THE POPE: GIVE US A CENTRALIZATION OR GIVE US…

by | 11.17.2010 | 12:47am

Okay, so it's not THAT Pope. But racing's very own Fred Pope, a man who has never met a subject he couldn't write a whitepaper on, has delivered some of his best work in an article and accompanying pdf with the Blood-Horse that talks about the need for a centralized authority in American racing.


His rather lengthy plan, which suggests such things as 30 days of International racing in the US and a push towards innovations like 3D technology, could start being implemented by 2011. Of course, this requires action by our industry assuming there's even buy in.


And this begs two questions: 1. Is Pope's plan worth implementing and 2. Is there a chance that the industry would not only adopt it, but move it forward with enough speed to start putting it together in 2011?

Read it at the Blood-Horse


Then come back to the Paulick Report and let us know what you think


Bradford Cummings

  • Fred Pope is a perfect example of what is wrong with horse racing today and why it is in the mess that it is in. The focus on growing horse racing needs to be on the horseplayer, not the breeders, not the horsemen, the horseplayer.
    What the horseplayer loses per year is what makes the tracks function and it also pays for the purses.
    How many horseplayers did Pope go to before coming up with his White Paper? It couldn’t have been many, if any. His idea of what horseplayers want, is not what the majority of horseplayers want.
    It is pretty much all about gambling, and until a plan comes out that makes this the biggest factor, plan’s like Pope’s are not only worthless, but they will be detrimental to horse racing if implemented.

    Pope represents the old school attitude, that tracks just need to put on great product and people will come and bet. Sorry, that line of thinking is proven to be a dead end for horse racing.

    I have an idea. Survey the horseplayer, and then survey other gamblers as well, find out what they want, and based on their answers, build a new business model. Isn’t that how every successful business on this planet works?

  • Mr. Pope’s ideas are exactly what U.S. racing needs, but he proceeds from the mistaken assumption that the United States knows or cares what the rest of the world is doing. An addict has to hit bottom and get in a program in order to really quit, and in order for it to work there has to be a real will to change. I don’t see that in American racing.

    I appreciate Mr. Pope’s acknowledgment of French and Japanese racing as the gold standard. From personal experience, I couldn’t agree more.

  • Brit

    Of course any changes should be centered around breeders and owners – THEY are the ones who pay the bills and send the horses to run. Without them the “horseplayers” would have nothing to bet on

  • MikeD

    Brit, you have that backwards…In reality, HORSEPLAYERS pay the bills.
    Pope’s White Paper needs a lot of WHITE OUT.

  • bob Hope

    It is interesting to experience the commonalities here. In defense of Fred Pope, he is correct in his assumptions that we need a new model. His assumption, i presume, is that if you fix or improve the model the handle will follow upward. I can agree with that. Maury E is rightly concerned about the economic circumstances surrounding the horseplayer. The model is broke and the horseplayer becomes the victim of a flawed and convoluted system if one could even called it a system. But let’s give Pope a break here Maury. I think that he is dancing around edges and requires a few more important parts but he is trying to raise all boats with his suggestions. Both arguments here are extremely valid. But what we have forgotten or in some cases never learned is that “horses sell hot dogs”! The heavy hitter especially is at a real disadvantage when he selects horseracing as a hobby or a business. But let’s take a look at some other countries that bet twice as much and more than we do with less than half the horse herd, dates and starters. The NFL doesn’t ask its bettors what they want. The bettors have shaped their own system with the ready assistance of bookmakers. Our leaders and track operators struggled with quality of presentation and operations before “the bad times” by not confronting what their recipients “wanted”. Now, in bad times it has become “Noah’s Ark in a typhoon”. There is no game plan or model other than survival. Most of them are always behind the curve as they never really understood the pari mutual system anyway. During the “rebate wars’, it was astonishing how many thought that the rebate money belonged to the tracks and not the winning players. That now learned over a tedious six year curve are left to understand that “settlement monies” aren’t theirs either and need to be paid just like any winning wager. Not in 90 days or a year. The SEC, for instance, will put a broker in jail if he co mingles players funds! So what Fred Pope and Maury E are asking for are certainly reasonable and deserve attention by the embattled industry. The part that requires recognition is that they are both on the right track!

