Can Contrarian Owner Save Horse Racing?

Jess Jackson is trying to breed horses of sturdier stock
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 16, 2008 2:54 PM CDT
Curlin's owner Jess Jackson, center, holds up the trophy accompanied by sheik Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, left, and Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum after winning the "Dubai World Cup" race.   (AP Photo/Nousha Salimi)
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(Newser) – Jess Jackson is on a mission. The owner of last year’s Preakness winner thinks that by breeding horses from sturdier stock, rather than the same old fashionable bloodlines, he can create stronger animals less likely to succumb to the kind of tragedy that took Eight Belles at the Kentucky Derby. But taking on the entire horse racing establishment hasn't made Jackson popular. "Pretty much everyone in Kentucky hates him," said one critic.

“There are very few people who are willing to stand up and say the emperor has no clothes,” Jackson says. Of course, Jackson’s Preakness winner Curbin descends from Native Dancer, the ancestor behind the entire Kentucky Derby field. But he also keeps a big stable of international horses bred for longer races. Breeding them with American horses could, he thinks, produce a new dominant family.