Archive for Preakness

Will the Derby and Preakness Wins Be Enough For “Chrome” To Hold Off Shared Belief for Three Year Old of the Year????

This week’s LET IT RIDE.COM HOT TOPIC comes from Steven Crist of…take a read and VOICE AN OPINION!

Double Crown title streak could end

As any schoolchild knows, every 3-year-old since 1978 who won both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness failed to win the Belmont Stakes and complete the Triple Crown. But did you know there’s an even longer streak regarding the winners of the first two legs of the Triple Crown?

Since the Eclipse Awards began in 1971 through last year, 16 horses have won the Derby and Preakness – and every single one of them won the Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old: Canonero II (1971), Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977), Affirmed (1978), Spectacular Bid (1979), Pleasant Colony (1981), Alysheba (1987), Sunday Silence (1989), Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998), Charismatic (1999), War Emblem (2001), Funny Cide (2003), Smarty Jones (2004), Big Brown (2007), I’ll Have Another (2012) and … wait, not so fast on adding California Chrome (2014) to the list.

After Shared Belief’s impressive victory against his elders in the Pacific Classic last Sunday, he inched ahead of the idle California Chrome in the National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s weekly Horse of the Year poll. (Shared Belief and California Chrome are now ranked second and third behind the 7-year-old gelding Wise Dan.)

You have to go back 45 years, before the dawn of the Eclipses, to find a 3-year-old who won the Derby and Preakness but was not acknowledged as the division’s champion: That would be Majestic Prince in 1969. He beat Arts and Letters by a neck in the Derby and by a head in the Preakness, but Arts and Letters beat him by 5 1/2 lengths in the Belmont and then reeled off consecutive victories in the Jim Dandy, Travers, Woodward, and Jockey Club Gold Cup. (He also won the Blue Grass and, in between the Preakness and Belmont, the Met Mile.) Arts and Letters was understandably acclaimed as the champion 3-year-old and Horse of the Year.

It looked as if things might go the same way a couple of times since. Twenty years after Arts and Letters, Easy Goer had a very similar streak after falling short to Sunday Silence in the Derby and Preakness. He was heavily favored to complete the turnaround in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but then Sunday Silence beat him for the third time in four meetings and was deservedly a nearly unanimous choice.

In 2003, it seemed that Empire Maker had edged ahead of Funny Cide when he beat him in the Belmont, giving him a 2-1 lead in head-to-head meetings and a 3-2 lead in Grade 1 victories. Neither one of them, however, won a race past June, and by the time ballots were due in December, Funny Cide’s Derby and Preakness made it seem to a majority of voters that he had been the more successful 3-year-old and deserved the nod.

The 2004 voting would have been interesting if Birdstone had won the Breeders’ Cup Classic. After denying Smarty Jones’s bid for the Triple Crown by beating him in the Belmont, Birdstone returned to win the Travers. Would a BC Classic victory have pushed him past the Derby-Preakness winner? We’ll never know since he finished seventh, and Smarty Jones was an easy Eclipse winner.

So, the question now is whether Shared Belief can catch up to a Derby-Preakness winner. Let’s say he makes his fourth and final start of an unbeaten 3-year-old season in the BC Classic and wins it, beating California Chrome in their only meeting. Would it be enough? California Chrome would still have a 3-2 lead in Grade 1 wins (Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby, and Preakness vs. Pacific Classic and BC Classic), but Shared Belief’s two big victories would have been against older horses instead of the uninspiring 3-year-olds whom California Chrome was walloping last spring.

Still, winning the Derby and Preakness is a powerful double that tends to look even better in hindsight. The discussion then comes down to accomplishment vs. talent. It’s possible that one could simultaneously believe at season’s end that Shared Belief is the better horse but that California Chrome accomplished more this year.

It would be a fascinating debate if we get that far. Maybe the best part is that this could develop into more than a one-race rivalry: California Chrome is scheduled to race as a 4-year-old, and Shared Belief is a gelding with an unlimited future on the track. These things are always best settled on the racetrack, so here’s hoping.


Is The Triple Crown Harder Than Ever To Win???

This week’s LET IT RIDE.COM HOT TOPIC comes from Alice Wincze of Lexington Herald-Leader…take a read and VOICE AN OPINION!

