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Clint Goodrich is not exactly a household name in the horse racing world, but he might be someday. Clint is an experienced and extremely passionate horseman, who is well versed and very opinionated about the current demise of our sport. Goodrich claims he can fix horse racing and bring it out of its death spiral and says he has a fool-proof plan to do so.
Clint’s experience sprang from the bottom ranks of our industry, starting out as a hot walker and groom in the mid-seventies. He began exercising horses shortly thereafter and eventually became an apprentice jockey, journeyman jockey, assistant trainer, trainer, owner and breeder. The man has been in the trenches, fought the wars and emerged victorious.
One of Clint’s finer winning battles was a purchase he made at the Keeneland yearling sales on a pretty fast fellow named Saint Ballado. Clint trained and was part owner of the royally bred Saint Ballado. After the horse won several graded stakes, Clint and his partners took him to the stud patch, where he was very successful, siring the odds-on favorite for the 1997 Kentucky Derby from his very first crop to race and many other graded stakes winners. Clint and his partners wound up selling the Saint for over $6 million. Not bad.
I’ve interviewed Clint before and we’ve also worked on a few projects together over the years. I’ve found that Clint will always give you a deep and honest answer to any question presented and he backs up his statements with facts and experience. He’ll tell it like it is, tell you things you definitely don’t want to hear and he’s certainly not afraid to criticize anyone and everyone. Clint Goodrich is just one sweet interview.
Peter Monaco: At the time of our last interview, you were known as ‘the only man that can save horse racing,’ as well as the man who can ‘stop the death spiral’ of our sport. That was a year or so, ago and things have surely gotten a lot worse in the industry since then. Can horse racing still be saved and brought back to the glory days, and are you still the man that can do it?
Clint Goodrich: Horse racing can still be repaired but the time for this reversal is growing short. But, there really is no chance in hell, horse racing can return to its full glory days. That opportunity has been squandered. Once things go by the wayside, they can never return to what they once were.
The sport can however, be reinvented back to something of its former self. It would kinda be like bringing the Woolly Mammoth or Saber Toothed Tiger back from extinction through DNA. You can host the new version in an elephant or a Siberian Tiger. Once born, it can and will look similar but it will be a little different. You have to live with and make the slight differences imperceptible. The essence of the game and what makes it great can be recaptured – but only by and through someone who actually knows the history, the origins and what was at the very core of its heyday. You know, what actually made it so truly special.
Trust me when I say there is not ONE single person in racetrack management, ownership or otherwise within the industry who knows or understands what it was that made horse racing special or what “that thing” would be, to begin the journey back to greatness. NOT ONE! I am the only person who has the actual and personal hands-on experience, insight and knowledge of the sport who can bring forth what is absolutely necessary to bring the sport back. It would take a person or a small group of people with just a single pocket full of Silicon Valley-type money or even just something close, who would give me a 5-7 year commitment. You’d actually begin to see proof and results even sooner. I know exactly what’s needed and exactly how to do it. The major words are “funding” and “free rein” to do it as necessary without being second guessed. I am literally the only person who can do it. Otherwise, someone else would have done so by now. There are plenty of talkers but no takers.
P.M.: Damn, that’s some confidence there, buddy. Are we gambling on the results?
C.G.: It’s not gambling if you know what you’re doing.
P.M.: Nice!
P.M.: I believe it’s fair to say, the recent fiasco in California racing couldn’t have been handled any worse and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better now. One could surely entertain the thought that no one is in charge and no one knows what they’re doing. This might not be the case, but their actions, or lack of them, surely seem to suggest it. What’s going on over there and why is it such a mess? Why can’t anyone make an informed and rational decision and stick to it on all these major issues?
C.G.: When no one in management has any idea whatsoever what they’re doing with regards to the maintenance of a racing surface, this is the result you will ultimately get. That might sound hard to believe but it’s 100% true. Their resulting actions and inept reactions have resulted in the recent chaos, confusion and pandemonium.
This opens the front door for groups, like PETA, to walk right in unchecked. The management at Santa Anita inherited the racetrack and surface. They didn’t build or create the place. They don’t know what to do, because they don’t know anything about horses or the industry overall. These people are clueless stuffed suits, masquerading as individuals who are supposed to know something about horses or horse racing. They don’t.
Thoroughbred horses and the corporate mentally, they just don’t mix. These people at Santa Anita (The Stronach Group) are primarily in the real estate development business, that’s really their underlying objective. The people at most racetracks are weak corporate executives at best and low level wanna-be casino managers at worst; they’ve never had to adjust to the evolution of the Thoroughbred racehorse over the last three decades. They have no idea what I’m even referring to when I say this! Thoroughbred horses, by virtue of the rank commercialization of the breed, are not nearly as sturdy as they once were.
P.M.: There are obviously a lot of problems over that way, but do you believe it’s mainly the racing surface?
C.G.: The track at Santa Anita, and almost all others around the country are too hard, too fast and too speed conductive. So yes, unequivocally. I’m sure you remember the old adage from the 70’s and 80’s, “speed kills”? Well, it’s also the case here. Excessive speed conducive racing surfaces, ruin and breakdown horses. The fix is really simple: Slow them down. Adding more cushion and deepen the surface and your problem is 50% solved. The other 50% is solvable too, but the industry is rudderless – without will or courage, let alone any know-how. But that’s an entirely different subject. Maybe we can talk about that another day?
