Five Ways to Improve the Industry

BREEDERS/FARM OWNERS  & MANAGERS

Craig Bandoroff: farm owner, consignor, Denali Stud
1. We need centralization to organize our fragmented industry where stakeholders (racetracks, owners, and horsemen) are held accountable and are beneficiaries of synergies to improve the economics, regulation, and promotion of racing. We need one central organizing body, not a myriad of individual states regulating the industry.

2. We need a strong owners group that is willing and empowered to take on the issues that confront us and that can force the racetracks to come to the table as our partners in promoting and improving horse racing. Control needs to be taken from “horsemen” and placed with owners who own the product.

3. Our outdated racetracks need to be improved and the facilities upgraded to attract and keep an audience coming back. Too many of our facilities are too substandard to attract and retain customers.

4. Our outdated tote system needs to be improved and centralized. The present system is an accident waiting to happen that puts the integrity of our wagering at risk. We also need to develop simple wagers that appeal to the novice fan to introduce them to our sport.

5. New revenue streams need to be developed outside pari-mutuel wagering. There are numerous opportunities that need to be explored and developed that include social gaming, online wagering, and other leisure games that center around horse racing.

 

Dr. Warren Center: breeder/owner
1. Oklahoma is doing well now thanks to the supplements we’re getting from the casinos. Sometimes my wife would rather sit at a slot machine than watch her own horse run. She’s adamant that the tracks have something that keeps the attention span of people faster than 25 minutes between races.

2. In order to bring a younger generation to the racetrack, tracks should have track-owned, handheld widgets that let people bet wherever they are at the track. I have seven children between the ages of 21 and 34, and they are so impatient and technology-driven that they are not going to go to the track and stand five-deep in a line to make a bet.

3. Racing has become more of a “world game,” but I don’t understand all the offshore betting sites where little or no money comes to the host track that would translate into purses. There has to be a way for the host track to get more of the offsite money.

4. I’ve watched the NFL, NBA, and MLB become super successful, and I don’t think I’ll see it in my lifetime, but racing needs a commissioner. We need a national commissioner of racing that has the power to regulate things like medication and to keep equality in racing. The NTRA—bless their hearts—I just don’t think they’re the right body.

5. There are too many flavors of racing today. I think we’ll see more consolidation where the little tracks will be sucked up or go out of business. I don’t see how the “Fairmount Parks” are going to make it.



Mike O’Farrell: farm owner/breeder, Ocala Stud
   When you discuss five ways to improve the racing/breeding business, you can list your hopes and dreams, or you can list what you feel can actually be achieved. My list of hopes and dreams:

1. A racing commission with a commissioner with the knowledge, respect, and wherewithal to get the powers that be to buy into the fact that what is good for one is good for all.

2. Strict and uniform medication rules nationwide. This requires one or two testing labs with those in charge having the guts to enforce and make public the infractions that are found.

3. Strict and severe punishment for trainers and veterinarians abusing the rules. Many of those who have abused the rules over the years train or work for the “powers that be” that could and should lead our industry. Nothing happens.

4. Improve and cater to the wagering public both at the track and over the Internet. Sounds easy and should be easy to accomplish, but without the commissioner talked about above, it probably won’t happen.

5. The one extremely important item I think can actually be achieved is a new and improved advance deposit wagering system. We need a leader or organization or both that can organize creating an industry-owned ADW company that is fair and equitable to all parties involved. If the Internet can and has overthrown countries, it should be easy enough to use it to get control of the fastest-growing wagering segment within our industry. It must benefit the owners and breeders as well as the tracks. At the present time it only benefits the tracks, which would rather have you place your wagers from home than at the track, and that is wrong.

 

Tom Goncharoff: farm manager, Crystal Springs Farm
1. Regarding medication violations: I never thought I’d say this, but I think the time has come to penalize the horse too. Even when a trainer gets a stiff suspension, rare as that is, they just train them on the phone with an assistant. The trainer loses nothing, and the owners flock to the bad guys. So, suspend the horse, thereby dinging the owner, thereby dinging the trainer. Perhaps that would have the desired effect, and there absolutely needs to be a national standard for medication.

2.  From my 27-year-old daughter who also makes her living in the Thoroughbred biz—a unified effort to reach young people via social networks, as opposed to the piecemeal efforts that currently exist. She added, “quit asking us what to do and do something!” Out of the mouths of babes…

3. Simplify the betting options for the uninitiated. Ever try to explain them to a new fan? Watch their eyes glaze over.

4. Safety, safety, safety—for horse and jockey.

5. Less is more, I believe. Year-round racing, especially with the smaller foal crops, makes for short fields, dwindling attendance, and dwindling handle.

6. And finally, coming up with a Zenyatta every couple of years would be helpful.

 

John Sikura: farm owner, breeder, Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms
1. One horse racing channel that features racing and horse-related themes in ‘off hours.’ No preemption of races, late results, or the requirement of three dishes to watch the races. What we have today is totally confusing and not consumer- or bettor-friendly.

2. A strong supplement of purses in strategic races to encourage the best horses to compete against each other. No sport is compelling without the best competitors on the field at the same time.

3. Strong marketing campaign to combat the preconceived ideas of our sport. The vast majority of people think racing is fixed, horses are drugged, and all are slaughtered after their racing careers.

4. Uniform medication rules and severe penalties for violators.

5. Industry-owned ADW that supports purses and significant funding for horse adoption.

6. Restore the majesty of going to the races. Our reliance on simulcasting has made attending the races seem like going to a funeral. We need to incentivize bettors and fans to attend live racing with a great experience and value for their dollar. Not $6 beers and nowhere to sit.

 

Rob Whiteley: breeder, Liberation Farm
1. Identify “friendly” federal legislators and work with them to craft careful legislation to establish a central administrative office for Thoroughbred racing with authority to formulate uniform rules and regulations across all states and with full power to enforce compliance, similar to the office of the commissioner of the National Football League or Major League Baseball.  

2. Upon establishment of a centralized authority, create a uniform drug policy in line with regulations that are in place in major international jurisdictions and establish strict but standardized and fair drug-testing policies and procedures with heavy penalties for infractions.  

3. Establish a centralized marketing department within the national governing office to develop and implement systematic and tightly coordinated promotional initiatives across all tracks and regions. This would include establishment of a national stakes program to minimize conflicts among important races and increase competition among top horses, thereby maximizing fan interest, anticipation, and excitement.

4. Our racing model is upside down in many ways. As part of an overall plan to develop an effective business model, have very wealthy horse owners, individually or together, purchase or build prominent tracks in strategic locations as part of a consortium designed to create a “major league” circuit that can work together to enhance and protect the long-term interests of the sport. Track ownership should be in the hands of people who care about the health of the overall industry. Public companies, unrestrained individuals who are driven by self-interest, and state agencies do not fit this requirement. Most other major sports, unlike horse racing, thrive because owners are in control of the product and the revenue, and because they are forced by a centralized authority to work together.

5. Seek the assistance of “friendly” federal legislators to rewrite sections of the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978. If we have industry agreement on anything, we have a shared perception that our business model for racing is badly broken. Approximately 90% of wagering revenue is controlled by offtrack bet-takers to the detriment of live racing interests and purses. As revenue is increasingly siphoned away from host tracks, it becomes more difficult for tracks to lower takeout in a way that boosts our ability to compete for the gambling dollar against better organized adversaries outside of our industry. This steady and withering drain of revenue away from host tracks, and its effect on purses, also causes profound negative consequences for owners and breeders and all vendors and service workers in the production chain.

 

BLOODSTOCK AGENTS

Rollin Baugh: bloodstock agent
1. National cooperation and coordination of racing product. This will become increasingly more important as the horse population declines.