Why winning the Triple Crown is harder than ever

The fervor of the question increases with every passing year. And as the years turn into decades — three now and counting — the subject gets dissected so exhaustively that even those deemed experts abandon trying to come up with one concrete answer.

I’ll Have Another’s victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes have gathered the racing world to its latest roundtable discussion over why it has been 34 years since a horse has proven capable of capturing the three-race, five-week gauntlet that is the American Triple Crown.

Though just 11 legends have accomplished the feat, the current drought has long since passed the previous record 25-year gap between Citation’s sweep in 1948 and Secretariat in 1973.

The one thought most agree upon is if I’ll Have Another wins the Triple Crown, he’ll have done so in an era unlike that of any of his predecessors.

To merely say it takes a special horse to win the Triple Crown is too simple a way of explaining why a generation of fans exist who have never witnessed a sweep. Some of the greatest horses of our time, most notably Spectacular Bid (1979), Alysheba (1987) and Sunday Silence (1989), made it to this very point only to be tripped up by various factors during their 11/2-mile journeys around the Belmont oval.

For the majority of the 11 horses that have failed to finish the job since Affirmed did so in 1978, their attempts have come at a time when the racing landscape is drastically different than it was for the 11 who succeeded.

This is not your grandfather’s racing. As the Thoroughbred breed has changed — for better or worse — so too have training styles and the attitude within the sport.

“I think it has (become harder to win) because of the reasons for which we breed horses,” said Penny Chenery, owner of Secretariat. “Back in the ’70s we were still breeding horses to race them, and so much of the industry now is concentrated on sales. So you breed a good-looking, early speed horse who isn’t equipped to go a mile and a half, or to run three hard races in five weeks.

“We just have a different set of goals with the horses we breed now.”

The Triple Crown races have not changed since the Thoroughbred Racing Association formally recognized the three-race series in 1950. The variables needed to notch victories in the trio, though, have grown to titanic proportions

Size matters

Of the 11 Triple Crown winners, only the great War Admiral in 1937 began his run by defeating 19 others in the Kentucky Derby.

With the first leg now the most famous race in the sport and long-shot winners showing a Derby victor can come from anywhere, 19- and 20-horse fields have become the norm in the past decade, increasing the odds that even the most talented horse of a generation could be derailed by a troubled trip.

Though field sizes in general have declined over the years, the Triple Crown races regularly hit their starting-gate limits.

Citation only had to beat 15 total horses en route to his coronation. Secretariat defeated 21 others during his Triple Crown run. Seattle Slew and Affirmed faced 29 and 20 total rivals, respectively.

I’ll Have Another took on 19 in the Derby, 10 in the Preakness and could encounter nine more foes in the Belmont

“It’s not too tough to win the Triple Crown. It’s just these fields are always full fields and it’s all about getting a good trip,” said Graham Motion, trainer of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom. “There is always going to be a horse in the Derby that’s not going to get a good trip and that’s what’s going to make it so hard to have a Triple Crown winner.”

How one even gets a horse ready for the Triple Crown races is a different animal than it was in the ’70s.

First, there is the trend of trainers wanting to allow more time between starts in hopes of avoiding the dreaded “bounce” factor off of big efforts. However, with the 20-horse Derby field being determined in part by graded stakes earnings since 1986, some say they now have to ask more of their prospects earlier in order to secure the crucial money needed.

“It is not a three-race series anymore, it’s more like a five-race series,” said Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, winner of 13 Triple Crown races. “In the ’50s or ’60s, you could take a soft approach and train your horse and come May say, ‘I think he’s good enough’ and run him in the Derby against 10 or 12 horses. Now you cannot do that.

“You’ve got to say, ‘We better run good in the Rebel Stakes, the Arkansas Derby, the Fountain of Youth.’ We better go to the well because the earnings are so imperative for us to get in.”

While the race for graded earnings has played a role, it is the monetary action brought on by the auction arena that has been arguably the biggest factor in the Triple Crown drought.

Money changes everything

Where once homebreds ruled the classics, the rise of the commercial marketplace in the past 30 years has prompted breeders to produce a different type of athlete than previously demanded.

With deep-pocketed buyers like Robert Sangster, Coolmore, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum arriving on the scene in the 1980s, wild bidding wars erupted that produced seven- and eight-figure yearlings as well as broodmare prospects.

Since buyers need to get as much return as possible on such lofty investments, precocious babies that could inspire a strong following in the breeding shed went to the top of buyers’ wish lists, regardless if they had classic ability.

