JC / Railbird

The Old Guard

I was going to try to avoid linking to Sid Fernando yet again for a while, but weirdly, our thoughts seem to be running along the same lines these days. In a comment on his post addressing something I wrote here days before, he replied to another commenter with the observation, “more often than not the old guard was once the new guard,” and I thought, yes, that’s something on which I’ve been recently meditating, trying to poke holes in my own argument re: speed figures, synthetic surfaces, and the Daily Racing Form.

If you want to know about the old guard when they were the new guard, you can’t go wrong picking up Steven Crist’s memoir, “Betting on Myself,” which I’ve recommended several times to people just for the chapter, “Substance Over Form,” about the founding of the Racing Times. If you’re a newspaper nerd, then those pages read like a caper fantasy. It’s “Oceans 11” for the paste-up set. (I’m dating myself using that term, but then, I am that old. I remember putting newspapers together with exacto knives and wax.)

It’s pained me to see my argument reduced elsewhere to an allegation that DRF writers’ anti-synthetic opinions are just about business, or that the business-side has any hand in telling the paper’s columnists and bloggers what to write. Not only because I was at the Form from June 2006 to March 2008 as the webmaster and still have much respect for my former colleagues and the publication, but because I’ve spent most of my career working in journalism and publishing in some way or another and I know there’s not a charge much worse than attacking a writer’s integrity, except plagiarism.

I don’t want to rehash what I wrote before, but I would like to try to clarify it: Racing’s establishment, of which DRF is part, has been challenged by a change to the game’s landscape, and many of its members have reacted, much as the individuals comprising any establishment do when challenged, by attempting to protect their interests. Except, to the people who make up the establishment and its supporters, it’s not about interests — it’s about the ways things have been done, and should be done, because those ways are right.

That might be so. It’s the discussion I’d rather have.


Very much on mark, again.

Posted by Sid Fernando on October 24, 2010 @ 3:15 pm

These articles and accompanying discussions are so lacking of interest that I find it difficult to fathom they have even the slightest of connection to thoroughbred horse racing.

Posted by Reader v2 on October 24, 2010 @ 3:16 pm

To each their own, anonymous reader. There are many excellent sites out there with racing stories and opinion more likely to your liking. You can find them through the links list below.

Thanks, Sid. Interesting stuff about motion and training in your follow-up post today, “Baseball analogy: Explaining elements of synthetic racing.”

Posted by Jessica on October 24, 2010 @ 7:16 pm