Things That Make You Go Hmmmm (14)

This edition is dedicated to @pullthepocket. Thanks for the push, man.

Leadership in the Kentucky Senate and House last year indicated resistance to be the first to introduce casino legislation, and not surprisingly, that's the case during the current General Assembly session. ... Broken-record time: Not enough votes in the Republican-led Senate, and the Democrat-controlled House won't act even though the Democratic governor wants a constitutional amendment on the ballot. ... Given what's happening in other casino states–repeated legislative money grabs from funds dedicated to racing and breeding–might this actually be a blessing? Never thought I'd ask that question, but ...

On a similar note, I'm thinking Instant Racing may be the best option for Kentucky if the state Supreme Court upholds it–a decision is expected soon. ... The tracks argued it's pari-mutuel wagering, which is their core business, and if every track in the state installed the machines, linking them to produce large jackpots (and marketing the jackpots) would be perfectly legal. Yes, the track owners' cut would be far less with Instant Racing than casino gambling, but purses and breed development would greatly benefit some tracks. ... Isn't that what this is supposed to be about?

It has been a good 15 years since advance deposit wagering really got rolling in North America. And the industry still doesn't document and report a firm number on how much pari-mutuel handle is generated through such services in total on a yearly basis. Can you spell t-e-c-h-n-o-l-o-g-y? Or should we keep guessing?

Newspapers in the Dayton, Ohio, area have reported on a lawsuit filed by the previous operators of Lebanon Raceway regarding the Ohio State Racing Commission for allowing Penn National Gaming Inc. to build a racetrack gaming facility less than 50 miles from the now-operating Miami Valley Gaming and Racing, which replaced Lebanon. ... Ohio law was changed to allow the facilities to be within a 50-mile radius, so what's the beef? The previous owners were to get $10 million from the current owners–Churchill Downs Inc. and Delaware North–if another racetrack casino wasn't built within 50 miles of Miami Valley. ... The previous owners merely sold two racing licenses for $60 million to CDI and Delaware North after leasing the fairgrounds track for a pittance for decades. Really? Now they want another $10 million? Hasn't the Lebanon cow been milked enough?

Miami Valley opened for live harness racing Feb. 8–one day late. The Feb. 7 program was canceled because of a power outage. ... I feel for the racing fans that made the trip and got shut out, but it's really quite fitting. This is an operation that had to be threatened by the racing commission to hire mutuel clerks or lose its racing license. (The track planned to have only self-service betting machines.) Look, we know it's all about the VLTs, but show some respect for racing and its customers. That's how you got the damn VLT license.

Speaking of Ohio, which now has four racetracks with VLTs, January wasn't too kind to horse racing. Through Feb. 1, on-site wagers on live and simulcast races at eight facilities in the state totaled $11.38 million, down 31.13% from the same period in 2013. ... Yes, weather played a big role. But with new traffic at some of these VLT facilities, wouldn't you expect some money would make its way into pari-mutuel pools?

Packaging stakes to create big-event days has worked well for horse racing, but the New York Racing Association triggered debate among horseplayers when it moved a bunch of grade I events to the Belmont Stakes program. ... It doesn't bother me, but Belmont Stakes day seems to stand on its own; maybe another big-event day could have been created during the Belmont spring meet, which doesn't generate much excitement anymore. ... That said, the latest NYRA move sure beats sleepy Saturdays highlighted by five- and six-horse fields in expensive grade I stakes. ... I'm guessing this $8 million racing card all but assures a horse will be shooting for the Triple Crown this year.

What do Cajun Beat, Caller One, Fatal Bullet, Golden Attraction, Hansen, Hard Spun, Perfect Drift, Reraise, Silver Charm, Spain, Tabasco Cat, Thunder Gulch, and Vindication have in common? They all won Kentucky Cup races at Turfway Park, and several went on to win Breeders' Cup races. ... Still trying to understand how this day of racing was allowed to go away in a state such as Kentucky. Churchill Downs made no effort to carry on the tradition when it got Turfway's September dates, and horsemen's groups didn't seem to care, either. ... With the growth of the "Kentucky Proud" program and its link to the equine industry, why hasn't anyone devised an event linking the Kentucky Cup to a Kentucky Proud day at the races, complete with vendors and events? An opportunity lost. And I'm no genius.

It remains to be seen whether the suspension of the 2014 racing dates of Harrah's Philadelphia (located in Chester, Pa., miles from Philly) by the Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission because of issues with its racing surface amounts to anything more than grandstanding, but if it doesn't serve as wake-up call to all racetracks something is wrong. ... All that money from casino gambling can't buy a quality, properly maintained racing surface? You've all been put on notice.

I'm apparently one of a handful of people in horse racing who actually believe progress has been made when it comes to equine drug policy. I accepted an invitation to attend a normally private meeting of stakeholders in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast to discuss progress on the national uniform model rule on medication and drug testing. ... Yes, my eyes glazed over at talk of nanograms-per-milliliter. But for those whose accept the reality that therapeutic medication isn't going away, here's the deal: The only thing that can screw this up is political meddling by politicians or industry organizations with ulterior motives–and of course, egos, the true poster child for racing industry stagnation. Enough said.

One final note on drugs: If organizations in this industry actually thought federal intervention was a possibility, why would they invest all this time in this endeavor?

Sorry, one more note on medication: After several years now I'm still waiting for someone to give me a legitimate reason why racing on medication screws up the Thoroughbred gene pool but regularly training on said drugs does not. Any takers?

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