Horse Racing’s 2014 State of the Union?

by | 01.29.2014 | 8:30am

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.

@cmdk415(Twitter): Fractured

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

‏@pjleft (Twitter):Floundering

@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!

  • A flat-line corpse due to financial inflation.

    • 4Bellwether666

      U talking about ‘The Game’/ ‘The Planet’ or both???…

  • faithhill1

    Racing Industry needs to install a Racing Commissioner

  • Andrew A.

    There is no comment more accurate than this one from Mellissa Nolan (@KeeneGal).
    @KeeneGal(Twitter):Having an existential crisis due to an entrenched culture that
    petitions for change yet benefits most from preserving status quo


    Right on Melissa…….You nailed it

    • Third Party

      Magic 8 Ball, what is racing’s future?

      “Reply cloudy, Try again”

      Magic 8 Ball, what is racing’s future?

      “See ‘Boxing’…a sport formerly on top, but didn’t change with the times and is now marginalized, perceived as corrupt and fixed, although probably cleaner than racing with regard to medications and drug testing”


      • Creativity at its best. Bravo. And to the ears that are deaf, it doesn’t matter. Third Party doesn’t exist.

    • 15percenttakeoutMonmouthpick4

      Too me “entrenched culture” equals Horsemen.

      • betterthannothing

        “Entrenched culture” definitely equals horsemen, horsemen groups and their fat “leaders”, it equals starving, numbed horsemen who watch thugs bankrupt them.

        It equals unethical vets who are willing to disgrace oath and profession by exploiting the dysfunction, greed and secrecy within the “entrenched culture”, cause (along with horsemen) great harm to voiceless patients and endanger patients and riders to maximize profits.

        It equals jockeys whose guild just chose to hire lobbyists to get states (taxpayers) to pay for their expensive health insurance and retirement instead of jockeys taking their lives (and insurance costs) in their own hands by forcing reforms to PREVENT abuse, injury and death.

        It equals officials, track owners and executives, assorted enablers, profiteers, racing “leaders” who choose to see nothing, hear nothing, are promoted for creating no waves and believe that money justifies all means however ugly, dangerous and painful they can be to others.

        • loopsteer

          Betterthannothing!! Very good post. In my humble opinion extremely accurate and very well articulated. It brings to mind the movie with Jack Nicholson (A Few Good Men) ” You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties”

    • loopsteer

      True I also believe that horse racing has an existential crisis due to an entrenched culture that petitions for change. In the very short term it might benefits most from preserving the “status quo”. Although in the long term the without change the ” status quo ” will be its inevitable demise.. Right now the forces within seem content just to ” fiddle while Rome burns”.

      • Andrew A.


  • Jay Stone

    Most people above have in many ways described the same thing. A sport totally fragmented, going in many different directions, and under the control of many different archaic groups all with their own agendas. The public perception as a whole is that it is a corrupt sport, with no transparency who takes it major players, the horses and a uses them. When we have a system in place that gives the horses protection after their careers, a national group overseeing all parts of the industry, and federal control and enforcement of medication this will change. The strong upturn in sales whe great for the sellers does nothing for the players and fans out there. With exception to a few venues marketing and education of the younger ayers doesn’t exist. Most tracks are run by accountants or businessmen who know nothing of the game. The Cellas,Stronachs,and Gurals of the world are being replaced by toy company executives and university presidents, who may be brilliant, but don’t belong running racetracks. The states that milk the tracks with taxes are inept in their regulatory stances. They are made up of political appointees who are powerless and incompetent. The public’s perception of widespread drug use will only dissipate when the penalties for these crimes become very steep.

    • Hamish

      Take the existing bill that is in Congressional Committee that appoints an independent third party to oversee drug testing, research and investigations and protocols, and amend the bill adding a National Commissioner with powers to act in all 38 racing jurisdictions. Seems a reasonable solution to what most of us agree are our “issues.”

      • Jay Stone

        Am in total agreement as long as it encompasses some sort of federal enforcement of rules. The fear of federal enforcement guidelines compared to the Inspector Closseaus the states use would stop most drug problems.

  • Cangamble

    Until horse racing realizes that it depends on horseplayers, and to get new horseplayers there has to be visible winners, especially because of the high learning curve, and that a 20% average track takeout makes it nearly impossible to have visible long term winners, horse racing is doomed to rely on alternative forms of gaming subsidies in order to survive.

    • Barry Irwin

      Horseplayers are a major part of the equation, but the same thing you wrote holds true for racetracks, owners, trainers, breeders, etc. Everybody and every entity are all part of the equation. They all rely on each other. If you were not getting value out of horseracing you would have left it a long time ago.

