Good Sports – What if racing…

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It gets late early around The Special office sometimes. That’s when the ideas start flying. What if other sports were like racing? At the end of every NFL game, the winning team lined up for a photo. 

Football players had to be weighed before games. Too much, or too little, and there is a problem. Sorry, Jason Pierre-Paul, you’re listed at 278 and you weigh 283. Attention please, in today’s game defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is five pounds over. Five pounds over on Jason Pierre-Paul.

Better yet, what if racing were like other sports? Now we’re talking.

Soccer: When Sweet Reason blazed through the stretch to win The Test, the other fillies would fall down in agony holding their legs. A steward would step on to the track, wave a yellow card and the race would be restarted from a line drawn halfway up the stretch with a can of shaving cream. We’d also have to deal with the madness of a full day of racing and no winners, but the fans would all be passionate.

Boxing: This could be fun. Tom Durkin would have to announce each horse as it stepped on to the track with much more enthusiasm than he does now. “Weighing in at 1,110 pounds, fighting out of Barn 85 on the Oklahoma Side, the pride of Lake Lonely and former Kentucky pasture champion, Razzzzzle Jazzzzzil. Lets get rrready to rrrace.” And the pre-race interviews would be great. I so want to hear Eric Guillot yell, “I pity the fool” about whoever Moreno faces next. Oh wait, Guillot may have already done that.

Hockey: Durkin would get to yell, “Score!” at the end of every race, and we’d all be on the edges of our seats waiting to see if a bench-clearing brawl occurred between arch rivals. “Did Pletcher put out his fourth line? Uh oh, Brown did too. This is going to be good. Here we go.” I guess we’d also all get to spend a day with the Travers trophy. If a horseshoe flies into the crowd, you get to keep it. And the water trucks would be made by Zamboni.

Basketball: Tracks would have to put in a three-point line – with help from Trakus of course – where a loser could win if he stayed outside the line all the way around the track. The best horses would all conspire to be on the same team, which we’d hate unless it was our team. California Chrome, Wicked Strong, Tonalist, Wise Dan and Moreno would figure out a way to be a coupled entry in the Woodward, announced via a special program on the OTB Channel. “We’re taking our talents to Saratoga,” they’d say. Host Seth Merrow would ask, “Do you think this is fair to the other horses running in the race?” and immediately be fired. Then the five all-stars would start chanting, “Not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six . . .” as fireworks and strobe lights fired off. Trainers of slow horses would find ways to make their horses run even slower to get the first pick at the sales next year. 

NASCAR: Now this would be fun. A Graham Motion (actually a great auto-racing name) interview would take hours. “Well, I’ve really got to thank Eliseo, Danny, Alice, Cat, Camille, Adrian, Dave, Robbie, Johnny, Gregory, Tom the Turkey and the pit crew for the good work put in today by  the Cosequin Pride Of Stride. The Victory Racing Plate shoes really helped him get some grip coming out of turn two and you could see the energy he got from the Standlee Hay and I can’t say enough about the travel assistance from Keith Cooper Horse Transport. The Tiegland, Franklin and Brokken muscles really fired out there today, too . . . Motion would of course have to put on a different hat every time he mentioned a new sponsor.

Steeplechase: Oh yeah. Never mind.

Cycling: The champage toasts would not wait for the trustees room. Everybody would get a taste, most likely sprayed straight from the bottle and then dumped on your head. Trainers could employ team cars equipped with water, hay, energy bars, new shoes, maybe even a different jockey to make a change during a race. And you thought I was going to mention blood doping, didn’t you?

Baseball: Lopsided winners could go into a home run trot – literally. And the stewards’ hearings would be spectacles with trainers kicking dirt on the shoes of officials and – in extreme cases – ripping the finish line out of the ground and tossing it into the infield. There would be yelling, a whole lot of hand-waving and – surely – ejections. Braulio Baeza could get right in Mark Hennig’s face and yell, “You’re out of here, Hennig . . . hit the showers.” Hennig would have to leave the track, but could watch from a television at The Horseshoe. 

Swimming: Oh the variety. Sprints, distances races, relays, medleys, walk, trot, canter, gallop, walk backward. . . and all the races would take place in the stretch, the horses would just have to turn around and go back the other way to complete enough laps. Any trainer who teaches the art of the flip turn goes straight to the top on the Equibase standings page.

Wrestling: The whole thing would be scripted ahead of time, but it would be spectacular. Gary Sciacca off the top rope . . . 

Golf: NYRA would employ an announcer whose only job would be to tell fans to be quiet as the horses got ready to start. Then everyone could yell “Get in the winner’s circle!” when the gate opened. I see a whole new use for Beyer Speed Figure pars though the track would be free to install sand traps and water hazards and vary the length of the grass in turf races. Trainers would have to give jockeys new instructions, “It’s about 220 yards to the turn, but see if you can carry the dogleg and then get up and down from the quarter pole.” There would be all sorts of self-enforced rules about penalty strides, whip drops and touching other horses at the wrong time. Instead of weight allowances, fillies would start closer to the finish line as would horses over age 5. 

Tennis: Everybody wears white, the fans get strawberries and cream and nobody really knows who’s winning because we can’t figure out the scoring. “Thirty-Love? Deuce? I thought I was on the six horse.” Ponies would be stationed at various intervals around the track to quickly retrieve lost shoes and then hustle back to the rail. 

 

Curling: Winter racing only. Now accepting applications for sweeper.