2. Significant national reciprocal suspension for medication violations.

3. Creation of more festival-type racing throughout the country.

4. Full utilization of television outlets to maximize exposure.

5. Self-imposed limits on stallion book size.

 

Mark Toothaker: bloodstock agent, Legacy Bloodstock
1. Do a better job of selling The Dream to new folks. We have a great sport, but we don’t do enough promoting of it.

2. Have a rep at each track to take people with an interest in getting involved around to meet trainers, watch morning training, and visit the paddock and winner’s circle on race day.

3. Learn from the casinos—know who your regulars are and take care of them. Free admission, parking, food, etc.

4.  Promote our superstars and big race days. Nothing sells our sport better than a full house full of energy.

5. Bigger purses to give owners a shot at making money. We may have to cut a few days.

 

Gayle Van Leer: bloodstock agent
1. Horsemen need to stop fighting with each other and work together in a united front to confront important issues, such as license-fee structure with ADW companies. So much has been given away in the early years of ADW contracts, horsemen need to gain back some ground as it is just a matter of time before nearly all wagering goes online and international. Without a fair share of the pool for those putting on the show, it will be very tough for horsemen to stay in the business at all.

2. Most of the racing industry is dramatically behind in keeping up with the latest tech trends, which is where new fans and owners are going to come from. Smart phones and tablet devices are exploding in popularity. The G4 network is just kicking in and will up speeds of mobile access substantially, which opens up more and more opportunities. Racing needs to embrace new media with open arms and at a much faster pace.

3. Medication usage needs to be reduced substantially more than the strides already made to bring the U.S. in line with other racing countries. It is tough to get fans and new owners interested in this business if they think our horses are “drugged.” Internationally there is a perception that the quality of our racehorses is below world levels due to legal drug-enhanced performances. Owners are leaving the business due to the high overhead of keeping a horse in training. A big portion of that is excessive vet bills. Owners need to scrutinize their vet bills and ask questions about why their horse needs this medication, what it does or purports to do, and whether it is really necessary.

4. More educational seminars about becoming an owner and what you need to know as an owner. Here in California we have a very good series on the calendar every year, all free and covering multiple topics. Even if the attendees remain only fans, they will better understand the “behind the scenes” and be less inclined to think everything is fixed and a bettor has little chance. Every existing owner/trainer should make time to volunteer as a guest speaker at such a seminar for the betterment of the industry.

5. Marketing! We need to be more creative with our marketing to make horse racing “cool” and appealing to the younger crowd. We have been fortunate to have some great exposure recently with “Seabiscuit,” “Secretariat,”  “Jockeys,” “First Saturday In May,” and horse owner David Milch’s “Luck,” as well as stories like
Zenyatta. The general public is starstruck, loves glamour, loves animals, and laps up celebrity news. We have all that. Let’s get the message out there!

 

JOCKEYS & AGENTS

Ron Anderson: jockey agent
1. The horse racing industry from coast to coast needs to be managed like all other pro sports, with a commissioner and an executive board. The board would be responsible for regulating, medication, drug testing, purse uniformity, scheduling of stake races, publicity, and any other such issues.   

2. To stay competitive with all other gambling venues, the racetracks need to waive all parking and entrance fees.   

3. Individual racetrack management teams should put forth more effort in creating genuine camaraderie between themselves and the owners, trainers, agents, jockeys, reporters, and all those closely related to the industry.

4. Young, innovative thoughts (using chat rooms, grad students, surveys, marketing groups) to come up with new ways to entice the interest of the public back into horse racing.

 

Chris McCarron: Hall of Fame jockey, former racetrack executive
1. Promote the stars to whom people can relate: owners, trainers, and jockeys. Look what the Mosses, John Shirreffs, and Mike Smith did to capture and maintain the attention on Zenyatta. Sure, she did all the running, but her handlers were the ones people connected with. Horses don’t last long enough and can’t interact with fans, but the connections certainly can. There are countless owners, trainers, and jockeys who can effectively promote this great game if only given the opportunity and encouragement to do so.

2. More tracks should provide in-depth backstretch and “behind the scenes” tours like the one Santa Anita does. But it should be led by, or at least involve, one or two of the aforementioned participants. When I led the Seabiscuit tours at Santa Anita, people went wild over them. We had more than 9,000 people come take the tour over a six-month period. I can’t begin to tell you how much mail I received from fans expressing their excitement and interest.

3. Reduce the number of racing days. We ask our fans to participate all year long. It very often becomes stale and mundane. Concentrate the better races into fewer days and put on much higher-quality race cards. I know it’s a lot easier said than done, but it should be given serious consideration. The fans always show up for the big days.

 

Richard Migliore: former jockey, TV commentator
1. I believe we need a national racing commission that would create and enforce uniform rules pertaining to every facet of racing from riding infractions to medication violations. There is nothing more important than our reputation and our credibility.

2. Implement programs to educate racing fans on all aspects of the game, especially on the many varied wagering options. No one wants to feel intimidated or worse yet, taken.

3. Promote the sport as just that, a sport. We have amazing athletes equine and human that should be admired and respected. Racing is the greatest game played outdoors!  

4. Create more and better programs to teach people how to work with horses properly. From hotwalkers and grooms to trainers and jockeys, horsemanship is becoming a lost art. It is our responsibility to care for our horses properly.

5. Less may be more. We have so much racing that it seems to get taken for granted. The race meetings that do really well such as Saratoga and Del Mar are shorter meets packed with quality races fueled by fans that have waited all year for the show to come back to town. It is important that racing is an event, not just an everyday occurrence.

 

Gary Stevens: Hall of Fame jockey, TV commentator
1. National rules for medication levels instead of state-by-state. Also establishment of a national license.

2. Immediate public transparency on medication positives.

3. If a horse tests positive for a Class 3 or higher medication, the trainer loses stalls and the right to run horses until after a hearing.

4. Trainers limited to 40 stalls at any live race meeting.  

5. Zero tolerance on any and all medications would save our sport and we wouldn’t have to worry about answers 1, 2, and 3.

 

HORSEPLAYERS/FANS

Cary Fotias: gambler
1. Lower the takeout or die. Instead of operating like a public utility, let market forces decide optimal takeout rates. Lower takeout is a universal rebate and provides more “entertainment value” for new players. Competition for the gambling dollar is keen, and racing will never prosper at current takeout levels.

2. Increase liquidity in the pools. The object of the game is to make money, and you can only do that, in the long run, by betting on horses going off at a bigger price than they should be. However, due to small pools, the late odds often fluctuate dramatically. This makes the game difficult to play for “value players” such as myself, as you don’t have much confidence in the final price you’ll get at most tracks.

3. Less is more. There is way too much racing, resulting in many small, noncompetitive fields. Less racing will lead to bigger fields, better wagering opportunities, and increased liquidity.  

4. Centralize authority. With 30-some racing jurisdictions and their concomitant bureaucratic and political loyalties, meaningful change that benefits the industry as a whole will be very difficult. Only by cooperating on a national scale will the game have a chance to grow. As an example, the fact that players have to have multiple accounts to bet all the tracks they want is preposterous. All phone and Internet wagering should be consolidated into a national, one-stop shopping network and all tracks should offer live video streaming on the Internet.

5. It’s about the gambling. Counting cards at blackjack, playing poker for a living, betting on sports, and trading foreign currencies on Wall Street are a few of the things I’ve gambled on in my life. But only betting on horses has managed to keep me intrigued on a daily basis. In my opinion, it is not only the greatest of all gambling games, but also a game with infinite variety and a colorful cast of characters. Yeah, it’s fun to watch the horses run, even majestic at times. But without the chance to validate my opinion at the windows, my interest would wane considerably. You’ve got the best gambling game on the planet, and you don’t even know how to promote it. Embrace new technology and give the younger crowd what they want—a game with competitive pricing that allows them to play and watch over any device on a streamlined national network with free past performances.