      • Cangamble

        Gamblers will bet on just about anything. Gamblers pay for the show, and if there is no show or if the show is not giving them enough satisfaction, they’ll find another show. Personally, I’m a lifer when it comes to horse racing as a bettor, I’ve even dabbled in horse ownership, but I find it harder and harder to get satisfaction from betting as it just too hard. Good handicappers versus good handicappers with a 20% takeout! Dummy money has left the building. I’ve started betting more on sports and less on horses. If horse racing doesn’t take the attitude that horseplayers are by far the most important entity, it has zero chance to grow.

        • Andrew A.

          Like many Owners/Breeders Barry has no clue when it comes to the Gambling side of the business. Optimal pricing/takeout? What’s that?

          • ITP

            “While the takeout is onerous, it has never stopped a real gambler”……Barry Irwin

            You are correct….Barry has no clue.

          • Barry Irwin

            ITP (acronym for IN THE PANTS?), Andrew A, Cangamble (but Cannot Find the Courage to Use My Own Name): are you guys finished betting on horses? I think not. Otherwise why would you even be reading the Paulick Report. Takeout has NEVER EVER stopped a horseplayer in America going back to the late 1800s. Naturally, since I don’t know who you folks are, I have no facts, but I would bet (me, bet? Amazing!) that I have been playing the races longer than you. And I would also venture a guess that I have done more to advance the lot of horseplayers than you know of. We all know that the powerless horseplayer has cried for a better takeout deal and I am on your side. But to hold yourself above owners, trainer, track owners, etc. is just a tad over the top.

          • Andrew A.

            This definitly qualifies as a hall of fame ignorant statement of 2014. You must be so into yourself that you don’t keep up on current (really not so current) events in the gambling part of the game.

          • kyle

            Gotta disagree with you. Have you looked at a chart showing totall US handle over the last decade or so? Something is stopping somebody. And of those of us who persevere many bet less – are more selective – because the opportunities aren’t there. Now, I readily admit field size is also an important factor in creating value – but takeout is the dominant factor. Finally, as to what group is the most important. It irks us when the power structure denies the obvious. There is no game without the bettor. That is the game’s funding mechanism. It’s broken of course, hence slots which you rightly abhor. The truth is the game could be conducted without owners. Hong Kong pretty much proves that. There may be owners in name there, but the HKJC rules. A racing association could own the horses and hire trainers and put on a show as long as there are bettors to bet on it.

          • PTP

            It’s been a little bit since this comment was typed. ITP must be at KFC without his smartphone.


          • Andrew A.

            Triple LOL

          • Jay Stone

            This is part of the problem Barry. All the acronyms and all the groups think they control the game. That is why the industry is so fragmented. I have been a gambler and horseman for most of my adult life. I have watched as each group thinks they run the machine. The truth is gamblers are an integral part as are the horseman, horses,track owners, workers and every one else that works in the industry. Gamblers like others are concerned with drug issues and most would like to see the industry run under a central governing body.

          • Roger

            Barry – the reason Takeout Rate has become an issue is because of the
            number of exotic bets now on the wagering menu. SA introduced the DD back in 1962 …..the trifectas came in CA in early 90’s then Superfectas, then
            P-4,Super High 5,P-5,etc.Why should exotic bets be at a higher rate
            than win/place/show rates? There are examples like the popular CA P-5 with a takeout rate at 14% but most exotic bets are 20% +.
            How could horseplayers be ABOVE owners,trainers, track owners when those groups are always represented in CHRB Meetings and private talks with political contacts in Sacramento and horseplayers are left out. The latest example…..SA exec LUDT’s
            ill-advised Restricted 3 Doubles replacing Rolling Doubles which the major customer (bets under $300) is quite upset and an on-line Petition with over 200 signatures had no impact with LUDT,Brackpool, absentee racetrack owner Stronach, TOC,CTT,and CHRB. Week 5 – DAY 22 of SA’ 2013/14 Meet
            was last Sunday and SA DD HANDLE is DOWN -$2,182,606 yet LUDT continues to spend wads of marketing money on his 3 Doubles trying to OUTHANDLE Rolling Doubles from the previous Meet and the rest of the GROUPS – TOC,CTT,CHRB remain on the sidelines while the majority customer can’t even get Rolling Doubles reinstated
            when the PACKAGE that replaced it is a FAILURE after Week 5 being
            DOWN -$2.1 MILLION.

          • Barry Irwin

            Got it. Thanks for explanation Roger.

          • Indulto

            I agree with you, Mr. Irwin, that both owners and players are collectively equally important to the game. Do you have any suggestions as to how both groups might work together and what our combined primary objectives should be?

