Horse Racing’s 2014 State of the Union?
Since we have no central leadership, there is no one to deliver a “state of the union” address for horse racing, so the Paulick Report asked our readers for their thoughts on the following question: If you were giving a speech tonight on horse racing, you'd say “the state of our industry is ________________.”
Thanks to the power of Facebook and Twitter, we received hundreds of responses. Here are some of them…
@fangio28 (Twitter): (censored)
Fran Doos (Facebook): Sad. I am deeply concerned about after care for the horses. Frankly, it is dysfunctional in every aspect.
Charlie Rimer (Facebook): Divided
Anna Bryant (Facebook): Changing
@BombsawayBob (Twitter): At a crossroads. 1 turn leads to continued declines in attendance/handle. TheOtherTurn,a contraction in dates & lower takeout
Sue Kawczynski (Facebook): Is hanging on the precipice
Ellen Cohn (Facebook): HAS had some great moments during the past year but in need of improvement and introspection in many areas
@overturnH8 (Twitter): In desperate need of some young talented people (not the same old cronies) to bring horse racing into the 21st century
Susie Dawkins Carlisle (Facebook): Falling apart
@PuckBuddys (Twitter): Moribund.
Allie Conrad (Facebook): Leaderless
Ryan Brady (Facebook): Going Backwards
Heather Rinaldi (Facebook): In need of CPR by a team of physicians that care about the horses cradle to grave. Take care of the athlete if you want to sustain the sport.
Ty Wyant (Facebook): Needing to determine, accept and work on the truth.
Ryan Dickey (Facebook): At a crossroad.
@tonyg3106 (Twitter): Dire, in danger of just catering to the big wagerers, the common folk are being left behind. #CDMansion
Lisa Johnson (Facebook): Quite sadly, circling the drain.
Leslie O'Shields Hart (Facebook) Unethical
Elizabeth Vecsi (Facebook): DECREPIT. Or more accurately, a gambling venue. There isn't a moustache hair of sport left in the game.
John Sigerson (Facebook): I'd say pretty good. Last year's handle exceeded the total movie box office take.
Al Barile (Facebook): Broken
@HRRNBaron (Twitter): In dire need of a governing body to unite all of the fragmented segments #commissioner
Angel Maria (Facebook): Injured
Susan Kayne (Facebook): Delusional
Debra Cedano (Facebook): Slowly going down the drain. Not too many horsemen left
Matthew Fallon (Facebook): In need of an overhaul! Needs new blood and not such an old boys club attitude. Needs better purse and bigger races with an overwhelming amount of hype and coverage. Needs to create a new heyday of racing. This is when it should be called the glory years. My grandfather always said to me back in the 70's, these are the glory days. Races on TV had great ratings and even non race fans knew who the horses were. Today? No! But this is when it should be. Get rid of Racinos and put asses back in the seats!
@racehorsereport (Twitter): On the precipice of a cluster(deleted)
Eric Kalet (Facebook): I'm blown away by the negativity here…sad just sad
Cindy Rullman (Facebook): Self-destructive
Patricia Pendergast Novo (Facebook): In a state of flux…gaining more fans..yes…but also in need of some changes to better the sport and the industry
Roxanne Campbell (Facebook): In disarray and may not survive
@ThoroBid (Twitter): Coming out of a 50 year trough. Call me crazy but I think there are brighter days ahead
Ray Beebe (Facebook): On a positive note, better than Congress
Wild Vicar (Facebook): On drugs
Steve Byrens (Facebook): In Transition. Younger marketing executives to lure a younger demographic with more expendable income
Al Barile (Facebook): The fact that there is no injury or fitness level disclosures leaves allot to be desired. The NFL is not supposed to be a legal betting entity and they have full disclosure. Then you have the stewards in California taking horses down and suspending jockeys left and right. The sport needs transparency because there is always a lack of trust
@drshillito (Twitter): Fractured. Operated by the hands that have no interest in the preservation or growth of our sport
@Sue Livingston (Facebook): In need of national rules and regs; not governed by each state. Serious testing on illegal substances on horses and a care plan for all horses that can no longer race
Ric Walters (Facebook): On life support
Ryan Driscoll (Facebook): Dead in Texas thanks to the ADW ban
Maureen Millen (Facebook): Going in circles…(no pun)
@rogueclown (Twitter): Precarious. (can you tell I'm in Illinois?)
