City Desk

Horse Racing Coverage Scratched at Washington Post…for Last Time?

John Scheinman, who has covered horse racing for the Washington Post since 2000, has been told that as of the new year his beat will be as dead as Barbaro.

In all likelihood, that means that regular horse racing coverage is over at the Post. For good.

Racing sold more newspapers than any other sport, and maybe any other topic, for a huge, early chunk of the 20th century.

But journalism has been turning its back on the track for years. The Post's Andy Beyer, the most important turf writer this region and maybe any region has ever known, took a buyout a couple years ago and wasn't replaced.

Look for the Post to use wire copy come next year's Kentucky Derby.

Scheinman, as hardworking a freelancer as the Post has, says he'll try to pick up track work from other media outlets, and hopes the addition of slot machine revenue in Maryland will spark new interest in racing.

He's not expecting the Post to reconsider, however.

"It just hit me," Scheinman said, just before leaving to cover today's Maryland Racing Commission meeting, "I'm the last Post horse racing writer."

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  • thefrontpage

    With tracks in Maryland still operating, and poised to do better business soon, and with tracks at Charles Town still operating, and with Maryland hosting one of the legs of the Triple Crown--there are only three, for god's sake--and with horse racing still popular in the region for many folks---why on earth would the Post cut Sheinman's stories from the Sports section? It doesn't make any sense. So you have a great sport with strong local roots poised to become even more popular soon--and you cut free-lance stories from a capable writer who's proven himself for eight years now? What sense does that make? It doesn't make any sense. The Post should not cut Sheinman, and should keep his stories in the Post. It's just one dumb decision after another one lately.

  • Derek

    Very poor and distasteful choice of words in the first paragraph. Racing writers around the country have been losing their jobs, but to compare the situation to Barbaro demonstates a complete insensitivity to the sport and those who enjoy it.

  • Teri

    I think that the writer of this article should be quite ashamed of himself for the choice of words "dead as Barbaro" it was very distasteful and just plain wrong. I think an apology to everyone who enjoys the sport and especially the connections of Barbaro should be forthcoming.

  • Mike DeBonis

    As your editor, McKenna, let me say: If you apologize for your delightful turn of phrase, you're fired.

  • Paw Lick

    Derek and Teri:
    Lighten up! Barbaro is DEAD. I know Alex Brown's FOB girls and girlymen think they talk to him on a regular basis, but believe me, he is dead and in an old wooden box in Roy and Gretchen's bedroom closet.
    I think it was an excellent choice of words. The candle-lighters need to get over it and move on. Unfortunately, many horses die in this game. To worship Barbaro is a sin. Focus on the everyday horse, not these overhyped "hero" horses. Odds are great that Barbaro wouldn't have won the Preakness. He was a decent horse, but his claim to fame was the year after the Preakness.

  • Dave McKenna

    Actually, I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to anybody who was offended by what I wrote.

    I'd also like to thank Derek, Teri and MdB -- and, what the hell, Barbaro -- for helping me achieve a longtime goal: To deliver this non-apology apology in a public forum.

    And mean every word of it.

  • Amanda Hess

    it's a fucking horse.

  • Dave

    Yeah seriously. Barbaro was just a horse, folks. Horses die every day. In fact, in the time it took me to write that last sentence, there were probably hundreds of horses across the globe that just dropped dead.

    Why is Barbaro any more special than any of those horses? Because he was mortally wounded while a tiny man in silly clothing straddled him? That doesn't sound tragic to me; it sounds surreal and, to be honest, sort of sexually deviant.

    Let's calm down with the Barbaro canonization, Ok? The dude seemed like a nice horse by all accounts - I never met him personally so I can't say for sure - but, as Ms. Hess less wordily pointed out, he was just a fucking horse.

    Btw Hess, I'm still working on verifying Cherkis' claim of perfection at his old college newspaper, believe it or not. The truth will out!

  • D. Ranged Lukas

    As a true fan of horse racing I have been waiting for this to happen. This can only help the sport. The modern day turf writer is nothing more than a disgruntled degenerate gambler. (Mr. Beyer included) All that they do is look for controversy and sensationalize it for the media. That does nothing but hurt racing. If the paper posts the entries and results, there is nothing negative to thrive on. I applaud the post for helping save the sport, let the turf writers get on a computer and blog so you only see their work if you knowingly look for it.

