Horsemen Take Heed: Thoughts from JJ Graci

December 5, 2019

Everyday I post news on my different sites. If you are an owner/trainer and you read these different articles you’d have to ask yourself, am I really reading this? Horsemen here is a harsh dose or reality. It appears to me that horse racing, as we once knew it, has 12 to 18 months. That’s the time line California and other tracks are going to be medication free, if it even lasts that long. The other states will follow suit. 

I’m probably not the only horseman wondering, how did we let this happen? I’ve been writing and telling anyone who will listen to me, take me seriously, the sport is going to implode in front of our eyes. My fellow horse racing peers don’t seem to want to listen. Life as you once knew it, is over. Start to brace yourself now and prepare. They look at me and ask what are you saying? I tell them you know what I’m saying but you elect not to listen.

I’m thinking to myself, How are we going to live by the rules we are to get for horse racing? I really don’t need a crystal ball to tell me that. Quite frankly, I’m really nervous. I know I’m a lot closer to the end than the beginning. I enjoyed the sport and until this day, I still do.

I think of my daughter following in my footsteps. She is very successful. But I ask myself how long can she and the others hang on? Let’s face it, she was trained by me and her mother, we were and still are old school horse racing. 

She is at Penn National with a barn full of horses. Luckily she’s an excellent trainer with earnings over 7 million dollars in her young career. Not an easy thing to do at a small track. That’s going to change big time! Tracks like that give the less talented and older horses who get a step slower, a place to land. I can’t see the A and B tracks filling entries, there simply aren’t enough horses to go around.

Getting back to my daughter Kim, she can cut her stable down to horses she thinks can compete. There are a lot of trainers just like her, big and small. The question is what do you do with the perfectly good racehorses who need a little help that’s not there anymore. You really can’t give them away now and it’s only going to get way worse.  My fear is they’re going to get into bad hands and need I tell you where they’re heading? If I do, it’s called Slaughter! Is that what we really want? I don’t think so. 

When the powers to be do what they’re getting ready to do, there is no turning back.

At this point I do not know what the answer is or even if there is one. We have let bad apples ruin it for the rest of us. We have failed to self police and drive those who push the envelope and beyond to not only exist but to flourish at all our expense, and at the expense of the game and horses.

As long as we let people call the shots that really have nothing invested, we are doomed. Powerful words but so true. All we are doing is rearranging chairs on a ship that’s going down. Yep we shut racing down, put people out of work and thousands of horses sent to meet their end. Sure, sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. I guess it is what it is, some things never change. There is absolutely no way horse racing can exist. You can have your fancy smaller meets with the who’s who in racing.

When you blow the dust off this, who suffers? It’s the horses we are supposed to be protecting. With all the changes going to put in place, horses are still going to bleed, get sore and yes, break down. Of course the numbers won’t be as many as now simply because there won’t be as many horses left.

I’ll tell my fellow horsemen once again, the deck is stacked. Find a new way to make a living, horses are not it. Once again, these are my words and no one else’s. 


See you at the races. 

Contributing Authors

JJ Graci

JJ was born in Philadelphia, Pa.  and attended Villanova University. He has vast experience in horse racing and broadcasting. JJ has been a fixture in...

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