Giving credit where credit is due

Many people will tell you that, in horse racing, there’s really no wrong way to do things. What might work on one horse or for one trainer, might not work for another, but in most cases there isn’t necessarily a wrong way when it comes to training a horse.

Some trainers never train fast miles. Others only train fast miles. Some throw them all on the equicizer daily while others always jog them pulling a cart. One trainer will do a lot of vet work while others rarely do any.

Ron Burke has horses stabled and racing all across North America while Richard Moreau keeps just one homebase and will rarely ever race a horse outside of Ontario. Both are very successful.

Variety, they say, is the spice of life, and that’s why in racing you’ll sometimes see a horse leave a stable that has a .350 average and excel in another that’s only ‘batting’ .195. Sometimes a change of scenery is all the animal needs.

This however, doesn’t keep the social media trolls and wagging tongues in the grandstand from having an opinion on everyone and everything. One stable that gets some praise from the sidelines but has also taken a significant amount of criticism over the years is TheStable - the fractional ownership brainchild of Anthony & Amy MacDonald. Yes, they won the prestigious Cam Fella Award, but they’ve also been the brunt of many comments that I’ve seen on places like Facebook over the years.

I’m sure it doesn’t bother them much, knowing that this indeed is the era of everybody having an opinion, whether asked or not, but that’s not really the point.

It also seems to be an era of never being able to please some people. Case in point:

Ours is a business where many critics say that we need to market ourselves better. TheStable, with the help of hard work and its own small PR team, were once featured in the Toronto Sun. Anthony has been interviewed on Primetime with Bob McCown, and on City TV’s Breakfast Television. He’s also done live interviews on radio stations throughout the U.S., on many in-house racetrack TV productions, and has been invited to do speaking tours in both Australia and New Zealand. This should please people, no? Yet anytime too many of their press releases appear on the SC site on consecutive days or what-have-you, I’ll field multiple complaints from people saying things like, ‘Hey Fish… I heard that Anthony had a cheeseburger for lunch yesterday, why didn’t SC have a story up about it yet?’   

Do I see the humour? Of course. I see the jealousy as well.

The only thing I have that’s close to first-hand experience with TheStable is through my parents, who have owned a percent or two of some horses with them. I know that my dad will sometimes email Anthony in regard to some thoughts he has on a particular horse, and I’ll say, “Dad, you can’t bother the guy with this stuff when you only own 1%!” But Anthony always replies and discusses the situation. To me that’s incredible.

I’ve heard detractors complain and say things like although TheStable has 800+ owners, the majority are people who were already in the game, who used to own 25% or more of a horse and now only own 2-3% of one. Even if that is true though, isn’t 3% of one better than 0%?

Others will bitch that A-Mac has gone from a 3-horse stable to a 125-horse one, and that he doesn’t deserve praise because he’s now making a much better living and getting to drive horses all over North America. True maybe, but Anthony told me that all winter he’s been driving to Ohio and back twice a week; a 4.5 hour jaunt each way. Spending 18 hrs in the car weekly, driving to Ohio and back in January and February while he has a young family at home? I have to tell you, that didn’t make me real jealous to be honest.

For the third year in a row now at TROT we’ve run a popular ‘Fond Memories’ feature, where people have a chance to share their positive horse racing related stories. In this issue (beginning on pg 26) we share this year’s version, and three of the 17 submissions are from owners at TheStable. Please give them a read and see what Joel Kravet of NY thinks of it, and what Gary Fraser & Jessie Brewer of NS have to say. But especially read the longer piece written by Tom Hebert (on pgs 28 & 29) and tell me that TheStable is not making a REAL difference in our sport, one person at a time.

Is TheStable for everyone? Absolutely not. But it doesn’t mean it’s not doing great things.

After the recent Super Bowl, no one seemed to be talking about the actual (exciting) game - except for how it was apparently ‘fixed’ by the refs of course. Ugh. On social media it seems that all people cared about was loving or hating Rihanna’s halftime show. Many in the nay simply referring to some past performances that to them were “much better.”

Guess what? Just because you loved the show put on by Prince (2007) or Lady Gaga (2017), it doesn’t automatically mean Rihanna’s show was “horrible” - it just means you probably don’t care for her music and prefer that of others. And just because I’m not an owner at TheStable it doesn’t mean that I can’t give credit where credit is due. Just because they do it differently than most others doesn’t mean they don’t do a fantastic job.

As for Rihanna, performing a show like that in front of millions, while pregnant and suspended high in the air on a small platform as she was? When I can do better I’ll criticize her. Maybe TheStable’s critics should do the same?

Dan Fisher [email protected]