by | 11.17.2010 | 12:47am

By Bradford Cummings

In Kentucky last night, outsider candidate Rand Paul defeated “establishment” candidate and current Secretary of State Trey Grayson by a landslide in the Republican primary. At every turn, Paul described his opponent as a “career politician” who wasn't a true conservative.

While this may have won him the primary, there are still a lot of Republicans (including myself) who feel they were attacked by Paul's campaign. He called out our conservative credentials and assumed we were all happy with the status quo of government. And now Paul has a problem. He has to convince people like me that he didn't mean it; those of us who believe being the establishment means having carried the conservative mantle for years by working hard to move the Republican Party to the right within the system.

MI Developments, the new owner of the racetracks formerly under the umbrella of now-bankrupt Magna Entertainment, has a similar juggling act after its decision to drop the lease with the Oak Tree Racing Association to run a fall race meeting each year. They've alienated one of the few organizations that has been a bright spot for California racing. By trashing Oak Tree, Magna has trashed the non-profit group's generous industry-related charity work and the topflight racing it has become known for. There are many horsemen, especially in California, who believe Magna has not only attacked an organization but by proxy of their relationship to Oak Tree, attacked them personally.

Magna's answer? A confusing Pravda-esque press release that seems to not only make the argument that Magna did nothing wrong, but incredibly makes the case that the misperceptions were everyone else's fault. And the title of the release? MI DEVELOPMENTS ANNOUNCES INTENTION TO SEEK SOLUTIONS FOR A PROSPEROUS AND SUCCESSFUL CALIFORNIA HORSE RACING INDUSTY. Do they actually expect us to believe this? And is there anything that reads more false to people these days than announcing intentions to seek solutions? It's a statement that means so little, it makes milquetoast seem spicy.

For those of you who haven't read the press release, below is an excerpt. It'd be funny if there weren't such serious ramifications.

“MID understands that recent actions taken in respect of the (bankruptcy) plan, including actions taken by Santa Anita Park concerning its lease with Oak Tree Racing Association, have been misperceived by the California horse racing industry, including the California Horse Racing Board, the Thoroughbred Owners of California, Breeders' Cup, trainers and breeders in California, other racetracks in California, the California Fairs, and Oak Tree. We believe that our intentions have been misunderstood.

“In order to clarify those misunderstandings and misperceptions, MID underscores that it is committed to achieving a viable and sustainable horse racing industry in California and throughout the United States by working collaboratively with all other participants in the industry, including regulators, horsemen, breeders, trainers and other stakeholders.

“MID's Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Dennis Mills, will immediately commence discussions with all participants in the California horse racing industry, including the California Horse Racing Board, the Thoroughbred Owners of California, California breeders and trainers, other racetracks in California, the California Racing Fairs, Breeders' Cup, California legislators, Oak Tree and other stakeholders to come up with both short-term and long-term solutions that will create a prosperous and successful California horse racing industry that will benefit all.

“MID regrets any misunderstanding within the horse racing industry. MID, as direct owner of the racing assets recently acquired from Magna Entertainment Corp., and MID's Chairman, Frank Stronach, have been long-time supporters of the horse racing industry. MID looks forward to continuing to work with the horse racing industry and its valued stakeholders in creating and sustaining jointly beneficial solutions to the many issues currently facing the industry.”

Dennis Mills, a former Canadian politician, should know better than to rub salt into wounds his company has created. He should know better than to claim that everyone else just misunderstands them. After all, it is incumbent upon the company or politician to convince others that they are worth the investment in time and/or money, not the other way around. During this time of turmoil both within our industry, Magna simply has to do better. They should be leaders that inspire people to follow, not blame them for not falling in line.

With the right changes in policy and position, It's not too late. But just like Rand Paul, Magna has only a very short window to sway the public. Bringing Oak Tree back to the table and knocking off the condescending press releases would be a good place to start.

Copyright © 2010, Ray Paulick

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