  • That is funny Brit. Who is more important to Walmart, the goods they put on the shelves or the customers? Without the goods they put on the shelves the consumers have nothing to buy according to your logic.
    Bettors will bet on anything. They’ll bet on videos of old races (Instant Racing), even virtual horse racing. And of course, sports, blackjack, and poker.
    Horse racing has been centered around breeders and owners- that is why the game is dying.

    It is what the customer loses per year, that makes the industry go round. Focus on the bettor, or the game will continue to spiral downwards.

  • Zoltar

    I could not agree more than with Maury E. Despite what breeders and owners like to believe (that the world revolves around their inflated egos) continue to ignore the horseplayer and one day we will be running our horses for dime store trophies, on a track laid out on our former farm lands and nothing more. And, until a better model is built, it will always be about gambling. Not gaming, which is a marketing bit of bull shit that attempts to disguise the real nature of what we do, but real, hard dollar I’m making a BET, gambling.

    Who is the customer in horse racing? Is it the owners, the breeders or the horse player. You would think this to be an obvious question, with an equally obvious answer, but quick how many breeders know what take out is? How many know what the take out pie consists of in their state? How many breeders have ever talked to, let alone listened to, a horseplayer and what their concerns in the business are?

    I forgot, most don’t and won’t take the time away from their more important jobs, like deciding where the next Breeders Cup should be.

  • Brit

    Like I said, without breeders and owners you have nothing to bet on.
    Most horses in training will never earn enough money to cover their training fees and keep costs, so the funding comes straight out of the owners pocket. Not all owners are multi-millionaires

    Of course the industry needs to change, but why not make it about attracting more people to the sport through an interest in horses instead of focussing on the gambling side? People are prepared to pay for GOOD QUALITY racing: we’ve just had the Cheltenham Festival here in the UK and each of the four days (Tuesday-Friday) attracted over 55,000 people with ticket prices ranging from £25-£65 ($37-$98 approx) per day!

  • Britain has one fifth the racing the US has, but they also have one fifth the human population.
    But because the collective takeout in Britain is so much lower when you take exchange betting into account, British people bet 5 times as much per capita over there than they do in the States.

    Try running the Festival 200 days a year or even more than 10 days at various times, and attendance would dwindle significantly. From what I understand it is quite the event, but America can barely handle two days of Breeders Cup racing. In other words, I question whether this is quality driven, but rather a cultural thing to do, considering how popular betting and horse racing is in Britain to begin with.

    Also, the cost of bringing a horse to the race is inconsequential to the bettor, much like the cost of NFL football contracts to the NFL gambler.

    The key is to get more gamblers, and like my Walmart example, the general public is mostly driven to buy when the quality is reasonable and the prices are low.

  • TomHorn

    Mr. Pope is right about 4 things:

    1) US Racing needs a centralized authority to govern it. What is good for the entire industry may not be good for individual entities (either long or short term), and a centralized authority would allow the tough decisions to be made.

    2) US Racing needs to eliminate drugs. This is a no brainer. Bettors think the game is crooked, and wagering reflects that. Breeders know they would have better horses to sell. Owners would save money on vet bills. Yes, it’s going to be a tough go for a couple of years, but it has to be done.

    3) US Racing needs to improve the tote system. Another no brainer. Bettors think there is widespread past posting going on, and the technology is antiquated considering how many transactions are handled. The stock exchanges would laugh if we asked them to use what is in place now.

    4) US Racing needs fewer race days and races. You don’t see five NASCAR races happening on the same day at different locations, or a bunch of PGA Tour events happening each week. That would thin out the quality of competition and take away from the events. As bad as the racing is in Ohio now, there are days when all three thoroughbred tracks are running. Why?

    Unfortunately, Mr. Pope is still otherwise trying to push the ‘owners and breeders are the game’ theory that he has been wrong about forever.

    The bettors drive the game, and until he figures that out he will never be able to put together a cohesive plan that has any chance to work. Keep takeout where it is, start charging the high host fees that he wants to (which will highly reduce the evil outlets ability to rebate) and see where handle goes.

