Twitter pal, and all around nice fellow, Sid Fernando had a wonderful historic piece up last night on his blog. It was about Majestic Prince, who in 1969 entered the Belmont with a tendon issue. He ran and lost. His career, as told to Sid, was over before the race, or after the race, it didn't much matter.
Sid also touched upon Conquistador Cielo today too on twitter, and his history as a three year old.
Today, after the scratch of I'll Have Another, I asked Sid: In another time, even recently, if a horse had slight filling, but could run, what percentage of people would run them in a situation like this? Sid answered he thought 100% would run.
Filling, slight bumps, strains, soft tissue injuries and the like, are relatively common, and to race horses with them is common too. I bet there are 100 or more horses in to go today with injuries similar to this; and they'll run, some will win. As Sid pointed out, it's clear in the past horses were raced with much worse.
Why this time? Why with this horse? Why the scratch? Well cynics can say what they will - they scratched to keep his stud value up, if he ran poorly it would tarnish the horse and trainer (remember the horse was in retention this time) - and so on. But taking that cynical meme and shelving it away for a moment, could it be they did not run because horse racing is changing?
Never before has the glare of the spotlight been so bright. Never before have maladies of horses been so linked to the public, through the mainstream media (some of them wonky), social media and similar. Never before have people in racing had to worry about what the public thinks, like they do right in the here and now.
Is horse racing capitulating, or is it evolving?
Perhaps a bit of both.