Planting the Seed for Racing’s Rescue

Ok, so here’s the blog I intended to write to launch this blog, last week.

Currently, there is a lot of talk about what can be done to rescue horse racing in North America, particularly the United States.  Recent stories of breakdowns, drug cartels laundering money through racing, problems with pari-mutuel takeouts, trainers overshooting accepted chemical levels, and some using flat-out illegal substances, have done nothing to help our image.  There is a growing fear that these seemingly chronic events are killing our sport by irrevocably driving participants away and preventing the cultivation of new generations of race goers.

Lately, the call to instigate a central governing body, like football, baseball, and NASCAR use, is becoming louder.  Most in favor of this say it is because they would rather we control our sport, rather than let the Federal Government do it, seeing as they don’t understand our sport and they have a dismal record of running anything well.  Regardless, this starts a whole new discussion.  Who should run this governing body?  The answers vary.

Two weeks ago, Ahmed Zayat, owner of Triple Crown runners-up, Bodemeister and Paynter, asked his Twitter followers if they thought the time was now for a “Racing Czar.”  The response was overwhelmingly “YES!”  That was the last consensus on the subject.

Most respondents believed a national drug policy would be a big step in the right direction for the sport.  Others wanted better “takeout” at tracks to promote more betting.  Some people thought there should be some high-powered owner or breeder running things.  Others believed this naturally fell to the Jockey Club, or some other group/agency.  Many feared that wrestling control of setting drug limits from state racing agencies/commissions would be virtually impossible.  Some voiced concern that certain racetracks would not cooperate on the matter of pari-mutuel takeout.  Still others feared political motivations at the state level would make it impossible for a central controlling body to be established.  Pretty disheartening.

The desire is there, obviously.  Now, how to channel it effectively?  It was this question that led to the instigation of this blog.  We all have a vested interest in the game.  Some of us are powerful, corporate moguls with political and monetary clout.  Some of us are backyard breeders, owners and trainers with little to no obvious influence.  Many of us are struggling to survive in the game, but have nowhere else to go if “it doesn’t work out.”  Some of us will never own even a fraction of a racehorse, but we will always be fans.  Many are saying that without owners, there would be no racing.  True.  But if the race-going fans don’t show up or put money down to show their support of the game, then we’re still in a world of hurt.

So what does all this tell us?  It tells us we have to work together.  It states that our egos need to be left at the door.  It means we have to examine and consider what the needs of each participant are and how we can craft as many “Win-Win” scenarios as possible.

Or we’ll eventually have nothing.

Racing needs heroes and stars.  You may not know it yet, but you may be one of those quiet heroes who make a difference by planting the seed of an idea that takes root and leads us to a solution still unrealized.  Time for a brainstorming session, Race Fans! Let’s see your ideas, concerns, et cetera.  I invite you to post your ideas here.

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7 Responses to Planting the Seed for Racing’s Rescue

  1. Kaycee Mauer says:

    great right up Vicky I’m all for a central governing body in racing.

    • Fans Supporting Horse Racing says:

      Thanks, Kaycee! What do you think are the most important issues needing governing?

  2. Jim Applegate says:

    Vicky:
    Good start! I believe there is one other group that needs to be involved in solving this mess and that is the track owners. Our image today stinks and needs a NASCAR make-over. I was embarassed when I had to explain how a trainer that was “suspended” could be running a horse in a Triple Crown race. Today, the general public believes that the horses are all running on some sort of performance enhancing drug. Until racing’s image and this perception is cleaned-up, the public bettor will not trust nor bet on the races.

    • Fans Supporting Horse Racing says:

      I think you stated a big part of our problem, Jim. The public’s perception is anything but kind toward horse racing and we certainly don’t help ourselves. What is the public supposed to think when Richard Dutrow gets ruled off of NY tracks for a mere 10 years, but still gets to participate because of his upteenth appeal and using loopholes? I haven’t yet read the particulars on the Louisianna Frog case, but all I can say is “REALLY????” If you can’t win through your honest efforts as an athletic conditioner, you’ve got no business with a license, in my opinion.

  3. cherokeerun says:

    I too hope the major issues plaguing racing don’t end up killing it. I don’t think horses should race on any drugs or be whipped except in an emergency, such as to keep a horse from going over the rail or running off, but not to try to make them run faster or as punishment. I also think rules should be the same in all states, though I am absolutely opposed to the government being involved in any way. They screw up everything they touch. Racing needs to fix itself before PETA and similar groups get the government more involved than they already are and rules are imposed on us that we do not want and will not help.

    I wish I had the answers about what to do. I’d also like to see racing move away from a gambling-run industry and find other ways to make money. Personally I have almost no interest in gambling but would have no problem paying higher entrance fees to tracks, and I buy lots of racing souvenirs. I don’t post much on racing forums partly because I am made to feel like “less of a fan” or worse, like I’m leeching off the sport by enjoying it without betting very often, owning horses or otherwise being directly involved. I don’t see this with other sports but instead people just all enjoying it together without discussing who has put more money into it.

    Anyway, I enjoy racing almost entirely for the horses, don’t pay much attention to the humans and care greatly about the horses’ welfare which should definitely be the top priority. Racing has a terrible reputation mostly due to perceived abuses of horses and I think that has to change before it could ever increase in popularity much.

    • Fans Supporting Horse Racing says:

      I don’t know what the correct answer is, but reading your post reinforces the idea that we need to at least listen to all sides and consider the impact of our actions.

  4. lynn says:

    Since racing gets such a bad rap, it would be nice to see them take the stand and become the standard of All sports for drug testing and put this sport which also includes gaming on a level playing field.
    Also, as a major animal lover, I have had a real love /hate relationship with racing due to breakdowns. NOBODY wants to see a horse or jockey go down, we are there for fun and to see any horse breakdown really can change a potential fan forever. I do love racing and the horse and I believe racing is making efforts but until all of North American racing decides to work as one governing factions, it will be half hearted and ineffective.

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