          • Barry Irwin

            Unless something dramatic happens at the congressional level, which at this point seems to be a longshot, I think the only answer to save racing at a high level is the Japanese model, in which an elite racing circuit is developed and the vast majority of horse racing is treated as the black market is in certain Third World countries. This solution would work, because there are still plenty of horsemen and owners that want to play the game on the level. The rest of the miscreants can continue to take advantage of gamblers and competitors by infusing the systems of their horses with all of the drugs they are now using, both legally and illegally. If law enforcement comes to our aid, we have a chance for major survival. But if the status quo remains, then a racing league or an elite circuit seems the only answer. This way gamblers and owners and trainers can get back down to the business of determining on the racetrack instead of the laboratory which horses are best qualified to improve the breed.

          • Indulto

            By “congressional action,” do you mean the creation of a National Horse Racing Commission or something else? If so, do you support the activities of the group calling themselves “Bladerunners,” or do you feel something else needs to be created to coordinate owner/player demand for an NHRC?

            I believe several owners with your visibility together with influential player/fan/writers such as Beyer, Crist, Drape, Finley, Paulick, Pricci, Zorn, etc. could effectively motivate and organize a collective response of some kind sufficient to convince Congress to take action.

          • Susan Crane-Sundell

            Mr. Irwin, I think your example WILL be the wave of the future if we don’t learn to clean out our own nests! Perhaps I don’t understand every aspect of gambling, but I understand business and any business that is associated with “entertainment” in any way, if it sinks in the mire of debasement, will be passed over or discarded. People will move onto the next big thing. This is why WHOA and other organizations who support cleaning up the sport are important. If we keep fouling our own water, we will be the only ones left who will drink it.

          • Barry Irwin

            The owners have a responsibility to make sure that their trainers are on the up and up and to provide the best sport possible so that horseplayers will have something interesting to bet on. Owners and trainers and racetracks owe their customers a viable product. This has not been the case since the use of PED became rampant. The tracks by and large have let their customers down by not clamping down on cheating trainers. Once whales realized how the game changed, they went to other sports. In order to keep horseplayers, we need to give them something viable to bet on. We are no longer doing this. When tracks not only fail to go after cheating trainers, they fail us. And they make it even worse when they promote them, because the public and the horseplayers can sniff out something fishy in a heartbeat. Excessive take out sucks, but it is not what will kill enthusiasm of bettors, it is the lack of a level playing field.

          • Cangamble

            It is takeout, takeout, takeout. Lack of dummy money, that has caused players to look for value elsewhere. Drugs are a problem, but horse racing has always had a reputation of drugs, stiffing horses, etc. Don’t you remember the Twilight Zone with Mickey Rooney? But relatively, there was more money wagered back then adjusting for inflation and population size, of course.
            What has happened is alternative forms of betting that has drawn out the dummy crowd (they made it possible for some to make money making the game perceived to be beatable) who used to bet numbers (they play slots and lotteries now). And for those who like crunching numbers, sports betting and poker are beatable opportunities by at least a few, and that have taken out a lot of potential serious gamblers. Whales are still out there, they just bet less and less as opportunities to make money are drying up as it is a world of good/great handicappers versus good/great handicappers with a high rake to overcome.
            If drugs were out of the game tomorrow, the rate of how fast a horseplayer loses money will not change because the average takeout will remain the same. However, if new blood is attracted to the game, there will be an increased demand to clean the game up. But that comes after newbies are attracted, and the only way you’ll see a flock of new players is if the game becomes perceived as beatable, and that means lowering the takeout everywhere.

          • Barry Irwin

            From my personal experience, the biggest and most successful Southern California-based gambler on horse racing stopped betting on our game when drugs proliferated the scene. Today, the only time he gambles on racing (and I doubt that he is alone in this) is when there is a Pick Six carry over. On day-to-day races, he has quit. The fascination in the modern era of attempting to accurately select the second horse behind an odds-on favorite to complete a $7.60 exacta in a 5-horse field is lost on him. The reason there are so many small fields is not the so-called “lack of horses,” but in fact a “lack of owners willing to own horses” because they cannot beat horses owned by trainers that infuse their horses with rocket fuel.

          • kyle

            Your example : despite everything your subject still bets on carry overs. Why? The effective reduced takeout. So, I’ll assume you are here admitting that takeout is the single most important factor when it comes to handle. As to the need for more owners – absolutely. And the necessity of a level playing field – we’re with you again. But it really comes down to economics – can you make a buck or at least have enough fun trying. We agree that, as in your example, reducing takeout is stimulative and the way to grow the game. We think it will give bettors the chance to make money or at least have enough fun/action trying to grow and maintain customers and, we think it will provide more money for purses. We care about the health of the game from all sides. We recognize the basic economic factors that drive human behavior. Owners aren’t going to buy horses for their beauty and only tangentially for sport. So it is with bettors.

          • Barry Irwin

            Betting on the carry over has nothing to do with takeout and everything to do with forsaking all in the name of trying to win a pot of gold. Only Pick 6 carry overs offer an amount of money to bring people back to the track.