“There might be a tendency to try and breed a powerful speedy horse as opposed to one that looks like it could run a distance of ground. But you have to understand that commercial breeders are breeding what they think they can sell,” said bloodstock adviser Ric Waldman, who managed the career of leading sire Storm Cat. “And I think the end user has wanted a speedy horse.

“It’s not like we don’t want to breed Derby winners, everybody wants a Derby winner. But it goes back to the type of horse we think will make a good stud horse. And the kind of horse we think will make a good stud horse has typically been one that has shown speed and precocity.”

In trying to breed fast, pretty horses, some argue the durability of the modern Thoroughbred has been sacrificed along with the stamina. Today’s runners might not be the iron horses of the past, but part of the issue behind their perceived fragility may be just that — perception.

“I cannot believe how well these horses handle the comeback (during the Triple Crown),” Motion said. “Animal Kingdom went into the Preakness great, he went into the Belmont great and I never could have predicted that having never done it before. I don’t think we give these horses enough credit for how durable they are.”

Given the way the sport has changed, some like Lukas have said the Triple Crown should change with it, both in terms of the races’ distances and spacing.

If I’ll Have Another ends up winning this challenge, he’ll not only have racing’s greatest achievement on his résumé, he’ll have overcome a new set of obstacles in doing so.

“It shouldn’t be easy,” Waldman said. “While everyone is hoping we have a Triple Crown winner, the fact there hasn’t been one in such a long period of time underscores how difficult it is. You add in the component that maybe we’re changing the breed over this period of time and that compounds the difficulty in trying to achieve it.”


How Much Effect Would a Triple Crown Winner Actually Have???

This week’s LET IT RIDE.COM HOT TOPIC comes from Vance Hansen of…take a read and VOICE AN OPINION!

Does Horse Racing Need Triple Crown Winner?

“It’s too close to call! Was it Real Quiet or was it Victory Gallop? A picture is worth a thousand words — this photo is worth 5 million dollars!”

Tom Durkin’s call of the 1998 Belmont Stakes ended with these words, and while his emphasis was on the material reward if Real Quiet won the head bob over Victory Gallop, millions of viewers were just as keenly attuned to the historical significance.

It had been 20 years since Affirmed became the last horse to win the Triple Crown, and five other colts before Real Quiet had come to Belmont and fallen short. Real Quiet turned out to be the sixth, and by the dirtiest of noses.

In the 13 years since then, four more colts and one gelding have won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness only to find victory in the Belmont beyond their grasp. Racing fans of long standing could explain away the defeats of these 11, not to mention those of Risen Star (1988), Point Given (2001) and Afleet Alex (2005), who met defeat in the Kentucky Derby before romping in the Preakness and Belmont, thus showing that they, too, had been cruelly denied their own chance at glory.

The current Triple Crown drought, now at 33 years following Animal Kingdom’s defeat in the May 21 Preakness, is the longest in the series’ history, much longer than the 25-year gap between Citation’s sweep in 1948 and Secretariat’s record-shattering brilliance in 1973.

The decades of futility have prompted some both inside and outside the industry to ask whether there will ever be another Triple Crown winner and whether racing, which has seen a marked decline in popularity since the glory days of the 1970s, needs a Triple Crown winner to revitalize its status as a mainstream sport.

If the close call by Real Quiet in the 1998 Belmont proves anything, it’s that the Triple Crown is still attainable even if the task itself — asking a not-fully mature Thoroughbred to win three different races over three different distances and racetracks in the span of five weeks — seems disproportionately demanding.

Indeed, there is no other series throughout the horse racing world which requires the mixture of speed, class, form, resiliency — and let’s face it, luck — as that demanded by the American Triple Crown.

In an era when the average racehorse is making fewer lifetime starts, and with longer gaps between races, the Triple Crown might appear an anachronism. And while a vocal group of horsemen and media members have called for adjusting the distances and/or time between the three races, the feeling that the Triple Crown should stay as is seemingly remains the majority view.

“One of these days, a super horse will come along,” said trainer Dale Romans after his colt, Shackleford, won the Preakness and ended Animal Kingdom’s bid for a Triple Crown sweep. “I don’t think anything should be changed about it.”