 

Jeff Platt and Andy Asaro: gamblers, Horseplayers Association of North America
1. Takeout. Blended takeout of 20+ percent is too high, causing players to bet significantly less than they otherwise would. Our horseplayer members tell us they want us working to get takeout reduced.

2. Pool integrity. Odds that change after the bell are no longer acceptable. Horseplayers are consumers. Today consumers have come to expect price quotes that are both accurate and delivered in real time. Think NYSE, NASDAQ, and Amazon, etc. It’s long past time for the industry to obtain a modern, secure tote system fast enough to deliver odds and payoffs in real time.  
3. Drug integrity. Slap-on-the-wrist penalties for trainers caught cheating through the use of drugs are simply not acceptable. Horseplayers are consumers and have the expectation that the gambling games (casino slots, poker, state lotteries, etc.) racing competes with are regulated in such a way that there is very little question about the integrity of the games themselves. Not so with racing. Lenient penalties send completely the wrong message to current (and potential) racing customers everywhere.

4. Maximizing revenues for tracks and purses. Over the past 20 years, racing has paid out several hundred thousand dollars to consulting firms for economic studies. The economic literature, as well as real world case history (Tampa Bay Downs’ strategy over the past nine years of consistently reducing takeout resulting in the doubling of average daily handle and increasing purses by 60% is one example) clearly indicates takeout has an optimal pricing point—the point that produces maximum revenue for tracks and purses. The economic literature andreal-world case history also indicate that current blended takeout levels of 20+ percent are well above the optimal pricing point.

5. Larger players would be OK with eliminating rebates, IF takeout were lowered across the board.

 

Paula M. Weglarz: fan, insurance agent
1. Political activism. There is racing legislation all over, and the racing industry needs to educate fans, owners, trainers, and breeders on why this benefits them. We need to form a more powerful force among all of those communities. Fans need to get involved in calling their legislators when racing- and breeding-related legislation is introduced. So many people are disconnected from the political process and don’t know about the legislation going through their state houses.

2. Shorten racing weeks or racing meets. I think we are going to come to a point where we have to consolidate further. Monmouth did a really good job of shortening its race meet and making it more quality-oriented and filling races. It’s difficult for fans and handicappers to follow so much racing all over the place all the time. It’s an oversaturated market right now. Short fields mean less wagering, and less wagering means less money at the track for purses. It puts racing in jeopardy.

3. A zero-tolerance drug policy or a three-strikes-and-you’re-out policy. Integrity and a level playing field are going to help clear up some of the general public’s issues when it comes to thinking racing is deceitful and fixed. There are several trainers floating around at big and small tracks who have been suspended and they’re back in the game, suspended again, and back in the game. The racing industry is going to have to come up with a cut-off point when people who have multiple drug violations are thrown out of the game because allowing them to continue in the sport destroys the integrity of racing.

4. More compassionate and stricter stances on horse slaughter and Thoroughbred retirement by tracks, farms, owners, and breeders. The one thing about racing that turns people off the most is not only the injuries, but knowing that horses are disposable. There needs to be something put in place, maybe by The Jockey Club, to make owners, trainers, and breeders responsible for what happens to the horses in their care and to show fans that this is not a sport where we dispose of our animals inhumanely.
5. More accessibility to information for fans and handicappers. The sport is difficult to follow for someone who doesn’t love it greatly. Even for the people who love it greatly, we pay and pay and pay for racing past performances. There is so much information that is accessible in other countries that is “pay for” information here. I don’t know how to find the happy balance, but there has to be a way, maybe a national website, to educate the general public in lay terms so that they can understand racing a little more while promoting the sport by releasing more free information.

 

OWNERS

Maggi Moss: owner, attorney
1. A national leader of our industry, much like with the NFL or NBA, who promotes our sport with new ideas and creates a uniformity with known parameters and rules. Someone that cleans house and directs us to a future where we have a better public perception.

2. A national drug-testing policy that is realistic, and takes us forward with known rules and practicality, equally considering the public perception and the welfare of the horses. Zero tolerance is unworkable, simply due to contamination and the world we now live in. One should be able to go state to state with the same regulations. A national uniformity that brings back the public trust but is realistic as to focusing only on the drug levels and the drugs that hurt horses.

3. There are too many tracks, and too many conditioned claiming races. Go back to wide open claiming, allowance, maiden races, and stakes. So many types of conditioned races have saturated the market and only lead to an inferior product to market.

4. A strategic, uniform plan to showcase horse racing again and win the public’s trust to bring back the fans. We’ve had so much bad publicity and a very real public perception concerning drugs that we are all cheaters or not playing by the rules. We need to clean up that perception to regain the trust of the public and bettors. We need to make racing entertaining again, with less time between races, less racing, fuller fields, and the public relations drive to bring people back to the track again.      

5.  With the economy, tracks that have slots cannot have racing as the “necessary evil” to enable them to have alternative gaming. Racing has to find a way to stand on its own without gambling/slot money. The tracks that have slot-driven purses are looking for a way to promote the slots, not racing. The future is bleak unless we all find a way to have racing stand on its own again.

 

Jack Wolf: owner, Starlight Stables
1. Uniformity in all aspects.         

2. An improved tote system.      

3. More money spent on improving backside for humans and horses.   

4. Effective marketing plan to educate and attract new owners.   

5. Require owners to take responsibility for taking care of their retired racehorses.

 

TRAINERS

Michael Matz: trainer
1. Uniformity with racetrack rulings. The stewards’ decisions on infractions vary from track to track.

2. Uniformity with licensing. Where is that national license for owners, trainers, etc.!!??

3. Uniformity with medication.

4. Uniformity with regard to racetrack procedures.

5. One governing body to oversee all of the above. Comprised perhaps of representatives from the states with racetracks, racetrack owners, horse owners, trainers, and veterinarians.

 

Graham Motion: trainer
1. The most glaring issue for me is the need for a national governing body overseeing racing. This would need to include a) a national medication policy; b) governing body to review stewards/commission decisions; and c) national licensing for owners and trainers.

2. Less racing. I believe we are offering a watered-down product.

3. Like it or not, the new Gulfstream entertainment center with racing, slots, shops, and restaurants is probably the way of the future.

4. Digital passports with microchip identification for the horses. Paper version should be a thing of the past.

5. National database to track horses from birth to death (to track movement and show accountability).

 

John Shirreffs: trainer
1. Racetrack ownership should include committed racehorse owners. We need people who love the sport to manage it. Corporations have a way of losing the personal side of relationships.

2. Because the horse is no longer an everyday part of regular society, the public and the fans need to be more exposed to the unique and individual beauty of the Thoroughbred. The Thoroughbred complements our very being. It is something we all share when we pass through the racetrack gate from coast to coast.

3. Breeders must return to the idea of improving the breed through their matings. Market breeding should be secondary. The pride of breeding a good horse must be the bedrock mindset. Greed will crumble.

4. Development of apps (software) to help fans handicap—make it interactive, exciting, at least interesting. Take touting into this century. How many people play slots because they are intimidated by Blackjack? We can improve with the Internet.

5. Learn to share! The Internet, the signal, the money! Make change a positive for all in the industry, giving all markets an opportunity for growth. “Friends helping friends.”

 

RACETRACK/INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS

Michael Blowen: founder, Old Friends retirement facility
1. Restore the unparalleled fun in racing these amazing athletes. It’s not just Mike Repole and Jerry and Ann Moss who express the great pleasures of the sport. Recently my friend Nick Newman and his brother and trainer, Tim Wilson, ran a first-time starter in a maiden claimer at Turfway Park. They had about 20 friends and family in attendance. She ran fifth in a six-horse field, but everyone was smiling.  

2. Promote better treatment for the athletes. We attract about 20,000 visitors per year at Old Friends and many of the same faces would show up at the sales, bringing new blood and money with them, if they thought the Thoroughbreds were treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.

