Yes We Can, Can't We?

By Dana Byerly,


Hopefully you exercised your civic duty earlier this week by voting. Americans often forget how fortunate we are to have a voice in the process. Regardless of where you stand on any issue or how you feel about the outcome of the election, there's something positive we all can take away from the experience. When people make up their mind and take action, change is possible.

I'd like to think we can apply that lesson to racing. Changes have already started in the industry and to hear Alex Waldrop tell it, bloggers have been a major catalyst for some of those changes citing the new Safety & Integrity Alliance as "a direct result of the bloggers."

While this is great news, we bloggers certainly don't represent every point of view and don't even have all the good ideas (gasp!). And while some of the best insights and ideas are proposed around the web as comments on blog posts or discussions on boards such as PaceAdvantage, the odds of anyone who can act on those excellent ideas actually seeing them is probably hovering generously around 50-1.

Enter Self Appointed Fan Committee. The only agenda at SAFC is to make sure you're heard. SAFC is a website, not an actual committee, that Jessica Chapel of Railbird and Raceday360 and I started over the summer.

From SAFC's homepage:

"It's come to our attention that we're not going to get invited to share our thoughts or provide our feedback in a formal setting any time soon.

In light of this discovery we've created this site to do just that."

SAFC offers a way for fans and players to share their ideas, provide feedback and/or positive reinforcement to the industry as a whole. Since so many of the issues cut across organizations and jurisdictions, it's hard for an individual with a good idea to be heard by all of the appropriate stakeholders. To counter this, we collect all of the submissions and create and deliver reports for any and all organizations that have a stake in the issues at hand on a (somewhat) monthly basis.

For instance, this submission went to ARCI and NTRA:

"Set A Standard Release Time For All Entries and Morning Lines - Why are the morning line odds not released at the same time for every track? Santa Anita is notoriously slow while Keeneland is generally a full day ahead of every other track."

And this submission went to the Jockey Club and NTRA:

Breeders should be charged $50 more to register their foals and that $50 should go into a fund such as the TCA which provides money to the people who care for and rescue thoroughbred horses.

Take a look around the reports section to see what's been sent to whom.

As more proof that change is possible, the Breeders' Cup, the seemingly last bastion of impenetrable decision-making, has propped open its doors to fans. Peter Rotondo Jr., VP of Media and Entertainment and Peter Land, CMO have agreed to meet with Self Appointed Fan Committee (and a few friends!) next week to hear what the fans have to say as they evaluate this year's Breeders' Cup.

Now that the Breeders' Cup is over and we've all had a chance to experience the changes, the time has come to share your thoughts. Get thee over to SAFC and let the Breeders' Cup know what you think! Hate the purple saddle cloths? Love the new Filly & Mare Championship Day? Still think the name Ladies' Classic has to go? Love or hate the amount and type of races? Tell them.

SAFC stands a chance of affecting change, in part, by collecting all the feedback together in one place. So, for example, Land and Rotondo can make a much more compelling case to the BC board to change the saddle cloths if there are 300 submissions about it, or 3,000 as compared to the current three.

While it's certainly a great sign, this meeting is a first step and our gracious and well intentioned hosts can't make too many, if any changes without first discussing it with their board. But let's help them out and make their job easier by giving them a LOT of feedback and ideas to mull over for Breeders' Cups to come.

To be included in the process, one must actually participate. The door is open and they're ready to listen, but it's up to you to shove your foot in the door and make your voice heard.


Leave a Comment:


I watched both days of the BC at our local track here in Mpls. My thoughts are: get rid if the purple saddle cloths and go back to the regular colors.  Leave the ladies on Fri.  It was great to see Zenyatta win in the Ladies Classic late Fri. Aft.

06 Nov 2008 3:50 PM

Hello Dana..What I am so non-plussed about in reading the plethora of blogs that appear here..virtually on an daily basis is that everyone is weighing in on an myriad of subjects..including myself.. is that nothing is ever addressed and remediated by the industry al..All of these suggestions are sound and formidable and w/substance..yet they apparently fall on deaf ears..I wonder why?..I have currently responded to Peter Lands blog in the Opinion section.. 19 responses thus far..on this current window...I have personally e-mailed Alex Waldrop and elicited as to whether he personally reads all of the blogs that appear on here and he did respond by saying he does indeed...I think why nothing ever is addressed and is even advanced by the industry heads is that they resist change..which most human beings  do.. Change is not easy..Change is difficult..Particularly if you are not an advocate of it...Its so so sad though...the sport is sinking deeper and deeper into the abyss and these folks just cannot see beyond the ends of their nose..I really  don't know what the answer is or are..I suggested to Alex Waldrop in my note that the NTRA should now start listenig to the legions of fans and spawn focus groups at tracks throughout the country..Glean their feedback..I volunteered here in New Jersey...Monmouth Park and The Meadowlands...After this past Tuesdays presidential election..the nation has finally changed course and is headed in an new and historical direction as history has been made..Thats change..Now if the country can change..the people have leadership is helming the government..why cannot racing do the same..It can be done if they want it to be done..Its that simple..Thank you always for your kind window Dana..Regards..Steve Stone..East Hanover..New Jersey...

06 Nov 2008 5:43 PM

is it the bettors ragging on the purple saddle cloth's???...well they look real nice so leave them alone...Ladies Classic sounds good so lets leave it alone too!!!...Greg,his people & ESPN put on a hell of a show & we want to thank them for that...tweek it & let it RIP....  we need to call the new dirt(pro ride, 87% DIRT with polymere not wax & the other products with wax) ALL WEATHER SURFACE, as it just sounds better, describes it better...more EXPOSURE weeks before the event...Peppers Pride is finally getting some(EXPOSURE) as we did a poster for her(seventeenth in a ROW, please!!!) to be given away Sunday Oct.9 @ ZIA PARK...we have kept her name in the NET LIGHTS for weeks now & she is picking up NEW FANS!!! all over the country...please, we own & race four of em, if people only knew how hard it is to WIN TWO in a row!!! Long Live The Breeders Cup, Race Horse Education, EXPOSURE & Peppers Pride!!!...the HOTTEST PEPPER on the PLANET!!!

07 Nov 2008 12:46 AM

Thanks for the comments all and thanks to those who have made submissions at SAFC!

Steve - your thoughts were definitely part of what Jessica and I were thinking when we started SAFC. In addition to great ideas being posted around the web all the time, even if racing execs do happen to read them they might not bookmark them.

This is why we send monthly reports. Alex always thanks us for our reports, as do others, and I believe them when they say they review them but, as you mention, change is a slow process. We want to help everyone to take part in it.

07 Nov 2008 7:33 PM

Amen...Amen to Mr. Steve Stone as we are with you 101% sir...Bellwether Productions / James G.Staples IS IN the process of doing just that...CHANGE...& three MAJOR tracks are making very postive moves with BELLWETHER... Promotional Marketing & education  for ALL HORSE RACING...not to be cocky but we didn't name it that for the hell of it...its TRUE...good LUCK to Peppers Pride(she has her own LOGO now!!!)& her connections on #18...GO GIRL!!!Long Live The QUEEN!!!

08 Nov 2008 4:09 AM

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