Nancy Adams (Facebook): Is in dire need of a infusion of youth
Mike Stith Bleak (Facebook): Without an infusion of younger blood
Kenleigh Hobby (Facebook): In the binocular era
@skipaway2000 (Twitter): Gonzo
Alexa King Fine Art (Facebook): Youth has to be reintroduced to real things not gadgets before you get new blood in the sport
Rusty Roberts (Facebook): They same as it always has been “the greatest sport in the world
Mary L Ohio (Facebook): In need of change to bring in new audience and revenue and to make racing more “honest”
Colleen Theodore (Facebook): In need of positive changes to make it inviting for new people to become interested
Mark Ivancich (Facebook): Similar to that of many other mismanaged and/or undercapitalized industries
Harry Kassap (Facebook): Conflicted
Michael Goldsberry (Facebook): At a crossroads, which can be headed on a positive path. But the fans need a voice to demand that all regulations regarding our sport be implemented nationwide, and that we use all aspects of new technology to promote and accentuate the beauty of not only the sport, but the amazing athletic ability of the HORSE
Marion Seidel (Facebook): In the hands of the pharmaceutical industry
@ElRatonColorao (Twitter): Heavy on cognitive dissonance.
Tamme Smith (Facebook): In shambles
John White (Facebook): On the upswing
John Barnes (Facebook): Needs major improvement
@sassypratt (Twitter): On track for a change for the better!
Mark Berner (Facebook): Shameful
Paul Deblinger (Facebook): I just noticed that the Harris Survey shows that 1% of adults say that horse racing is their favorite sport. When the NTRA started it was 4%. Great job
Tim Thornton (Facebook): Needs serious help like our country!!
Emanuel Berrios (Facebook): Rocking
@carlykaiser(Twitter): Better than it appears
Ben DeLong (Facebook): Overwhelmed with negativity
Kathleen Mordenti (Facebook): It all boils down to what occurs in the sales rings in Ky and Fl. Now the sales are doing well breeding is starting to increase again. The industry is starting to repair it self from several tough years. I've seen new blood in the business this year
@canakikass (Twitter): Irresponsible. Breeders, owners, trainers, and, even bettors, need to provide for horses after their racing careers
Cindy Rullman (Facebook): In general, still conspicuously oblivious to the welfare of the animals, with only a few exceptions
Leslie Janecka (Facebook): I deal mainly with young people so I'll have to say “Optimistic”!!!
@BorregoBernie (Twitter): Precarious due to failure to decisively clean up the game and lack of compelling strategy for returning to mainstream relevance
Matt Wooley (Facebook): Horse racing needs “Star Power”. Make colts ineligible to start a breeding career until they reach the ripe age of 5
Sara Dunham (Facebook): Disheveled and gaining ground
Stephanie Lambert (Facebook): In need of a manditory funding program for the retirement of every thoroughbred that is raced
John Spinelli (Facebook): Leaderless, unfocused and in disarray
Laura Sampson Lejzerowicz (Facebook): In need of more and better public awareness, education, and support. A few bad apples have given a great sport a bad name
Clay Palmer (Facebook): Jacked up
Maria Vorhauer (Facebook): Needs to be corrected
Sybil Miller (Facebook): From my perspective as an outside observer, racing is at the pivotal point in its history where victory may be snatched from the jaws of defeat, IF all those involved agree to consistent and accountable rules and best practices. To me, this would include a national racing commission that would build consensus while insuring that rules regarding drugs, aftercare, and track policies were fair, ethical and enforced across the board.
Fans, owners and trainers alike would be involved in outreach programs to educate, inform and engage all involved so that horses would be better bred, better trained, better managed, then retired while still sound and able to be retrained and moved onto new careers. The efforts of those who step in at the critical point of a horse's retirement would be supported financially and in all meaningful ways by the racing industry (gaming corporations; tracks; owners; fans) so that the end of a racing career would not be so readily associated with breakdowns, injuries, track deaths and slaughter, and all tracks would have transition programs and facilities to insure meaningful and accountable transitions from the track to second careers. This would include layup facilities for those needing rehab time, and would take the onus off those trainers unable to provide this themselves.