3. Support the equine athletes. Our 107 retirees all left the racetrack and breeding sheds without any Social Security or 401(k) plans. They earned more than $70 million on the track and generated more than $500 million at stud. At the end of their careers, they are left to a handful of owners and thousands of fans to support their so-called golden years.

4. Enforce the rules. As a horseplayer, it’s hard enough to pick winners without trying to guess which owners and trainers are cheating. Kick the cheaters off the track. If handicappers and racing fans thought they were getting a better shake, you’d be amazed how much the handle would rise. Zero tolerance for drug abusers and adoption of the anti-slaughter provisions adopted by Suffolk Downs.

5. Promote the stars. The horses and the jockeys should be front and center. So many participants in the sport think they’re doing the media a favor by granting interviews. They should be begging for coverage. All of these horses and jockeys have amazing stories. Tell them.

 

Dustin Dix: director of racing, Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino
1. Oats, hay, and water. Ban all race-day medications. This would do a lot to restore credibility for racing fans throughout the country and would put horsemen on a level playing field.

2. National governing body. Uniformity of racing rules and one governing body is something that would benefit the industry. In football a holding call is 10 yards in Dallas or Detroit. Why should certain violations vary from state to state?

3. Hard look at race days. There must be a happy medium of race days between horsemen and track management. Horse racing must be run on supply and demand.

4. Wagering format and takeout uniformity. Tracks should offer the same minimums for their bets nationwide and the same takeouts. This would simplify horse racing and make it easier for the wagering public.

5. Reward existing fans and attract new ones. Tracks seem to do one or the other but not both. Racing fans are forgotten, and if we don’t keep the ones we have and attract new ones, then horse racing will continue to decline.

 

Nick Eaves: President & CEO Woodbine Entertainment Group
1. A single, North America-wide ADW service, accompanying TV channel, rewards program and simulcast sales and management system. Owned and managed by the industry, for the benefit of the industry.

2. Significant deregulation. The industry needs the structural means to be able to respond to market forces in a rapidly changing marketplace.

3. Medication control that protects the horse from the humans and has the trust of horse people and the betting public.

4. A weekly lottery bet tied to North America’s best racing, shown on network television.

5. A strategy that showcases racing’s superstars—the engaging personalities, the compelling stories, the champion horses. Zenyatta!

 

Ben Huffman: racing secretary
1. We need to consider seriously lowering or capping stakes purses for 2- and 3-year-old races and increase stakes purses for older horses. Several racing secretaries around the country have been kicking this idea around for a few years but collectively need to convince our management teams to support the idea. It must be a national effort for it to work, not just a few tracks. Greater stakes money for older horses is the only incentive for owners to keep runners in training longer.

2. Our current and future owners need to be educated more in the area of choosing trainers. The message here should be it is OK to send horses to trainers with less than 50 horses in their care. This is not a knock on the large outfits. We have fewer trainers with the majority of horses today than 10 years ago. It is not unusual for large outfits to have multiple horses for the same type of race daily.

3. The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium must continue to strive toward establishing uniform medication rules nationally. This will take a lot of pressure off trainers. The different regulations in each state make it difficult for trainers and fans to understand and follow.

4. It is important for our industry to do a better job of educating people about the various retirement organizations that exist for our retired horses. Every racetrack, owner, trainer, and racing official in this country needs to take a close look at donating money and time to promote awareness about these facilities. The horses contribute to our enjoyment and employment, and ensuring a safe and dignified retirement for as many horses as possible is the least we can do as an industry.

5. A major problem we face is the continuing decline in the number of starts per horse per year. In 2009 that number was down to an all-time low of 6.2 starts per year. Because win percentages are published and scrutinized by owners, some trainers may be afraid to race certain horses unless they are first- or second-betting choice. Growing up, I heard hundreds of times that one race is worth several workouts. In short, I think some owners and trainers should not pass races they are eligible for because the distance or claiming price may not be perfect as long as the horse is sound and healthy.

 

Andre Regard: attorney
1. Elimination of the 38 state racing commissions and establishing one central national governing body to regulate and market the sport, including television and simulcast rights.

2. Reduction in the number of tracks and at the same time revising the simulcast compensation model, resulting in a tiered track system with the best tracks having the highest purses and best racing.

3. Allow corporate sponsorships of silks, jockeys, ownership stables, and trainers so that the public has something to follow. This model is similar to college basketball where the players (horses) may change every year, but certain trainers, jockeys, and ownership groups do well year after year. This does not mean the horses are not the focus but, to be honest, we never get more than two years out of the good ones. The marketing model would include shared revenue to purses and will be centrally cleared, like the NFL or College Licensing Corporation. The sponsorships should be similar to golf, not NASCAR.

4. Greater transparency at the sales with better disclosures and current statistics provided on the relationship of veterinary issues and injuries.

5. Greater push to international betting pools.

 

Martin Panza: vice president of racing, Hollywood Park
1. I strongly believe the use of race-day medication has had an adverse effect on our industry. It attacks the integrity of the business on so many levels. From the gambling aspect, it is no longer just about reading the past performance lines on a horse. From the training side, it has become almost like an arms race:  “Well, if everybody else is using it, then I have to as well.” From the ownership side, there are more bills resulting in higher expenses. From the breeding side, breeding a drug user to a drug user by a drug user has certainly contributed to the weakening of the breed, resulting in far fewer starts (earning opportunities) per year.

2. Define what “no race-day medication” means and institute it for all graded stakes races. This constitutes most of our breeding stock from the male side of the horse population and many of the top mares from the female side. Let the soundest horses win these races on their natural ability; not the horse who is getting the best drugs from the best vets. Run fewer graded stakes—as fewer races are run and the horse population declines, so too should the number of graded stakes.

3. Big event days. With the exception of the Triple Crown events and the Breeders’ Cup, there are no national race days of prominence. There are several days of regional importance, but racing needs to find away a way to expand upon these races in a more prominent fashion. The American Racing Championship Series was an attempt at this several years ago. I am not sure that format would work under today’s racing environment, but something along those lines needs to be developed.

4. Purse distribution. Racinos have changed the landscape of the American racing scene. I am not sure of the logic in $5,000 claiming races being run for $30,000 purses. This creates an arms race again, where tracks have to try to match theses purses, pulling monies from the higher-quality races. We know larger fields create higher handle, but I doubt the handle in these races justifies the purses paid. We should be rewarding horses for running in higher-level races, not rewarding mediocrity.

5. Federal tax incentives. There should be greater tax incentives on the federal level for people who breed and race horses in this country. This is a very labor-intensive industry. Computers and machines don’t feed, train, or care for our animals; people do. Racing in Japan is about job creation. The Chinese government is now looking toward the creation of a racing industry with the primary purpose of job creation. There is little question that we need more owners, and tax incentives could drive more people toward the industry, thus creating more jobs.

 

VETERINARIANS

Rick Arthur: veterinarian
1. Establish national uniform medication regulations. The less permissive International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) medication regulations modified for U.S. racing would be a reasonable starting point.

2. Require racing laboratories be accredited to RMTC/Jockey Club Drug Testing Initiative standards. Drug testing should become centralized in three to five high-quality, cost-efficient laboratories.

3. Require meaningful stable-area security as a condition for participation in interstate wagering—video surveillance, detention barns, stable-area security personnel, whatever works best at each track with the security program verified by independent third-party oversight.

4. Get serious about reducing equine injuries and fatalities. Fund and staff a task force whose sole responsibility is to investigate why equine fatality rates have increased, racing careers have shortened, and what racing must do to correct the problem.

5. Put the fun back into horse racing. Throw racing’s current business and regulatory models in the trash can and start over again.

