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.