@Pullthepocket (Twitter): Dependent on alternative gaming (?)
Carrie Willwerth Brogden (Facebook): Is self inflicted
Ron Micetic (Facebook): Deteriorating
Courtney McGowan (Facebook): One that needs a simple beer amongst friends
Celia Scarlett (Facebook): Challenging!!!
Carol Osborn (Facebook): Need to boot trainers that dump horses at auctions or do somethng about it. Am getting turned off lately and people know who these people are and where they have horses. I worry as well that they may not go to auction but will be abandoned somewhere.
@desertscubadivr (Twitter): Much like America, deteriorating
Keith L. O'Brien (Facebook): A victim of its own apathy
@KeeneGal (Twitter): Having an existential crisis due to an entrenched culture that petitions for change yet benefits most from preserving status quo
Bessie Gruwell (Facebook): Has hit bottom and now we are seeing the numbers back on the rise
Carmela DiCola Bozulich (Facebook): In need of some serious help. From young (human) blood, from more transparency, from a national oversight entity, from less emphasis on casino connections and more on education about equine athletes, from the tracks and trainers to find the horses 2nd careers or places to go once their racing careers are over and before they get hauled off the track like dead meat in front of kids & fans, and from a public-relations perspective…get rid of the sleaze/cheater/slimy rep that the sport has had, start focusing on the positives, the fun, the clean side of the sport. The last one won't happen until & unless the sport DOES in fact clean up and shape up.
@CrookedCountyIL (Twitter): In trouble. Industry needs to take a look on how to get new fans to tracks
Dawn Mellen (Facebook): Weak. We need uniform rules on safety, violations and drug use. We need a commissioner and board that sets standards so that violators don't get off with a slap on the wrist when horses are put in harms way with drugs or sent to auctions.
Amber Chalfin (Facebook): Is in a state of confusion!
Allen Gutterman (Facebook): Regrouping
Greg Robertson (Facebook): No longer going to tolerate trainers with multiple drug infractions. We are going to clean the slate and set a new future in horse racing to attract a new fan base. No longer will horse racing be looked at as if it is just as crooked as Saturday night
@TeamDonegal (Twitter): At a crossroads
Reine Ryan (Facebook): Interesting. People really need to start focusing on the good people
Cathy Lynn (Facebook): In need of better medication testing. Although the science is available to us, we need to have better testing rigors and make the investment into better testing facilities and protocols. Cheaters should not benefit from their egregious actions
@Oracle65 (Twitter): Stagnant. Handle down, field size down, foals down. We need fewer races and better coordination between tracks
Michael Cusortelli (Facebook): In need of downsizing in the state of California
Donna Keen (Facebook): More drug testing and tougher punishments on trainers with multiple infractions within a year, (one trainer has 35 in only 3 years of training horses). We don't need people in our industry that refuse to follow the rules that are put in place to keep our horses and jockeys safe!!!
Lisa Russell McMahon (Facebook): Is on the right track re: medication violations and still is very much alive and thriving!
Annie Oleson (Facebook): Kentucky is fighting to save retired racehorses and other rare breeds through the Kentucky Horse Park, the New TB Alliance rehab center and Old Friends…that being said…we are still seeing those that should be retired to preserve soundness, or need to surrender their horses because they can no longer care for them
Annie Oleson (Facebook): The day we treat horses as good as if they were our own children, stop the abuse, slaughter,and give them as much dignity as if they were human beings…which they deserve for being the great champions that they are….horse racing and our sport will thrive again!
Annie Oleson (Facebook): Churchill Downs had record breaking crowds this year…no racino…just people who wanted to see their favorite horses run…and win!!
@TRyanequine (Twitter): In jeopardy in areas and improving in others.
