Thoroughbred Racing Community—Jerks of the Week

B SCorrespondent IJune 10, 2008

I must admit, it was difficult to decide who was my asshole of the week.

My first impulse was to hand it to Lakers' coach Phil Jackson.  Jackson laid into just about everyone he could think of after his team's close loss in Boston on Sunday night. 

He blamed Lamar Odom for looking like a "confused...player," he blamed Vlad Rad for poor defense, he blamed the refs for not making the right calls, and he even managed to slight Boston big-man and fellow Oakland-native (with whom I happened to go to high school) Leon Powe after the biggest game of his life. 

Props to you, Mr. Zen Master, for throwing everyone else under the bus.  Did you think for a second that maybe the coach could have...never mind; let's not go there.

Anyway, I was all ready to write an article about how, for lack of a better word, lame I thought Phil Jackson's postgame press conference was, when I heard that Big Brown's trainer, Rick Dutrow, blames jockey Kent Desormeaux for Big Brown's stunning loss in the Belmont. 

When I found out that other horse racing "experts" agreed with Dutrow's assessment, I felt ashamed to have even watched all three Triple Crown races.

My main gripe is with the timing of these opinions.  These views weren't voiced right after the race on Saturday.  Nobody came out and said "I think Desormeaux did the wrong thing" at first.

Everyone sat stunned, and waited to see if there was some rational explanation for the horse that beat everyone by a combined eleventy billion lengths in the Derby and the Preakness. 

They wanted to say the cracked hoof was the issue.  They wanted to say that the lack of (legal) steroids was the issue.  When these turned out to not be the case, then everyone turned on Desormeaux.

Another of my concerns comes from the lack of recognition given to Da'Tara, the horse who, um, actually WON the Belmont Stakes.  After the race, all cameras, all eyes, all attention, turned to Big Brown, Kent Desormeaux, Rick Dutrow, and why Big Brown lost the race. 

Nobody paid any attention to the winner of the race.  This reminds me of the 2005 Indy 500 when Dan Wheldon, won but everyone was too busy making googly eyes at Danica Patrick finishing fourth to notice.  Wheldon showed up to the next race wearing a t-shirt that read "I actually won the Indy 500."

Personally, I feel embarrassed for horse racing (did I just say that?).  First, Eight Belles, the first filly to run in the Derby since Excellent Meeting finished 5th in 1999, runs her heart out (almost literally) and is euthanized on the track after finishing second. Still, all media attention focused on Big Brown immediately after the race (granted, I do believe the situation was given proper scrutiny in the following days and hours). 

Now this debacle at the Belmont, in which everyone feels the need to point a finger at someone or something.  This is a sad day for horse racing.