The renaissance of racing?
By Jay Cronley
Special to ESPN.com
Here is what the sports "experts" will be debating on radio and television between now and the June 8 Belmont Stakes: Has War Emblem brought horse racing back?
According to most of the "experts," the answer so far has been a resounding, "No."
For the purpose of this piece, quote marks denote sarcasm.
I saw one "expert" say on national television that victories in the first two Triple Crown races had not put horse racing on the nation's good side yet; then he turned his attention to a lengthy story about a possible baseball strike.
I don't know what the confusion is over the need for a baseball strike. Don't you people know that steroids cost serious money?
As a horse player, I am 110 percent in favor of a baseball strike.
What do you think somebody being paid $3 million per year to bat .220 is going to do with his time during a strike, watch soaps?
He'll wander over to the track and bet a few $5,000 Exactas.
Spoiled rich people are essential to the continued success of horse racing.
Along with steroids, there is no testing for common sense in baseball.
Just about all that the "experts" know about horse racing is what they see on the tube each spring during the Triple Crown races.
This is not to say that horse racing is in its best shape ever. Great classic distance runners at three years of age sprint to the breeding shed at four and spend the rest of their lives rolling in the hay instead of racing.
Take a good look at War Emblem in two weeks in New York. If you want to see him after that, you might need a mare and a platinum card or two.
Horse racing is primarily an audience participation sport. It's an investment opportunity. Those performing badly over a long period of time must go to Investment Banker's Anonymous.
It is possible to watch a Cincinnati Bengal professional football game without having $50 bet on it. This would not be easy. But it is conceivable. Try watching seven horses worth a total of $17,5000 run in a tight circle at a rusty track in a corner of nowhere at 8:30 p.m. on a Wednesday like any other.
Bet $2 or you go insane.
Horse racing is certainly a more visually stimulating gamble than Keeno or roulette. But it owes its existence to the pari-mutuel form of wagering whereby the losers pay the winners minus a cut to the house for putting on the game.
A horse race has a place above the fold in the national news when the occasion can be thoroughly enjoyed without the spectator needing to make a bet.
To what extent do the "experts" want horse racing "back?"
Back like a Wimbledon match where men who use rackets the size of snow shoes and serve 115 miles per hour, with about the only returns coming from an opponent's shin?
Back like a 1-0 soccer game?
Back like a wreck at a car race?
Back like a golf driver head the size of a ham hock?
Back like corporate seating the first 25 rows all around?
Back like aluminum bats in college baseball?
Back like a Net-Laker Fourth of July?
Back like a Tyson fight?
Back like zero graduation rates?
Back like a recruiting scandal?
Back like bad grammar from the star of the game?
Leave us alone.