 

Mark Cheney: veterinarian
1. Improve exposure by having more stories in major newspapers in North America about stake races. It would benefit racing if the Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader, for example, would devote more space to entries and results. Additionally, racetracks could stimulate interest in racing by running multiple daily ads on local radio stations.

2. Follow the examples of casinos and state lotteries by using billboards that would flash the dollar amounts to be won by hitting the Pick Six or other innovative and lucrative bets.

3. People put millions daily into slots by betting only a nickel or a quarter. Promote and advertise the potential payoffs of small bets such as the 10-cent superfecta, which is a big hit with novice bettors. Appeal to big gamblers by reducing the takeout and offering rebates.

4. Simplify racing programs to make them easier for novice bettors to understand and reduce the price to $1 or $2. Make programs readily available in convenience stores. Very few novice bettors understand the data in the Daily Racing Form and don’t want to pay $7 for a copy.

5. Racing should strive to put on a higher-quality product, especially at the important meets such as Gulfstream Park, Keeneland, and Saratoga. Too many claiming races on a card detract from the overall product.

 

Drs. Charles Kidder and Nancy Cole: veterinarians, breeders
1. We would like to see increased purses. “If you build it, they will come.”

2. Uniform meds is always on top of the list.

3. Changing the upside-down ADW model has to be paramount.

4. Our technology, i.e., tote, is so outdated, we wonder if it can be saved.

5. Why can’t registration papers be electronic, similar to those of the Standardbred industry? b

41 Comments

Leave a Comment:

katethegreat

We need more mainstream TV show's and movies about the TB industry.

Follow the birth of foal through it's first race day. Provide lots of backstory.  Reality shows are all the rage now, why not one about a young horse and it's support staff?  Behind every horse is a compelling story.

22 Mar 2011 12:41 PM
Susan

In my opinion, it would be extremely useful if everyone who contributed to your forum would reacquaint themselves with the fact that racing is not a private club run for the entertainment of breeders, owners, trainers and jockeys. Where in your suggestions do you mention the fans, who come out to the tracks and go to the OTB's and support the industry with their money? I find it both amazing and disheartening that the respondents, who are allegedly experts and are actively involved in thoroughbred racing, never consider the fans of the sport. It is therefore not surprising that they are so out of touch with what it would take to improve the industry from the racing fans' perspective. Only two of those giving opinions, Tom Goncharoff and Chris McCarron, peripherally touched on the interests of racing fans and continuing to keep them actively involved as well as attracting new fans to the sport. For me,as a lifetime fan of horse racing, it has always been about the horses. These athletes inspire awe as we see their power, grace and determination. Will you ever forget the look on Zenyatta's face as she came down the lane giving EVERYTHING to Mike Smith? Tom Goncharoff says "It would be nice if a Zenyatta came along every few years." While Zenyatta is an extraordinary horse, I believe it is possible for "a Zenyatta" to come along frequently. But this will not happen if horses continue to be retired after their three year old season. Zenyatta raced until she was six. Fans had time to develop a relationship with her and to avidly follow her career. Another excellent example is Goldikova, who won her THIRD Breeder's Cup last year and is developing a fan base in the US even though she races primarily in Europe. Where is Blame? Retired. I myself would have been overjoyed to watch Blame continue to battle it out on the track. And you can be sure that I would be wagering on his races. We just got to know him, and he's already gone. There are numerous examples of horses who just began their careers and were retired. When was the last time you heard someone say, "Got to get to the track. My horse is running again today." Additionally,fans love track rivalries. Who can forget Affirmed and Alydar? Or Sunday Silence and Easy Goer?  Without continuity, these great rivalries will not develop, and neither will the excitement associated with watching them. I believe that this would contribute to retaining current fans and developing new fans to say "See you at the track."

22 Mar 2011 12:49 PM
Michael

All of these are really great ideas but let's start with something basic and simple. The key is to get more people to the track. Nothing turns off more people than disgusting restrooms. Once that vision is in their mind, there is no going back. Example: a man takes his date to the track and she encounters a disgusting restroom. Do you really think she'll be back? Let's start with basics before all the upper level scenarios presented that most people will never understand.

22 Mar 2011 1:37 PM
kyle

How sad. Save the two players' reps virtually no mention of pricing. There was one, from the executive at Sunland, and his suggestion was for the tracks to engage in anti-trust.

22 Mar 2011 1:39 PM
fb0252

1. Internet marketing.

2. Internet marketing

3. Internet marketing.

4. Internet marketing

5. Internet marketing.

ESPN instead of Blood Horse.

22 Mar 2011 2:19 PM
racerdave

 Well I've loved horse racing for over 60 years now,  But Im sorry to say that horse racing today is what it is,,  a victim of progress and the times , When I go to the track I see mostly people over 50  very few under 30. When I go to a OTB its 90% old people like me. Younger people must understand 60 years ago horse racing was the ONLY Legal gambling venue ouside of Las Vegas and very few average people could afford to go there. Today with the NFL, NBA, MLB,NASCAR Indian Casinos , State Lotterys

On Line gamimg , Its just too much competiton I live in a State that legalized Dog Racing in 1990 , a dozen track s sprung overnight  they were beatiful First class places and at first they were packed almost everyday a race every 14 minutes ! 12 race cards always 8 entrants each.Programs were Free , We went like 25 times a year at first. then less business every year. In 2000 they started simulcasting from Horse tracks across the country it helped them stay afloat for awhile  Well In 2007 they closed the last track . NO more Dog racing. The tracks sit empty now , one was  Bull dozed and they built a shopping center. I see horse racing going the same way in the next 15-20 years its a shame but You cant bring back the past racings time has past . NO Committee or Commissioner  Or National Track Association RULES can bring it back again . So enjoy it as often as You can so when Your old like me You will have your own great memories of horse racing  and they Can't take those away !

22 Mar 2011 2:20 PM
The_Knight_Sky racing blog

Thumbs up to Crystal Springs' Tom Goncharoff's daughter:

>> She added, “quit asking us what to do and do something!”

22 Mar 2011 2:55 PM
Horatio

This is filled with the same tired (crap) racing has been bantering about for years - and it doesn't solve anything!!!

One person in the list noted that the business model is askew, and that is putting things mildly.

In what other "interactive vocation" is a steady follower who gets up and goes TO the live venue putting himself at a major DISadvantage relative to those who stay home?

Horse racing does exactly NOTHING to help the people who are live at their venue to keep up with those who stay home.  Those at home have more data, better data, more signals to watch, far fewer expenses, and perhaps even rebates as well (just to name a few things).  (And they add more to the handle - but you get less of it!)

Not only that, but horse racing does exactly NOTHING for the brand new customer who wanders in to a race track not knowing how to understand the details and figures.

A huuuuuuuuuuuuge black eye to racing comes when that brand new person goes away feeling "the insiders know everything and we don't know how to do it".  The familiar fan who walks in with $100 to bet is going to contribute more to the handle than will a brand new fan, perhaps more wealthy, and who has the same $100 to bet on that day.  This is entirely the fault of the racing establishment, and said establishment won't get out of its own WAY and dooooooooooooooo something for the new fan!

This is easy stuff, people, and all of you are so self-centered and concerned with peripheral foolishness that you won't address what matters most!

In summation, what matters most is the following:

A) Helping the regular racing follower who turns up on-site to know the same advantages had by his "competition" who stayed home and played online.  (otherwise he's going to keep staying away)

B) Helping the newcomer (brand new, walked in the door for the first time today) be/feel "competitive" with everyone from the opening bell.  (he doesn't have to win - he just needs to have felt/seemed 'in the hunt' to be inclined to return and bring friends)

You people are too stuck in the 1970's to see the light on this, and it is because you got used to the same old routine (where running a race track was a gravy train, and thus you need not have done anything to help it along).

Times have changed considerably now that the internet is in vast use and with the advent of simulcast wagering with comingled pools.  You all, collectively, are not doing much of anything in response to those factors, each of which has been available for 15 to 20 years!!!

