Northern Dancer and the “revolution”

This past week jockey Gary Stevens asserted that this is “time for a revolution to save our sport.”  He was, of course, referring to horseracing across North America and innumerable challenges facing the sport, the most significant of which is the mounting death toll of innocent horses.


Northern Dancer
Doug Saunders photo

The first logical step would be the formation of a governing body, as there is in every major horse racing jurisdiction on the planet.  Yet, if I were a betting person, I’d say the odds at this time in history are poor.

Prior to Stevens “revolution” statement our local book store asked to sell gift sets of my books.   This caused me to stop what I was doing (writing yet another book) and ponder the books in the gift set.  At this point I began to realize that while I don’t have any answers to the current situation, between my entire work of 5 books, they form a kind of panorama of the sport.

In this instance there is the expression: “to ignore history is to be condemned by it.”  Hence, over the next while, I plan to revisit the books and the history therein, looking for anything: from the smallest item, to major turning points, to help us see how things have arrived at this point.

I personally have been so privileged to have experienced the sheer joy of being in the presence of Northern Dancer and Nijinsky and Secretariat, so many great horses – and to have lived at Windfields and worked for, and with, Eddie EP and Winifred Taylor.  And I am reminded that when horseracing in Ontario was on the brink of extinction, Eddie Taylor stepped up and overhauled the entire sport.

So while the dilemma facing horseracing today seems somewhat daunting,  I not only agree with Gary Stevens, I do not wish to sit idly by and do nothing.

My first insight is found in Northern Dancer: the legend and his legacy. … to be continued



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