Irwin: Indiana Commission Actions Don’t Pass Smell Test

by | 10.19.2015 | 9:22am

Absent a smoking gun that would lead to evidence of unethical behavior on the part of Joe Gorajec, the dismissal of the former executive director of the Indiana Racing Commission sends the wrong message to regional and national participants in horse racing.

The reason the commissioners gave for firing the director was that they wanted an employee who was more focused on promoting the horse racing industry and less on enforcing regulations.

The message suggests that the commissioners are more interested in promoting racing.

Gorajec gained national fame and respect for Indiana's uncompromising stance on dealing with horsemen and veterinarians who broke the rules. Gorajec was the toughest cop on the block in Thoroughbred racing in North America and on the cutting edge of identifying illegal substances and unethical practices employed by trainers and vets.

In pushing his hard-nosed agenda, Gorajec did so in the belief that by providing the cleanest racing in the land, horse owners and horse players would respond positively by running horses and betting on horses with more confidence. This, believed Gorajec, would translate into more business at the racetrack and more dollars into the coffers of the State of Indiana.

If one gives the benefit of the doubt to the five commissioners who last week fired the director, one would accept the conclusion that they wanted more promotion for the industry. If this was, in fact, the case, what was the rush to fire Gorajec that necessitated the unprecedented calling of an impromptu weekend meeting at a locale never before used for racing commission business?

If increased promotion actually was the focus of the commissioners' agenda, why not simply sit down with Gorajec, explain this to him and come up with some compromise that would allow the director to continue his brilliant efforts in regulation while perhaps shifting some responsibility to an existing or a new employee?

The high-speed juggernaut to upend Gorajec and move him out of office as quickly as possible does not pass the smell test if the reason is actually a change in direction. It smacks of guilt so odious that the office of the director required instant fumigation.

Reasonable people do not treat a nationally honored and respected racing legend like Joe Gorajec with the contempt displayed by these commissioners.

So based on the behavior of the commission and the inaction of the governor and the operators of the racetrack, one is forced to conclude that the message sent to the racing industry is that something Gorajec did as director was unacceptable to those in power and had little, if anything, to do with the stated reason for Gorajec's outster.

Along the way, Gorajec ruffled more than a few feathers, as his tough stance against cheaters resulted in suspensions and fines to trainers, Standardbred drivers and veterinarians found to be guilty of breaking the rules.

Some of those unhappy with being singled out as cheaters complained and began to float a notion that Indiana was no longer friendly to horsemen. These miscreants very likely convinced some politicians that Gorajec was bad for business and needed to be replaced.

Gorajec, in fact, was friendly to horsemen, but only to those who wanted to play by the rules, not those chronic manipulators who wanted to tilt the playing field to their advantage.

Suspending horsemen with political connections that carry influence all the way to the governor's office is most likely one of the two reasons that Gorajec no longer is employed by the Indiana commission. The other stems from a proposed opinion piece Gorajec wanted to submit for publication in the Paulick Report in late August.

Focus of Gorajec's op-ed piece was his support for pending Federal legislation that would empower the United States Anti-Doping Agency to oversee rules, enforcement and adjudication for drugs in Thoroughbred racing.

In essence, USADA, if appointed by the United States Congress, would replace states as the overseer of drugs in American racing. In effect, USADA would dilute the power of the states in this aspect of its duties to the racing industry.

Gorajec was emphatically told not to submit the piece for publication. He was told in no uncertain terms that he was an employee of the State of Indiana and not the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

The State of Indiana — both its politicians and its racetrack operators — have decided to go down a slippery slope, one in which integrity takes a back seat to an increase in participation of horsemen that will return to ply their trade in a jurisdiction in which the chief law enforcement officer has been kicked out of office for being too tough on crime.

The message is very clear. Integrity is a nice concept, but it comes with a price and that price is a loss of participation from a certain segment of the horse racing world that does not want to play by the rules.

But Indiana has decided to make a trade off, by welcoming cheats instead of excluding them. Indiana has decided to join the dark side and become horsemen friendly. Good luck with that!

Barry Irwin is the founder and CEO of Team Valor International and a member of the Water Hay Oats Alliance

  • Ben van den Brink

    Barry, while dis agreeiing on some subjects. On this one 100% agree.

  • KARL Bittner

    OK – Barry has made the case. Now all you naysayers can come out and spew negative remarks that have nothing to do with the truth.

    • bhood

      Who says Barry knows the truth? He knows Joe, but how many Indiana horsemen did he interview for his story? How much leg work did he do on the ground in the state of IN? Or did he just sit in front of a computer and write his ideas and opinions from a couple of people he knows? This is an op-ed piece without a single quote in it.

      • KARL Bittner

        It’s an op/ed piece. You can either agree or disagree Just don’t have your head explode like Edzepplin’s who obviously has an axe to grind since he lost a number of legal challenges with the subject of the piece. Question? How can you say your on sound legal footing when you have been shot down 3 times by the court system. You go on battling anyway?

        • bhood

          I won’t defend someone in that position. I’ll ask a question. How can Barry ignore the IN horseman who have made claims that Joe was bullying people? I’ve asked him and he still will not even give it any answer. He’s just going to stick with “I know Joe, so that’s were I’m putting my loyalties”. That’s fine in a sense, but to just ignore the other side makes his argument fall flat.

