Trash-Talking Songbird (or ANY Horse)–Doesn’t Make You a Witty Pro. Just a Bone-Picker.

 I’m sick-sick-sick of hearing sports analysts/commentators/common ‘taters (choose one) who, after a loss by a Champion–like hungry, wild dogs, dive right in and pick the flesh off the proverbial bones of the hero(-ine) who just lost the game.  In this case, the race.

Like, vultures around an Indian graveyard:  bone-pickers.

OK, OK.  So Songbird was passed in the last .3 seconds by Forever Unbridled.  Songbird didn’t win.  Forever Unbridled’s ML odds were 7-2:  she’s certainly no slouch.  And she got a great, thoughtful ride from Joel Rosario, who wisely held her back until immediately after the second turn, the turn for home.  That’s when he gave Forever Unbridled her head, and let her shift into fifth.

This article is not intended to take anything away from Forever Unbridled.  Not at all–she’s a talented horse, and Rosario, obviously–a calculating, thinking jockey.

No, the purpose of this article is to trash the trash-talkers.  Trash, that is, the human media “professionals” who set themselves up as judge, jury and executioner in the moments following Songbird’s stunning loss by a neck.  It happened the nanosecond that Forever Unbridled won yesterday.  It happened also, when Arrogate lost the San Diego Handicap in July.  Bratty media schnooks still are flapping their thoughtless jaws over that one–even calling into question the quality of his magnificent races in which his world dominance was firmly established.  

How utterly ridiculous.

I’m not going to name names–you know who you are.  You may be a commentator (common ‘tater)–racing analyst or just an ESPN/NBC talking head who, perhaps, knows NOTHING about horse racing.  But all y’all who had the unmitigated gall to yak into a microphone following Songbird’s defeat–or Arrogate’s, or ANY horse’s–and talk trash about them–shame on you.

That’s not professionalism–that’s childishness, to the Nth degree.

I don’t care how famous you are–or how famous you think you are.  I don’t care where you earned your chops, OR who’s your Daddy.  When an upset occurs–and a truly great Horse like Songbird doesn’t win–if you race to trash-talk her...then YOU are the Loser, not her.

How very typical–and how terrible–that horse racing, as wonderful a sport as it is–has just as many jerks as any other sport.  People who LOVE you to the point of suffocation one minute–but ONE little misstep, ONE loss, justifies turning on you like a Doberman on his owner.  Fans are guilty of this, in spades–how stupid, and juvenile, to refer to a horse as a “rat,” etc.  (Social media blows up with the scribblings of people who have no lives-but who DO have ample time to post their vitriol against a horse all over Facebook and Twitter.  My response to non-professionals who do that always is, Grow up.)

But when people who are supposed to be professionals do it?

THAT is absolutely unacceptable.  When commentators, analysts, writers, etc.–jump on a bandwagon, and dump on an innocent horse, OR her jockey/trainer/owner?  “Ridiculous” is too nice a word.  “Stupid,” “puerile,” “idiotic”–all these are adjectives that very nicely describe a human whose C.V. reads that they’re a media professional–and yet, whose actions and words indicate that NOT ONLY are they mere humansthey are cruel at their very core–and obviously too weak of moral character to think for themselves.

The Herd Mentality lives in horse racing, and in sports media in general.  I am disgusted.  And it swells up to twice its normal size in the immediate moments following an upset.  How cruel, how horrible, to kiss up to Rick Porter and Songbird one minute–then, to wail on them with trash talk as soon as the horse didn’t deliver the expected goods?

Tick Tock McGlaughlin (William H. Macy,”Seabiscuit.”) Not a mean bone in his fictitious body.

I have no problem, whatsoever, with thoughtful–mathemetical, even–analysis of a horse race.  THAT is fine.  THAT is correct.

THAT is journalism.  For an analyst actually to analyze a race is, well, the job description.  The reason why they collect a fat paycheck.

But when that analysis turns into a verbal beat-down, that sounds more like a gang of insecure teenagers, pummeling someone who just lost?  That’s not journalism, nor has it ever been.

That is the action of humans who are too insecure to stand up for that which is right.  OK, so one person is a dope, and says something mean about Songbird, Arrogate (or any other Champion who loses in an upset)…one person decides that he sounds “smart,” “savvy”–“cool,” even–for dumping on a chosen victim.

Then others, who want perhaps to be accepted–’cause that IS how The Herd Mentality works–others join in the chorus, thereby securing their own standings in the clique with The Cool Kids.

Reality Check here, boyz and grrrlz:  Being mean doesn’t make you cool.  It makes you mean.

And being a mean reporter/analyst/commentator — doesn’t make you a great journalist.  In fact, it takes you out of the realm of Real Journalism, and sets you up to host your own sports show.  Unfortunately, that show will be produced by Jerry Springer, and you will become nothing more than a joke, yourself.

And THAT, Children of the Corn–seems like a nice karmic twist:

Journalist trash-talks a Champion Horse.
Journalist de-volves, into something unrecognizable as a human:  a “reality TV star.”

For those who have genuine talents for journalism and Truth in Reporting, there is no need to resort to dumping on anyone, and stupidity.

Reporters/analysts/journalists of all stripes, in sports media:  Choose the High Road.  It may not make you one of The Popular Kids–but in the long road, you’ll keep your soul intact.


Photo Credits:

Forever Unbridled and Songbird, courtesy of

Arrogate, all alone at the wire, Saratoga, 2016.  Courtesy of  Dan Heary

William H. Macy as Tick Tock McGlaughlin, courtesy of Tampa Bay Times