President's Message - May 06, 2014
Greetings to the members of the WHBPA.
Well, our first four weekends are now behind us, and the 2014 season is well underway.
While to date our fields have been less than optimal, I know that the weather has not been ideal for training and readiness, and that competing tracks (on the calendar) such as Sun Downs and Turf Paradise have now ended their meets and that added horses will be coming our way soon. Obviously, our field sizes have suffered, and we can all remain hopeful that we will enjoy healthy horses and improving field sizes as the season moves on. We need field size to attract wagering, and wagering, in addition to the outstanding support that we receive from the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, is the lifeblood of our purse structure.
In addition to hitting the trifecta on the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, I was also thrilled to have the winner come from the "left coast." California Chrome, an unlikely horse in many ways, provided me a great deal of pleasure with ongoing proof that "the little guy" really does have a chance to catch lightning in a bottle in this game. I was aware that the owners had turned down an offer of $6,000,000 for the horse, but I did not know that it was for 51% of the horse. Those owners showed far more guts, moxie, and belief than I ever would have, and I admire that greatly (one of the guys at my office asked me, "would you have sold your horse when they offered you $6,000,000?" and I responded, "I would never had heard an offer for $6,000,000 – I would have said "yes" one heck of a lot lower than that!").
I have recently been reading a new book out on the subject of Affirmed versus Alydar, which chronicles the trials and tribulations of once-mighty Calumet Farm (which bred and owned Alydar) and Louis Wolfson's Harbor View Stable (which bred and raced Affirmed). It is an interesting insight into the history of the most successful of all stables (Calument) pitted against the financial acumen and racing smarts of the Wolfson family. In both cases, we are looking into a world of money and largess that no one I know personally can share.
Instead, the idea of a $15/hour press operator from a machine shop in Nevada owning one-half of the Kentucky Derby winner, and having the unmitigated guts to say no to half of $6,000,000 is a story that should inspire each of us on the left coast to try and try again.
Let us all be heartened to know that an $8,000 mare, coupled with a $2,500 stallion, managed to provide the leading three year old of 2014! And for my money, while many will sit in waiting for a potentially tired horse at Belmont, I believe that 2014 will be the year when the title of Triple Crown Winner is once again used. As a young man I thrilled to the dominance of Secretariat, loved Seattle Slew for his name and connections, and pulled so hard for Alydar to upset Affirmed. It has been a LONG, long time since 1978, and I believe that we may have finally found a horse worthy of the title. (I doubted that a Lucky Pulpit could go that far, but still bet on him on top of my wagers, hoping that he could; now, I believe that he can go 12 furlongs, given what he did at 10. I might be nuts, but I do want this horse, with these owners, to go the distance, in front).
Washington breeding has many challenges. Given the inspiration that we just witnessed, to paraphrase Russell Wilson, "why not us?" Let's think about the opportunities out there to make a superhorse, and maybe, just maybe, someone here can create another Washington bred national champion, but hopefully a champion like the one we witnessed on Saturday!
Wishing you the best of success,