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Fire the Jockey?

Our beloved track announcer Paul Allen, when speaking of horse ownership, often compares it to a pro sports franchise. The horse is the team, the jockey the coach, the GM is the trainer, and the owner the owner.

That comparison, while not perfect, may hold true when looking at the changes of late in our local pro ranks. The Wild show the door to Todd Richards. How often in our sport do we see an owner or trainer make a jockey change when a horse continually runs up the track? Someone must be blamed and the jockey (coach) is the easiest move to make. But, in the end, if the horse can’t run, the horse can’t run. Richards had a bad mount yet he took the fall. Give him a better horse and the results might be different. Unfortunately for the coach in pro sports, there are no class drops. There is no Fargo or Lincoln to ship to in hopes of changing a season. So Richards is gone and a new coach will be introduced. Unless the team changes drastically, an off-the-board finish is likely.

Word on the street is that Kurt Rambis of the T Wolves is on the chopping block. Similar to Richards, Rambis has little to work with. Gorg relayed a story to me one day after asking a trainer how a horse he was recently given would run. The trainer replied, ‘There is only so much you can do with this horse.’ Therein lies one difference between racing and sports. The trainer often is not responsible for the horse (team) when the owner can’t see the light of day. The rider also is insignificant. However, responsibility for problems with a sports franchise often do fall to the GM. Before Kahn makes a rider change, he may want to acquire a large mirror and gaze into it. But why would he give up his day money when he can pin it all on the rider?

For my money, I will handicap the trainer nine times out of 10, before worrying about the jockey. Pro sports franchise owners may want to do the same.