P.M.: Absolutely. Of course.
P.M.: What would you like everyone in the racing world, and even outside the racing world, to get out of this interview. What do you want them to take home from this discussion?
C.G.: What I’d like everyone to get is THIS: horse racing is in a death spiral because of the fractured nature of the industry and complete lack of cohesive leadership. They are also firmly in denial. As it stands, there is no viable route to change this mess. The industry is rudderless and because of this fact, it’s not likely to survive the next decade, maybe not even that long on any meaningful level. Horse racing is going the way of Jai-alai.
The many facets of the industry don’t want to cede control to any central authority. It’s not in their personal best or selfish interests. Doing so would be a fatal blow to their power and cash flow. But without it, they are doomed. The industry leaders on every level are really like a bunch of drug cartels. They’re strictly in it for profits and power. They run the sport like title loan companies, they risk long term viability for short term greedy gain at the expense of others. It’s just not sustainable. At some point, you have no customers.
In the state of today’s world, every racetrack really just wants to be a casino. Get rid of the horses, horsemen and the massive maintenance costs, this raises profits. Just look at Hollywood Park, and then think about Santa Anita. After 75 damn years they bulldozed Hollywood Park! They built a new football stadium on the spot, financed by the public through bond issuance, and moved the Hollywood Park Casino and card tables into a {expletive} conference room! See what I’m saying!? Santa Anita is next in some form or variation. Portland Meadows in Oregon, is now slated for the wrecking ball. The Stronach Group owns Portland Meadows. They also own and operate Pimlico and Laurel. Connect the dots. What do you think is gonna happen to Pimlico? I’ll give you one guess – and it ain’t good.
Racetracks have been closing down left and right for years. Soon they’re going to start dropping like flies and they don’t have any idea what to do. Many don’t care, so they’re riding them into the dirt. Others will just throw in the towel once the money starts drying up. THEY DON’T CARE!!
P.M.: Okay, so I think few could argue that horse racing isn’t heading in the proper direction. How do we fix it, Clint, How do we stop this disease from spreading? How do we save racing and the racetracks and what’s the end game of all this and what’s in this for you?
C.G.: First let me say, medication is NOT the root cause of these issues. Any medication issues can easily be addressed in a sensible way in a totally separate undertaking. This one is so easy, it’s not even funny. So the only thing that can possibly save racing is leading by example, it’s the only thing. There is no possible way to reinvent or organize the sport and industry. It’s going to take a leader, A TRUE LEADER, to create a new racetrack and environment, a new philosophy and a real outline for the actual sport. It needs to built in the most favorable location, meaning a state that really wants you, where you could create a horse racing utopia that cares for, supports and nourishes the sport, as well as the horseman and animals. If this were created, the entire industry would then soon follow in lock-step, because the leader of this new game would have fixed all the issues that were previously “unfixable“.
This new racetrack organization would be overwhelmed by demand from horseman, AND the public! The non-greed of the new industry leader would catch on fire. I’m describing what amounts to a “Pied Piper” of the sport! It can be done. I can do it. What’s in it for me? Successfully saving the sport that I once lived and breathed 24/7. I’d like to build a major track from a nice flat spot in the ground but I could also renovate an old crumbling facility and you know, completely retro-it out. I could make just about anything work. You’d never see anything like what I could create and make happen.
It’s the ground you really need, the physical access, the proper space. But you must also have the will, courage and of course, the money. No one from within the industry is ever going to finance me or my ideas. The backing will be absolute necessity, have to come from the outside. I am, and would be, considered the enemy from within. No one will authorize or grant me the power to do this. You take control, you don’t ask for permission and in this case you don’t ask for forgiveness either. You just act and lead. The parasites who’ve been in charge for far too long will be seeking the forgiveness.
P.M.: Speaking of which, Mr. Sunshine, you might surely be making some new and exciting friends from this interview as you’ve bashed everyone except the girl scouts. I give you extreme credit for speaking your mind but are there any concerns at all about any backlash from trashing the higher powers in racing?
C.G.: Zero concern. None. What can any of these people do to me? Suspend my trainers license? Bar me from the grounds? HA! What a joke. I don’t need anything from any of them these days. They need me.
P.M.: This is all some great stuff Clint, but I’ll be needing to digest it over a few cold beers. Can you give me a concise final thought so we can get out of here?
C.G.: Sure I can. The industry is on its way to total extinction or complete irrelevancy, and extinction usually follows irrelevancy. The sport is a quandary of its own making. As it stands now, it can never be fixed. There’s no starting point to even begin remaking it. Horse racing suffers from a nasty case of; don’t want to, won’t, unwilling and unable to save itself. It must be remade from the bottom up and from the outside in. All of the rotten infrastructure needs to be scraped off and the old, tired “stereo-type thinking” needs to be completely replaced. 
If I could do it unchecked and without the restraints of cash, time and the bureaucratic shackles of the old standard “the industry horseshit”, I guarantee you, I can absolutely clone it back from the brink of extinction, to the glory of distinction. Just remember the Woolly Mammoth and Saber Toothed Tiger examples. When I’m done, no one will be able to tell the difference.
P.M.: I thank you for your candor, time and patience, man. It’s always an experience and a pleasure speaking with you, no shit.
C.G.: Anytime, Pete, the pleasure is mine.

 

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