Crown the triple, triple the Crown By Bernard Kroviak, CDC Gaming Reports September 24, 2020 at 8:00 pm As I watched the Kentucky Derby on television this past Saturday, September 5th, I was struck by how weird it was that it was being run in September, instead of the traditional first Saturday in May. So much about what was going on was unusual that it was hard for me to grasp that this race was any different from the other big races contested earlier this year. And yet the stark contrast between this year’s Run for the Roses and those run in past years was almost too much for this old fan to fathom. The fact that the Belmont, usually the last race in the Triple Crown, was contested first, in June, and that the Preakness will not be run until October 3rd, as well as now being the final leg of this series, simply emphasized how out of sequence this tradition – and most of life – is right now. Tiz The Law won the Belmont, albeit at a shortened distance, and Authentic just won the Derby, so there will not be another Triple Crown winner this year. Seems somehow appropriate, since so much of American life is out of sorts this year (although I should hasten to add that expecting a Triple Crown winner every couple of years is itself a somewhat abnormal thought process. We’ve been spoiled lately.) Trainer Bob Baffert won with Authentic, but his other entrant, Thousand Words, reared up before coming on the track and fell in the paddock, necessitating a scratch, as racing protocol directs. Thankfully, the horse appeared to be uninjured. A few minutes later, Baffert became only the second trainer in history to win the Derby six times. And the strange and unusual in racing continues. Speaking of Authentic, he is owned and was bred by B. Wayne Hughes, a long-time supporter of the horse racing industry and the owner of Spendthrift Farm, a large breeding operation in Kentucky. Authentic’s sire is the stallion Into Mischief. When Hughes put Into Mischief out for stud duty, because the horse had only raced 6 times and was by an Ohio sire named Harlan’s Holiday, the stud fee was set at the relatively low price of $12,500. Hughes decided to try to entice breeders with a plan he called “Share the Upside”. In this program, according to Bloodhorse magazine, if anyone bred to his young sire for two years and got two live foals, they would then get a lifetime breeding right to Into Mischief. His first crop of 42 foals earned over $1 million, and his second crop, with just 27 foals, earned over $3 million. Naturally, his fee and reputation began to rise. By the time his first six crops had run, their earnings reached over $10 million. In 2019, Into Mischief became North America’s leading sire, with earnings of over $17 million. And, by the way, those breeders who took advantage of the Share the Upside program now have a free breeding right, in perpetuity, which is now worth $175,000 – the fee today to breed to the #1 sire in the country. All four of the major sports – hockey, baseball, basketball, and the NFL – being played simultaneously, just as the new school year begins, also seems very out of place and abnormal. In 2020, the situation with education and schooling certainly is out of the ordinary, and celebrating birthdays, graduations, and other significant and otherwise normal events have also been dealt with in ways that have not been seen since events like World War I and II, the Great Depression, or the flu pandemic of 1918 – probably the closest parallel we have to what’s occurring today, albeit from the reserve of a century. Postponing funerals or celebrations of life – or not holding them at all – are experiences that most people would not have imagined a year ago. But we’re seeing them today. I’m fairly sure my observations are not surprising to most people, but dealing with them can be difficult, nevertheless. Being an orderly, sequential, somewhat structured person, I long for the days of things happening when they are supposed to happen. Sitting here at home, feeling somewhat trapped, I can’t help but wonder why this is the way it has been in 2020. Of course, the virus is the root cause of the situation, but I can’t help but feel that a big part of what’s been going on these past six-plus months is due in large measure to the manner in which we as a nation have dealt with the epidemic, both in its initial stages and today. Could we all have taken it more seriously? Did we not believe it would get to this place? Did we doubt it was real altogether? Did our elected officials fail to lead? Experts will discuss these questions for years to come. All I can do is to implore you to search your own conscience, and make sure you vote in November. Let’s step back for a moment. When I was a young boy, I was fascinated by the game of football. The majesty and the spectacle captured my imagination, and Sports Illustrated, with its color photos, sparked my middle school mind to flights of wonder. I cut out photos of my favorite players and specific plays that I found exciting and made sure to vary my collection to include the NFL, major college players, and the various uniforms and colorful helmets. As I grew older, I made a collage of these treasured photos, mainly as a hobby to relieve the stresses of life. After college, I began coaching in high school, and somewhere along the way I helped redesign our school’s baseball uniform. Later, I had a hand in doing the same thing for another school’s football team. (Cue the questions: What the heck does this have to do with anything? Did I miss something?) The connection is thus: when I finally got into the business of horse racing, one of the elements of the process I looked forward to the most was designing the jockey silks. I’d longed to take that task on for many years: the notion of owning a racehorse or racehorses and seeing my racing silks – the ones I’d designed – on the jockeys piloting my horses was a dream that inspired me for years. Not knowing at the time that I would, in time, eventually become an owner of more than one horse, I finally began to design my own set of racing silks. I decided to have them represent the High School where I had been working for dozens of years. I had seen thousands of other people’s designs, but the one that most drew my attention was the classic diamonds on a plain background, usually with alternating colors. Our school’s colors were purple and gold, so that is where I began. One of my best friends, who helped start our traveling group of racing enthusiasts (that is to say utterly degenerate fans), was a coach at a rival school. Their colors were red and gold. The two of us had often dreamed aloud about owning racehorses together, and, in retirement, traveling to different tracks around the country. Bearing this in mind, I decided to make my silks to honor our dream that, at the time, we thought would probably never be realized: a gold shirt and sleeves, with alternating purple and red diamonds on the front. You can see that initial design at right. I wish I were smart enough to know where this country, or the world, will be a few weeks or months from now. But I can only do my small part to help and protect the people around me, by following the advice of the experts who lives have been dedicated to dealing with health issues like these. As of now, horse racing has done a wonderful job of adhering to the unorthodox protocols currently in place, and, even without fans, racing has been successful. The same holds true for the NBA and NHL, and, to a lesser extent, MLB. The jury’s still out on the NFL, but the evidence seems to indicate that these protocols work. My hopes and dreams these days are not about horses, but about the health and safety of those I love and keep in my heart. I wish the best for all of you and hope that your loved ones are healthy and safe as well. God Bless America, and please vote on November 3rd.