Stephanie Lambert (Facebook): It is hard to focus on the good when the athlete, the one who ACTUALLY makes the money, has NO say so in his or her training, no say in his or her medications, his or her race venues , his or her aftercare, or even if their own life will continue or if he or she will be shipped to Auction and end up in a slaughter house or a field getting shot in the head so they can be sold to the rendering plant. This is the ONLY sport who kills it's athletes when it is done with them. When they ALL provide care for the horses they have created… Yes this means the top of the heap as well, and they stop abusing the athlete they brought into this world , then and ONLY then can we all get back to the business of pure JOY ! I for one MISS being innocent of knowledge. I LOVE this sport . I LOVE the good people in it , I LOVE watching horses battle it out in the stretch, I live for a great race and then I watch it over and over and over, BUT how could I watch a race that I know a horse is not being taken care if properly ? Or being over raced? Or in a low end Claimer? Or running hurt ? The answer is I can't … That Joy is gone forever …. SO until the REAL earners are protected this industry is doomed.
Biff Lowry (Facebook): Piss poor, but I'm hangin' with it
John Chiappetta (Facebook): Over for the little guy
Brian Duntugan (Facebook): In danger of extinction. It's consolidating into lesser race dates & racetracks little by little
@BigSkyEquine (Twitter): Heavily medicated.
Debbie Rhodes (Facebook): Hopeful. New foals. New owners like Mandy Pope. New Derby contestants, new fans. Another chance to capture hearts and imaginations. Another Zenyatta or Secretariat can come along
Fred Pugliese (Facebook): As an optimist I'd say available to more people than ever before by way of on-line wagering
@KeeneGal (Twitter): Having an existential crisis due to an entrenched culture that petitions for change yet benefits most from preserving status quo
@CBandoroff (Twitter): Partly cloudy with scattered thunder storms and a need to innovate and renovate.
@brianjco1 (Twitter): Stable unstability
@rickmock7 (Twitter): Like being on the Titanic
@slgersztoff (Twitter): Corrupt.
Tom Prestigiacomo (Facebook): Improving
Susan Marie (Facebook): In need of repair
Steve Myrick (Facebook): Salvageable
Jeri Beaber (Facebook): Failing
Karin Beauvais (Facebook): In jeopardy
@Debbiedeb2 (Twitter): Very sad!
A Allan Juell (Facebook): Enthusiastically dismal…though that skirts the border as an oxymoron
Jennifer Nunnally (Facebook): In need of more horsemen and more incentives
Kyle Kubica (Facebook): More dysfunctional than Obamacare
@J_Dinks (Twitter): Hopeless. Decades long persistent issues met with the same inaction and stubborn lack of self awareness as an industry
Betsi McCullough (Facebook): In need of young adults, better marketing
Allison Janezic (Facebook): Unbalanced
Neil Parker (Facebook): In the (toilet)
Jim Gath (Facebook): In dire need of a National Racing Commissioner!
Jennifer Nunnally (Facebook): Less bad publicity. (Every sport no matter what it is has it's downfalls, why only point out the horse racing commmunity)
Joe Garcia (Facebook): Not consistent
JoJo Zumwalt (Facebook): F'ed Up!!
@FollowingTrend (Twitter): Promising
Emily Mode (Facebook): Autoimmune
Wild Vicar (Facebook): Dead
Priscila Beloch (Facebook): Crawling out of recession
Kim Riser Shields in need of some serious changes on all sides (competition, breeding, etc.)
Sally Rogers (Facebook): Mostly Kentucky
Matthew Melton (Facebook): Always going to have an audience, but slowly bleeding
Angelo Lieto (Facebook): Is this a one line answer? I can give you at least a paragraph…
Gail Iannucci (Facebook): In turmoil!
Susan Salk (Facebook): Doing better for its horses though
Matthew Melton (Facebook): Doing a disservice to their exciting product
John F Haran (Facebook): As far as Illinois is concerned. Our future lies in the hands of our esteemed Legislators. Are we in trouble or what???
@ajrinald (Twitter):In purgatory
Susan Vitro (Facebook): In denial
Tat Yakutis McCabe (Facebook): In transition
Lisa Groothedde (Facebook): Just one word: dysfunctional
@Hennigracing (Twitter) In the need of a sit down with my 5 teenagers!