Thoughts from our editor, Joe Clancy. For archived editorials click here.

July 2019: Seeing the end, and the means

“. . . the end is not in question. It’s the means – the dreadful uncertainty of the means.”
John Steinbeck was writing about race relations in America in 1962 when he finished a paragraph in Travels with Charley, in Search of America with that. It’s a punch of a sentence, or two sentences I guess. A hard, quick punch. Bap. And then it’s gone. You want to read it again, even though you know you’ll get punched.

Steinbeck had just witnessed organized protests of a single black child attending a public school in New Orleans. He’d talked to people, picked up hitchhikers, taken the pulse of a community even without really trying to do so. While many in the country could not, he could see the end – though you could argue that nothing has truly ended, only changed.
The author’s description made me think of racing. When it comes to reform, the end is not in question. Just the means, and they are full of uncertainty.

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June 2019: Big decision looms for Senior Senator

Now what? If you had something to do with Senior Senator what would you do? The timber sensation tied a record with his third Maryland Hunt Cup win at the end of April and had trainer Joe Davies and owners Skip and Vicki Crawford wondering what’s left on the table.
The Pennsylvania-bred is 9 years old, prime age for a timber specialist, and in top form. Davies, even three years ago, dropped hints about a potential try at the English Grand National at Aintree. Maryland Hunt Cup winners Jay Trump and *Ben Nevis II also won the National, the most famous jump race in the world, to burnish credentials that ultimately took them to Thoroughbred racing’s Hall of Fame. Other Hunt Cup winners have tackled the Grand National with varying degrees of success too, so it’s not necessarily a wild leap into the unknown.

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May 2019: Spring brings hard news

It’s May. How you doing? Can you keep up? Racing, like the world, seemed to be in a great big hurry during the first few months of 2019. News came quickly, and from everywhere.
Breakdowns at Santa Anita. Twenty-two horses died between Dec. 26 and March 14. Everyone in racing knows horses get hurt, but that’s too many to find any comfort zone. The racing surface, the medication rules, the whips, pretty much everything took some blame for the fatalities. Track owner The Stronach Group halted racing, suspended workouts, studied the track, made a joint statement with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals about use of the anti-bleeding medication Lasix, jockeys’ whips and more. All of it wound up national news for a while. From here, it pointed out the glaring hole in the sport’s makeup – no national voice, and no complete/verifiable/certain uniform best practices when it comes to horse welfare, care or treatment. That should change. Today.

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Senior Senator aims for history in the Hunt Cup

Joe Davies thought himself a competent amateur steeplechase jockey in 1983 so when Joy Slater went down with a broken collarbone a week before the Maryland Hunt Cup, Davies made a phone call.
“Mrs. Fanning, you don’t know who I am but I sure would like to ride Cancottage,” he said.
Trainer Jill Fanning, whose English-bred horse was bidding for his third victory in the race, didn’t really hesitate.
“Well, I already have Charlie Fenwick lined up, but you sound like a nice young boy and if you’re interested you could ride the pony and take Cancottage to the start for us.”

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Big scores boost region

I guess it’s the improbability of it all. Or something like that anyway. People ask me, and I’m sure you too, all the time: “Why horse racing?” Sometimes I struggle for an answer. Other times, I come up with things like Belmont Stakes Weekend turned in by Mid-Atlantic-bred horses.

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Star horses breed success in Pennsylvania

Hello, Pennsylvania. Take a bow for 2018, a year where your Thor­oughbred racing accomplishments included four – yes four – Eclipse Award winners with ties to the Keystone State. The quartet consisted of two horses bred in the state and two more who trained and raced there.

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Save Pimlico, because it’ll be worth it

Last summer, I wrote a “Save Pimlico because. . .” column in this space. Long on sentiment and short on facts or direction, the column was supposed to make people think, to be an inspiration of some kind, to fill this space in a somewhat lively fashion, provide some context to the whole thing – oh, and beat a deadline.

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For Buckstud, with feeling

Sometimes the obituaries can be a bit much. A few recent ones packed a big punch and took a chunk out of the region’s (and the nation’s) Thorough­bred world. Cot Campbell, Willard Thomp­son, Rick Violette, Bruce Smart, Walter Reese, Bob Levy, Buck Woodson – and too late to make this magazine Dr. Matthew Mackay-Smith – must be having some conversation in the track kitchen at Afterlife Downs about now. 

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