"You're terminated [f-word expletive]." One of the great lines in action movie history when Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) finally killed the torso of the Terminator. It's right up there with the subtle, somewhat-out-of-context line delivered by ARNOLD in The Predator when he throws a knife at a commando thus impaling him to the wall. "Stick around," he says, with a half smile.
If only he had thrown that knife and stuck Churchill Downs' auxiliary gate to the backside. This addition adds six horses to the 14-horse gates to create nothing but chaos. There will never be another Triple Crown winner until the extra six posts are terminated.
What does it add? All I see is an extra six horses that don't belong in the gates. Every year there are at least six that have no business being in attendance on May's inaugural Saturday. Every year it adds chaos and traffic. Horses only have 400 yards to win the Derby, not 1 1/4 miles. Their chances are so compromised by their post position that if a horse is bottled up or swung wide, they are, in effect, losers 23 seconds into the race.
Whatever horse wins the Derby then has so many hurdles to overcome just to win the roses. Take Big Brown. He was so much the best that he won from Post 20 going five wide and four wide into the turns to win going away. The Preakness was a jog, but did the cumulative effect hurt him in the Belmont? It didn't help.
In that same Derby I remember Gayego getting so pinched into the first turn that he practically flipped over. Could he have won? No, Big Brown and Eight Belles were the best, but his race ended right there. (At the beginning, see the horse that darts for the rail? Who's that? Calvin Borel and Denis of Cork. His last three Derbies: First, Third, First.)
Twenty horses is a visual spectacle, something really fun to watch, but tell me what is so bad about a 14-horse field? The Breeders' Cup Classic routinely has 14 and it never lacks for population. That is a BIG field of quality over quantity. It's still a stampede, still a spectacle.
To this end, I've maintained that horse racing needs to trim down on everything to make the betting and racing product entertaining. In cooking there is a term called reducing when you cook off the water to condense the flavors. Same deal.
Twenty horses makes for a fun two minutes, but how many Derbies echo into eternity the way 11 Triple Crown winners do?
Sorry, stole that line from Gladiator ... Terminated!