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.

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