There's lots of yappin' out there 'bout another horse called Casino Drive who won a race or two in the Far East then came over here and wowed 'em in the Peter Pan Stakes. At least he's walkin' around Belmont (literally) wowin' a bunch of pundits and track writers. Me, not so much.
Casino Drive is owned by a guy named Hidetoshi Yamamoto, who got rich makin' computer games and casino slot machines (d'uh). He's trained by another guy named Kazuo Fujisawa, and his spokesperson is Nobutaka Tada who doesn't seem to get much speakin' time with Rick Dutrow on the loose. Anyway, if ya' haven't figured it out those are all Japanese names, so, far as we're concerned, if Casino Drive wins it will be a dark day in horseracin'.
See, there was once a horse named Ferdinand who won the 1986 Kentucky Derby with his 54-year-old jockey Bill Shoemaker takin' him through the pack like a sports car weavin' through traffic on the 405 freeway. If ya' watch the video, you don't hear the announcer even mention his name until he suddenly bursts through on the rail to win.
A year later Ferdinand nosed out 1987 Derby winner Alysheba in the Breeder's Cup Classic that really was a classic.
Ferdinand was ultimately bought by a bunch of Japanese and went live at Arrow Stud in Hokkaido from 1995 to 2000. By 2002 he had vanished. No one was talkin', but Barbara Bayer, a zealous reporter from The Blood-Horse, pursued the story through the smokescreen of lies thrown up by the Japanese, and discovered when Ferdinand got too old and sick to be an effective stud—they sent him off to be slaughtered.
That's nothin' new, of course. The whole greyhound rescuse operation was started 'cause of so many unsuccessful racin' dogs bein' killed. And sellin' horsemeat overseas is big business just like sellin' steaks. But when I think of a Derby champ like Ferdinand endin' up in my Alpo, well, it's almost enough to put me off my feed.
Because of Ferdinand's fate, there are all sorts of efforts underway to find and fund retirement care for racehorses, and a web site, Overseas Stallion and Broodmare Database that tracks where our champion stallions and broodmares are bein' sold.
Bein' a champ isn't all big purple 'n white rosettes and ESPN interviews—it's talent and hard work. And when it's all in the past, ya' can only hope for a cushy bed, fe-lyings to chase, and an AHM who let's ya' bark your head off—online.
That's Japanese for "Big Brown" (or at least as close as a web translator can get). Here's hopin' that's the headline name the Japanese will be readin' come Sunday mornin'.
*Isoroku Yamamoto was the commander-in-chief of the Japanese Navy during the early years of the Pacific War and was responsible for Pearl Harbor. He died while on an inspection tour when his plane was ambushed by American P-38 Lighting fighters.
posted by Harrison at 11:22 PM