          • kyle

            LOL – that doesn’t cut it. HC (hearty chuckle) is more accurate. The effective reduced take has everything to do with it. If it’s just the pot of gold why don’t tracks just guarantee the pool to the tune of 1,2…5 million dollars everyday? Tracks try to create carryovers. Why go through the bother?

          • Barry Irwin

            So you want tracks to underwrite betting pools to create larger pots to attract more gamblers? Where are they going to find these funds. Are you telling me that you don’t now horseplayers that are motivated by huge carry overs? People that don’t show up as much as they used to, but show up when the pot rises to millions? The same applies to state-run lotteries. You must be living in an alternative universe.

          • kyle

            Barry…have another cup of coffee. Or, are you just being willing obtuse? It isn’t becoming. Guarantees don’t work because the additional money we see flow to carryover situations doesn’t have to do with gross pool. I’ll try one last time before throwing in the towel. A 400k carryover on a ordinary Sunday at Santa Anita will generate another $3 million in handle while a $2 Million guarantee on the BC pick Six will struggle to meet that goal. Take some time and try to figure out why? You know it’s great that you’re willing to engage. I applaud you for that. But to quote the greatest songwriter in Rock N Roll history, “You have opinions and judgements about all kinds of things that you don’t know anything about.”

          • Barry Irwin

            Here is my point, then I will recede into the woodwork, while you continue your drumbeat of takeout, takeout, takeout…

            The biggest gamblers, guys that want to take down the Pick Six Pool, formerly were regulars. Once they stopped betting regularly, in my experience from knowing the biggest of them all, is that the only thing enticing enough to bring them back is a huge carry over. That’s it. Very simple to understand.

          • Cangamble

            Takeout is stopping the horseplayer from betting as much relatively as they did before, and it is stopping new potential horseplayers from becoming horseplayers (handle numbers have dropped, and adjusting for inflation and population growth, they are much worse than they look). Your statement is like saying that smaller purse money doesn’t stop horse ownership. Sure, there are some horsemen who will race for any amount, but most won’t.
            As for importance. The horsemen and racetrack are only more important or as important as the bettors only to the horsemen and racetrack. Take the example of a steak house. Who is most important? The farmer who raises the cow? The food processing plant? The owner of the restaurant who puts on the show? The waiter? Or the customer? If you said the customer, you are correct. The customer pays for the other four participants, and the customer can choose to eat anywhere and eat anything. The customer will always find something to eat and pay for it. But if people started eating less meat or stopped eating meat because of pricing or culture, the farmer may have to farm something else, the meat processing plant may go out of business, the restaurant owner might go out of business, and the waiter might have to find a new restaurant to work or a new line of work. But the customer will still eat, and a different group of people will benefit from that customer. In other words, the customer is the hardest person in the equation to replace, and therefore the most important.
            If an individual bettor bet less, and many are, there will be less handle and less money that goes towards purses. If an individual horse owner, trainer or breeder gets out of the business, handle will not change one bit.

          • kyle

            Isn’t it tedious having to explain the obvious over and over again?

          • jack

            “Takeout has NEVER EVER stopped a horseplayer in America”

            shocking comment…absolutely shocking.

  • Andrew A.

    It’s about the Gambling. Horse Racing needs to be a better gamble to attract more people. Most Racing Execs hate to even use the word “gambling”. They’d rather sell it as entertainment. If they think that it’s so entertaining then they ought to have a month with no gambling. Guess what happens?

  • Barry Irwin

    Right now–TODAY–I see the problem as being a lack of any faith in the game by racetrack operators and politicians. They have declared the game dead. Right now the mode they are all in is to use what resources and assets they have to sell out to casino interests. They are not promoting the sport as entertainment, as one poster suggests. They are, in fact, pulling in all their horns and cutting payroll by eliminating staff that would promote the sport. Casino gambling is not the savior, but the devil. Other than a guy like Gural and to a certain degree The Jockey Club, there is little movement to save the game. Worst of all is the position taken by horsemen’s group that are still trying to get their last drug fix before the ship sinks.

    • Jay Stone

      Barry, the problem with the casino money is two fold. Firstly it is going to dissipate quickly as the casinos become entrenched and the states realize the money is needed for more important things than racing. Decoupling will be a word that we will hear more often. Secondly, these tracks are very shortsighted in that very few of them take this money and clean up the tracks with Capitol improvement money mandated in the casino deals. Very few venues can now stand alone without the casino subsidies. As the rack is multiply the market shrinks.

    • Andrew A.

