Saturday, December 3, 2011

How Racing Works: The Stewards

Typical Race, Typical Track

Inside the racing office was a cantankerous troll, who I learned had got his job through nihilism, nepotism, cronyism, blackmailism, obscene forms of patronage and the ability to not only collect a lot of dirt on the racing commissioners, but actually remember who's dirt was whose.  This was the Racing Secretary.  Trainers spent many hours of their mornings groveling at the troll's feet in order to get a number, which allows a horse to enter a race it can't possibly win.  It is a system based on cheap gratuities, mostly gifts of coffee and jelly donuts, and the abilty to shamelesslly lose at golf or poker almost continuously.  The office is also home to the Stewards, the guys (yeah, it is kind of sexist), who try to enforce the rules of racing.  Mostly they confiscate batteries, conduct field sobriety tests on horses, oversee urine testing (horses can pee about a gallon, so that's a lot of overseeing), and admonish jockeys about road rage, illegal amphetamines and citizenship issues.  They also make sure nobody has watered the bourbon in the Turf Club, parked in their private parking space or kidnapped a trainer's pharmacist in order get him to throw a race.  Most Stewards are retired racetrack types, who got the job because their tab at the backstretch kichen was out of control.  Racing people take care of their own.

                                                    However, the Stewards Notice that Something is Amiss!

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