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A mixed bag

Horse racing's place in the world goes something like this: An inexpensive horse owned by regular people goes for the Triple Crown in New York as HBO runs a feature on "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" that shows thoroughbreds flopping around like flounder before dying as a result of alleged drug-related abuse on tracks across the country.

The HBO program is probably the best sports show on television, featuring spellbinding reports by people like Frank Deford, who has an old school heart and new school insight.

"Real Sports" is a monthly show, and, as such, has to be creative in its choice of subject material.

The horse race feature is done by Bernie Goldberg, not to be mistaken for Mr. Nice Guy, but a reporter who knows dead horses when he sees them.

The feature is at once grotesque and mesmerizing. It focuses on alleged trainer abuse with the misuse of drugs on horses. Most of the drugs are legal, most are debatable. Even some top-flight trainers are called out in this feature. The allegations are so unpleasant, some trainers might feel like they're taking perp walks to the paddock next time out. Heavily medicated horses are shown breaking down during races. And once is not always enough with this ghastly footage. It's at least as unpleasant as watching replays of debilitating knee injuries to football players. One horse is shown writhing around immediately after being given an injection aimed at euthanizing it.

The point of this painful feature is as focused as the nose of a winner on a photo finish: Horse racing almost operates on the honor system when it comes to rules. It desperately needs national regulations and leadership.

You should watch this report; after the Belmont Stakes would probably be best.

Here are the reasons California Chrome should win in New York

His style of running is perfect.

He travels well.

He won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness easily.

The weather forecast of only a 20 percent chance of rain looks good.

Dosage and pedigree people say he shouldn't win.

He has gained weight since the Preakness.

He gets to wear his nose patch.

He has trounced most of the best of the rest.

He has had an extra week off.

A victory would encourage people to split a keg and go buy a horse for a few grand.

The length of the race will reduce the risk of trouble.

We could stand some good news.

An uncashed $2 souvenir win ticket on CC would be worth good money in a hundred years.

Here are the reasons California Chrome shouldn't win

It's too far.

It's too hard -- three one-time-only situations would have to be overcome: 19 horses in the gate at the Kentucky Derby, three races in five weeks, the mile-and-a-half distance in the Belmont.

The best challengers are rested.

He could break bad and find himself too far back.

It will be his first time running at Belmont Park.

Rotten pickers could pick him.