Thoroughbred Idea Foundation: A Centralized Authority Is Possible, If Racing Is Willing To Compromise

by | 04.25.2019 | 4:43pm

Three of five recommendation-laden visions were released by the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation one day following its call for industry-wide compromise on divisive issues that have fragmented the sport.

Penned by professionals in different sectors of the industry – Marshall Gramm (wagering and innovation), Rick Hammerle (race planning and administration) and Brad Weisbord (owners' services and recruitment) provided a glimpse into the future of a sport that could achieve far more united than divided.

On Friday, two additional visions will be released, one from Maggi Moss (integrity and welfare) and one from John Sikura (communications and marketing).

Gramm, chair of the economics department at Rhodes College and co-founder of Ten Strike Racing, presented five recommendations to improve the industry through changes to the wagering business.

“Change is of paramount importance – both in the pricing of bets and in order to create a competitive environment that encourages innovation among bet providers, racetracks and tote companies…For reasons which defy long-term economic logic, bet-takers, racetracks and regulators continue to enable racing's decline. With more non-racing competition than ever and years of limited or negative handle growth, racing's reluctance to price bets to attract more participation is an irrational practice.”

Gramm's vision included a call for the betting industry to “cease anti-competitive tactics, equalize access to batch wagering, introduce alternatives to pari-mutuel wagering, round tote dividends to the nearest penny (eliminating breakage) and pursue legalizing wagering and ADWs in all 50 states.”

Read Gramm's full platform here.

Hammerle, former vice-president of racing for Santa Anita, outlined his suggestions to amend nationwide race planning and administration.

“All major stakeholders of the game need to find common ground on a number of issues to be able to compete in today's marketplace. It is imperative we find new and progressive ways to both attract and sustain our owners, breeders, fans and horseplayers. The time has come to add the racing product and its delivery to the list of subjects that needs to be simplified and streamlined on a regional and national basis.

“If racing compromised, the opportunity exists to create a centralized office of Race Planning and Handicapping which could serve as part of a broader bank of commission-like offices, responsible for the five elements which include: restructuring and simplifying the types of races created, limiting field sizes in maiden races, coordinating post times, forming pattern committees to bring order to the stakes schedule and nationalizing stakes nominations and information.”

Read Hammerle's vision here.

Weisbord, founder of BSW Bloodstock and ELiTE Sales, offered five focus areas to better serve and recruit thoroughbred owners.

“The prospects of racing are simple – we need owners and horseplayers. Without a healthy supply of both, our sport suffers…Below are five ideas that could take us to the next level: develop a single nationwide banking relationship to clear all racing-related transactions, recognize placed horses in major races, find better ways to facilitate the celebration of winners – at all levels, embrace transparency in the adjudication of racing and Bring the magical experience of a morning on the backside to mainstream America.”

Read Weisbord's thoughts here.

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