      CHRB Commissioner David Israel:

      Quote From The Official CHRB News Release Summary 9-23-2010 CHRB Meeting:

      “People often say we are competing with the casinos. I think that’s
      shortsighted and wrong. We’re not competing with casinos. We’re in the
      entertainment business. We’re competing with the Dodgers and the Giants
      and the Angels and the Lakers and we’re putting on a show…”

    • Richard C

      Major gaming corporations have shrewdly used the disjointed horse racing industry to open the door to casinos/racinos in any number of states……and have flipped the power to slots, card games and other slick gambling devices —- the upcoming shakeout will come when these companies confidently stride into the offices of governors and House/Senate majority leaders and proclaim that the track side of the license is a financial loser and a drag on profits entering state coffers…..and it’s time to take a hard look into closing those “ridiculous” ovals that are drowning in red ink.

    • gls

      I think the racetrack operators are the problem. Their failure to keep the game clean is terrible. They have a responsibility that they aren’t fulfilling, they owe it to the horses, owners,gamblers and jockeys. Enter the FBI, because I believe this is a federal crime.

  • Patricia Jones

    complete disaray and no one wants to give an inch don’t they realize losing fans means losing jobs

    • Incomplete disarray. It becomes “complete” with bankruptcy.
      “Hollywood Park? Next!”

  • David

    I think a better question is this – if one were limited to a single thing to positively change Government or Horseracing what would it be? That one thing that if fixed would serve to cure most (but not all) issues that swirl about sapping energy and money. IMO, for example, term limits is the epiphany DC needs to slash media coverage in half. For racing, (again, IMO) betting on the horses needs to become something other than a sucker’s game, a sure loser. Instead of relying upon the sometimes-intoxicating gene in most of us for a (very occasional rush of actually cashing a ticket) rush, racing needs to figure out a way to distribute return to a wider portion of the betting population. The fact is most practical, non-additive people get tired of losing.

    • fb0252

      u’re onto something there imo.

  • Rachel

    Same issues, crap & runarounds as always, except today it’s legal drugs and no Triple Crown winners…glad I remember the 70’s for more than disco…

  • fb0252

    I’d like to see a rejuvenation of the NTRA. Instead of a ruling body–commissioner–beware of what we wish for–sport needs a national organization that will address the easily identifiable issues. Such an organization e.g. might have anticipated the problems in Illinois and been pro-active there. Horse people are herded cats in need of direction on such issues as marketing the sport, aiding particular race tracks that are in trouble, aiding owners in finding a place to train new stock, providing models for local organizations to follow or optimal models for the gambling side, making ownership cheaper and easier by organizing economies of scale, addressing the negligent trainer problem that plagues the sport, etc.

    • Hamish

      Give an organization like the NTRA an actual federal mandate that gives it true “National” powers. The Commissioner can lead this group as long as it, or any other designated association abide by a set of “gold” standards of best case practices approved as required by enabling legislation in D.C. Turn drug testing and related investigatory work and research over to an independent third party such as the USADA, eliminating local interpretation of racing rules and conflicted regulators and we might have something. Seems worth a shot, as the current trip to the bottom is rather unnerving. One group for promoting the sport, one totally unrelated for policing.

      • fb0252

        this is being pushed by the shrink horse racing crowd hamish. if u have any skin in the game, trust, u want to avoid this at all costs. the strength of horse racing is its diversity and democratic nature. we need build on that instead of letting a small cabal of deep pockets take control, eliminate our tracks, and direct profits to their pockets.

        • Hamish

          Horse racing, the way we conduct our business now, is a proven loser, and quite unsustainable. I agree there are many interesting and diverse interests across the land, but constantly pandering to the lowest common denominator, and refusing to take a more national and comprehensive view of racing’s realities leaves all vested participants, at both ends of the financial scale, with a good seat on our proverbial sinking ship. Horse racing will always require various levels of competitions, but they must be contested on the same terms in order to maintain the impresssion that horse racing is actually a bonafied national sport, in each and every racing state across the entire country. IMO, “localized” enforcement of inconsistent “home town” rules are part and parcel to our on-going industry dysfunction and rotten image as referred to by both industry insiders and the public in Paulick’s State of the Union question.

          • fb0252

            respectfully, this is just untrue. racing commission rules in most jurisdictions are nearly identical. model rules are being adopted all over the country. Enforcement in horse racing is no more consistent or inconsistent than jurisprudence anywhere else. and, for those on backside enforcement is rather strict, particularly on race day at every track I’ve ever been. the kbia agents are strolling, and the stewards in general make good and appropriate decisions..

          • Ladyofthelake

            Just curious, what does kbia stand for?

          • fb0252

            kansas bureau of investigation

  • Tinky

    My fellow horseplayers, the State of the Game is strong, and the future is bright – in Hong Kong!

    • Barry Irwin

      Have you ever been to Sha Tin?

      • Tinky

        I have not, Barry, but hope to rectify that shortly. What are your impressions?