Those whose patience are wearing thin and feel the Triple Crown is being handcuffed by tradition often point out how the dates and distances of the three races have never been completely uniform, even during the years of the earliest Triple Crown winners.

While evidently true, the three horses who accomplished the feat in the television era — Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed — did so under the current conditions and are the yardstick by which all future Triple Crown winners will be judged. Any deviation from the course those three took to attain the goal would make it difficult for a future Triple Crown winner to be looked at in the same vein.

The last three Triple Crown winners also set a bar most observers feel are unrealistic to expect from any future winner of the series. Secretariat raced six times after his historic 31-length romp in the Belmont, while Seattle Slew and Affirmed continued to race through their four-year-old seasons. Neither scenario seems remotely plausible given the convoluted economics of the sport, where a horse’s worth as a stud outweighs any earnings he could possibly make at the racetrack.

“Unless he was a gelding, any Triple Crown winner most likely would be retired weeks into the summer,” said Steve Davidowitz, a noted turf writer and handicapper. “At most, we might see this new star paraded at a few tracks for ‘farewell appeal.’

“Economically speaking, it would be too risky for such a valuable stud prospect to be risked in competition. Essentially, there would be little to gain unless the owners and future breeders were die-hard, old-school types who wanted to see just how good their horse might really be when he comes back as a four-year-old. The odds on that happening are greater than whether or not we will see a Triple Crown winner in the next five years or so.”

Which begs the question: What impact would a future Triple Crown winner have on racing if he won’t be around long enough to maintain interest in the sport? Davidowitz said while there would be a temporary positive surge of media interest following a Triple Crown sweep, it would take reforms of other factors negatively affecting the sport’s popularity for fan interest to be sustained.

“Racing does not need a Triple Crown winner as much as it needs good horses to remain in competition beyond a win in a Triple Crown or Breeders’ Cup race,” Davidowitz said. “Not as much as it needs fewer tracks open simultaneously in neighboring states, with shorter, better-designed and coordinated racings schedules, with fewer or no legalized race-day drugs.

“And some serious efforts to promote its greatest yet least promoted asset: that horse race handicapping and betting on horses is probably the most intellectually satisfying, best gambling game man has ever invented.”

While the Kentucky Derby is the sport’s premier event and the Triple Crown its most elusive prize, there is much more to racing than the casual fan might be aware of. The results of dozens of graded stakes throughout the year play a role in determining the sport’s 11 divisional champions, among which one is voted Horse of the Year. It’s a process repeated every year whether there is a Triple Crown winner or not.

A great horse can come from anywhere, and as the examples of Cigar, Zenyatta and even Seabiscuit show, catching a whiff of the hoopla surrounding any of the Triple Crown races is not a prerequisite for a horse to earn the sport’s highest distinctions or penetrate the mainstream consciousness.

Of the 18 horses who have taken two-thirds of the Triple Crown since 1979, 17 have gone to be named divisional champion, five have won Horse of the Year titles and an equal number have been enshrined in the Racing Hall of Fame. While the doors for a Triple Crown sweep have closed on Animal Kingdom and were shut earlier for Shackleford, there is much left for them to run for beyond the Belmont Stakes.

For the sport of Thoroughbred racing, it’s business as usual until next year.

Could Racing’s Obsession with the Triple Crown be Detracting From True Stars of the Sport???

This week’s LET IT RIDE.COM HOT TOPIC comes from Jeff Scott of The Saratogian…take a read and VOICE AN OPINION!

Racing too obsessed with Triple Crown

Maybe people will believe in him now. After nearly hanging on in the Florida Derby at 68-1 and out-running his 23-1 odds in the Kentucky Derby, Shackleford stayed up all the way to the wire at 12-1 in the Preakness, benefiting from a smart ride by Jesus Castanon and a slow start by Animal Kingdom to hold off the Derby winner by a half-length.

It was a gritty performance by the son of Forestry, who was used early in keeping up with Flashpoint’s 22.69-second opening quarter. After taking over from the pacesetter, Shackleford caught a bit of a breather on the turn, leaving him with enough left to withstand Animal Kingdom’s late charge.

As for Animal Kingdom, he showed his Derby victory was no fluke, making up 18 of an 18 1/2-length deficit before running out of room. However, he was unable to completely make up for a 26-second-plus first quarter-mile.

