The following is a guest commentary from Rifat Hussain, MD, who has bred and raced horses on a small scale for more than 30 years. His best-known racer was the fleet Shimatoree, winner of the True North Handicap and Bay Shore Stakes (as well as second in the Wood Memorial and Gotham) and later sire of G1 winner Feel the Beat, among others.
Yesterday, I closed with the question: “What is the one most attractive aspect of owning a racehorse?”
Simply stated, it is the ability or chance to compete on an even playing field with the big cats. It is only in this game that the Joe Blows have the same chance of coming up with the winner of the Kentucky Derby as do the fat cats. The industry should play this aspect of the sport to the hilt. I do not think the “elitist” theme that seems so dear to the press and to some others in this industry has done any good for attracting new owners. The great attraction of the United States for the people of the world is that they have the opportunity to succeed if they are willing to work hard. Why not use this as the theme of the racing industry?
An attempt must be made to locate the “little guy made good” stories. That should be the theme of the media advisers to racing and breeding organizations. After all, the Breeders’ Cup, the Kentucky Derby, and the Triple Crown employ a number of media experts who can influence what image the racing industry puts forth.
Some of the emotions between horses and humans would be another aspect of this industry which has not been touched upon. The grooms, hotwalkers, and exercise riders all love “their” horses. All children love horses. The fans of tomorrow are the children. Why does it take an amateur to point this out? The children of today are the owners of tomorrow. A good feeling toward racing in childhood will be a good investment for the owners of tomorrow.
I would like to take the Thoroughbred industry and shake it and tell it to wake up and use its assets (public relations) and think about the future. Don’t think of the short term, “fix it” gimmickry. You must have a plan and follow it. Mostly, you must think of the future and learn to look at the past and present and not bury your head in the ground. It is difficult to set the pace, it is difficult to be a pioneer, but the sales companies have the opportunity to start the integrity ball rolling, and maybe others will follow.