HorseplayerPro: Nose to Nose


It's an instant-messaging world, and we're horse-playing in it. This week, ESPN.com contributing columnist Jeremy Plonk (JayPea) and ESPN horse racing television producer Tim Turrell (TimmyT) samba in cyberspace.

May 8
JayPea (5:56:50 PM): Yo, moneybags...help a brotha out after that Big Brown 150-1 future score?

TimmyT (5:57:55 PM): anything for you, JP.  I gotta say, even after winning over $7000 with Big Brown's victory, I found myself with a big pit in my stomach after seeing Eight Belles go down galloping out. What a tragedy. 

JayPea (5:58:18 PM): the worst of the worst, man...even our local librarian talked to me about it

TimmyT (5:58:45 PM): hard to believe that's the FIRST time a horse has been euthanized in 134 years of the Derby, isn't it!?!

TimmyT (5:59:12 PM): BUT, of course now that it happened during the Derby, instead of the 4th at Turf Paradise, people are all up in arms

JayPea (5:59:14 PM): yeah, but it's the kind of statistic that 1 is lonely enough

JayPea (5:59:37 PM): and pair that with Pine Island, Barbaro et al and it starts feeling a bit overwhelming to the senses

TimmyT (5:59:41 PM): hopefully, something positive will come out of this tragedy

JayPea (6:00:30 PM): PETA is barking up the wrong tree with Gabby Saez, but I could actually see them being a benefit if they started beating the medication drum

TimmyT (6:00:56 PM): no pun intended (beating)?

JayPea (6:01:04 PM): someone from PETA will probably be watching how I treat my dog now ...

JayPea (6:01:21 PM): but, seriously, the industry needs NATIONAL reform - the states and agencies can't work in concert, so that's where a fed movement might be positive

TimmyT (6:01:31 PM): I agree.  Simple, NO raceday medication....PERIOD!

TimmyT (6:01:48 PM): we're the ONLY country that allows it! ...so stupid!

TimmyT (6:01:57 PM): and it's contributing to the weakening of the breed, because horses are running who shouldn't....then they pass down unsoundess.

JayPea (6:02:02 PM): ban drugs tomorrow and we have a race-field crisis on our hands short-term...but no good solution to any real problem has ever been made thinking about this week or this month

TimmyT (6:02:30 PM): agreed. And, the formation of this task force from The Jockey Club/NTRA might be a good thing

JayPea (6:02:51 PM): let's hope…and let's hope the story doesn't fade away before real progress is made

TimmyT (6:03:35 PM): I don't think it will. Hopefully, the memory of such a talented and brave filly like Eight Belles will be catalyst of change

TimmyT (6:04:12 PM): on a lighter note, let's turn the page to the Preakness.  Looks like little more than a walk over for 'Brown, huh?

JayPea (6:04:20 PM): you think? uh duh

JayPea (6:04:36 PM): If he's not 1-to-5, somebody missed the party

JayPea (6:04:46 PM): or spent too much time at a Dutrow party

TimmyT (6:04:56 PM): lol

TimmyT (6:05:14 PM): kinda wish I would have been invited to some of those!

JayPea (6:05:14 PM): Unless his feet fail him, there's no plausible way he loses at Pimlico … Belmont might be a different story as we've seen

TimmyT (6:05:29 PM): God forbid something happens to him!

JayPea (6:06:00 PM): if Big Brown breaks down in the Preakness, this game will be in emergency mode - Congress will be making speed dial calls

TimmyT (6:06:17 PM): oh man, I don't even wanna think about that!

JayPea (6:06:23 PM): it would make Clemens & McNamee look like choirboys

JayPea (6:07:21 PM): I'm with ya, but it's a real concern anymore -- look at Barbaro, and we know BB has had problematic feet

TimmyT (6:07:25 PM): speaking of the Belmont, the key prep race for that race is Saturday in the Peter Pan.  Whaddya know about this Japanese invasion?

JayPea (6:07:49 PM): I did some Youtube digging and got the race from Kyoto for Rags to Riches' lil bro named CASINO DRIVE

TimmyT (6:07:58 PM): and?

