Serving with Distinction
Date Posted: 7/7/2004 8:22:10 AM

Ray Paulick
Editor-in-Chief

A story in the July 3 issue of The Blood-Horse on the resignation of William S. Farish as the U.S. ambassador to the Court of St. James took an unfair and undeserving shot at the master of Lane's End Farm, a longtime friend of the Bush family whose three-year tenure as ambassador came at one of the most trying times for America since World War II.

The news article was hastily and sloppily put together on the day The Blood-Horse went to press June 28 and was based on wire reports that included critical quotes from a newspaper in London that has had little if anything good to say about the U.S. since the beginning of the war in Iraq. The quotes were not appropriate and should not have appeared in this publication, which covers international breeding and racing--not international politics.

The Blood-Horse sincerely apologizes to Farish and to our readers. Farish, it should be remembered, had been at his diplomatic post in London only two months when the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks occurred. It was a difficult time for all Americans, but Farish had to keep his emotions in check as he directed a staff of 800, worked tirelessly on national security issues, and served as a liaison between Washington and the British government, particularly Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Much of the British press turned on the U.S. when the war with Iraq began, but Blair remained our strongest ally, something that speaks well of Farish's relationship with him.

This could have been a time when the traditional bond between the U.S. and Great Britain weakened. Instead, as Farish leaves the embassy, the relationship is as strong as it's ever been.

Ambassador Farish deserves our thanks and recognition for an extremely challenging job well done.

SLOTS FOR SMARTYVILLE
Pennsylvania, birthplace of Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness (gr. I) winner Smarty Jones, is moving uptown. Slot machine legislation that was passed and signed by Gov. Ed Rendell during the Fourth of July holiday weekend promises to take racing in the Keystone State to heights never before envisioned.

It's an odd law, because tracks that have yet to be built will benefit from the slots windfall, as will existing tracks like Philadelphia Park and Penn National. When the state announced it would be awarding additional racetrack licenses there was a "gold rush"-like descent on the state capitol in Harrisburg. Everybody wanted in on the action, which is probably a good thing for state politicians who don't mind having their hands out for campaign funds. The big question is how much racing these yet-to-be-built tracks will offer.

According to estimates provided by slots proponents in Pennsylvania, purses at Philadelphia Park eventually are going to nearly triple from the present $140,000 per day to more than $400,000.

What will be most interesting to follow is whether the Pennsylvania foal crop will grow significantly. Over the last 10 years, the number of Pennsylvania-breds has scarcely changed. In 1992, there were 871 Thoroughbred foals born in Pennsylvania. In 2002, the most recent year for which numbers are available, the crop stood at 856. Pennsylvania ranked 10th nationally in foal production for 2002.

Slots have done wonders for New Mexico's breeding industry, and there is every reason to believe that Louisiana breeders will soon begin to prosper from the machines at racetracks there. But Pennsylvania, which boasts the sixth-highest population among the 50 states, with 12.3 million residents, has a lot more to gain because of its size. Keep in mind, however, that as Pennsylvania grows, slots operations in neighboring states may suffer.

But suffering even more are the states currently without slots. Passage of the Pennsylvania law may push them along.

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