  • Richard C

    Juice “em and set ’em loose…..and only a fool – or someone not politically connected – will pop a positive.

  • No-one can disagree with you here Barry. My concerns earlier were not, as you know, prompted by any objection to rigorous testing and enforcement, but simply that he seemed to have been regarded as high-handed and partisan – a scenario with which I am not unfamiliar and to which I still instinctively! You may very well be right in supposing that those criticising him have got no more than they deserve, but I would still have expected to see more support for JG from other participants. Of course the whole problem is summed up in your closing reference to “horseman friendly”: until everyone gets their head around the idea that racehorses need training rather than medicating [legally or illegally] this debate will never end.

  • David

    As one of the Founding racing welfare states, Indiana had an especially compelling reason to run a clean shop, something Joe did very well. Now on the other side of the casino life cycle, subsidies continue to dry up and it’s time to get down with the rest of the biz. Two alarming aspects about this business – when sold beside alternative gaming, racing sales (sorry, handle) went down and when guys like Mr. Irwin try unsuccessfully to move positive reform have left those like on the Indiana Commission to turn out the lights.

  • Jay Stone

    The whole thought process used in his dismissal revolves around a lack of marketing of racing. They don’t realize that the best marketing campaign for racing is Mr. Gorajec’s successful efforts to clean up Indiana racing.

    • lastromantribune

      just follow the japan model…its that simple.

  • BILL CASNER

    Barry is dead on. Joe Gorajec was a victim of his quest for clean racing in Indiana—he stepped on too many toes of well connected individuals and dared to express an opinion of his support for Federal Legislation for drug oversight that would have diluted the states authority. It is reminiscence of Lance Armstrong and his influence and connections to those in power that almost allowed him to get away with an entire career based on doping. Even the Justice Dept. backed off and dropped their investigation and only USADA stayed the course in the face of extreme coercion in pursuing the truth.
    In one fail swoop, Indiana has gone from being the industry Icon of how drug administration should be done to the leading supporter of the dark side.

  • Tinky

    Let’s be very clear about something: until corrupt politicians – who are anything but “public servants” – are held accountable for their actions, whether in Washington D.C. or at the li’l old Indiana Racing Commission, these type of abuses of power will continue unabated.

    Wall Street and its political water carriers were largely culpable for the 2008 crisis, yet were not held accountable. In fact, many were perversely rewarded. Now, seven years later, the very same people, having enriched themselves further, are about to blow the system up yet again.

    Barry’s piece is right on target, but at the end of the day it will mean nothing if the people who care about the industry don’t band together and make those responsible for the outrageous action pay a tangible price.

    • Hamish

      My guess is that at some point, the individual or organization responsible for getting the Garojec dismissal done will be known to all. Hatchet jobs are typically well planned, with many layers of participation, so sooner or later, parties involved begin to brag about this accomplishment or talk quietly between themselves to try and assure the continued cover up, but quite often speaking too loudly in the wrong places. I hope Joe Garojec surfaces soon with a new regulatory responsibility.

    • Any thoughts on, say, Peter Savile’s brilliant reign, which involved relentless expansion of poor racing, central control of the programme lost to the racecourses and allowed bookmakers to implement a different system of Levy calculation? We can leave Paul Roy’s endorsement of and investment in Betfair for another day! Both these were – and still are – widely regarded as super intelligent and as true racing enthusiasts. I suppose everyone gets the governance they deserve.

    • Fred A. Pope

      You know, if the federal legislation had been passed last year, or the year before, or the year before that, Joe would still have his job, because there would be no need to fire him. All states would have the same rules on cheating.

      What is taking so long?

  • Chancey Gardner

    The level of corruption is so imbued that a certain arrogance is being displayed in this circumstance. I am surprised that they even bothered to come up with a weak, pathetic excuse to get rid of him.

  • PaulieTripleNuts

    As a casual observer it’s hard to ignore the fact that one of Mr. Gorajec’s most vocal opponents was an owner who disagreed with sanctions placed upon a trainer employed by said owner. I’ve also observed that this owner is very “vocal” in regards to punishment when a trainer deemed “dirty” is facing identical sanctions for overages. You can’t have it both ways.

  • I really wish we would have had the same investigative reporting when the head of the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission exited stage left immediately following an audit from the state a couple of months ago. Any chance that might have made for a good story?

    • Raycing

      I really wish we would of had the same investigative reporting when you were allowed to through a vet under the wheels, or when you were slippery enough to get by a positive test for dermorphin.

      Karl, your quality chemical training and knowledge of how the testing system works, allows you to appear clean when we both know that your hands are dirty. Don’t try and go after others when you yourself have dirty hands. You won’t understand as sociopaths don’t have a conscience, but you casting stones is particularly disturbing.

  • Michael Castellano

    Racing is headed for potential oblivion but the fat cats behind this Indiana move couldn’t care less. Nothing is more important, with an entity that depends on gambling for it’s income, than its integrity. Racing’s integrity is at an all time low. Powerful new players such as the various Fantasy Gambling outfits, threaten the very existence of racing in the long run, once they straighten out their own credibility issues. I can’t help but think that the “wise guy types” have moved in at many of the tracks and made alliances with corrupt politicians.

