(Shadows on the wall / Photo by Gene McLean)

Here’s a few random thoughts about what is happening in our world these days.

These thoughts may not all be politically correct, mind you.

They may not be scientifically or medically correct at all.

But ever since the word of this virus has gone viral, and has now penetrated our world — if not our own bodies — the coronavirus has literally and truly stopped us all in our tracks and has suddenly stopped some of our racetracks, too.

It has trapped us in our thoughts.

And, in our homes.

It has caused the most independent and free-thinking into confinements that are neither natural or fair.

It has forced the world’s most powerful nation — that would be us, as in the U.S. — to its’ knees and gutted our economy to its core.

And, it has made us all realize a few things that none of us want to admit.

Truly, we are vulnerable to attack. Whether it be bombs from the air or deadly “no see ’ems” through the air.

Truly, we are not immune or invincible. To either germs or guns.

Truly, we need a better defense system that can ensure that our people — all our people — have access to a health care system that can provide tests and remedies from any and all dangers that the world wants to create and spread. Especially when we knew months ago that this “thing” was headed our way.

Truly, we need better leadership that can provide us with a dose of humanity and concern along with a prescription for healing and care. Especially when the stakes are so very high.

And, here’s the kicker folks. We need our plan to address these attacks in advance. We need our tests in advance. We need our vaccines in advance. We need our medicines and our medical systems ready — in advance.

This country should have prevention.

Not reaction.

And, let’s be honest, folks, the answer is not isolation. Never has been. And, never will be. Retreat into your homes is not an acceptable response. Never has been. And, never will be.

Not in foreign policy. Our country tried that once or twice in the past. We ended up with two World Wars and hundreds of thousands of deaths as a result.

And, isolation is not an answer now, when it comes to foreign substances and viruses.

Isolation is not a cure or a remedy. It is simply a woeful reaction, and a futile effort of containment.

Isolation is not a medical answer, any more than plucking a few leaches from the depths of the sea and sticking them on your body in hopes that they will suck the sickness from your body.

Isolation — no matter who encourages it — is an admission of defeat.

And, in this country, we do not take defeat lightly. Never have. Never will.

So…what to do?

When we come out of this debacle and come out of our homes again (and despite what California Governor Newsome, New York Governor Cuomo, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear or anybody else in this country may believe — that will be sooner rather than latter), we should require more.

And, we should demand better.

Our federal government knew about the risks of this deadly virus months ago. And, obviously, it did nothing to prepare our medical professionals for the onslaught of this deadly epidemic. If so, we would not find ourselves in this situation today where doctors and nurses are scrambling to find just an adequate number of protective gloves and sanitizer to help treat the inflicted. If so, we would not have a massive need for ventilators and test kits. And, if so, we would have had a vaccine.

Let it be said right here and now.

If a despicable bunch of assholes — disguised as a legit drug company — can develop a drug that can make the likes of the allegedly doping horse trainers Jorge Navarro and Jason Servis into great horse trainers and their horses into nearly invincible creatures on the racetrack?

Then…we should be able to incentivize legit drug companies — if there are truly any of them out there — to find a vaccine for a virus that we knew was in existence and headed our way months and months ago.

If a despicable bunch of assholes — disguised as a legit drug company — can develop a pain killer medication so overwhelming and so overpowering that it doesn’t eleviate pain but causes much worse pain through addiction?

Then…we should be able to find some drug company to research, develop, make and distribute a vaccine that we can have at the ready to help address any situation that may arise.

Our federal government should not ask our drug companies for this assistance. Our people should not have to pay exorbitant prices for the development of these necessary and life-saving medications. It should be mandated. Today.

And, what about our state government, as well?

We are truly no better.

Our state government — along with 49 others — needs a better plan, too. A comprehensive plan based on facts, not fears. An agreed upon approach based on science, and not witch hunts or witch crafts. A sensible way to ensure that our jobs and economy can go on, with access to preventive pills and not exposure to poison pills.

Our economy has to function, and go on.

Jobs have to be done. Money has to exchange hands. Duties must be performed. Unlike a politician, we can’t retreat into an office and answer a few phone calls; host a few press conferences; ask for a few videos. Our people have to work, for God’s sake. We have to accomplish tasks. We have to make things. We have to sell things. We have to, or the world stops.

Government enforced interment camps that we call our homes is NOT an acceptable answer.

If that’s your answer? We have lost.