The Preakness result is unlikely to change the opinion of many that this year’s Triple Crown contenders are a decidedly below-average bunch. The winning time was the slowest in 18 years, and only the top four finishers (which also included Astrology and Dialed In) did much running in the stretch.

The case can be made that outside of Shackleford, Animal Kingdom, Derby runner-up Nehro and perhaps Mucho Macho Man, no horse emerged from the first two legs of the Triple Crown with a significant boost to his reputation.

Early indications are there’s a good chance Animal Kingdom and Shackleford will both run back in the Belmont. If they do, and they’re joined by Nehro, Master of Hounds, Alternation and Mucho Macho Man (who reportedly lost a shoe on Saturday), it would make for a solid field.

Although there is a ten

dency to dismiss the Belmont when there is no Triple Crown at stake, the race has seen a number of outstanding performances under these circumstances during the past decade. Point Given (2001), Afleet Alex (2005) and Summer Bird (2009) were all standout winners, as was Rags to Riches in her historic victory over Curlin in 2007. All five of these 3-year-olds were awarded divisional championships, and Point Given and Curlin were named horse of the year.

Racing doesn’t do itself any favors with its continuing obsession with ending the Triple Crown drought. Not only does this focus draw attention away from worthy horses in other divisions, but the inevitable letdown that occurs when the prize once again goes unclaimed leaves the sport scrambling for other story lines.

Whatever happens in the Belmont, this year’s best 3-year-olds will still have plenty of opportunities to prove themselves over the next five months. Among the major races on the schedule are the Travers, Jockey Club Gold Cup and Breeders’ Cup Classic, three 10-furlong staples (the last two for 3-year-olds and up) that appear to be well suited for a proven distance runner such as Animal Kingdom.

No horse has ever won all three of these races, although Easy Goer (1989) and Bernardini (2006) came close. It would make a nice story, though, if one were to pull off the feat in 2011, especially given the lack of respect this year’s 3-year-olds have won so far.


Was Animal Kingdom’s Derby Win a Loss for the Preakness???

This week’s LET IT RIDE.COM HOT TOPIC comes from Rick Snider of The Washington Examiner…take a read and VOICE AN OPINION!

Animal Kingdom’s win is loss for Preakness

The Preakness Stakes appears to be an afterthought on the Triple Crown trail.

After Animal Kingdom’s long-shot victory in perhaps the poorest Kentucky Derby field since 1983, few of those horses are progressing to Pimlico Race Course on May 21. Runner-up Nehro will head to the Belmont Stakes, hoping to beat a tiring Animal Kingdom there. Only Derby losers Mucho Macho Man (third), Shackleford (fourth) and favorite Dialed In (eighth) have committed to the Preakness.

Translation: This Triple Crown leg looks more boring than the NFL labor talks.

The 14-horse starting gate won’t be short on entrants; nine non-Derby runners are possible. However, there’s no star power. Animal Kingdom’s victory at the Derby might have been a fluke, and none of the sport’s top 3-year-olds is healthy. Uncle Mo, once considered a legitimate Triple Crown threat, is sick. Toby’s Corner is also on the mend.

Horse racing has enough trouble attracting crowds without losing its few big names. Crowds at Pimlico plummeted in 2009 after major infield changes, including the ban on bringing in alcohol. Last year’s Preakness saw a recovery to about 95,760, but that still was 21 percent short of 2007’s record crowds. In other words, Pimlico drew significantly smaller crowds despite a more wholesome family atmosphere with quality entertainment.

Nothing draws fans like a big horse, though, and Animal Kingdom doesn’t rate despite a legitimate Derby victory. Belmont will draw heavily should Animal Kingdom also win the Preakness, but for now he’s just some lucky horse from Churchill Downs. Maybe if he was called Animal House and ridden by John Belushi the public might come, but even the colt’s local ties — he’s stabled in Fair Hill, Md., near the Delaware border under trainer Graham Motion — won’t be enough.

The question is whether Animal Kingdom can replicate the quick rise of Derby-winning predecessors Charismatic (1999), Funny Cide (2003) and War Emblem (2005) by also taking the Preakness.

Certainly, Animal Kingdom is an intriguing horse. It’s not often a Derby winner has also won on grass and synthetic tracks in just five career starts. Indeed, he was the first Derby winner with only four previous races since 1918.