  • Atticus1897

    Could be the Commission had some concerns about fair play, consistency, and due process. We all love law and order when it comes to medications within racing but when it is administered selectively, unevenly or by cutting fairness corners, we all lose. Will wait to see what comes forth but to this humble reader, Joe seemed to have trouble realizing that allegiance to due process must trump your desire to send a law and order message. Give Barry credit for starting his article with “Absent a smoking gun that would lead to evidence of unethical behavior on the part of Joe Gorajec.” Let’s see where this goes, an important conversation.

  • Rachel

    I am forwarding this to my family in the Evansville area. They need to know what’s going on here.

  • David R.

    Well said Barry and Ray but, I could not agree more with the “Tinky” comments. “Unless those who care about the industry band together and make those responsible pay a tangible price” progress will not be made.

    • Herding cats might be easier. There is not enough appetite for this sort of concerted effort is some locales such as Indiana. There is a lot of apathy. Look how much trouble the Coalition to pass the Barr-Tonko bill is having is certain locales. Doing the right thing is never easy.

  • Edzepplin

    58.5% decrease in Indiana’s foal crop after Joes hostile take over of racing and breed development on Jul13 2010. Chairman Weather Wax knows that Horse racing and slot legislation basis for passage was positive economic impact potential. He was a member of the powerful senate finance committee when every gaming bill passed. Although Joe worked for the state of Indiana, economic impact was not a priority to him.
    Many of his supporters on this site claim there is a national strategy to shrink the foal crops to the point where only a few tracks survive. They are claiming the results will reduce the number of “cheaters” and the quality of thoroughbreds will increase. Critics have maintained that Joe’s quality of racing program was meant to destroy the industry and we were right. When you and your employer disagree over your job description, the employer wins. This is another example of Joe’s belief he was beyond reproach and his means were justified by his ends.
    Joe was being held accountable for the results of his initiative and management of an economic development program. The Indiana bred program; once supported by quality purses was working as designed. During the great financial meltdown and resulting great recession, the national foal crop declined by 33%. During the same time period, the Indiana foal crop increased by by 138% and produced the highest quality runners Indiana has every produced. TVG/HRTV analyst’s often comment how the quality of Indiana breds have increase. The 2010 foal crop produced a grade 2 two year old winner and was Indiana’s first Breeders Cup starter. A 2010 Indiana bred; sired by a stallion standing in Indiana won an open stake in KY. First time ever. Another 2010 foal was third in the California and 5th in the Santa Anita Derby after placing in a few 2yo stakes on the So Cal two year old circuit. The 2010 foal crop was Indiana’s largest crop ever when thee IHRC adopted Joe’s proposal that said the program was broken and he had the fix. If a nearly 60% decrease in the Indiana foal crop was his objective to fix a broken program, his agenda was in direct conflict with the legislative intent of horse racing in Indiana. Indiana could no longer afford to keep him. He may be a legend with the quidnunc posters on this site but in practicality he made material changes to an economic development program that has nearly killed and industry. He is your legend Barry. Bring him to your state KY if he is what you claim. Unless you have raced in Indiana or tried to make a living in Indiana, you only know what he wants you to know with his self authored press releases.

    • Blah blah blah blah blah…foal crops shrunk the most where the quality was the least. Restricted state breeding programs by and large are, as somebody here has already pointed out, nothing more than welfare for breeding inferior horses that usually cannot cut it against open company. But that is a sidelight and little or nothing to do with the main program. Let’s watch Commissioner “Weather Wax” (as you call him) when the vet comes up for his hearing soon. That’s the equine practitioner that Joe Gorajec recommended get a 20-year vacation from racing. Nobody treats a national respected racing official the way Mr. Weatherwax did because he had fallen down on the job of promoting racing. That kind of treatment is reserved for guys that did something wrong, really, seriously wrong.

      • Edzepplin

        I provided you with documented evidence that supported my argument. What do you provide ? Conspiracy theories ? Your perception is your reality but you really should support claims with facts to remain a credible poster. Tom Weatherwax is a man of great integrity and high intelligence. I’m sure that he didn’t take the word of a few and make an arbitrary decision. I would be shocked if he did not perform a through detailed due diligence. After watching him vote in committee for decades, I found him to have done his home on each subject and wasn’t hesitant to question partisan public policy that smelled.
        Joe received absolute power on July 13 2010 via crony capitalism. The lawyer who has represented Joe since day one, was able to have the daughter of one of his firms founders and sister to one of the firms partners appointed as chairman of the IHRC earlier. The firm that received $400 to $ 600k per year from the IHRC to defend their action and prosecute IHRC rule offenders and advise the IHRC. This is text book crony capitalism. After some scrutiny by the Indiana inspector general, the chairman resigned to spend more time with the grandchildren. When public policy mandates a sitting Govenor to make appointments, it is always political. Joe benefitted from it greatly but now “his” commissioners are gone and claiming politics. Hypocrisy at best.
        one of the reasons that I support standardized rules and penalties among all jurisdictions is due to the draconian penalties he has issued. Convicted felons of armed robbery and manslaughter convictions received lesser penalties than a Vet who is alleged to have provided meds to trainers for race day administration. This is over regulation as well and it has kept world class horses and trainers from running in the G2 $500 Indiana derby. They know Joe selectively applies his rules and they don’t want to be another one of his trophies. What is worse is that he really gets off on it. It is abuse of power plain and simple. Joe has been corrupted by the power he received and became a tyrant. Why would any reasonable chairman want to keep him.
        Since you have no regard and much disdain for our Indiana racing and breeding, Don’t come here or bet our signal.
        Ronnie Vanzant once told Neil Young ” Southern man don’t need him around anyhow”. Same applies to you from all of those who would suffer from over regulation. Find another Guinea pig to sacrifice for your cause.

