Do you remember headlines from a couple of years ago discussing fixes for the Triple Crown? Since that time, there have been plenty of suggestions ... but what about recent solutions? Although they are scattered online, horse racing has come up with at least a few workable ideas about fixing the Triple Crown -- and one is oddly realistic.
Lack of Triple Crown drug related?
Over the past 34 years, it has become painfully obvious that there is a serious problem with the Triple Crown system. Despite several attempts to figure it out, most of the suggestions are hardly realistic. For instance, Bill Finley published commentary at ESPN's webpage stating that getting rid of the drugs would be a good place to start.
Obviously, the industry works hard to regulate this area of horseracing manipulation, but Finley is pointing out that legal equine medications like Lasix have subtle deleterious side effects on horse racing and the horse. For horses, the problem is dehydration. On the other hand, bloggers at Horse Racing Insider suggest that giving medications to horses allows sick horses to win races and pass on weaker genes. Are these the reasons that we have not seen a Triple Crown winner since 1978?
Triple Crown needs a gene pool
Thoroughbred racing was originally the result of a carefully organized reference guide called a stud book. Since Thoroughbred breeding began in the 1700s, a main interest has been pairing winners with winners. Sadly, two news articles from the BBC's Matt Walker and the Saratogians Michael Veitch state that we will not see a Triple Crown winner anytime soon due to the severe inbreeding among Thoroughbreds.
In his report, Walker states that several scientific references show that Thoroughbreds have become more inbred over the past four decades and, "the rate of inbreeding has accelerated over the past 15 years."
Triple Crown fix has Olympic test
Over the years, scientists and Thoroughbred industry leaders have begun to come to grips with the reality that fixing the genetics behind the Triple Crown will save it. Along with that, products like the ThoroughGen test from University of Binghamton Biologist Steven Tammariello have been developed. Regardless, another solution has been growing over the past 9 years that now has an Olympic test.
Instead of fixing the genes, the controversial method that scientists think is working is to clone a winner. Since the first horse was cloned in Italy in 2003, this idea has been taken to the point that cloned horses will be allowed to participate in the London 2016 equestrian events. Interestingly, an Irish scientist recently published that he has added the icing to the Triple Crown clone cake.
After working with skeletal remains from several Thoroughbred winners over the past 300 years, Dr. Emmeline Hill at University College Dublin developed a similar product to ThoroughGen called, "The Equinome Speed Gene Test." Adding to that, in early 2012, Dr. Hill announced that he had isolated the genesis of the so-called 'speed gene.'
The key to all winning horses?
Is the Triple Crown fix going to be a cloned horse or a genetically engineered one from 300-year-old DNA? While nothing of this nature is currently on the American Thoroughbred horseracing books, in my opinion, Dr. Hill's research does give us one clue for picking the most likely bloodlines for future Triple Crown winners.
When interviewed, Dr. Hill says, "We have traced all modern variants of the original 'speed gene' to the legendary Nearctic (1954-1973), and attribute the wider expansion of these variants to Northern Dancer (1961-1990), the son of Nearctic, [as] one of the most influential stallions of modern times."
Undoubtedly, I will be using this criteria to research my next race -- and would not mind watching a cloned Northern Dancer win the next Kentucky Derby.
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Maryam Louise is a longtime resident of the Bluegrass State and has lived in the shadows of Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky over the past two decades. In addition to being a fan of horse racing, she has also had a chance to get to know jockeys, horse groomers, and betting clerks as an ESL instructor. Currently, she writes for KentuckyDerby.org and relies on her friends in the multiple facets of the equine industry for writing inspiration.