    • David

      And the point is? Racing in HK has about as much in common with US (racing) as public healthcare policy in Finland to a workable model here. Quick, how many horses does the former British colony breed?

      • Tinky

        Hmmm…let’s review a few of pertinent facts, David.

        What is one of, if not the most difficult challenges facing American racing today? Both the perception and the reality of promiscuous use of legal and illicit drugs in horses.

        What country has unquestionably done the best job in preventing, testing and enforcing rules relating to such drugs? Hong Kong.

        What is the trajectory of betting and the retention of big players in the U.S.? Downward.

        What is the trajectory of betting and the retention of big players in Hong Kong? Upward.

        The fact that horses are not bred in HK is just one of a number of important dissimilarities with the American industry. But to then infer that there is nothing to be learned from their model is ludicrous.

        • David

          Come ‘on Tink, you got an industry constructed to be run the
          State to build a wall around (you’re not drinking that stuff ‘bout US co-mingle
          exchange are you?) in order to capture a culture-driven gene virtually devoid
          of the kind of competition tracks in this (and others) country faces. Yes, they have a profitable model but why
          not keep the discussions on something that can be accomplished? I’m not expert but been there.

  • kyle

    The State of the Union is there is no Union, except among the various fiefdoms we call “horsemen.” The State of this non-Union is war – against racing’s customers. The State of the non-Union is poverty – a poverty of leadership, courage and ideas. And overarching all this is massive indifference. Such is the The State of Racing’s non-Union.

  • Nancy

    I’ve followed horse racing for many years. Still talking about the same things and nothing changes, in fact things are worse. Cheaters get away with murder, literally. I’ve concluded horses are a disposable commodity and I can’t take it any more. It’s very sad.

  • WonderAgain

    The sport/gambling game is In need of a reduction in race dates and a significant increase in interesting racing content to reverse the decline. A united effort on this and other important issues, such as uniform medication rules and adequate regulatory oversight, is required which seems an impossibility w/how its structure was set up. It’s much too factionalized to be competitive in this day and age of fierce competition.

    Meanwhile, I’ll just check in when interesting content is offered which seems to be less often with each passing year. Such a shame considering racing is able to offer its customers convenient, high tech in-home watch and wager in most U.S. states.

    • fb0252

      having the right idea where horse racing is going–in home, high tech, wager from your couch. yet, u forgot to mention the unlimited audience for this that horse racing has yet to advertise to.

      • WonderAgain

        Advertising dollars would be wasted w/o quality product.

  • Karjo

    I feel the first thing that needs to be done is to begin rebuilding racing’s reputation. The industry leaders must unite to set down national rules and regulations with standard penalties for violations. Racing’s rep for allowing corruption to run wild has not gone un-noticed by fans. No one wants to spend their hard earned money when they know cheating is involved, it takes the fun out of it. Nor do they want to go to a sporting event knowing the coach (trainer) might send the athelete (horse) to slaughter for a bad performance, no fun in that either. In this day of social networking, racing can no longer hide behind the “good ole boy” way of doing things, someone is always watching. Time to decide, do you clean up your act, start playing a fair game and taking home less money but you’re still in business ? OR Do you keep cheating and squeezing every dime you can get until racing is dead? Tick-tock.…..

    • fb0252

      u make the unfounded assumption that everyone cheats, possibly?

      • Karjo

        No, I’m saying get rid of the cheaters, clean up the sport of the FEW giving it a bad name before they ruin it for the rest of us!

  • J.D.

    Please everyone, just look at the words from the masses in the body of this piece and then read each and every comment below. The game is completely broken, but we’re not doing ourselves any favors by arguing over what the definition of “is” is.

    I’m not proud to be a horseplayer or fan of this pathetic industry at this point in time. Just look at the list of comments above. More optimistic things were said of the long term survival of dinosaurs and BetaMax.

    I’ve always been a horseplayer – sympathetic to our plight and active in trying to make a difference, but we’re a tough lot to be overly supportive of as a group. If you read any handicapping site with a decent size following and you will find incessant argument about quite literally everything that happens. A seemingly nice, humble guy wins the NHC and all you read about is this completely unsubstantiated supposed 10K bet on his opponents horse driving the odds down. We can’t just say congrats, give the man his due, and move on.

    There are actual living breathing Horseplayers on a TV show, yes, a TV show, and all you read are the things wrong with it.

    At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a 100+ post on a racing related website arguing about where the sun sets….

    On the social pecking order of life, we are somewhere just above drug addicts and just below IRS auditors and we’re not doing ourselves any favors to bolster our perception.

    In any event, since we’re degenerate losers that will wager no matter what, increase takeout to 35% (PA got it right after all!!!) and expedite the certain demise of this once great game that is now a horrid collection of ineptitude wrapped inside of the carcass of a donkey’s rear end.