  • mike c

    In my opinion:

    1) The industry needs contraction in the way Monmouth Park is going to try. Less days, higher purses, higher field size averages.

    2) We need to attract younger audiences by marketing racing as a high skill avenue for making money. Just as poker has done. This also means lower takeouts.

    3) We need to develop a TV/cable outlet that highlights the handicapper. The fun,excitement, and camaraderie we all experience at a live venue needs highlighting. A one hour weekly show of high stakes handicapping tournaments with big winners, expert analysis, and tutorials. There are many tournaments year round to supply the venues.

    4) Please, less time between races. Any serious player should be doing most of his work before he gets to the track. The $2 player is doing no handicapping at all. We can easily make the day more fast paced.

    There are many more ways!

  • big picture

    The bettors ascersion that “bettors drive the game” is a clear as mud approach and indicative of the problem. Each ‘faction’ – because that is what this industry has become, regards themselves as the most important.
    Think outside of what you know, and imagine if everyone gave a little bit of territory up, how different this industry could become. Unfortunately, the US mindset will not admit any error in thinking for the last 50 or 60 years, and therefore we are rapidly becoming obselete in a global industry.

  • Mike in Louisville

    Is there a track in America that doesn’t have a MARKETING DEPT.?

    I would start there and proceed with the following:

    1. FIRE EVERYONE!!!
    2. Hire some fresh marketing grads with new ideas
    3. Hope for the best

    Could it be any worse?

  • Tom, your post was great, though I would argue about number 4. I think if prices are reduced via low takeouts and/or an embracing of rebates by the industry, horse racing doesn’t necessarily need to downsize anymore.

    BIg Picture, I’ve been an owner (co owned over 35 horses over 5 years), even bred a few horses, and the statement the bettors drive the game is completely accurate, and horse racing continues to spin and pretend that they don’t, because the customer is not number one in horse racing, the breeders and trainers have been the focus for decades…..and guess what, they shouldn’t be, and this is the reason why horse racing is dying slowly.

  • Caleb B

    Fred spends too much time in the New Circle Road world.

    First, the argument of which came first the better or the race is ill-conceived by both parties in our current circumstance. They’re both important and the needs of each must be properly balanced. The fact that we lack any leadership with vision, real authority and courage to take on the old guard is among the biggest problems.

    The Farish’s and the Phipp’s while legendary families in our sport are clueless on what we need now. When was the last time the Jockey Club, NTRA, TRA or Breeders Cup did something bold and dynamic or positively game-changing for our Industry?

  • ManuelB

    It would be more constructive for North American horse racing if there were more dialog and less posturing from interested individuals. All the above comments are right in one or another way, but not in all. North American bettors in general don’t have any experience of racing in other jurisdictions (e.g. Japan or France) where high quality racing and large pools of bets lead to excellent payoffs that are not available from other forms of gambling, except lotteries. If horse racing is to be considered only as a gambling venue, then it is too expensive to produce and bettors would be better off betting slots or baseball games. The challenge is to create a product that is different from other gambling opportunities. For all of Mr. Pope’s shortcomings as described in some of the comments, at least he’s trying to move horse racing from where it is now, in a slow and painful decline, to a better place. We should be attempting to take his suggestions as a first step to a better future that all individuals interested in horse racing would benefit from.

  • The only thing wrong with the model in the U.S. is that they retire their name horses too early. What Pope suggests is tantamount to using the name horses of Europe to make the game fly, doing nothing to improve the U.S. greed. Europe is made up of horsemen, whereas the U.S. is made up of greed/money. Rachael Alexandra is the perfect example. A central organization is exactly what racing DOES NOT NEED. Look at the Breeders Cup. Each state can do just fine IF they have the product, but, the product continues to be retired. International racing will only expose the U.S. , as the Sunshine Millions has exposed California. You can’t change, for the better, when you have self serving individuals in charge. Everybody expresses this opinion, that opinion, BUT, the fact is that there is nothing wrong with racing that the non early retirement of Name horses will not solve. Look at the weekend Rachael Alexandra and Zenyatta ran. Don’t tell me racing is in decline. It is only in decline because those who own the big names WILL NOT DO what is best for racing. The owners of Rachael and Zenyatta need to be commended for racing their champions past early retirement. What about the others? No chance! So now we will try to use Europe’s champions, until they get smart, and realize that they are being used for the greed of the U.S. interests.

