Bergstein: Pope’s creative ideas ignore history, reality

by | 09.13.2011 | 2:44pm

The Daily Racing Form's Stan Bergstein tackles the lengthy piece written this week by Fred Pope, in which Pope argues racing needs to switch from a track-centric model to a “talent-centric” one.  Bergstein says while he admires Pope's “creativity, courage, and persistence,” Pope's belief that horsemen will embrace a “major league” of racing doesn't account for realities and the history of the sport in the U.S.:

“On the same day his piece appeared, one of the most successful of all of the overseas operations he admires – the Hong Kong Jockey Club – announced it was spending $7 billion to add new construction to its already hugely impressive plants to keep them state-of-the-art. The South China Morning News reported in its headlines that “a dazzling grand entrance is planned for Sha Tin and exclusive corporate boxes for Happy Valley.” The improvements include 1.8 billion Hong Kong dollars for a new, modernized Telebet center and advanced IT and audio-visual production facilities.”

“On this side of the world, nine “suits” in hard hats, with spades, were shown in the very magazine printing Pope's piece in a story telling of Hialeah Park breaking ground for its $150 million casino, due for completion a year from now. And of course NYRA itself, the evil empire of Pope's essay, is building a huge casino that will, like it or not, increase NYRA purses incrementally.”

“'Build it and they will come' did not die 60 years ago. It simply has transformed itself and evolved, Darwin style, into survival of the fittest. Purists like Fred Pope and others in racing will not like it. But horsemen will, when the clinking of casinos and whirring of new machines pour monies into purses.”

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