Maybe we’re seeing the rise of the next great champion. A resume that includes wins on three racing surfaces surely provides options. Still, Animal Kingdom has no drawing power. His only previous stakes victory was the modest Grade 3 Spiral, which is like hitting a homer at Hagerstown.

The Preakness is an entirely different race than the Derby. It requires speed and tactics rather than the cavalry charge of nearly 20 horses in Louisville. Dialed In may be the favorite; Preakness bettors often have seen a badly beaten Derby choice rebound in Baltimore. If Dialed In stays close early, he has a real chance of beating Animal Kingdom. That is, unless Animal Kingdom proves he’s legit.

And that’s why there are betting machines.


Kegasus and the Preakness: When Does Marketing Become Too Tacky???

This week’s LET IT RIDE.COM HOT TOPIC comes fromThe Baltimore Sun…take a read and VOICE AN OPINION!

Maybe ‘Get Your Preak On’ wasn’t so bad

The Maryland Jockey Club’s new advertising/social media campaign to spark ticket sales for the infield during the 2011 Preakness has accomplished two things that heretofore seemed impossible: It found a way to connect the giant, open air frat party that is InfieldFest with the concept of horse racing. And it made last year’s utterly tasteless “Get Your Preak On” campaign seem pretty good.

The theme this year is “Be Legendary,” innocuous enough by itself, but truly bizarre when wrapped around the creation of a new character, Kegasus, a centaur supposedly born of Preaknesius, the made-up god of thoroughbred racing, and a diner waitress from Ellicot [sic] City named Shelly. There’s a bit involving the backseat of an El Camino, but you don’t really want to know the details. Billed as the Lord of the Infield and Prince of Preakness, Kegasus has the body of a horse and the torso of a sleazy, unshaven, beer-gutted man.

One can only imagine the pitch meeting at Elevation Ltd., the ad agency the Maryland Jockey Club used for the campaign, when they came up with this one. Preakness: horse race. InfieldFest: drunk people racing across the top of Porta-potties. Put them together and what do you get? Kegasus.

Besides Kegasus’ half-horse body, the InfieldFest does, in fairness, make at least a small stab at turning the revelers into bettors: In addition to the bikini contest and the cornhole tournament (less dirty than it sounds), the jockey club will be holding a promotion in which lucky infield attendees can take $100 in cash or place a $1,000 bet on a horse. It’s a start.

Last year’s “Get Your Preak On” campaign was plenty tasteless, relying as it did on crude sexual innuendo, some of it involving the residents of a retirement home. But it was at least succinct and straightforward. Maryland Jockey Club officials were worried after the dismal attendance at the infield in 2009, the first year when they banned the long-standing bring-your-own-beer tradition, and they sought to make clear to prospective attendees that their intentions to tone things down only went so far. If the radio ads and billboards didn’t do the trick, sending scantily clad women to local bars to spread the SuperPreak gospel surely did. Between that and the advent of all-you-can-drink beer for $20, infield attendance bounced back to 33,000 in 2010.

Kegasus comes at the same time that the jockey club and its corporate parents are in Annapolis pushing for the diversion of slot machine revenue set aside for capital improvements at the tracks. They say that the Pimlico and Laurel race courses are losing millions of dollars a year, the getting-on of the collective Preak last year notwithstanding, and they want that money to erase their operating losses. In exchange, they promise to run the same number of live days of racing they do now — and, in the process, to keep the Preakness alive. Gov. Martin O’Malley proposed to guarantee that subsidy for the next four years, though skeptics in the Senate and House of Delegates appear, wisely, to be scaling that back.

The House version of the legislation would limit the subsidies to three years, rather than the four the governor and racing industry want, and would limit the annual subsidy to $6 million. More importantly, it would set up state oversight over the Maryland Jockey Club’s operations, would prohibit the money’s use for lobbying or unusual litigation — such as the jockey club’s failed efforts to stop slots at Arundel Mills Mall — and would require the industry to produce a five-year business plan that includes strategies for addressing the long-term challenges to racing.

Jockey Club President Tom Chuckas told The Daily Record this week that the industry is working on a long-term plan but that there’s “nothing definitive” yet.

For better or worse, Kegasus and his Preak predecessors show that the Jockey Club can be creative when it wants to be and can successfully reach out to a broad, younger demographic at least one time a year. If the owners of Maryland’s tracks took the energy they’ve devoted to promoting the infield and chasing slot machines to marketing their core business, who knows what they might achieve?