  • Al

    It was an informative paper in many respects. However, the Given, in his equation for success, is that all the participant groups and individuals must agree. So, his Given is a huge obstacle for a plan that comes down favorably both legally and financialy on the side of owners and breeders. There is also an assumption that we are only marketing the horse and not the event of which the horse and owner are individual participants. He makes a very good point that racing missed out on TV and they should not miss the didgital age. But it seems we have been talking about reasonable organization and cohesive marketing in the industry since the 1980’s and the industry has moved at a snails pace. The didgital age moves at the speed of light, unless someone takes the bull by the horns………

  • Horse racing is a product, no different than any other sport. That’s not hard to understand. Any sports event need fans to survive. I don’t buy a product just because it’s offered and neither does anyone else. When you don’t know how to market your product, not many people will buy it. The horse racing industry has failed in that respect, anyone associated with the sport can agree with that fact.

    Let’s take the “upside down model”. When that happened, I just called it “a dumb ass thing to do”. Can we agree on that? I would find it hard to believe we can’t. By reversing it, rebates wouldn’t exist or just be just a minor factor, not an upside down advantage for just a few players.

    I’ll be back, right now I’m busy with other things.

  • What about horse racing traditions and it’s cultural thread through out the country? The question is, how can racing maintain that by closing down many tracks? Can modern technology as Pope sees it, create new traditions, a new culture of players, breeders and all the economic benefits that existed prior to those closing?

    I get the impression those that “less is better” so I suspect they don’t think tradition and the existing cultural foundation of racing is important them, only when it comes to the elites of the industry.

    Squeezed this in.

  • Ratherrapid

    All I can say about Fred Pope:

    If you are on the horse side of this sport and other than one of the “top one hundred owners” BEWARE.

    this fellow has laid out for us his 30 year history of trying to PGA, WWF, NASCAR our sport.

    I stopped reading about half way through. There is nothing that Fred Pope writes that remotely states what I would like to see as the future of horse racing.

    Nor do I have any belief whatsoever that we need do what Pope suggests or implies.The fellow who suggested we fire enmass our marketing departments would be a good start as opposed the Pope’s unfounded assumption that “international” racing is better than USA racing. And please note–when I think of the future of our great sport I want to avoid getting into another endless lasix/ meds/ takeout discussion.

  • FunnyCideOver

    Frank Lancelotti Says:
    April 1st, 2010 at 10:29 am
    The only thing wrong with the model in the U.S. is that they retire their name horses too early. What Pope suggests is tantamount to using the name horses of Europe to make the game fly, doing nothing to improve the U.S. greed. Europe is made up of horsemen, whereas the U.S. is made up of greed/money.
    ————-

    Where is Sea The Stars again? Where is Zarkava again? Who’s the last “great” they had who made more than a single-digit number of starts?

    Looks like greed is alive and well in Europe too.

  • Here we go again, Good Afternoon Maury.

    Betting and horse racing inextricably intertwined? Yes.

    Has it always been the case that betting funded purses directly? No.

    Until a hundred years ago gate money- much of which was admittedly paid by bettors – was the tracks sole income unless the management happened to own some of the bookmakers. From the banning of bookmakers around the time of the First World War until perhaps 50 years ago that income came from gatemoney plus the takeout from the pari mutuel.

    Then the wheel came off; some genius decided that they could “have their cake and eat it”, and OTB started. That went ok for a while but – as a child of three could have predicted – the betting take went up but gate money fell off a cliff.

    Another brainwave followed in the form of simulcasting or wholesale as opposed to retail remote gambling sales. That went ok for a while but as new forms of gambling became available – which had been inevitable once the concept of local availability and respectability had been conferred upon gambling by the legalisation of OTB – income fell once more.

    Never mind, there was a Plan C! Even if people don’t want to bet on horses, they still, apparently , want to play on one-arm bandits. So if the racetrack provides for that facility then those poor mugs can provide the income.

    Under the circumstances perhaps the slots players are more entitled to be screaming than Maury and co.!