    Heck, once all the bettors are gone, you can put out a nice picnic blanket, pop open that fresh box of white zinfandel, and enjoy some steeplechase North Carolina style.

    Enough is enough.

    • fb0252

      and, other than takeout, what is it that you think wrong with the sport?

      • J.D.

        Drugs/integrity issues, ADW signal availability / access to the product, many jurisdictions facing issues of survival without casino subsidies (sports needs to stand on its own w/o getting propped up to make it on a long term basis), declining handle, declining interest, inability of track mgmt and horsemen to solve inherent long term issues (band-aids are covering gaping wounds)

        • fb0252

          think advertising on the internet. they’ll wake up that one of these days.

  • Lefty_Orioles_Fan

    Wow this is quite a collection of thoughts.
    I saw moribund and I had to look that up to remind myself and quite frankly when I refreshed my memory, I thought it was a bit much to say it was close to death. How about another
    “D” word, so how about disjointed. You have TVG and HRTV and since they compete with each other, no one shows the races live and that’s a bit disappointing because I like watching Gulfstream and Churchill Downs from my own home on my sofa. However, I do get to see Sanata Anita and Belmont and others. What everyone needs to do is sitdown and smoke the peace pipe and let everyone watch the races!

  • Ladyofthelake

    Am I the only one who thinks one really good way to draw in new fans would be for somebody to re-design those god awful racing forms that are as bad as trying to figure out an algebraic equation? I can understand stock market math better than I understand that stuff, then the “experts” act like you’re an idiot if you never use the racing forms to make a bet because they make no sense. My $80 yearly subscription to HRTV’s streaming video has been more useful to me than any racing form ever has. (And no I do not work for HRTV!)

  • ThomBurchfield

    I’m late to this. I’m new to the game and have been closely following the various reports and debates for over a year now. I’ve always liked Ray’s simple, single word for what
    seems to be ailing U.S. Thoroughbred racing: NEGLECT. There don’t
    seem to be enough fans–a critical mass–in this country to get good and
    mad and force some of the changes that need to be made–starting with
    the establishment of a national racing commission, similar to others
    like the NFL, one with actual power to make and enforce rules. So long
    as thoroughbred racing remains stuck in libertarian Balkanization, very
    little will get done. For now the Super Trainers seem very content with
    the status quo (“What? i have a job!”) while the rest of us, horsefolk and fans
    alike–especially those of us in smaller circuits like Northern
    California–continue to suffer from this NEGLECT. It’s claimed that creating a national commission is “impossible” but I can think of one scenario that make make it happen–a hard, credible threat by Uncle Sam to step in and start running the game himself . . . something none of us want, but hey if that’s what it takes . . . .

    • betterthannothing

      No one, front or back, wants to give up its yellow piece of turf so yes, change, including a national racing commission and major reforms to transform racing from an orgy of secretive, delinquent and pathetic product into a transparent, healthy and proud quality product, will likely arrive with Uncle Sam carrying a big stick.

  • Susan Crane-Sundell

    As a person who cares deeply about our equine athletes and their aftercare, I find racing is deeply divided in its concern for the reason we’re all here: the horse. Without the magnificence of the horse we have no game. Sure there are some inveterate gamblers who would bet on just about anything and if the demise of horse racing were to occur, they would readily transfer their interest elsewhere and find a new commodity to make odds on. Yet there are many punters who deeply appreciate the unknowns and the capriciousness of all the factors that go into making horse racing exciting. The “on” day the “off” day, the weather, the time off between starts, workouts and times, the grass, the dirt, jockeys and jockey changes, trainers and their styles, pedigrees and attributes, and horses for courses. Where else can you find so many variables and vulnerabilities that, when you hit, attest to one’s skill to be a great handicapper? I can’t think of any. So my point is it’s a sport that requires a great deal of skill and perception of all involved, from the breeders, to the bettors; it’s a thinking person’s sport. Let’s put our thinking caps on, form our own fan “brain trusts” and get to work making this sport better for all involved. I work for the horses and for myself, I expend as much time and effort that I can in trying to make equitable retirement, re-homing and retraining available for as many of our horses as possible. I am so very proud of our OTTBs and all that they accomplish. I care about medication reform and I care about sparing injuries to both equines and jockeys by making racing as safe and as free from doping as possible. I can’t tolerate the abuse of a horse or putting a jockey in harm’s way. I have no problem going head to head with anyone when I feel a horse is maltreated or is ready for a fairly earned retirement, no matter what their age or injury. I will keep working until the day I drop to see equine aftercare available for every racehorse as a integral part of their life cycle. I came up in the sport and was a railbird from the time I was eight. My father taught me a deep and valuable respect for the horse and it is a part of me.

