My Take on the Kentucky Derby Fiasco

I don’t like horse racing. Most of the time I can’t bring myself to watch even the Kentucky Derby. As a former horse owner I understand the risk involved in thousands of pounds of horses flying around a track, with a dot of a saddle and only a little larger dot of a rider on the horse’s back.

As someone who showed horses, sometimes in outside conditions and sometimes in inside arenas, I know the danger of mud. Mud and 19 horses focused on the same spot on the rail is a lethal combination.

When I talk about the rules of communication I tell coaching clients and audiences that there are rules. In America we have rules for everything. The NFL does not tell its teams that they can’t spy on other teams. They tell them they have to follow the NFL rules for spying.

We can and do go over the speed limit. There are rules for the road.  We don’t always honor those rules. We have to be willing to live with the consequences that at best is a speeding ticket and at worse an accident.

In horse racing there are rules. All kinds of rules: on legal drug use, weight of rider, weight of saddle, lane changing, etc. Just because we don’t know all of the rules doesn’t mean there are not rules.

Most of America tunes into horse racing once, twice or three times a year:  maybe for the Derby, the Preakness or the Belmont. Those casual watchers may think that the horse who crosses the finish line first is the winner. There are rules. As in driving we have rules for how to change lanes. Just because people often don’t follow the rules- turn signal-and don’t get a ticket, does not mean there are not rules.

This year’s derby was a fiasco. Not a tragedy – THANK GOD- but a fiasco. I feel badly for everyone involved. I submit to all casual sports fans that for horse racing like any sport there are rules. Yes it is the first time in 145 years that a winner has been disqualified. I can’t tell you who is right or wrong. I know that when I got a ticket on the expressway outside of Pittsburgh, I was in the right hand lane being passed by cars in the left lane going faster than me. When the highway patrolman pulled me over, I said, I don’t understand others were going faster than me. The nice man continued writing the ticket as he said; I guess it was your bad luck that I stopped you.

I would guess that horses have been veering into lanes for all 145 years of the derby. This one got caught violating the rules.

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