    Could you have horserace betting without any horses? No

    Could the state or the racetrack own all the horses [as someone proposed last time we were having this discussion]? No – if they had to underwrite that expense the takeout would be nearer 100% than 20%!

    Could you have racing once again without betting? Well, yes you could. You need rich peoople to own the horses but it can be done as Meydan shows. You couldn’t do it on anything like the present scale but that might not be a bad thing.

    A lot of those who filled Cheltenham to capacity at high prices spend their weekends at point -to -point meetings watching [ and owning and training and riding] races where the prizemoney is less than a jockey’s riding fee.

    All that aside, there is no reason why racing shouldn’t pull itself together, at least aspire to do away with bad practice, and start over again as an attendance sport. Presumably a well run competition would be more attractive to bettors.

    Unfortunately, and this applies to Britain too – it seems that everyone is so self interested and so comfortable with the fruits of bad practice [although they’d like more money!] that it will never happen!

  • Mike Dorr

    What we all want – Mr. Pope, Mr. Cummings, Mr. Paulick and the commenters above – is interest and demand in thoroughbred racing to grow, as primarily evidenced by growth in revenue, or handle. Marketers generally identify 4 different means to stimulate demand in a product, often called the 4Ps: price, product, placement and promotion. Racing needs to comprehensively address each of these areas, and not believe that a focus on one will solve its problems.

    I feel that Mr. Pope’s white paper does a bit too much of the latter. A central racing authority’s primary role should be making decisions that grow industry revenue altogether, not expanding one or two stakeholders share of that revenue. Pope’s paper focuses on the product aspect of marketing, taking steps to improve the quality of racing in order to stimulate demand in racing. To his credit, I find his suggestions interesting, noble, potentially effective, and definitely actionable. I am afraid, however, that most of his suggestions primarily will benefit breeders and owners – horsemen – while not improving the plight of tracks and horseplayers.

    Tracks have physical assets that they want to get as much utilization as possible; horseplayers want to get as much out of their gambling dollar as possible. A central authority must necessarily balance the needs of horsemen, racetracks, horseplayers and, of course, the animals themselves. These groups will ultimately have to give a little in order to gain a lot, but in survival mode, it is often very tough to do.

    I genuinely believe that horsemen, racetrack operators, and horseplayers are all in this business to make money. By the definition of parimutuel betting, the average gambler cannot make a positive ROI, though the better ones can. A lower price (takeout) means that more players can have a positive ROI, and that grows handle.

    Breeders should make a positive ROI, on average – a negative ROI breeder will have trouble putting food on his table, and will not be a breeder long.

    Trainers and jockeys get paid by owners and tracks and from purses – their jobs are most comparable to regular employees, earning a wage. A wage earned is, by definition, positive ROI.

    Tracks need ROI on their substantial physical assets, namely the land on which they sit. The fact they’re still around means that they expect return on those investments in the future.

    The average owner, like the average horseplayer, has never, ever, in all of history, made money by racing horses. Some do, of course, but they are by far the exception – the primary motivation for the owner is glory. It’s the “Sport of Kings” after all, a pastime enjoyed historically by an elite few, the funding for which comes from outside the industry. Do you think the sheiks make money at this?

    The efforts to expand ownership are awesome, but being a racehorse owner will never be a positive expected ROI endeavour. If it was, real money (dwarfing that of the Maktoums) would come into the sport, controlled by corporations and banks and hedge funds. Right now, the ROI for being a horse owner is probably as good as its ever been, but it’s still negative. I worry that too many solutions proposed, including those by Mr. Pope, are meant primarily to enrich horsemen with money as opposed to the enjoyment of the game and the chance, however small, to etch their name on the wall of history.

  • Indulto

    RatherRapid,
    My sentiments, exactly. Now if only the industry could somehow unite somewhere between the extremes of Mr. Pope and Maury E. where both horseplayers and horsemen benefit from a centralized system that implements minimal-cost on-line bet-taking. By ending selective rebating and substantially reducing direct takeout immediately without lowering purses, the downward spiraling of handle could be reversed with the promise of subsequent further takeout reductions and purse increases corresponding to handle increments.

    With full signal access, the market could determine the quality of racing product at now cooperating venues meriting sustained support.

