Citing ‘Integrity And A Level Playing Field,’ Amermans Join WHOA

by | 08.31.2015 | 8:12am
John and Jerry Amerman

John Amerman, a prominent California owner-breeder and successful businessman who led the Mattel toy company as chairman and CEO for more than a decade, has joined the Water Hay Oats Alliance in support of federal legislation that would appoint an independent, non-governmental agency like the United States Anti-Doping Agency to regulate horse racing's medication rules on a national basis.

Amerman and his wife Jerry are lifelong racing fans who bought their first horse in 1995 after many trips to New Jersey's Monmouth Park. They have 25 Grade 1 victories among their 70 stakes races won.

John Amerman, a graduate of Dartmouth with an M.B.A. from the university's Amos Tuck School of Business Administration, is a former member of the California Horse Racing Board who served on numerous industry boards, including The Jockey Club, Breeders' Cup, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Thoroughbred Owners of California, and American Graded Stakes Committee.

Jerry Amerman, a graduate of Drew University, has focused on equine health issues, serving on advisory boards for the Center for Equine Health at the University of California, Davis and the University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Research Foundation.

John Amerman issued the following statement concerning the decision to join WHOA:

“My wife, Jerry, and I have been Thoroughbred racing enthusiasts throughout our marriage.  Twenty years ago we started our own stable.  The thrills and, yes, the agonies of being involved in all aspects of racing have been a highlight in our lives.  Unfortunately, the American public does not agree, as witnessed by a continuous annual drop in handle and interest.  Having been involved with major corporations, it is clear to me that no business can survive continual declines.

“In a country where football, baseball, basketball, etc. are thriving, why is it that thoroughbred racing has marginal appeal to young people/millennials who are enthusiastic about other sports?  There are many reasons, but at the top of the list are integrity and a level playing field – two things thoroughbred racing currently lacks.

“Over the years, I have been involved and been a member of many national and state racing organizations.  As hard as everyone has worked, it has become obvious that thoroughbred racing cannot improve the American public's perception on its own.  We have tried many approaches.  None has worked satisfactorily.  We need to take a new path.

“I was impressed hearing about an approach that utilizes the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) at the recent Jockey Club Roundtable.  The experience of USADA in bringing high standards in testing and enforcement to Olympics and other sports appears to be applicable to thoroughbred racing.  There is evidence from other sports that integrity and a level playing field can be a major building block to increase interest with existing fans, bettors and the public.  This is why Jerry and I enthusiastically support WHOA, The Jockey Club, and others, in their efforts to appoint an outside, independent agency, like USADA, that has an objective of creating a sport that can hold its head high and say we are drug free.”

Click here to learn more about the Water Hay Oats Alliance.

  • really?

    Only path to right sizing the industry as unsound horses will not run and cheaters will flee. Estimate every track besides the majors without slots will die immediately and then the slot aided will follow. Nyra, Cali, CD and Stronach left standing

    • Quinnbt

      That’s lots of people and horses out of jobs.

      • just say no


    • Concerned Observer

      “Right Sizing” is another term for a “last one out turn off the lights ” strategy.

      What we need is a “rejuvenate and grow the business” strategy. We have been right sizing for the last 20 years, but with never enough downsizing to match the accelerating decline in the demand for racing entertainment.

      Question is, do we go down without a whimper? Or fight to rebuild the love for this business/sport?

      People are gambling more dollars than ever…..just not on horse racing.
      What an opportunity!

  • Neigh Sayer

    My hat is off to you Mr. Amerman. Takes guts to step up like that.
    I find it interesting that the President of the Thorougbred Owners of California said that they are 100% against the USADA, and have yet to approve the national uniform med program. I guess you can’t believe anything the TOC says. Now that Mr. Amerman has made his stance public, maybe someone can ask Baffert who sits on the TOC board why he is against the USADA and won’t approve the national uniform med program.

  • I still doubt the public cares much about integrity or a level playing field. It wants events which give 90 minutes of continuous amusement, or gambling opportunities that don’t require any mental process – WWW and one arm bandits are fine, but waiting 30 minutes for the next race and having to decide what to back is not.

  • gus stewart

    yes correct all other sports have skyrocketed over last 2o years. great u and ur wife have said this. now instead of going to racings officials,, and get nothng done,, go get a list of all owners have a meetg amongst the bill payers..owners… oust the folks that should of been removed or retired 20 years ago and get on the train of 2015 marketg and maybe u could get things going in the right direction,,, good luck they are worst then gov workers to get removed,, maybe mafia may help removal process,, lol,,,

    • Leilani1234

      100% correct.

  • Quinnbt

    As American Pharoah has proven a star can bring focus to racing, unfortunately horses careers are short. Look at golf as a comparison. When Tiger Woods burst onto the scene in 1996 there were 7 players earning $1 million or more, now there over 100 earning $1 million or more, a star can carry a game. Racing will never have that draw.

    Racing’s future is not about drugs but about enforcement; the rules are already in place.

    The very wealthy want a divorce from the masses but they are caught up in an impossible battle that is tied to politics. Racing commissioners are appointed by governors who accept campaign donations and if the donation is sufficient enough the seat is occupied regardless of whether they have knowledge about the sport the business associated with it.

    Paramount to any discussion is the lawful act of allocating racing dates. If anyone thinks for a second that any of the four major companies that conduct the majority racing are gone to sacrifice the relationships that they have and continue to cultivate on the state level need to rethink their position. Inviting in USADA isn’t going to happen because it also invites in other regulatory aspects that would undermine the current favorable political climate they have. How many or what kind of drugs are in a horse’s system when it races has little effect on the corporate culture that controls racing’s venues and adds to states coffers through various taxes on racing.

    Feed horses all the hay, oats and water you want but you better be ready to tell hundreds of appointed commissioners and the governors that appointed them along with four very large corporations that you have decided to run their business for them.

    • gus stewart

      your correct with one situation thats a game changer. again owners are not gtg checks from the state or racings officials. if you get 2gthr and remove the bought and payed for emplyss one by one,, then u will get the few racing offficials left to do the rght thgs,,, same as this election,, not a rep or dem dont care what trump policies ideas are.. but he can call congressmen and senators out, when they dont pass ideas the masses want because he isnt on the payroll,,, move them out one by one,,,,

  • Leilani1234

    Sorry but I don’t see integrity or level playing fields in the major professional sports. Deflategate is just the latest debacle. Players who do drugs,beat their wives, murder human beings and animals are not upstanding citizens with “integrity “. Racing lost its way years ago and it has less to do with legal medications as it does the mismanagement and bad marketing of racetracks. Those in charge are old and don’t like CHANGE. Every sport goes through changes whether it’s rules or locations. Racing has some integrity problems but that’s not why it’s lost fans and thinks it can’t get any new ones. People are not physically exposed to horses like they were 50 years ago either. So many reasons, not enough time!

    • gus stewart

      good comments on sports drugs and wife beating dui etc. if i was to suggest a markertg plan one would be to bring those thing to the masses since our legal system can be bought by plauers and let folks know tax dollats are going for payg everyday court costs,. u want to keep payg for that on top of cable tix prices. where on same charge u would be locked up for years they walk free and get endorsements… how about that for direct marketg

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