  • Paw Lick

    Dave Says: December 17th, 2008 at 5:25 pm :

    "Why is Barbaro any more special than any of those horses? Because he was mortally wounded while a tiny man in silly clothing straddled him? That doesn’t sound tragic to me; it sounds surreal and, to be honest, sort of sexually deviant."

    Yo Dave! you said it best! I'm going to print this part of your post and frame it in my office next to my black and white racing photos from the glory years of racing!!

  • John S.

    First, to D. Ranged Lukas: I am so happy you have been waiting for this to happen -- for me to lose my job. Listen up, fool, degenerate gamblers happen to be the ones that keep in business the sport "a true fan of horse racing" like yourself so admires. You don't believe it's OK for a reporter to address controversy? You don't believe it's OK for gamblers to bet on racing? What, then, do you do when you're at the track, become sexually aroused? Go suck a stallion stick, you jerk.

    Second, to the Barbaro lovers. You have to know McKenna to understand the opening line. You can't take it all so literally. Barbaro dying was extremely sad (although I cashed a big ticket on that Preakness), but life goes on and we cannot dwell in mourning forever. If you've got good memories of that fine, fine animal, hold on to them. Don't let the wonderfully crass get under your skin.

    Third, a joke (courtesy of Shecky Greene): A degenerate gambler spots a rich philanthropist at the track and walks up to him and says, "Please, you've got to help me. My wife is in the hospital with cancer, and we can't afford the surgery. The doctor says without it, she only has days to live. Please help me."
    The philanthropist looks at him and says, "I'm not giving you the money, you bum. And you know why? Because you'll go straight to the window and bet it all on the horses."
    The degenerate says, "I've got money for the horses!"

  • Dave McKenna

    Stop bleating a dead horse!

    sorry. Shecky inspired me...

    as you were...

  • John S.

    Fine. I'm done!

  • John E.

    That's enough of THAT sh*t track!!

    Barbaro sexually deviant???

    Um, no, that would be the "Enumclaw" horse!!!

  • al gonzales

    Stop horsing around! All of you! Now!

  • D. Ranged Lukas

    "Go suck a stallion stick, you jerk." A quote from the unemployed. Who would have figured. Seeing how you responded, I guess I was right. You have given a fine example of why no one wants to read your garbage. With your fine selection of words, I would think you might have a future of writing books for children. Just show us the stats until someone comes along who can help racing, not continue to beat it down. Racing will long out live you.

  • John S.

    Oh, man. That bothered you too?
    I thought "Go suck a stallion stick" was a pretty good zinger. No? Why are you so bent out of shape? It's the holidays! Merry Christmas, D. Ranged Lukas! And Happy New Year! Hey, we can't all be Red Smith. Boy, now there was a writer. By the way, you're right: The newspapers should publish the entries and results. Now, please, if you can't sign your real name, then just stop talking about me. You have made your point: I blow. You got your way. I'm out of the paper. You shouldn't gloat; it's bad form.

  • stantheman

    First, let me address the Washington Post's decision to drop it's coverage of horse racing & their racing beat reporter John Scheinman.

    Very irresponsible and stupid in my opinion! Are they not aware of the results from the slots referrendum this past November? Do they not care about a local sport/industry that is a TWO-BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY? Have they forgotten the importance, significanc, & impact that the Preakness Stakes has on the sport of horse racing and this local mid-atlantic sports scene? Perhaps the answer to all the above questions is that they simply do not care about something that is as important to the local region as is the sport & business of horse racing?

    I wonder if they care about advertising revenue from local companies?????????????????????????????????????

    This Saturday morning (Dec. 20th), on my weekly radio show called Maryland Horse Radio, I will have a live interview with the President & Chief Operating Officer of the Maryland Jockey Club, Mr. Tom Chuckas, Jr. We will certainly be talking about more important things then the stupid decision made by a fledgling, going out of business newspaper, however. If I have time, perhaps I'll ask him about the decision the Washington Post has made to eliminate its local coverage of horse racing.