        • turffan

          What a brilliant way to grow Indiana racing & breeding, by recommending that an International Owner & Breeder stay out! AGAIN, BRILLIANT marketing strategy!!!

        • Most people that complain about over regulation and rigorous enforcement are not those people that follow the rules but those that break it. What kind of horseman stands up for a vet that a regulator wants to rule off for 20 years? Let me get this straight: you would rather have trainers show up for the Indiana Derby that are worried about running afoul of the chief regulator than trainers that want to play by the rules? What does this say about you?

        • Ben van den Brink

          If you are cutting of integrity, than stop the whole horseracing.

          How are the purses in the neighbouring states, if the purses over there are higher, horseman will allways follow the money.

          Since Indiana is having or had the Tom Amoss case/ the Truesdail case/ the Vet case and probably much more this has become a critical integrity case.

    • I believe the poster Edzepplin may very well by Ed Martin, Jr. a two-time loser in lawsuits he filed against Joe Gorajec. Check it out in the Paulick archives:

      http://www.paulickreport.com/tag/ed-martin-jr/

      • Edzepplin

        And ?

      • Edzepplin

        Ray has known it is me from day 1 . In fact I contacted him via e mail last week about a post. Go to IBOPindy. Blog spot .com. You can find out more about your legend. I am a former IHRC member and I am the author of the Indiana bred program. I have watched him systematically kill our program that you care nothing about . It was an extremely hostile take over and he could have never just returned to regulating.

      • Edzepplin

        Also try you tube and search for Joe Gorajec firing.

  • Andrew A.

    “Grandstanders” are a big problem for Horse Racing and we have one of the biggest Grandstanders in the country in Ca. with Rick Arthur.
    ==================================================
    From the CHRB meeting:

    Here is Dr. Arthur’s quote from the audio:

    “We have found veterinary books in barn searches with instructions for veterinarians to administer undetectable drugs right next to the Lasix dosage administration. Safety Stewards and Investigators often hear whistles when they walk into a barn to give everyone a head’s up that the CHRB is in the barn. Why is that necessary? I could go
    into this further but I don’t think it’s necessary.”
    ===========================================================

    Of course that came on the heals of a report by Dr. Arthur crowing about only three positive tests in ALL of 2014 (nobody believes that).

    So which is it Dr. Arthur?

    I know very little about Mr. Gorajec but the posts from Edzepplin are totally believable given what goes on in California.

    • You should Google Joe Gorajec and read about him. You might wind up being very favorably impressed.

      • Andrew A.

        Same thing for Rick Arthur but people who know what’s gone on in California know better.

        • I lived and raced extensively in California for decades, I know Rick Arthur very well from the days when he treated our horses as a vet and since he has become involved with the racing board. Like all human beings, Rick has sometimes made mistakes, but very few of them. In the main, he is one of the national’s most respected vets involved in the regulatory process. When the CHRB brags about how few positives they have had, what they are really saying is that of the known substances used to treat racehorses, there were very few positives last year. I am certain that they are 100 percent correct in this matter. But that is not the issue. The issue is how many illegal drugs the CHRB knows nothing or very little about are being used and what is the CHRB doing about them. I know Rick would like to see more action on this front, but he does not have a funded and clear path to go after these drugs. Rick Arthur is not the enemy and he is not the problem. Give him some funding and turn him loose and see what he can do to clean up the sport.

          • Andrew A.

            Rick’s tenure started with a tricky change to the way Equine Medical Director was paid in Ca. The normal pay of about 170K was not enough so a convoluted deal was made where he was paid through U.C. Davis. That was all so he could be the “Sham Wow” guy for the synthetic mandate under Richard Shapiro.

            Rick is an ends justifies the means type of Equine Medical Director and IMO he’s more about his own power and glory than serving the Industry.

            How on earth does a Trainer have 7 sudden deaths in short period of time and get away with ZERO consequences? I’ll tell you how. You had Brackpool as Commissioner, Israel as Vice Commissioner, and Arthur as Equine Medical Director.

            If you can’t see my point with the facts I presented about his crazy performance at the last CHRB meeting then you don’t want to know the truth.

            Are you and ends justifies the mean type guy Barry? It seems like you’re willing to drag everyone in one direction without knowing all the facts. Dismissing the entire EPIX documentary out of hand says a lot.

          • As I said before Andy Asaro, send me your e-mail and I will send you facts about that so-called documentary and you may see things in a different light.

            Also, I think if you placed a phone call to Dr. Arthur and spoke with him about your concerns, especially the Bob Baffert situation, you also would become enlightened about that as well.

