Injury To I’ll Have Another Is Another Bad Blow to A Sport In Need of a Feel-Good Story
The sport can’t get a break.
Or actually, that’s the problem – it’s getting too many breaks.
And when the sport is horse racing and the ones getting the breaks are the athletes, it’s bad news for the industry.
The past few years, horse racing has been riding alongside cycling as a sport seen full of doping, there’s been controversy about synthetic tracks, training methods are being questioned as contributing to injuries and several horses have to be euthanized. In May, The New York Times printed a story about the latter under the headline “Mangled Horses, Maimed Jockeys; The Death And Dissaray At America’s Racetracks.”
Those in the horse racing community, while obviously disappointed about the tendon injury to I’ll Have Another that pulled the Thoroughbred from the Belmont Stakes and a run at the Triple Crown, are breathing a sigh of relief that it’s the kind of injury that doesn’t require putting down the horse. I’ll Have Another will go out to stud, hopefully, the sport wishes, to produce another Triple Crown threat.
Even without the injury, it is unlikely I’ll Have Another would have won the Triple Crown anyway – read this story to find out why – but that’s not the point. The entire country would have been watching, glued to TVs in homes, at house parties and bars. All week, the news media has been covering this potential event and the resulting build-up publicity to the Belmont Stakes cannot be purchased at any price.
Now, however, the Belmont is going to be back on the back pages, and the sport will fall back to where it was before the talk of a Triple Crown, and that is the bush leagues of sports.
This is not meant to knock the sport. It’s fun and exciting to go to a horse race, even if it’s not one of the Big Three. Just ask anybody who has been to Del Mar – Opening Day is the Kentucky Derby of the West Coast – or Santa Anita in Southern California.
It’s just when it comes to national publicity, big-time advertisers and attention, horse racing is on about the same level as tennis. Below even soccer.
Horse racing needs a break. And it had one with an unknown, underdog horse vying to be the first Triple Crown winner in nearly 35 years. Then it got a bad break.
But at least it wasn’t a real break. Can you imagine the outcry if I’ll Have Another was injured enough to be euthanized? Had that happened, horse racing would be on par with AA baseball in the public’s and media’s mind.