Decoupling noises are getting louder once again in Florida and the horsemen (primarily t-breds) are worried about what may happen once the legislation currently geared towards greyhound racing logically expands to include horses and with good reason. If casino interests (the 'asino' part of racino) get their way, horse racing, along with other breeds will be forced to sail (or sink) on their own.
Here is what the Florida thoroughbred horsemen are saying. Tom LaMarra at the Blood-Horse also warns of what may come.
Considering how strong the Florida breeding industry is when it comes to standardbreds, there is a good chance the standardbred industry may be the first equine industry devastated in the Sunshine State.
The worst part of this? When horse racing is decoupled in Florida, it will surely spread. Remember the word 'decoupling', it will be come to a racing state near you.
The Ray Schnittker proposal to change the qualifying rule from 30 days to 120 days is generating a lot of controversy and rumor has it a lot of division among horsemen. It is bad enough some tracks have adopted the 45 day rule, basically because they need horses and it frustrates me as well as other horseplayers gambling.
I get it that it can cost $400 to qualify but this is known as a cost of doing business. Get over it. You want to avoid having to re-qualify, how about racing your horse instead of having it sitting out in the field?
Schnittker claims sophisticated horseplayers know how to handicap of such long layoffs. Perhaps some people can, but I suggest he heads over to Keenland and check out the thoroughbred who hasn't raced in over a year but shows nothing recent except a workout two months ago and have him tell us how he thinks the horse will race that day.
Qualifiers are an important advantage for those of us who love the sulky sport. Without current qualifiers, the serious gamblers who remain may as well go wager on the thoroughbreds. At least there, payoffs tend to be more generous. If having to rely on a Ouija board to handicap, one may as well get a premium for having to guess.
My personal guess is no way this rule change goes as written; it is too drastic. Unless pulled and studied (a possibility) I think the 30 day rule is dead. The question is where does the wheel stop? My guess is 45 or 60 days will be the number. Just remember the bigger the number, the larger the exodus.