The USTA is currently in negotiations with Trackmaster and the Daily Racing Form for both to offer standardbred racing programs. Of course, not being privy to the negotiations, I am not aware of any of the specifics of the negotiations. However, my guess is it is basically a means to get a wider distribution of harness past performance information to the gambling public. After all, both the DRF and Trackmaster are both owned by Equibase so Equibase companies would still be the sole distributor of the product. The only thing is if the DRF was able to sell programs, thoroughbred fans would have one site to get both harness and thoroughbred information and for those still buying the DRF in print, the possibility of certain harness tracks being included in the traditional DRF would exist. Of course, the format of the program information may differ between the two sources.
Just the same, this proposed deal should not be minimized. The DRF has recently increased its harness racing coverage and if giving them the right to offer programs further increases their coverage of harness racing, it is a good deal.
Hopefully, what is being included in the negotiations is the right for racetracks to license the program information and be able to offer their programs free online as is done in Canada. This way, if any racetrack wishes to attract more wagering, they can put their programs online in an effort to stimulate interest in their racing product.
We will learn more about this once negotiations come to a conclusion.
Meanwhile, while binding arbitration is underway in Maryland over the thoroughbred simulcast dispute which at present keeps Rosecroft from showing thoroughbred races, Rosecroft has felt the need to strike back. Rosecroft Raceway has informed MRC that they have withdrawn permission for the MJC to take wagers on out of state standardbred signals. As a result, the Maryland Jockey Club is unable to take wagers through their ADWs and OTB system. I understand the rationale for that. If there are gamblers who want to wager on standardbred racing, let them head over to Rosecroft instead of wagering at a MJC facility; let's call it a tit for a tat, after all fair is far. My answer is with binding arbitration underway, why now take this step? Yes, the MJC may profit by taking wagers on standardbred races, but why tick standardbred customers off? For example, TVG has informed MD residents that at present, they can not wager on standardbred races. I know this is a game being played in the board room, but once again the gambler is the pawn.