  • Graeme Beaton

    Fred makes some excellent points, but….

    The only way I see his plan being implemented is if a consortium of owners bought or leased a track, staged those high class races, co-opted the State involved somehow in its enterprise, dictated (low) take-out and banned all medications and essentially controlled everything from soup to nuts.

    Barring that, I can’t see how his plan would work. As it stands now, how can any one entity hope to deal with 38 State legislatures with differing rules and differing levels of enforcement and penalties, with track owners (one or two of them so irrational one wonders how they stay out of the nut house), trainers, officials and pols with their hands out and hope to turn a profit? It is a wonder there is any racing at all left in this country.

    We have pretty much given up, I take it, on any hope that the Jockey Club, for example, asks Congress for anti trust exemption a la baseball.

    So what we have left is one group going it alone, but, and I hate to sound skeptical, isn’t that where we are now with a gutted NTRA? Wasn’t that meant to do what Fred is proposing, again? I don’t want to sound as if I am denigrating Fred. Kudos to him for having the courage to propose these ideas year after year in the face of deepening skepticism and mistrust among the various warring parties. It’s just that I don’t see trainers accepting no meds: tracks and States accepting lower take out and the various fiefdoms ceding their power to another organization. Too many big egos involved, I fear.

  • Ratherrapid

    i hope too to avoid denigrating fred pope, and am greatful for his thought process. I am pretty extreme re his ideas. this is just simply totally different than the model we would be thinking about to continue this as a great sport. Otherwise, we’re going to end up NASCAR.

    The RR “White Paper”:

    there are two problems:

    1. revenue
    2. horse ownership

    Address these with different, instead of the same, plan.

    Horse ownership: the only reason, (say it again) THE ONLY REASON, horse owners fail to make $$$–how is this possible with $100,000./day purses–is that our trainers are injuring everything in their bars. that is the ONLY REASON.

    This is solved by–1. better licensing standards. 2. a gradual shift away from trainers–our least educated/motivated section–from dominating horse ownership, 3. model rules that institute horse protection by exercise and veterinary science.

    A good start with horse protection is place on probation any trainer that has a breakdown. do that and horses will start earning $$$.

    2. Marketing.–this is out of my area, but would somebody please explain to me–when Pope keeps insisting on dividing to his advantage a shrinking pie–why our sport fails to commence asap a massive campaign of internet marketing that is seen other than on the blood horse and TB times–ie espn etc. I’m also wondering why we never see in Paulick report posts on NTRA, its role, its leadership, its conflicts of interest e.g. with Twin Spires, and what we can do with existing structures.

    DEMOCRATIZE AND EXPAND THE SPORT!!!–

  • Aunt Bea

    HaHa, a new “pipe dream” every week.

  • I had an Aunt Bea, sweetest woman you could ever meet. I was told, the first business I wanted to buy was a “pipe dream”. Well, I ended up with it after competing with three major oil companies. Nothing is impossible and I think racing can make a big come back.

    No one here want’s to respond to track closings and what effect that will has on the cultural foundation of racing in those areas, be it fans, breeders, employment or the loss businesses will experience. Take Saratoga for example, if that closed, the result would be an economic tail spin all around.

    One thing at a time.

  • Garrett Redmond

    There is a deep core problem in Fred Pope’s thinking when he continually defers to The Jockey Club.

    “If by August, [TJC] looked at it …….and did not move to stop it”.

    “Romanet’s call to TJC to find a way under U.S law to establish a new racing structure in North America”

    Although The Jockey Club hijacked his NTA, converted it to NTRA and effectively killed it, Fred Pope is kowtowing and showing extraordinary deference to The Jockey Club.

    Until he admits and proclaims that The Jockey Club, with it’s despotic control over breeding and racing, is the cause of most of our problems and will never be the solution, his good thoughts and intentions will not go anywhere.

    The Justice Department Anti-Trust Unit should get back on The Jockey Club case and push it out of all aspects of the Thoroughbred business.

  • Someone mentioned pipe dreams. Here are the two biggest; that bettors should [could/would] make money and that owners deserve to make money.

    I keep stressing that the owner pays, but that doesn’t mean he should expect to make a profit – particularly the owner of poor horses.