            I don’t just pop off, I check things out. You should consider the same.

          • Andrew A.

            I can’t see where you check anything out. Everyone knows my name cuz I sign in with twitter. I also send out a daily email to 160 several times a day.

            They all know I’m ANDY ASARO AND THAT MY TWITTER HANDLE IS @RACETRACKANDY. It’s been that way for years.

            Your celebrity means nothing to me. Check your email Barry.

          • You really know how to hurt a guy.

  • [email protected]

    Agree with post ,but what tinky says is key. Anyone watching debates…any thing that is said about borders insurance tax changes, do they really mean anything if not held accountable for let’s say false advertising. Until horse owners what’s left of them who don’t want unfair playing field, remove guys that need ousting, it’s only going to go to the slots. So don’t listen to politician’s who get paid to be that because they all lie except one s that pay their own commercial, or who are called socialists by the same type of folks that went after this goy in Indiana

  • Guest Poster

    A lot of hollow blather and conspiracy theories from somebody who admits he isn’t going to race in Indiana anyhow. Mr. Gorajec didn’t get terminated for “no reason.” Instead of soliciting his buddies to set up straw men to argue against, Joe should come forward and post his termination documents. Those will be some facts that we can assess, as opposed to a guest column from a bullying blowhard who shouts at everyone about how smart and successful and ethical he is and how everybody else isn’t. Tripe.

    • Since you know so much, why don’t you post that information so we can judge for ourselves. BTW, nice of you to drop by. Always nice to see a “guest.”

      • Ernest Vincent

        Barry you do this every time. It is the world wide internet. Most everybody in the world is anon. Same goes for talking about food recipes or commenting on economic, social and political stuff. And it is just a hand-full of posters. This isn’t TV’s Sunday Face the Nation.

        • I obviously totally disagree. People that are afraid to use their own name simply a) are less effective as advocates for their own positions because they lack credibility that a name could easily provide and b) feel free to act less responsibly. There, I did it again.

          • Ernest Vincent

            I will say however, that no one can say Barry is wishy-washy about where he stands.

            Around these parts, one can even vote in privacy.

            Always a pleasure, i am (d) DogsUp

          • Guest Poster

            More like: c) I don’t need officious jerks spiking my horses’ samples in order to get back at me for telling it like it is; d) I don’t need “back channel” telephone calls from one regulator to another suggesting I am a troublemaker; e) I don’t want my trainers or partners to be associated with my comments, with which they may disagree or which they may prefer not to be voiced publicly. But regardless of reasons, I enjoy watching Barry make a fool of himself with innuendo and speculation when it would be a lot easier to get his friend Mr. Gorajec to go public with his termination notice so that we can fairly assess the grounds for his dismissal. Indiana officials certainly won’t post it for privacy law reasons, but nothing is stopping Joe from clearing up the confusion posited by the public speculation surrounding his firing.

          • bhood

            I think the answer is Barry doesn’t know Joe well enough to get those papers.

          • This may stand as the absolute classic example of why one who posts anonymously does so: because they do not have the courage of their convictions and it is always easier to hide behind the veil of anonymity.

          • Guest Poster

            You didn’t answer the question – why didn’t you get Mr. Gorajec to post his termination documents publicly? Obviously you two are close. Getting some facts (as opposed to more baseless speculation from a doddering old man) would be most welcome by all of us. Until we know why he was fired, your conspiracy theories don’t carry any weight.

  • Hillsdale

    I’m from Indiana and would love to see all drugs banned….go back to hay, grain and water, than all horses would be on a level playing field and there would be less horses breaking down during races and training sessions. I go to Ellis Park frequently in the summer and my non-racing friends don’t go because they believe all races are fixed. Gorajec was doing a good job of fighting that belief. The people responsible for his firing should all be fired, but knowing Gov. Pence, it won’t happen.

  • morethanready

    NJ’s breeders have left for PA due to casino money and fewer NJ dates. Top trainers in NY are clamoring for NY breds who can compete for the rich purses at their prestigious tracks. MD breds are more popular now with their 10-year commitment. I’m not aware of a state that is moving forward due primarily to the integrity of their testing program. The legends of the game are AP, Cigar or Secretariat; I never bought a ticket to watch NBA HOFs Dick Baveta or Mendy Rudolph blow their whistle.

    • But if you found out that Dick Baveta of Mendy Rudolph were betting on the games and making calls accordingly, you would not have bought the ticket or gone to the game. If Indiana wanted more promotion, they should have given Gorajec more money and more staff.

      • Kevin Callinan

        You think you have found a legend that will remind us of Kenesaw Mountain Landis and save the sport with an iron fist. I’d prefer a visionary like Stern or Rozelle who would tap into social media, expand internet wagering, take advantage of the technology(like a Fan Duel or Draft Kings) and market the US product globally. Gural is on the right track.

        • Gural and Gorajec are kindred spirits with different roles to play. Speaking of Stern, it was this visionary who has advised our sport to clean up its house before it began promoting it. We need more Gorajecs to accomplish this task before PR is pushed. Do you understand this concept?

