In yet another measure of how irrelevant horse racing has gotten, Kentucky Derby “winner” Medina Spirit collapsed and died at Santa Anita yesterday. He had a heart attack after a workout, which 3-year-old horses don’t tend to do. It does happen, though, but is rare.
The whole thing is a little fishy because the horse tested positive for an illegal steroid after winning the Derby, and his status as winner is still undecided. The horse’s trainer, Bob Baffert, has been suspended in Kentucky and New York for the misdeed. It’s hardly his first suspension.
But nothing will change, and there won’t be much of an uproar. Whatever fans of the sport are left are used to horses disappearing after their age 3 campaign. But it’s usually to a breeding shed, not the grave. While this is much sadder, I doubt too many will care all that much after a few days. Horses die sometimes in racing, at least that’s what we tell ourselves.
What horse racing needs is regulation at a national level, not from state-to-state with little oversight. But that won’t ever happen, because who has the time? And horse racing gets so much support from state governments just to be alive they’re not going to want to turn over governance of the sport to the feds. It might not be so loose with the purse strings.
Horses will continue to be fed all sorts of things, bobbing and weaving between state regulations in one place to another, or finding something the testing can’t detect yet. Slimy fucks in designer jeans like Baffert will continue to skate, doing his interviews on NBC as the network claws for whatever ratings it can from the Derby or Breeders’ Cup.
But hey, maybe the sport itself will just go away in the near future. I guess that would solve it.