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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

On to the Courts!; Showdown in Illinois; Heading to Irrelevance in GA? reports that Lawyer Howard Taylor is heading to the courts in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to get the Valley Victory re-drawn.  As we reported yesterday, Taylor was appealing to the PHRC regarding the decision to ban certain horses from advancing to the Valley Victory final due to breaks which make them apparently ineligible from racing in the final.

As we mentioned yesterday, it all depends on when is there a declaration to start.  If the fact the track automatically enters the finalists into the final is considered a declaration on behalf of the owners as a courtesy, Chester Downs wins.  If the judge decides there was only one declaration, the original one to the elimination, Taylor's clients should win.  The only problem with this case going in front of a court, is odds are the judges are not familiar with racing's rules and intricacies.  If we had standardized rules, these decisions could be decided within the racing industry by appealing to a national harness racing agency that it could be kept within the industry and instead of being decided by someone who doesn't know the difference between a driver and a jockey.

Meanwhile in Illinois, it looks like a showdown with Governor Quinn over slots at the racetracks is going to take place.  For racing, this new bill is good, but should the Governor veto it, it may be like Mrs. O'Leary's cow kicking the lantern over.  It is clear for the bill to pass the legislature, slots at the tracks is a must otherwise the legislator leaders loose the downstate legislators.  In an attempt to override Quinn's concerns the new legislation reduces 25% of the new gaming seats and tightens the regulation of casino gambling in the state.  This one is appearing to be game of chicken between the legislators and the Governor with the horsemen in the middle.  It appears the Governor's veto pen may be the Sword of Domocles for racing.

Excuse me for getting concerned about the prospect of harness racing in Georgia.  The Georgia Baptist Convention (GBC) has come out in opposition to a proposed referendum for pari-mutuel racing in 2012; with their argument that racing causes addictive behavior and doesn't deliver the promised economic benefits; in effect the same old moral argument.  Ray Newman, representing the GBC, argued that legalizing pari-mutuel wagering would put the state in a position of supporting gambling, an activity that encourages people to believe they can get rich through luck rather than work and can lead to addiction that hurts not just the gambler but his or her family. 

First of all it should be pointed out that this a double referendum proposal.  If the state approves horse racing, a second referendum must be held locally to approve gaming in a specific location.  Does racing cause people to believe they can get rich enough through luck?  Maybe in states such as New York and California  where the Pick 6 pools get to the million dollar carryovers, but in most states it is not the case.  Besides that, how many surrounding states offer casino gambling?  For one thing, there are casino cruises that depart from Georgia, Alabama has casinos, North Carolina and South Carolina has casinos as well as other states so those who are looking to gamble already have a means to gamble..

What really concerns me is you always hear speaking for the racing industry is the Georgia Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and hardly ever the Georgia Harness industry.  Mike Tanner has been too Georgia a couple time to speak about harness racing at a racetrack, but it seems the state's standardbred horsemen and breeders are remaining quite.  While the effort to get racing is a joint effort unless the standardbred industry starts getting in front of things and speaking, I fear the trotters will be treated as they are at Prairie Meadows, added as an after thought, destined to bomb and allowed to become irrelevant. If standardbred racing wishes to considered relevant, remaining silent will not work.

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