And you wonder why racing seems to be on life support???  It's because of youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!

22 Mar 2011 3:23 PM
Andy Asaro

Jeff Platt and Andy Asaro: gamblers, Horseplayers Association of North America

I need to add some context to #5 Rebates:

The main problem with Horse Racing is that it’s not a good bet compared to other forms of gambling games of skill. Over the years takeouts have risen and rebates have risen. On top of that the popular exotic wagers today are more complicated, hard to hit, and generally have the highest takeout rates. How is a new player who might be interested in Horse Racing going to make it through the learning curve in today’s environment? They usually give it a few tries, bust out, and never come back.

In my opinion we really don’t have parimutuel wagering anymore because players in other States can get preferred rebate rates through their ADW. In California most Horseplayers don’t receive any rebates at all because of the retention cap (the max reward/rebate is 3%). Some of the larger players in other states can get rebates approaching 20% when they bet exotics at certain venues. Are we competing on a level playing field? Is it really parimutuel wagering anymore?

Excerpt from Defintition of Parimutuel Wagering:

Unlike many forms of casino gambling, in parimutuel betting the gambler bets against other gamblers, not the house. The science of determining the outcome of a race is called handicapping.

It is possible for a skilled player to win money in the long run at this type of gambling, but overcoming the deficit produced by taxes, the facility’s take, and the breakage is difficult to accomplish and few people are successful at it.

Independent off-track bookmakers have a smaller take and thus offer better payoffs, but they are illegal in some countries.

However, with the introduction of Internet gambling has come to “rebate shops”. These off-shore betting shops in fact return some percentage of every bet made to the bettor. They are in effect reducing their take from 15-18% to as little as 1 or 2%, still ensuring a profit as they operate with minimal overhead. Rebate shops allow skilled horse players to make a steady income.

The recent WTO decision DS285[3] against the United States of America by the small island nation of Antigua opens the possibility for offshore horse betting groups to compete legally with parimutuel betting groups.

22 Mar 2011 3:45 PM
mike s. [part owner]

seen alot of same answers but not the one i feel would help us get new customers- we need either hrtv or tvg to be on basic cable or basic satellite programming. people flicking around with remote might say hey let's watch couple races. have hosts give basic instrction on how to bet, not who to bet. simple instruction on how to read a program. get some movie, tv, music personalities to do promo's. go baby go was great but how about getting tom petty to do a racing version of running down a dream.

no new exposure means no new customers.

like the idea of lottery hooked into racing somehow [again a tv channel on basic would help viewership], trouble is scratches of horses.

22 Mar 2011 3:50 PM
still a fan, but just hanging on

BAD Example, this Saturday's "Thoroughbred Week's" feature race.  Stretch run shown at least three times.  "Always A Princess" obviously breaking down in the strech.  Completely ignored!  Makes it look like if they break down, they are just so much trash.  Because of the Blood Horse, I know she had surgery and may ultimately be OK(maybe a broodmare?)  But we can't have this be how our industry is represented at least ACKNOWLEDGE the horse and by the time it aired, it could have been noted she had surgery and hopefully will be OK.  

GRRRRRRRRRRR

22 Mar 2011 3:57 PM
Jason

Let me know when you want to attract some gamblers,we're in the Poker room.

22 Mar 2011 5:18 PM
FourCats

Lots of suggestions.  Many of these (and many other suggestions) have been given for many years now.  Some I agree with and some I don't.  None are acted on.

The big problem is that those who are making these suggestions for improving racing are not those that can make it happen.

Where are the suggestions (and actions) from the organizations like Magna, CDI, Penn National, etc?  Mostly these groups seem to care only about getting slots, not about having racing prosper.

Where are the responses from the various state government representatives?  In general, they couldn't care less if racing prospers.

Without the big track managements and state representatives chiming in and acting, this is just an exercise in blowing smoke.

22 Mar 2011 5:41 PM
Cynthia (fan / photographer

There's a lot of great suggestions here and may are possible to accomplish.  I agree it's time to modernize and centralize things.  American racing needs to take some lessons from its European partners!

22 Mar 2011 6:11 PM
Takeout is too damned High

Fire all track management. Bring in new blood.

22 Mar 2011 6:19 PM
Junie Wise, Rocky Road Farm

Gulfstream seems to be going in the right direction..What all Tracks should do to Promote the "BIG" Races is get a sponsor that "Young" Fans can relate to.

Have a "Giveaway" that everybody wants!!!!

Get hooked up with a Local Radio & TV Station!!!!

When you can get a Uncle Mo,or The Factor really promote them!!!!

Make "Friends" with a local Newspaper Reporter

22 Mar 2011 8:30 PM
susie

Speaking as a casual racing fan, the racing industry needs US to spend our money by way of going to the track and being interested enough to bet $2 dollars here and there.  But there isn't enough in racing for the casual fan. Zenyatta was the horse people could get close to even if they couldn't physically. I personally, like hearing what the trainers think.  I like hearing what the jockeys think.  I especially love the gossip (squabbles are very interesting LOL!). And so do my friends who are barely interested any more.  If people knew that there is more to racing than horses running down a track, maybe they too would be interested.  What about a show that follows a foal through the process of being born, being a baby, being broke, trained, etc.  How exciting that would be!  Anything about racing other than JUST BETTING! Pony races or camel races or jockey races.  Activities that make people want to come to the track.  And last but not least, another Zenyatta.

22 Mar 2011 11:21 PM
BombsawayBob Grant

With Smartphones a Way of life, someone needs to create an "APP" that could work at All major racetracks that allows remote ontrack betting. Insuring the host track gets the wagering money would be by having the customer by a "cyber-voucher" at any betting window to start, then the patron punches in the pre-paid voucher code ONCE into their phone, & essentially your phone is your wagering portal for the day. Perfect for Live & simulcast action, will cut down on betting lines, & people love their phone gadgets.

22 Mar 2011 11:52 PM
Ruben

I see a day when a race track has a grand stand with a built in Imax theater for fans to experience horse racing in a totally different dimension. How about panoramic jockey cams so the horseplayer can view the race from the back of the horse he bet on through a cell phone. Fantasy football has nothing on the potential of fan involvement that the Sport of Kings can offer.

The powers that be who currently run race tracks are unable to think outside of the box.

Just food for thought. How about legislation that elimates taxes on winnings of 300-1 and greater and replace it with a .10 cent tax on each ticket sold? There are far more losing tickets than winners and the money is collected up front, no audits,waiting for payments etc. Then the ocassional big score for a horse player can truely be a life changing event.

The way horse racing is presented must change. Post time every 15 minutes is a must. Card 15 races on Fri, Sat ,Sun. Smaller tracks can fill in the remainder of the week. If this change is not made the sport will continue to die a slow death. No twentysomething is going to hang around to bet two races every hour. This is not going to happen. No other changes really matter cause if you have no fans 25 years from now, what will it matter?

23 Mar 2011 1:42 AM
Sal Carcia

The most consistent suggestion here is the call for a central governing body. I think we can forget that. We had a real good one in the NTRA and first there were complaints about it and then its funding was cut off. The racetrack owners (especially Stronach and CDI) will never endorse or fund such a body again.

One thing that no one has suggested is to get rid of the robots playing this game with special access to the pools. The poker industry prohibits it and then enforces this rule and racing does not. It effectively increases the take-out.

Also, the game needs to level the playing field and cut out the rebates to certain players. Allowing a few players to play the game for less takeout effectively increases the takeout for the rest of players.  

Robots (with rebates) and rebates for special players are the silent killers of the regular fan base of this game.  

23 Mar 2011 7:25 AM
righthind

You don't have electronic eligibilties???? There is no hope.