    Bettors – almost by definition – lose money. That’s why there are twenty bookmakers’ shops in Newmarket, and no punters’ shops!! [As a separate issue, the danger of “betfair” is that individual bettors now have the ability to oppose, as distinct from support, one horse in a race: an obvious incentive to cheating and collusion]

    Because owners foot a lot of the overall bill they should be nurtured by the sport as a whole. The only nurturing they get now is the mushroom variety from trainers [and vendors if they go to a sale!] – but that seems to be what they like.

    Owners too need to behave more responsibly – including not letting their trainers take liberties with medication. For an owner to make money consistently ought to be as unlikely an asperation as for a non-pro golfer to make money on the tour.

    Breeders should succeed, or not, in direct proportion to the quality of their produce as runners as opposed to in proportion to their marketing connections.

    The tracks have to balance their books. They provide a training facility virtually free of charge. They have , as previously noted, lost most of their gate receipts over the years. No wonder they are struggling.

    The various organisations throughout racing, quite naturally, all want to preserve their own interests – that is what they were formed for.

    Will any of these groups consider working with everyone else for a brighter future? I don’t think so, certainly not if they perceive the slightest disadvantage to themselves in the short term. To sum up – we’re all part of the problem!!

  • Bill, as long as there is any takeout, the bettors collectively are guaranteed to lose money. And all bettors can live with that.
    The problem with horse racing is that the bettors have little to no chance to make money as individuals. Bettors just want a chance to make money in the long run, and at today’s takeout rates, it is impossible without good rebates at least.
    Other games of chance have visible winners, like poker, sports betting, etc. These are the carrot sticks that attract the newbies and the dream of being like them keeps the existing player playing.

    Owners too, have the odds stacked against them to make money, but nearly as much as the bettor.
    A much higher percentage of owners make money over a year…much higher, and there are many who make money lifetime, even a living….but you have to be good and lucky.

  • Maury;

    It’s one thing to be a writer for the sport, it’s another to be fan, player, gambler. I think there’s a lack of understanding of the make up of players, who wins and who loses. First off, I wouldn’t call someone a loser that bowls two or three times a week or gulfs year round. That’s money well spent to enjoy any sport, even though they are handicapped. That’s a win, win situation in my mind. I’ve got friends that invest a lot money in their “sport” because they enjoy it, hell the fish they take home wouldn’t cover the cost of their tackle let alone the boat and everything that goes with it. You tell me how many players would fall in that category. No one knows and they all aren’t necessary “$2,00 players”. The level they play is base on what they can afford. “disposable income”. There’s hardly any such thing as a $2.00 player to begin with, I don’t ever come across players that bet just $2.00 on any race, maybe grandmothers would. The wagering menu’s of today dictate higher investments even though the option is there.

    Those in the media that demean the game by constantly saying, “only two or three percent win” is way off base. Who are they? No one knows. I do know this, those that skim the mutual’s using rebates do exist. How many, who they are or the amount they are skimming no one knows.

    Here’s another sizeable group that exists, during any week, month or year they rotate to the top as winners, at any time they can fall somewhere in the middle or below and again rotate to the top. Who they are, no one knows. Conclusion, there’s many shades of players. Granted if you locked 30,000 people in a track eventually the track would have all their money. That has never happened and never will happen. This sport has much to more to offer than just losers. What sport would survive by advertising it as a losing proposition?
    I’m sick of hearing it!

  • Vernon addresses a valid point: what is a horseplayer?

    Where I go wrong is in defining a racing fan as someone who actually goes to the track and says “I think this’ll win because of x, or y, or z reason, and I’m going to back it”, and who watches the race to see if he was right, or indeed whether there was a valid excuse if he was wrong. And who teaches himself to look at the horses afterwards to see if condition played a part. How many are there left?

    Those are the people we need to get back into the sport, not number crunchers. And they won’t need nearly the amount of racing that there is now.

  • Aunt Bea

    Yeah Vernon, racing could make a big comeback, but so far as I can tell after 25 years, it won’t. Pipe Dreams are great if it’s just you to compete against yourself. Any longtime observer of this American game will tell you that ain’t gonna happen here. Best of Luck to ya.

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