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Monday, June 21, 2010

Price Does Matter; Holding Owner's Responsible?

With all the bad news regarding declining pari-mutuel handle, some good news comes to us from Tioga Downs where they have an overall 4.6% increase in their wagering for their first eighteen days of racing. When you consider Standardbred Canada is reporting a decline in wagering of 8.74% and the American thoroughbreds are suffering from an 8.3% decline, you have to wonder what Tioga Downs is doing right.

Actually, you don't need to think too hard. Remember, Tioga Downs lowered their takeout rate to the legal minimum allowed by the NYSRWB and the State of New York making it the lowest takeout in North America. With the decrease in the takeout rate, off-track handle increased by a significant 9.9%. On-track handle was down 8.6% but factors such as cold weather and rain contributed partially to the decline. Clearly price matters when it comes to deciding which track you plan to wager on when you are off-track. As for on-track wagering, price reduction, while important, is not the whole solution. Tracks must continue to work on improving the live racing experience for on-track customers as entertainment is a bigger component of the experience than it is online.

Owner responsibility when it comes to selecting a trainer has become a hot topic of late. Joe Faraldo from the SOA of NY has definite thoughts when it comes to the possibility of an Owners Responsibility Rule. In a word, he considers it a stupid idea. Click here to read his comments and let me know what you think.

I disagree with Mr. Faraldo. For sure, racing needs to be more proactive when it comes to finding the cheaters in the sport, but this does not diminish the fact the owner needs to be held accountable when he/she selects a trainer. When you select a trainer, you are hiring someone to be an agent for you. Businesses routinely check a potential employee’s record before making a decision to hire someone, shouldn’t an owner check on a trainer as well? The information regarding a trainer's medication record is available (though it does need to be made easier for an owner to check on the type of violations a trainer may have had) so there is no reason why asking an owner to check on the trainer's record is unreasonable. No one is (or should be) suggesting you get penalized for selecting a trainer whose last medication violation was years ago, but if someone recently had a violation for a prohibited substance, it should set off warning bells. If you choose to hire a trainer despite a record of recent violations, you must be willing to accept some risk in making that decision.

No one is saying an owner should be barred from hiring a successful trainer. This does not mean they should be permitted to win at all costs.

For those who missed yesterday's column where we discussed the rash of recent accidents, you may read it by clicking on this link.

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