23 Mar 2011 9:24 AM
Cgriff

Is it just me or did anyone else notice that not one veterinarian recommended "oats/hay/water" zero tolerance on race day medications?

23 Mar 2011 10:22 AM
ThoroFan

KatetheGreat said it best.

Most of the ideas presented have merit, especially for a central body and most especially for "working together and not against each other." But to accomplish these the industry needs to bring the "fan" to the table as part of the claculus for the solution. Fans are major financial stakeholders in game who by some accounts contribute through takeout more to the industry's bottom line than any other stakeholder.

ThoroFan, a national, non-profit (501(c)(3)) Thoroughbred Racing Fan Associaiton, Inc. is trying to accomplish that for all fans, regardless of level of play, reason for playing or involevement in the industry. A noted horseman once said, "First and Foremost, we are all fans." (see our website for attribution--www.thorofan.com). Lets begin acting that way!

23 Mar 2011 10:27 AM
rayctrac

we need to hire Mr. Fatias.Like I always say, take care of the gamblers and the horsemen (horses) and the rest is easy.

23 Mar 2011 12:16 PM
Zenyatta John

It's becoming an Internet game.

All wagers from computers should count as "attending" the races at that track. On track attendance is extremely minimual. everyone who wagers at a certain track should be considered "attending".

Way too may races - and most of them are extremely cheap claimers. There is no reason to run more than 9 races, any day, at any track.

Tracks should move to three day racing weeks. They also need to work together to intermingle post times so there are races going off every 7-10 minutes. That would help bring in more "poker" players seeking instant and constant action.

Lastly - the states need to stop stealing the money from uncashed tickets. That money needs to stay in the Thoroughbred Industry - how about using it for Retired Horses or the Thouroughbred Retirement Fund so these glorious horses have a food and shelter forever.

The states surely don't need to steal anymore of our hard earned money.

23 Mar 2011 1:13 PM
Kerry Fitzpatrick

1. Significantly lower takeout.

2. Hay, oats and water only. (starting with all graded stakes)

3. One racing channel with no emphasis on making multi-race wagers. (The touting can go on on the internet or Twitter.)

4. Far fewer races, which means larger field and higher purses per race.

5. Additional fee to register horses with the Jockey Club, said fee to cover retirement of horses.

23 Mar 2011 2:14 PM
Convene

Hats off to Nick Eaves! We have HPiTV in Canada (and I get racing 24/7 on it!) which shows all racing from most major tracks and provides ADW wagering to members. We also have 2 thoroughbred tracks in Ontario and a limited number nationally. Woodbine usually has full fields and Fort Erie does a pretty decent job too (as well as being a beautiful track!). All this maximizes the product and pleases the fans. Access to US, Australian and the magical middle and far east too makes good variety for everyone.

My own views:

1) Get the drugs out of racing. The rest of the world has and our downslide began when it was first legalized here. (I'm old; I remember when it began!).

2) Get the violators out of racing. I know there are the odd false positives - but how come most of 'em always seem to happen over and over to the same trainers? That much coincidence doesn't fly!

3) Make basic pharmacology part of the requisite learning for granting trainers' licences (and maybe owners too, so they can protect their interests better.) How can anyone in charge of animals allow something to be given to those animals without knowing what it is, what it does and what undesirable things it may also do?

4) Breeders need to limit their stallion books and, at least in part, return to breeding to race, not breeding to sell. If you breed competitive horses, you'll have buyers knocking on the door looking to get some of 'em!

5) Promote weekend and evening racing. Fans can't be out earning money and be at the track spending it at the same time!

6) Somehow - and I don't know quite how to do it but I feel it's important - find some way to involve more "little guy" owners because being a part of the dream and part of the thrill is almost a guarantee of action in the wagering pool! It sure will keep 'em coming back to the track and bringing their friends with them! For us not-so-affluent folks, it's much more about our love of the horse and our love of the game than about winning at the highest level - and who knows? Sometimes the superstars end up coming from "little guy" stables - remember Funny Cide? - and knowing that is part of the dream. Want owners? We're out here. We just don't have the megabucks to get in the door!

7) Let's figure out how to have horses set money aside through their working lives (percent of money earned) to help them provide their own pension plans for the years after racing. We'll never totally provide for every one of them; even though I hate that, I recognize that it's true - but surely to goodness we can do more than we are! After all, we wanted them when they were running, didn't we?

Pipe dreams? Maybe - but this whole business is founded on dreams. We need fewer tracks, less racing and a national body with the power to make and enforce the rules. I've loved this game since Tim Tam and the idea of it fading away breaks my heart. Please let's get together, put egos aside and figure out how to breath new life into it! Thanks to Blame and Zenyatta and Rachel and especially to Goldikova and the people who sent them out for us to cheer for and love. It's all of you who show us off to the world and bring people to the game. Thank you all.

23 Mar 2011 5:45 PM
Sean

First, it seems for the last 3 to 4 years all people in the industry have done is talk about what's gone bad and what will go bad.  No one has stepped up to the plate and started to do something.

I think Tom Goncharoff hit the nail on the head with the idea of fewer race days and smaller foal crops.  No other sport that has success is year round.  The fewer the race days we have the more likely the race fields will begin to grow and with larger fields comes more handle.

The industry is pulled in so many different ways by so many different people and that's why nothing ever seems to get done.  As much as I hate working in one, the industry needs a bottleneck type enviroment with a commissioner.  All racing jurisdictions need the same rules and regulations.

As far as bringing people to the track, the tracks themselves have no one to blame but themselves.  Pay to park, pay addmission, pay for a program.  Hell, by the time I look at a program I don't have any money left.  CD and Keeneland have raised addmission prices over the last few years and just last year Keeneland began to charge for parking in lots that were normally free.  If tracks want to attract a younger crowd then start with lowering prices, then you can be creative once you have the customer in the gates.

24 Mar 2011 3:02 PM
ken woodall

Natl PR and Promotion office; w/ positive spin doctors. $2 min win bet has 0 inflation for 9 decades, ignored in promotions. promote connections; Get to know the AP horseracing reporter,the 1 person responsible for national coverage; 2 negative and 1 + story a week is not enough./ Draw public money and interest. //Preteens- Camptown Races as theme song. ads showing legs hooves w/ sound down the stretch; Ads showing kids not on pony rides but minature racehorse hotwalker rides w/ saddlecloths and jr jockey silks, caps. Jr track photog, princess for a day contests. school age- bring art sports music talent to track for small contribution top school or community programs. High School Seniors- career day at the track in the am involving track employees. horse owners for non-racing businesses, horseplayers. tours, lectures, advice on vocations. Free discount coupon books for all minors. Off track beauty queens to pass out coupons for free parking, admit, program w/ free live racinng PP's at other outdoor and sports events. On track queens photo ops, ambassadors, conducting natl handicappers' certification test. Dicount coupon books for on track concessions and off track horse owners' non-racing business. // Blow up live race viewing infield obstructions on you tube.// Convert all fractional and decimal odds to my 2 and 3 digit will pays (3.8 for $3.80, 3:8 for $3.85; 10.0-99:9; $100-$999 as whole numbers.

// Loss of 50% of stalls for P.E. drug violating trainers. // More grass races as hard track base is resposible for most injuries and deaths. Require workouts under 5f be done on the first turn.

24 Mar 2011 3:21 PM
RG

Come up with a simpler bet? To win isn't simple enough?

I get early entries, past performances, early scratches,  I can watch replays of almost any race and repeat the part of the race that I think shows something of interest, look at exacta and double pools and will pays, maintain a virtual stable of horses that interest me all on my computer. On my occasional trips to a track I feel at a great disadvantage trying to catch pools and payoffs,etc. If people go to watch the horses how do they keep track of the gambling aspect?

In the past I've wagered by phone at the track when I've ran short of cash and had money in an account.

To much tunnel vision when it comes to racing.