          • morethanready

            Sure I understand it, I just don’t agree with it. Stern probably advised that 25 years ago. NJ just drew 60K yet could be shuttered soon. Your approach is similar to the band conductor’s in the Titanic. Racing needs new fans, new revenue and apparently new ideas NOW. Do you understand the concept of multi-tasking?

          • Stern said it THIS year pal. Your metaphors are as tired as your twisted logic.

          • morethanready

            excuse me for bringing any levity to the subject…… let’s concentrate on the facts. Last Saturday 585K was wagered at the bastion of integrity Indiana Grand(a whopping 36K on track). That is about the amount wagered on Saturday’s late Pick 4 at Belmont.

          • Well let’s look on the bright side then: even if there are no fans to visit the track there are still those who selflessly support the betting industry!

    • Tinky

      “Top trainers in NY are clamoring for NY breds who can compete for the rich purses…”

      The purses aren’t simply “rich”, they’re grossly inflated due to subsidies from a competing industry. Be sure to stay tuned and watch how long that lasts, and, more importantly, how well prepared NYRA and the breeders are to deal with a sharp decline in those welfare supplements.

      • KARL Bittner

        These comment concerning NY racing I have to partially take issue with. NY stands in a very unique position. Unlike some other racino states NYRA puts two of it’s four tracks right out front instead of out back behind the casino portion of the property. One of the tracks is an historic economic lifeblood of practically an entire region of the state. The equine industry is somewhere over a 3.5 billion dollar industry that touches every county in the state one way or another. It has been shown time and time again that any money from slots put into horse racing comes back to NY in the form of economic development. Much to my amazement NY state collects more money from gaming or gambling revenue (Including lotteries) than any state in the country. We currently have the highest grossing casino (Aqueduct – Genting) in the country. To not throw a couple percentage points of that revenue for the rewards horseracing reaps would not be very smart. Of course with politicians you can never be sure. Another thing separates NY from most other states and that is the desire to do things the right way by those in charge. Now I realize NY is not perfect. All you need as evidence is Natalie Voss’s article on “NY has it’s own kinda style” to realize that. But with some of the protocols put in place for stakes races and for other actions such as an Injury database for breakdowns and investigations to find root causes for these breakdowns the state clearly leads the country. The Thoroughbred industry in Kentucky would also be severely impacted by any drop in NY racing since they provide more economic support for that industry than any other state. And to say that the purses are grossly inflated is simply not true. A hugh portion of what is collected from the racinos is going to infrastructure upgrades that are badly needed due to years of mismanagement.

        • Tinky

          It’s not true that NY-bred purses are grossly inflated? Here’s an example that I used a few weeks back, and there are countless similar ones that could be used to underscore the folly of your claim:

          Consider the fourth race on a Wednesday at Saratoga. Maiden NY-bred fillies and mares running a mile on the turf for a purse $73,000. Open company 2yo fillies sprint for $83k on the same day; a NW4 for older males on the turf, $93k, and the stakes race is the Grade II Honorable Miss, $200k.

          Now, it is true that NY is in a better position than most other slot-reliant tracks. But what I believe you are missing, Karl, is the likelihood that the impending (worldwide) economic crisis will severely impact both Genting’s revenues and put pressure on NY politicians to generate greater revenues. That would be a volatile mix.

          The broader point is that no business should expect to thrive for long by relying on subsidies from a competitor, and the NY racing industry is doing little to strengthen its core product in a way that would allow a smooth transition away from the addiction to easy and essentially unearned money.

          • KARL Bittner

            Have you been to Saratoga lately? They have and are making improvements. Rome was not built in a day. Some of the infrastructure changes they are toying with I disagree with. And your going to have to show me the breakdown of where the Purse money comes from because I am sure the majority of it is from handle. I know after years of losing money they finally are turning a profit and handle is going up. I am nowhere near a cheerleader for NY racing but I know it’s the best in the country. I also know they could do even better but for whatever reason they don’t always get it.

          • Tinky

            I could give you pungent examples of outsized NY-bred purses every racing day. On Sunday at Belmont there was a maiden claiming NYB race with a purse of $40k compared with an open three and up NW3 claiming race with a purse of $40k.; a NY-bred F&M allowance optional $40k claimer with a purse of $65k compared with an open F&M allowance at $77k.

            I don’t have a breakdown of where the purse money comes from, but the slot money has obviously supercharged an already questionable division. In other words, NY-breds were racing for relatively big money before the casino arrived, and my argument is that a much bigger percentage of the extra money should have been spent on capital improvements and open races, rather than wildly over-rewarding NY-breds.

          • KARL Bittner

            I have our answer and of course you be the judge. It’s just I like to deal in facts as much as possible. If I dug farther I could get a further breakdown. But here goes – From Apr – Sept (6 Months) the slots contributed 30.8 million to purses and capital improvement. Remember that includes 4 flat tracks and 5 or 6 harness tracks. And another 4.4 million for the breeder’s program. Double those two and you have your yearly contribution.

            Government has a long history of providing incentives to businesses for the purpose of economic development. They come in many forms most notably tax breaks and pilot agreements. Local governments have also felt compelled to spend millions on private sports stadiums and arenas where the money would be much more well spent elsewhere. Study after study has shown that money dumped into these arenas has had little net return to the municipalities that fund them.