JayPea (6:08:28 PM): He did it well in hand winning by a mile going clockwise, but the pace was slow...about :51 for the opening half (which doesn't show on the PPs, but was on the toteboard)

JayPea (6:08:47 PM): good-looking sucker

JayPea (6:09:12 PM): What blows my mind is Kent D is riding him!

TimmyT (6:09:20 PM): I'm looking forward to watching them run. Looks like Golden Spikes is the only real speed

JayPea (6:09:49 PM): yeah, I'm picking Golden Spikes - loved his races this year and he's been looking for the right spot - this one suits, pace-wise

JayPea (6:10:12 PM): I know Kent rode in Japan and all, but how can you give him the call when he'll ride BB against you in the Belmont?

TimmyT (6:10:40 PM): that is strange.  but, he must have a close association with the connections.  That's the only thing I can figure

JayPea (6:11:44 PM): If this horse has any mannerisms, Kent will know what to do AGAINST him

TimmyT (6:13:00 PM): yeah, kinda like Jeff Gordon letting Tony Stewart take his rig out for a spin the day before a race!

JayPea (6:13:28 PM): Or, like Bill Belichick having the best team on the planet and still being able to videotape the other team's practices....oh wait a minute...

TimmyT (6:13:38 PM): lol...

JayPea (6:13:55 PM): and we think we are in the only sport that's screwy

TimmyT (6:14:11 PM): amen, brother

TimmyT (6:15:08 PM): speaking of 'screwy,' can you believe this simulcast blackout?

JayPea (6:15:40 PM): yeah, leave it to horse racing to make it as hard as possible to get a bet down when gas is $3.65 a gallon and nobody wants to drive 30 miles to the track on a Thursday afternoon

TimmyT (6:16:35 PM): Who's side do you find yourself on?

JayPea (6:16:48 PM): the tracks...100%

TimmyT (6:17:00 PM): why?

JayPea (6:17:07 PM): horsemen sit back and watch the tracks put out 100% of the overhead for a racecard

JayPea (6:17:27 PM): it's INCREDIBLY expensive to put on the show, and the track's only income these days, really, is the % of take on a bet

JayPea (6:17:36 PM): you're the grim reaper if you charge parking or admission

TimmyT (6:17:50 PM): but are the horsemen getting a fair shake?

TimmyT (6:18:00 PM): er, 'take'?

JayPea (6:18:07 PM): hey, they're running maidens for $25,000-$50,000 most places

JayPea (6:18:25 PM): where I come from, that ain't shabby

TimmyT (6:19:02 PM): it is baffling to me that this sport would rather TURN AWAY money than work out an equitable solution!

JayPea (6:19:23 PM): especially Derby week -- how can you offend the only moneyflow in the game, the fans???

JayPea (6:20:02 PM): the timing of this simo blackout was just divisive and uncalled for

TimmyT (6:20:28 PM): and we wonder why people are turned off to the sport?  It's bad enough that we have increased break-downs, now we can't even make a bet on the Derby because of greed!

JayPea (6:21:27 PM): settle your disputes when you're not crippling the fan base, that's all I'm sayin …

TimmyT (6:21:53 PM): exactly, the ONE time when people care, we turn them away ... unbelievable!

JayPea (6:22:22 PM): of course, the third wheel in all this is the ADW companies, and that's a different discussion, because their overheads are far different than a racetrack

TimmyT (6:23:19 PM): bottom line: get all the parties to the table and figure it out!  This sport has no further margin for error

JayPea (6:23:51 PM): it cracks me up to hear horsemen complain about the 3 guys in the grandstand betting on their cellphone with an ADW, and failing to realize that there are 2,000 people in some state far, far away now playing their track that would never go there in person

TimmyT (6:23:55 PM): I heard that …instead of Obama or McCain, I'm gonna write you in for President...make this a campaign platform, will ya?

JayPea (6:24:08 PM): President of what?

TimmyT (6:24:34 PM): the United States.  Economy in peril, a war in Iraq ... screw it, I just wanna get down on the Derby from my OTB for cryin' out loud!

JayPea (6:24:58 PM): man, I can't even get my wife to agree on what to make for supper. The Plonk stops here.