Even If They Win, They Lose

The Boston Celtics are a heavy favorite to beat the Atlanta Hawks in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal matchup today in Boston.  But, even if they win, they have lost.  When you’re 66-16 and you’re playing a team that went 37-45, you must win a road game, something that he Celtics failed to do here.  Yes, a win is a win, but going seven against the number eight seed is not a positive.

Big Brown proved that he may be for real.  Looking as convincing as Barbaro did in 2006, the horse racing fans are thinking that the 30 year Triple Crown drought may be over.  Count me as one of those who didn’t think Big Brown could win starting from the 20 hole, but he made it look easy—very easy. 

The filly, Eight Belles was easily the second best horse in the race.  She couldn’t beat Big Brown, but she powered away from the others and as they say in  horse racing circles, was clearly “second best.”  Unfortunately, she broke down on her cool down and had to be euthanized, though something tells me that when she jerked her head to the right during the stretch drive, was where the injury occurred. 

With her loss, some will call for horse racing’s head, saying that the sport is too cruel.  In 2006, Barbaro broke down at the Preakness, and it caused an outpouring of emotions.  The biggest dilemma in horse racing today is the surface.  Some tracks have converted to the synthetic PolyTrack, and according to the statistics, horse fatalities are down.  Of course, the traditionalists will scream and cry and beg not to have a classic race run on a synthetic surface, but if PolyTrack is safer, shouldn’t it make sense to convert all tracks to that surface?

That’s the other problem in horse racing today.  Handicapping the Kentucky Derby is hard enough, but the 20 horses who ran at Churchill Downs came from everywhere.  Some ran exclusively on dirt, some exclusively in PolyTrack.  There were some who did well on dirt, then ran on PolyTrack and struggled and vice versa.  What can a two-bit handicapper do? 

I love horse racing and what that means is that I can watch horse racing without wagering on it, but like anybody, I like consistency.  I would like to see all the race tracks be one surface.  In this case, make them all PolyTrack, or make them all stay or go back to dirt.  Most have to have some money on a race to watch it, and there are others who will watch the classics—the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont, and the Belmont only when a horse has a chance to win the Triple Crown.  Thus far, all the classic races have been run on dirt, but that will change this fall when the 2008 Breeder’s Cup races will be contested at Santa Anita, a PolyTrack surface. 

Does America want to see a Kentucky Derby run on synthetic surface?  If it helps prevents what happened to Eight Belles, the answer would be yes.

John Furgele



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