John Cherwa, veteran sportswriter who covers horse racing for The Los Angeles Times

by | May 8, 2019

John Cherwa—a sportswriter (or editor) for 40+ years, who covers horse racing for The Los Angeles Times—explains the scene before the race at this year’s Kentucky Derby, especially given the growing concern and scrutiny leveled at the racing industry, chiefly in the wake of the string of horse deaths at the Santa Anita track; that number now stands at 23, and Cherwa broke that story. Cherwa describes parts of the day, the conditions of the track in the wake of the rainfall (“sloppy”), and how quickly after the race he became aware there was a foul. He recounts what it was like during the 22 minutes when the stewards were reviewing the videotapes and other material before announcing Maximum Security was disqualified. He notes that among those truly knowledgeable about horse racing and the nuances of its rules, the uproar about that decision gave way to a consensus that the stewards’ decision had been correct—and that Cherwa himself changed his mind from Saturday to Sunday, ending up agreeing, as well. All in all, though, much of the conversation amounted to an assessment of the state of the horse racing industry, including Cherwa elaborating on his observation that the industry is undergoing a significant transition: the core constituency (old, white men, Cherwa says) is aging out, various companies operate the nation’s race tracks—and there are real fissures and philosophical conflicts amongst those entities; the parent company that owns Churchill Downs and other tracks is opposed to proposed racing reforms and legislation (the Horseracing Integrity Act, which would create a uniform national standard for drug testing in racehorses)—and strong, polarizing feelings about racing have developed, mirroring the way many people have become increasingly concerned about animal welfare, Cherwa says.


ALSO: I spoke with Patrick Rose, Executive Director of the Save the Manatee club, who outlines the Club’s history (founded in 1981 by Jimmy Buffett and then-Governor Bob Graham), and multifaceted mission. Rose also addresses the challenges facing manatees, significantly exacerbated by the recent red tide algae bloom. He also discusses the Save the Manatee 5K race taking place May 11 in Michigan, where there are some 800 entrants, and folks can participate virtually from anywhere in the world—at last count, there were 1200 virtual participants. The proceeds from the race benefit Save the Manatee club.  (,

COMEDY CORNER: Kevin Nealon’s “Bear-Caught Salmon” (

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme, instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: We didn’t play “Name That Animal Tune” today.


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