25 Mar 2011 12:27 PM
Robert West Waterford Millford Farm

What is the one thing that all racetrack owners will agree on? They all want to make more money. How do you do that? Increase the handle. How? Make it easier for people to bet. There is a reason that people bet with Internet services and bookies. Convenience. If anybody could sign up for ADW and be able to call one number and bet on any race in the country, the amount of money bet would increase possibly in the hundred of millions of dollars. You think not. How much money do you think illegal bookies take out of the industry? It is an astronomical figure. If all track owners would agree to let a central agency handle their bets for a piece of the action, I feel sure that the big bettors would come back to our industry. Think how convenient it would be and that's the name of the game these days. Also, I agree that the tote system is in trouble. What's wrong with trying ante-post wagering like in England and Ireland. Over there only the mokes bet the Tote. Everybody who knows anything bets with bookies and gets a locked in price.

26 Mar 2011 4:07 PM
James Gorski (Owner/Breeder)

1. Zero tolerance drug policy using IOC guidelines with strict suspensions

2. National governing body

3. Eliminate Claiming races and use sales races instead

4. Eliminate restricted races

5. Bring back money from offshore betting sites

6. Provide a retirement account for every horse bred paid for by breeders, stallion owners, track takeout and purses

26 Mar 2011 7:31 PM
Lindsay S.

I have many horse owning and horse loving friends.  So one day I sat them all down and asked them why none of them enjoys watching horse racing.  They said:  get rid of the whips.  Let the horses run on their own courage.  You don't see mushers whipping sled dogs.  The dogs just plain love to run.  Second, end all 2 year old racing.  They know that racing a 2year old means that somebody had to break and ride it when is was a yearling!  Horse are not mature physically until they are 5.  They wanted to see the Kentucky Derby changed into a race for 4 year olds.  They also want to be sure that someone will be responsible for the care of the horses after their racing career is over.

26 Mar 2011 10:29 PM
TRF500

I found it interesting that a trade magazine the size of Blood-Horse reported only 29 people responded to “ 5  Ways to Improve The Horse racing Industry” . I expected a lot more. Now I understand why only two people so far have filled out the online TRF500 Horse Racing Survey. tbredfortune500.com/trf500survey.html. Part of the survey offers solutions and asks would you support such measures. It addresses marketing, unwanted horses, facilities, gambling, time between races and more. The survey gives you an opportunity to offers solutions through your comments. Comments from 29 people will not impress industry leaders. It will take a few thousand. We love to talk about saving horse racing but when I ask people to get involved all I hear is crickets.  

28 Mar 2011 12:03 PM
Long Time Horse Player

All that consensus of five ways to

fix racing, along with:

Live Internet Streaming from all

major Horse Tracks.

 24 hour Horseracing cable channel.

 And most of all lower the takeouts for the bettors who grease

the wheels that make the industry

run.

29 Mar 2011 5:14 PM
Pulled Up in Stretch

Another very important aspect to the non-professional but avid and frequent horse player is a total re-work of the IRS rules concerning gambling winnings!  They are very unfair and far slanted toward the IRS it is ridiculous!  No gambler should have to report any winnings on their tax return!  Eliminate w-2s.  All taxes should come out at the window in an overall small percentage for minor winnings, say one half of one percent and for 'former' w-2 winnings it could be 5 to 10 percent.  Sorry professionals, the price you pay to go for the gusto!  

30 Mar 2011 5:56 PM
granville handicapper

I have been a racing fan 45+ years for what that is worth.

Use Churchill as an example.  They spent millions on the clubhouse and suites but the grandstand is a dump.  The tv's are very old and the sound system should be turned off.  I have been at most of the BC's there and they thought the crowd was great last year but section 111 in the Clubhouse was empty.  I cannot imagine any track has worse seats than 111.

When they sold out a few BC's their ticket policy was idiotic as was Santa Anita's.  The big tracks do not worry about their fans.

01 Apr 2011 8:23 AM
racefund girl

I am glad to see some comments here from people who value the lives of the horses and say they need support from the industry for retirement. One thing that is uniform at all racetracks is purses, the horses deserve a percentage of purse money from all tracks, every race, every day for the care and rehabilitation so they can go on to new jobs and not on the slaughter truck to an unspeakable and cruel death. This industry must support it's own. Vice President the RACE Fund. www.racefund.org

01 Apr 2011 8:51 AM
Craig Accardo

1. Owners have to have a better chance of making money. 5% of horses actually make money for their owners. No other professional franchise or organization has a 95% chance of losing money right from the start.

2. Learn from the casino's! I've been going to the track (Fair Grounds) for years and not one time did anyone ever offer me any perks. Not a free hotdog, admission to the clubhouse, free form, nothing. What happen to patronizing your patrons? Have a "players card" and swipe it everytime you enter, bet, etc. Track these people and offer them something to keep coming back.

3. Advertise! We must bring in new fans or the industry will die. Twilight night is a big hit. Why not every Friday night!

4. Make it affordable to own a horse. Syndicates have made it affordable but more people need to know about it.

5. Must have national standards on wagering, medications, etc. Too many people are doing too many things and nothing is consistant. Wagering at one track is different than other tracks. You can administer drugs in LA that you can't in CA. Too confusing for everyone.

04 Apr 2011 6:33 PM
JimmyTheGeek

I am avid player, LOVE the sport. But I am very surprised, and disturbed that no one mentioned the #1 reason a lot of gamblers dont bet the ponies... Jockeys deciding the outcome of the race. The #1 thing I hear from others that do not play ponies is the races are "fixed" and NOT BY DRUGS but by jockeys... I know me personally , I am still running a few races over in my mind, watching replays, clearly watching a jockey not allowing a horse to win, place or show.... dont hate on me for saying this ,It happens, it is a HUGE issue with gamblers that do not play ponies.. we ALL KNOW it is happening but we ALL seem very afraid to talk about it? If you poled gamblers, that do not play ponies and ask why, the biggest answer would be races are fixed, and NOT by drugs , but by the jockeys (who may or may not be  taking instruction from owner/trainer or others?)

07 Apr 2011 8:23 AM
Thehoarsehorseplayer

First of all horse racing has to get over its woe is me whining and start believing in itself.

From a gambling perspective it always will be a high end, high cost, operation which means in order to sustain itself it should be looking to attract the monopoly money crowd, the  $1000 bettors not the ten centers. (It's a big tent, there's plenty of room for everybody, but Racing can't survive without the patronage of the wealthy and the daring)

Now I could go on and on, and the McKenzie people really should speak to me, but here's one specific idea:  How about establishing a $1000 suite. A luxury lounge that offers sumptuous accomodations, free food and drink, the lastest in informtion delivery systems, etc, etc, etc.

To get in you have to pay $1000. You then receive a $1000 computer coded voucher for $1000 which you either put through the windows that day or lose.

The expectation is that when you establish such a venue at the track you'll establish a 'club' where the wealthy want to be and want to be seen. The expectation being the bettor committed to putting a $1000 through the window will actually churn much more in handle.

Of course, it has to be done first class, the patrons have to think they're being appreciated, but when the word gets out that you can be treated like royalty at the track people will show up to see what it is all about.

If they had a sporting time of it, if they felt they were treated like Kings by the sport of Kings,  they'll be back with their friends and their money.

And yes, I think that the existence of such an room at the track, serving as a promise for the horse polloi that all they have to do to be treated like a king at the track is master the game to the point they feel comfortable putting a thousand dollars a day through the windows will create a vibrant energy born of a sense of destination and purpose (for putting in the effort to learn the game) that will trickle through the entire facility and indeed the entire  industry.

But the same concept works for the litle guy also. How about, for a $100 a commitment a patron receives  free admission, free program, and maybe a free hot dog and a drink?

23 Apr 2011 11:44 AM

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