            New York racing has a long history of what I consider nothing short of corruption and cronyism. Without going into the entire history of all this it at least from my perspective it has turned the corner. And in regards to the breeders programs you can go to the website and see who is getting the money. It’s all done about as transparently as possible. The qualifications for being a NY bred are so lax that it also helps the Kentucky thoroughbred industry since NY breeders use mostly KY sires. The typical quality of the NY bred is on the rise from everything I have seen. We are also talking about quality of life issues. For every mare bred in NY creates about 3.3 jobs on average. Not to mention farmland that’s paying taxes, feed stores supplying feed, and so on and so forth.

            If you would like to question affording any assistance to any business than that’s a completely different discussion. And I’m not a babe in the words either. Nothing is perfect and you can nit pick all day but I really don’t think that’s constructive. Saying the purses are supercharged is by my calculations an exaggeration of the facts. Some truth, but for the reasons I state here, understandable. I firmly believe NY has their act together and is one of the bright spots in US racing. Whether it remains that way is only a matter of time and the politicians who always seem to screw things up. I think many breeders are still holding back waiting for a couple of years to see how things pan out. Meanwhile I still support the Barr Tanko legislation as the clearest way to start turning racing around country wide. NY does not live on an island and we need strong racing nationwide. Bickering back and forth without clear leadership and constructive discussion is not going to work. After all is said and done there is more said than done.

          • morethanready

            Thanks Karl, I’m getting quite an education from my observation. I’m aware of one major barn that made it clear a half dozen years ago that it might be a good idea for his owners to look at the NY breds at the sales. Top trainers like to have horses eligible for all the best races in the condition book where they are stabled. Their strategy gives the state breds added credibility.

          • Tinky

            The yearly contribution is big – that is no surprise. More importantly, our two apparent, primary differences remain. Namely, that in my view, a disproportionate percentage of the purse monies are given to NY-breds, and that a reliance on welfare almost invariably has the effect of lulling the recipient into a false sense of security, leading to a crises when it is reduced or cut off (see the growing number of pension crises around the U.S. for another kind of example).

            I’ve provided evidence of the absurdly large NY-bred purses, and there are mountains of similar evidence available. As to the latter issue, we’ve already seen problems at other slot-fueled tracks, and I can assure you that ultimately, NYRA won’t be an exception.

            I agree with some of your other points, but again, they are peripheral.

          • KARL Bittner

            I think we have a little consensus. Have you read the article on Laurel. That’s what I envision for the sport. Throwing money at a problem with no concrete plan in not an answer either. That’s why I’m so ardently supportive of the new possible drug legislation. I have written my Congressman on numerous occasions to support the bill. Until horseracing is cleaned up as much as it possibly can it’s very difficult to move forward.

            Once that is done I have heard literally hundreds of great ideas on how to expand horseracing and maybe decrease those subsidies. Here in Onondaga county NY we don’t even have an OTB. Hows that possible? They are still viewed in a negative light as to what they use to be instead of what they could be. NY is spending 50 million on the State fair grounds. They wiped out an iconic 1 mile dirt track for sprint cars (The Moody mile) if favour of a more horse friendly facility. And you can’t place a bet on a horse anywhere in the county? How ridiculous is that!

            Then there is the matter of NYRA. Which in the past has been synonymous with the word corruption. After many years of cronyism we are now getting people in place that are held accountable. As we all know the Governor has temporarily taken over the board of NYRA and extended the takeover an additional year. The question now looms whether to return it to non profit status or privatize it. The Governor won’t say he wants to take it private but that’s what the speculation is.

            Anyhow, I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but let me have control and I have vision unparalleled with most of these leaders. What’s my dog in the fight? I just want to sit behind the stands at Saratoga betting horses and watching the most beautiful 2 year olds in the country walk by and enjoying the time with my Girlfriend. I’m a simple guy. I fear that someone is going to mess with my 4 or 5 days a year back there. When Rock fall went down a couple of weeks ago I was devastated. If made me question the whole horse racing thing. Boy, when it’s right, I love it so much.

          • Tinky

            You sound like a terrific fan, Karl. I appreciate your input, and am sure that others do as well.

            We are much more in agreement than not. our main difference is that I am more cynical, coupled with my views also being informed by my confidence (sadly) that broader economic forces will pose great challenges for the industry, including, though certainly not limited to reduced revenues from casino subsidies.

          • morethanready

            State tracks enjoy a certain amount of self sufficiency when they have a healthy breeding program. The NY bred races are generally well supported. I’d look at the subsidy as insurance.

          • Tinky

            Looking at the subsidies as insurance might be reasonable were there good reason to expect them to continue, but in my view, that isn’t realistic.

            As I’ve alluded to many times on this forum, the U.S. economy is in serious trouble, and it’s going to get much worse before it begins to heal. The racing industry is going to face tremendous challenges, along with many others.

          • morethanready

            In my business you sign a contract when the money is in their hand. NJ used to field two or three state bred races a day- now you might get two a week. They have had to pay a $700 ‘bonus’ per starter to attract shippers. I don’t think anyone in racing right now is looking at their 401K.