And, truth be known, if that’s your answer, then we have lost today’s battle already. This is not only a debacle. It is a disgrace. And, everyone from the President on down has blood on their hands for it becoming this bad. In this country, we should demand better. Not accept less.

And, we are getting less and less each and every day.

(Our shelter / Photo by Gene McLean)

Shelter In Place:

By now, many of you have heard of many states — including California, New York, New Jersey, Nevada and others — putting this radical plan into place.

In short, it requires that everyone stays in their homes. Every. One. Unless you are emergency personnel or only going to the grocery store for the essential foods and medications. In fact, some governors have threaten to roll out the National Guard to maintain order and enforce a “police state.”

I just have one question for you.

What do you think this will do to Kentucky’s horse economy, peeps?

Seriously.

We are in the midst of the horse breeding industry. It takes night watch persons, to help the mares deliver. It takes veterinarians and their many assistants to palpate mares and determine when they are ready to breed. It takes office staff to negotiate and determine breeding sessions. It takes van companies and drivers to transport the mares to the stallion farms. It takes stallion managers and staff to get the stallions ready, willing and able. It takes people to handle the teaser ponies. It takes people to hold the mares. It takes people. Period.

What if the Governor issues a “Shelter in Place.”

What happens when these mares don’t get bred?

What happens to the foal crop in a couple of years?

What happens to the racing population in a few years?

What happens?

I will let you chew on that peppermint for awhile.

(My son and grandsons at Keeneland last Spring / Photo by Gene McLean)

Keeneland Cancels Spring Meet:

In light of all the darkness that now surrounds our world and the sickness that has crippled both the lungs and the lives of so many, it is easy to understand why Keeneland has chosen to cancel the annual Spring Meet for this April.

With so many racing jurisdictions closing the barn doors (after the virus is already out, mind you), and other racetracks delaying the opening of their respective backsides, Keeneland had to have legit reasons to be concerned about the horse population that would be available for their races.

And…

With so many people looking to ship to Keeneland since Churchill Downs’s backside is not currently open for business, Keeneland officials had to be legitimately fearful that many new backside workers could be relocating to Lexington with the virus packed in their luggage and their bodies.

And…

With so many questions swirling around a possible lock-down of both human interaction and mandates prohibiting fans from attending the races, Keeneland’s decision-makers had to be concerned about how to produce a quality race meet with so many legit questions and so few people.

The decision to simply cancel the April Race Meet makes sense. Can’t blame the leaders of the track.

But…

There is a pending crisis coming for the Thoroughbred industry.

With the impending closing of both the Fair Grounds in New Orleans and Turfway Park at the end of March, where are all the horses currently stabled at and racing at those respective racetracks going to go?

With the impending closing of Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, ARK., and Tampa Bay Downs in Florida on the first Saturday in May, where are all those horses currently stabled at and racing at those respective jurisdictions going to go?

With the closing of Aqueduct and Laurel Race Track this week; with the current closure of racing in Pennsylvania, Indiana and Virginia; with the announcement that Gulfstream Park would not allow any new horses to relocate to their barns, where are the horses going to go? Where are they going to race? How are the horses going to be treated, if the horsemen and owners cannot run?

Are they going to be able to stay where they are currently?

How are they going to pay their stall rent?

How are the horses going to stay in condition?

How are the trainers going to keep their grooms and hot walkers paid?

How?

Where?

And, how long?

If horse owners cannot run their horses today, how many will be able to purchase new horses in September? How? With what money or hope?

It may be too simple, perhaps, but what about this idea?

Could Keeneland and/or some other racetracks consider renting the Fair Grounds come April, and running their respective live meets there? After all, there are horses already there. After all, the barns are already inhabited and the racetrack staff is already working. After all, it is not new exposure. It would simply be continuity.

It may be too much to ask. I’m sure it is. It may be too much to even dream. I’m sure it is, too.

But the Thoroughbred industry needs to begin thinking about some contingency plans that may be less than ideal, but allow the industry to continue through this crisis.

Want to weigh in here NTRA?

How about you The Jockey Club?

What say you TOBA?

Is the Ivory Tower too safe for you to weigh in?

After all, just like the fact that humans have to work eventually, the same is true for horses. Soon, they will have to find a place to call home. Soon, they will have to find a place to work. Soon, they will desperately need a place to run.

If you truly have the horse at heart, why not putting your heart and mind into play here. The industry needs a plan before it is too late.

Just going home and pulling up the sheets over our heads is not an answer.

Just like it was not for our government leaders several months ago.

Isolation is not an answer.

Never has been. Never will be.