    For others they have different concerns, whether it be betting practices, take out, marketing, whatever, don’t give up. I don’t want to see another sad passing and dispersal of history, like the closing of Hollywood Park. It was and will remain a travesty for this diverse sport of horse racing. So pick something to work on and keep at it. When it comes to the overall sport of horse racing, no faction has to go away disenchanted, the beauty of this business is that if we all play fair, no party has to lose. Save that for a bad day at the window. Save that for the finish line. When it comes to the competing business concerns of the sport, we may have to compromise, but no one has to lose. Let’s start playing fair. Honor the horses. And don’t forget the best resolutions are win/win.

    • fb0252

      i’d doubt the horses care too much about after care or slaughter issues. I always say–if you want to do something for the horse–that horses will appreciate–put turn out paddocks on the race tracks and make the barns horse friendly. Keeping these young animals in closets 23 hrs a day isolated from their buddies is the real and on-going animal abuse that plagues this sport.

      • Susan Crane-Sundell

        FB-Well I would proffer that the horses,if surveyed, would care deeply about ALL these issues–paddocks and “better housing” conditions included. I don’t think you would happily go to work and strive for success of your organization if you had any thought that when you stopped producing at the highest level, you might get sold to a kill buyer, would you?

        • fb0252

          i’d much rather be sold to a kill buyer than endure the fate of 75% of the OTB population. Walk through a pleasure horse barn sometime and see if you can spot a happy horse with a search warrant.

          • Susan Crane-Sundell

            Well then you and I will have to agree to disagree…I don’t buy it that you would rather be sold to a kill buyer than spend your life as a well-cared for pleasure horse. I walk through a great pleasure barn nearly every day. We have turn out and clean mucked out stalls,safe humane, clean tack, a great vet and hot mash and Guinness… Maybe I live in an alternative reality, but the people at my barn are gracious and horse-centered to the max! I’m not saying unhappy horses don’t exist, they do, but not to a fault. Where do you visit that you see such unhappiness? And what is your idea of a good environment for Thoroughbreds….besides death?

    • mc0278

      I appreciate and respect your enthusiasm for Thoroughbred racing, but you paint with a broad brush when you disparage some inveterate gamblers. Why go there? Truth is, I could easily cite lowlifes in every aspect of our sport, including breeders, trainers, jockeys, grooms, racing officials, board members, hot-walkers, blacksmiths, veterinarians, mutuel clerks, tractor drivers, horse haulers, etc. Inveterate people unfortunately exist in each of those groups too.

      My point is, the cliche of lowlife gamblers doesn’t help anybody, because those people, if they do exist, do nothing to harm our wonderful sport. In fact, they help it greatly with their patronage. The bad eggs in those other groups, however, cause real damage and pose serious threats to Thoroughbred racing.

      My point is, most people involved in Thoroughbred racing are talented, interesting subjects of good work ethic and high moral character. All make great contributions to the sport of horse racing. At the risk of sounding corny, we all need to respect each other, and especially the horses. As you stated so eloquently, the horses make the greatest contribution of all.

      • Susan Crane-Sundell

        Hi MC Yes I tossed that out there as a generalized example of how some individuals have no concern for the ethics of any activity that they are involved in. I could have just as easily mentioned another specific group, but the heart of my discussion focused around the dedication and talent of many of the gamblers who I know in the sport. Many raise money for “Old Warriors”, many others sound the alarm regarding unsavory trainers and just about everyone I have ever met possess a keen intelligence.The majority of other comments revolved around the aspect of gambling and so I used that example to tap into that relevancy. Sorry if you found it offensive.

  • Eddie Donnally

    Is, “In need of prayer.”

  • The sport does need a lot of changing and I agree the take out is easily one of them, but one of the problems is you are never gone have one body so to speak overall seeing everything. Any state that has racing you have to get a racing license to participate whether your an owner, trainer, jockey, stable employee, etc. Each state has its own set of rules and regulations. I just can’t see every state racing commission getting together and coming together as one. Every state wants a piece of the action so when you say get an owner’s license in PA and your horse is going to ship to Delaware Park or Monmouth Park, NJ or DE, you better beleive that state is getting your money for an owner’s license….

  • Pacingguy

    The state of the industry is parasitic. It seems people are unwilling to make changes and are just looking to suck every nickel they can get out of the industry and let it die.

  • Tonto

    We have lost the ‘horsemen’ replaced by uninformed ‘experts’ that rely on Vets to replace time on the racetrack- proper care and instruction.- galloping with a plan not just “how fast can he go”

  • Tonto

    Unconfirmed rumor- cost between $400.. $750. for vets services to run a horse. no wonder the fields are small – you cant run worse than 4th and break even

  • 4Bellwether666

    Until they LOCK the people up that are fixing the races with drugs are by any other means nothing will ever change and you can damn sure BOOK THAT!!!…

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