          • Tinky

            huh? I’m talking about a crisis on the near-horizon that will easily surpass the one of 2008. It will impact everyone, and even if the relative wealth of some racehorse owners and breeders insulates them from the storm, the industry’s revenue streams (and those of casinos) are certain to be adversely impacted.

          • morethanready

            Then my advice is save some of what they earn now in something secure and deal w/ the ‘crisis’ when it happens- if they share your viewpoint, I don’t happen to.

          • Tinky

            Of course you (and others) are free to disagree with me about the true state of the economy and where it is headed, but the primary reason that I consistently bring this up in the context of casino subsidy discussions is precisely because the American racing industry has a long history of being short-sighted, and being caught flat-footed when there are economic downturns.

          • morethanready

            You are absolutely correct. When I see 35K paid out to 10K NW3 at PARX in Sept. when the same horses were happy to race for 17K a month earlier I wonder why they just don’t bank the surplus for that inevitable ‘rainy day’ . But obviously the code for those of us in private business is different in this public domain. Seems wasteful!

          • Tinky

            I wish that your conservative approach was more common in the private sector! I say that because, as you probably know, many listed companies have been spending (recklessly, I would say) on stock buy-backs, in order to increase or maintain share prices. That is a foolish practice that will end badly both for the companies and its investors.

          • bhood

            It was hilarious at Saratoga 2014 they had Aoc’s for $105,000 and the very next race was a stake for $100,000. What sense did that make? At least they fixed it for 2015 by lowering the Aoc purse, but still only slightly less than the stake.

  • MLS

    I’m curious of Mr Irwin’s experience with Mr Gorajec….since Team Valor has had only one horse race there in three years.

  • Ernest Vincent

    Go to the Indiana state website and Indiana Horse Racing Commission to update on their Oct 16 release on Marketing etc.
    As for horse racing, Indiana is kind of a lost Easter Egg.

  • Lexington 4

    This article gives no new information whatsoever. It is just another long comment from someone with no insight into the situation. It should be in the comments section.

    Why couldn’t Barry try to at least get a quote or two from his buddy Gorajec for this article? At least it would have been something new and interesting on this subject.

  • MLS

    I’m curious of Mr Irwin’s experience with Mr Gorajec….since Team Valor has had only one horse race there in three years.

    • I have long admired and supported Joe based on his actions and his deeds. Plus when my daughter graduates from law school in 3 years, Joe has promised to do his best to use his political connections to get her a job at the Indiana racing commission. Oh crap…I guess that is no longer as great a possibility. Shucks.

      • MLS

        I admired Joan Crawford too…before we found out she was Mommy Dearest. Looks like you’ll have to hit up someone else that owes you a political favor to find your daughter a job.

      • bhood

        So basically he’s an acquaintance. So much so that you could not get one quote out of him.

        • If I thought a quote was called for, I would have gotten one, but I did not. I didn’t submit a news story, I submitted an opinion piece.

          • bhood

            Op-ed’s can have quotes. I know this was you’re opinion but did you ask anybody in Indiana what they thought? There were several horseman from IN who on this site said they were glad Joe was gone. They gave their full name(which we all know is very important to you), stated a clear case and said they felt bullied by Joe. I don’t think those comments can be dismissed.

          • When you write your piece, feel free to use all the quotes and sources you so desire. Knock yourself out.

          • bhood

            See it responses like this that make at least half the people who read something of yours not take you seriously. If anyone ask you a serious question and you don’t like it, you become all snippy and condescending. Quite honestly you come off very child like. Like a spoiled little kid whose crying “I want it MY way!”. For a man of your age you really need to grow up and realize that not everyone in the world is going to agree with you. Take it respectfully and then move on. I’m not just talking about myself either. It’s your patent response to anyone who you don’t like.

  • Guest Poster

    raystoo, I don’t work for you. I work for myself and have my own money at risk in this business. As for my “going to get what’s coming,” I want you want to go out and establish a stable. Be my guest. I’ll look forward to beating you you like a drum on the track.

  • Ernest Vincent

    Paulick Report gets a mention and quote in newspaper article.

    Ouster of horse racing official raises questions about seriousness of state regulation

    Google headline above in IndyStar newspaper.

    Does nail down that the top job in the commission is a Gov’s appointment.

  • Dadnatron

    As an Indiana resident, who is also an owner and breeder, I will reserve judgement as to the motives concerning Gorajec’s firing until his replacement has been named and philosophy implemented. If, as Barry states, it is merely to make Indiana Racing more lax concerning medications and the rules therein, it will show up quickly. If, however, it is as Weatherwax states, to implement not only the medication side of racing, but also the marketing side… then the appointment of the new Commissioner as well as the policies which are shortly instituted will tell the tale.

    I do hope that, although many here are very upset about the dismissal… that they will not protest the State’s racing, without just cause that their fears are indeed true. Believing that Gorajec’s dismissal is political and finding that the Politics results in a truly lesser state of Racing are two different things. As a resident, I hope that the Medication Policies are not changed or lessened, AND that the marketing of Indiana Racing improves. Other than a poster on a Casino wall at the airport, I can’t think of anything I ever hear or see that attempts to promote racing here in Indiana.

    Whether you like the decision or not… please give Indiana Racing a chance to fail or succeed based upon what happens NEXT.

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