The best sports moment of the weekend was not Danica Patrick going wall to wall; it was not some football guy in muscle tights scoring against thin air at the combine; it was not Pete Weber pinning Jason Belmonte (at bowling); it was not the match play golf finals watched live on the course by about the same number of people attending the Podunk Open; it was not LeBron James refusing to take the last shot in the NBA All Star Game; it was not the fish scales at the bass tournament (the weigh-in).
All these events received considerable mainstream media attention.
The best sporting events were the two Kentucky Derby prep races: the Risen Star in New Orleans won by the Godfather, El Padrino, by one full nose after a tooth-and-nail stretch run versus a speed demon on a fast track; and the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream, devoured by probable Derby favorite Union Rags, who made a pool 1 futures bet at 7-1 look fat as he came down the stretch like a go cart at the soap box derby, easily winning under a fingertip ride.
There was not a word or an instant of film coverage of these two races on my local TV stations, not a mention in print in the hometown newspaper.
Why is major thoroughbred horse racing so often relegated to small-type "other" headings, like the makers of holes-in-one at the local municipal courses?
There's no explaining most of it.
Big-time horse racing has great TV ratings, always underscored by the fact that the best fans are at the tracks on race day, not home with a Nielson book.
And horse racing fans have cash. True, it might not last long. But there is usually more where that came from. And the survivors of the handicapping games usually have more cash to spend than, say, college kids filling out 75 free college hoop brackets.
Local newspaper coverage is lacking in horse race coverage because local newspapers no longer have the paper to escort to the garbage much more than perch guts. Radical newspaper space restrictions push horse race coverage to the bone pile.
Local TV sports looks like the old FedEx commercials in which talking fast was the pitch. A typical local sports report lasts about four minutes, less if there's a cloud and the weather coverage needs to borrow another minute.
Horse racing attendance is good at the spas, the vacation sites such as Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., where purses are being raised faster than beer cups. Slots in the sticks enable mom-and-pop stables to stay open and have plugs running for $30,000. Slots may not be a cure-all, but they'll do until Social Security folds.
Yet national horse race coverage is comprised mostly of the Triple Crown races and the Breeder's Cup in the fall. So be it: We have the Internet!
Sure, the Internet is populated by a fair share of schemers and scammers, shysters and suckers, liars, cheats and con artists.
But it's perfect for horse players.
And here we are, just a click or a few away from an unlimited world of entertainment and excitement, and dreams that are more possible than most.
Horse race writing is the best in sports. Always has been, always will be.
We're a heartbeat from the most intense emotions, miraculous victory or abject horror.
Emotional writing makes for good reading. Length is not an issue.
Live races and replays are all over the Internet. There is horrific handicapping advice galore. There's nothing like an array of bad picking to clear the way to victory.
We're a click away from the feature race at a major track, several clicks from a tout of a guaranteed loser, a few clicks from some actual literature, four clicks from alleged inside info galore, and reactions from some of the better anonymous nicknames around.
Possibly there's not enough hate in horse racing to be out there on a more regular basis.
Write to Jay at firstname.lastname@example.org.