The less said about it the better. That was my initial instinct upon hearing about Jonathon’s disqualification from this year’s National Horseplayers’ Championship.
But two days later, this tempest in a teapot is still going, and I owe it to my listeners/readers to say something. I had originally looked forward to having JK himself on the show. I was going to make him channel his inner Hugh Grant by asking him simply, “What were you thinking?” and let the conversation flow from there.
But there wasn’t enough left to say on the topic to justify the air time. He messed up; there’s not more to add to his official statement on the topic. He wanted to be in two places at once – and as I joke on the show all the time, that’s a problem we haven’t figured out just yet. He didn’t want to make excuses, and he fully accepts the very fair consequences of his disqualification. (sidenote to JK: if you ever have trouble reading/interpreting rules in the future I know a certain NYT-bestselling author you can ask for advice).
He understands that if you break the rules, you get DQ’d. Hell, it’s happened to him before, when he didn’t meet his minimums at the 2018 Kentucky Derby Challenge. This may be too subtle a point for the haters to comprehend but there is a massive difference between breaking/working to unfairly change rules to give you an advantage and breaking the rules because you are a dope who made an error.
We know too many people in the contest world who have tried the former. In JK’s case, I can assure you it was the latter. (My biggest belly laugh in this whole mess so far came when someone suggested JK had an unfair edge because he could look at the horses in the paddock at Gulfstream; when it comes to horseflesh, Jonathon can remember which end bites and which end kicks, but that’s about it).
At some stage on Twitter, JK referenced me as his “partner in crime.” That led some to believe that I was running bets for him at Bally’s! If you can tell me how I managed that while doing nearly 20 hours on air with the great Steve Byk, please let me know. JK and I are great friends and occasional betting partners, but I had zero to do with this ill-conceived plan. He was being metaphorical about the journey we are on together in this game.
Speaking of that journey, I know that we are nothing without the support of horseplayers. And I do believe that while the NHC event can be improved, it’s still a fun event that I look forward to, the closest thing we have to a horseplayer convention. I missed the 2021 event (rescheduled for August) because it was Travers weekend and I was in Saratoga. If I had it to do over, I would have gone to the NHC. For me, it’s a chance to accomplish several things: reconnect with old friends, meet new folks, work with Steve Byk, and see our audience in person.
In an infamous incident, JK once stayed out too late at one his brother’s concerts in Vegas (yes, in Vegas) and slept through our scheduled pod. I am still waiting for the promised apology bottle of Lagavulin 16. He wants to be there for everybody but he’s not perfect. That doesn’t change the fact that he’s one of the most devoted horseplayers I know and wants the best for our community.