse?”  Limiting the number of times you can hit may make the use of that object much more strategic and humane.

Lasix policies over there are also something I’m particularly fond of; I could go into detail about how I feel about the furosemide situation in racing, but I’ll save that for a later post!

Do you watch much British horse racing? And if so, in day to day terms, how does the quality equate to that in America?

I don’t watch as much British racing as I should.  I tune in for big events, like QIPCO Champions Day, Derby Day, Royal Ascot, etc., but rarely find myself tuning in to an average day at the races across the pond.  However, when I have, I’ve always been pleased.  What I like about their system is that they’re a smaller country with less racetracks, so the quality of racing over there should be higher than ours due to America’s having many racetrack with many varying levels of horses.

Most British racing also seems to have a lot of history behind it; it’s cool to see racing at Newmarket and Epsom and know that some of the greatest Thoroughbreds of all time – horses that built the foundation of the breed – ran on those courses.

OK, what would you change about US racing if you were in charge?

First of all, racing needs a strong central governing body – and I don’t mean the U.S. Government.  I’m thinking something like the NFL or NBA, where rules and regulations are consistent across the country.  National consistency would do a lot of good for racing.  Once we have that central system, we can start to crack down on the issues at hand.  I think we need fewer racing dates, a more streamlined stakes schedule that allows the big guns to face each other long before the Breeders’ Cup, an age limit on when to breed young horses (I’m thinking nothing under four), and all sorts of stuff like that.  We can talk and talk all we want, but until we have that central government controlling decisions, we’ll get nowhere.

How upset are you that the new Derby point system is biased against fillies?

Not upset at all, because it’s really not.  I don’t agree with owners throwing their fillies in for the first time against males in a grueling spring ten furlong challenge.  All three female winners of the Kentucky Derby faced males previously in their career.  If an owner is serious about running his filly in the Derby, he should test the water by putting her in these point races.  If she wins – or performs admirably – she’ll earn her spot in the Derby starting gate.  I really think the death of the earnings system has done nothing but good for the Derby.  Now if we could only limit that field to fourteen…

Thanks for these very interesting questions – I had a lot of fun answering them!  Save up your questions for the next round, and I’ll have fun answering those as well.


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