Commentary

Horse racing story of the year

Updated: December 10, 2012, 4:51 PM ET
By Jay Cronley | Special to ESPN.com

What's the story of the year in horse racing?

Slot machine profits rule the industry, there's one possibility: we rely on gambling junkies thinking maybe next time will be their time and pushing the buttons and spinning the dials around the clock.

The failure of "Luck" is another important story.

"Luck" was the HBO series about horse race people possessed by the demon that suggests everybody is due tomorrow. This series was over-baked, freaks as art, that uppity Hollywood notion. But it starred Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte, name another show that could do that.

Horses died in the filming of "Luck," that was a wrap.

The demise of the series figures to expand a void in horse racing literature.

A lack of a unified regulatory and policing policy is a continuing horror story. Horse racing drug and cheating policy is reminiscent of a scene out of something like "Paper Moon," a moonshine hustler speeding all-out for the rickety bridge that separates one state from another -- hit the middle of the river and you're in another jurisdiction and home free. What's legal in one state isn't in another. Kick a big-time trainer out of a track in the sticks? Maybe after the offense after the next one? Appeals can last so long, a trainer alleged to have drugged a horse can be racing that animal's offspring before some hearing, which is apt to be postponed.

My top story for 2012 is the horse player.

He and she had to survive the following:

Late money aimed at pulling fast one.

Early money aimed at pulling a fast one.

Odds that change when the horses are halfway down the back side.

Hidden workouts.

Drugged horses.

Drugged others.

Horrifically incompetent rides.

Hurt horses that are permitted to race.

Pathetic steward decisions.

Sneaky stewards.

Tellers who can't count.

Tellers who talk too much.

Out and out cheaters.

Hygiene -- you think the floor at the dollar movie is bad, look down at the simulcast joint.

The honestly impossible horses winning races -- the victor in Remington Park's chief two-year old race this weekend paid $259.

The questionable impossible horses winning races -- last, last, last, last, next to last, last, first.

Drunks.

Irate spouses and loved ones.

Trendy touts.

The IRS.

Obvious bets.

Hot tips.

Broken glass in the parking lot.

A lack of free stuff.

Betting machines that don't work.

Guards who shouldn't have guns having guns.

Pitiful picks by so-called professional handicappers.

The deep fried Special.

Inside info.

And guess what, we're still here.

Write to Jay at jaycronley@yahoo.com.