    Second, let me please address the comments of D. Ranged Lukas.

    Your name says it all D. Ranged. You probably take some sort of prescription medication for your mental instability? Are you now out of that much needed medication perhaps???

    John Sheinman is an award-winning turf writer, who for sometime now, has brought a very sincere, dedicated, & enthusiastic approach to his coverage of horse racing. Yes, he is a self-admitted 'player' in the sport he covers. Are you saying that is a bad thing D. Ranged? If you have ever cashed a bet at the track D. Ranged, then you have benefited from the dollars Scheinman has contributed to the pool. Furthermore, your criticism of him being too controversial is wacky! The fact that you even know who he is, means that he has been effective in his job. That is, to create attention for the beat he was covering.

  • D. Ranged Lukas

    Stanyouwishyouwereaman first I never attacked him personally. I attacked his writing and applauded the post for being able to read and realize that it served no purpose. My problem with a turf writer is not their gambling habit, it is their biased articles because of their gambling habit. 10 or so years ago turf writers would handicap the days races and lament on the results from the previous day. Since then turf writers lost their gentlemanly appearance and became Jerry Springer like. Maybe it was Jerry's fault. Now if you would go and analyze John's articles you would find a overwhelming abundance of negativity and controversy. The sport needs a positive image to move forward. No image (what the post has chosen) is much preferred than the negativity of today's turf writer. This is not just John but ninety percent of today's turf writers. It would be nice if the Daily Racing Form did the same. We need a new Joe Hirsch to come along and help the game. Every article written by Joe was gentlemanly and positive toward the entire sport of horse racing. Anything that was negative he just wouldn't write about. Stan, you say you have a radio show. Please for the good of racing follow Mr. Hirsch and his positive image on every story.

  • John S.

    I believe the person pretending to be Mr. Lukas is suggesting that newspapers become the public relations arm for horse racing. He has no knowledge of the function of a journalist. As for my positive articles, the record speaks for itself. I think we should continue to reply, Stan, so he can drone on and on and on . . . And his crack about Stan's name -- Stanyouwishyouwereaman -- well, that's really clever. Maybe he should post his real name like a grown-up, so we can know who we're being insulted by

  • True Horesman

    Quotes from journalists in this blog:

    "his beat will be as dead as Barbaro" from Mckenna
    "listen up fool" from Midget
    "stop bleating a dead horse" from Mckenna
    "go suck a stallion stick" from unemployed

    This unfortunate behavior has become a common place in todays journalism. Garbage journalists end up in the can. I applaud Mr.Lucas

  • unknown

    It's Lukas, not Lucas.

  • Sally Ames

    Oh, really, True Horseman?
    Why don't you go call a jockey a mdiget.
    You're only a true jerk.

  • Dave

    Jockey's aren't midgets?

  • unknown

    Correct. John S is.

  • Barbaro was a bum

    Joe Hirsch's column sucked because he was also very lazy. He wrote the same story again, and again, and again. ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz...... Nice man probably, but overrated contributions.

  • Charles E. Kantey

    Jockeys are not midgets. They are pint-sized, teensie-weensys. By the way, more people would go to the racetracks if they held match races with a human jockey on one horse, and a frisky chimpanzee on the other. Yes, the monkey would have to be strapped into the saddle. But these are the concessions you have to make for the sake of progress. If they want to put a different animal on the back of every horse in the Kentucky Derby, to make it look like one of those old Max Fleischer cartoons, I'm all for it!

  • al gonzales

    Horse racing is best with big guys on little horses, like Shaquille O'Neal on a Shetland pony.

  • joetink

    The only thing that the Post has gotten right is calling John "Special to the Washington Post" (although I wished they gave him a real job with real benefits and a real byline all these years). He's the best racing reporter the paper had since the 1960s-- that's as far back as I go; the paper just didn't care about the beat. It's a pity, now that the sport might come back to life again in Maryland, they don't even have the means to keep quality coverage, freelance or not. John will end up winning, I'm sure; the Post has lost.

  • John S.

    Thank you, Joe

    They need to "Shosumrespect"