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Monday, November 28, 2011

What I Want for Christmas

Dear Santa, it may seem I am writing you early this year, but being I missed Black Friday, I didn't want to take my chance and miss Cyber-Monday; after all some of these items may be difficult to find so letting you use the computer to find them may help you out.  Plus being the list is long you may need some extra time.

Was I good this year?  Well it depends on what you are talking about.  Admittedly, my handicapping could have been better, but I think my columns were good for the most part; maybe there was one or two columns which deserved breaking out the wet noodle.

I'll send you my personal list later, this list is the one I want for harness racing:

  1. All racetracks with 15% takeouts for all wagers (racinos 10%).  Oh, I know it could be better, but let's get to where we need to be in small steps.  Why racinos lower?  So little of their handle comes from wagering anyway, what's the big deal with a lower takeout?
  2. The End of the Faraldo-Gural feud.  It is so predictable that as soon as Jeff says it's sunny outside, you wait for Joe to respond with a press release indicating it is partly cloudy.  Make no mistake, Faraldo has a responsibility to represent his constituents at Yonkers, but is there a need for him to get involved elsewhere in the state?
  3. Speaking of Joe Faraldo, can someone reprogram the SOA's computers so they can't type out "an upstate racino owner" or "Gural"?  It seems he sends out as many anti-Gural missives as Senator Chuck Schumer sends out press releases.  Not that I wish Faraldo ill-will.  In fact, I would like to see him run and win election to the United States Senate at the next election; this way we can see if he can break the record of press conferences and press releases in one year that Senator Schumer holds.
  4. A constitutional amendment in New York allowing table games at racetracks with table games debuting in 2014.  The sooner full casinos are allowed in New York, the sooner they will realize in New Jersey there is no North Jersey market for Atlantic City and a racino can come to the Meadowlands.
  5. A means to keep those people opposed to racinos from going across the border to gamble in another state's racino.  We don't like hypocrites. 
  6. Change the mind of Illinois Governor Quinn with regards to slots at racetracks.
  7. A fair start rule in all racing states.  A bet should not be lost while you are still selling tickets on the same race.
  8. Banning kill buyers and horse dealers from the backstretch of racetracks all the time, but in particular on qualifying days.  Instead institute surrender stalls where horsemen can turn in a horse with no questions asked, turn in the papers and allow horse rescues to take possession of the horses.
  9. Make people elsewhere in the States aware of racing at Cal Expo.  These people are fighting every year to stay alive out there; it would be nice to see some effort to support them.  Maybe some leading drivers pay a visit for some type of driving championship.
  10. A license for New Meadowlands LLC and for the new owners of Monmouth Park.  This saga has been going on so long it seems like an updated version of War and Peace.
  11. A racetrack that makes a profit without slots and a manual documenting how they did it.
  12. Meaningful fines and suspensions indexed on a participant's success in the sport.  We should not read on Facebook a driver or trainer laughing about what they did and hear the "$100 fine was a cost of doing business".
  13. Horsemen at racinos allocating a part of their purse account handle towards horse rescue and promotion of the sport.
  14. The USTA and Standardbred Canada working jointly on promotional ideas.  Being horsemen don't seem to be so generous giving either organization a lot of money; perhaps a joint effort would maximize development plans.
  15. The USTA making the Pathway reports on the fines and suspensions of participants for free.  If we want owners to choose honest trainers, let's give them an easy way to look up records of rogue trainers so they can avoid them.
  16. Harness Eye Past Performances available on the Internet.
  17. Allow racetracks to provide basic programs on their website for free.
  18. Monté racing becoming more serious and have it in 2013 as a pari-mutuel option on a circuit like steeplechase racing is conducted at thoroughbred tracks. 
  19. No back stabbing between thoroughbred, quarter horse, and standardbred horsemen.  If you thought peace on earth is a challenging,try this one.
  20. The Hambletonian Society adopting the 'Gural rule' regarding banning off-spring of 4yo sires from their races including the Hambletonian.
  21. Leave Lou Pena alone.  I understand the controversy regarding him and truth be told I have my doubts, but on the West Coast he actually was one of the more progressive trainers when it came to training methods.  Also, it is easier to have more consistent success with $30,000 claimers than the $2,500 claimers that race at Cal Expo.  If and when hard proof is found, then the sport can take care of him.  All I know is there have been more resources spent on catching him than anyone else in the sport and they have not pinned anything on him since he became the hottest trainer since Billy Haughton and Stanley Dancer.  All we are doing is self destructing while complaining about Pena..  See the #22.
  22. Let's have horsemen in racino'sracino tracks are broke; racinos could care less.  Like it or not, it is up to horsemen to pay for developing new testing.
  23. A way to track assistant trainers.  If the trainer gets suspendend, assistant trainers should not be allowed to take over their horses.  We don't need beards in racing.
  24. Uniform racing rules including whipping rules.  Despite what people say, you can get rid of whips.
  25. Term limits for horsemen associations and USTA Directors.  Like politics, there are times people in office too long treat their position as a fiefdom and forget why they are there.  I am not saying  they can't serve again, but perhaps after four years of serving in office, a two year break may not be a bad idea.
  26. We have Powerball, Mega Millions, how about V75 as a lottery game?  No people won't be able to pick their selections (that runs into horse racing gambling laws and many states won't allow you to buy a ticket at your local newspaper outlet), but the results will be determined based on the results of seven races.  We can have a weekly V75 television show showing those races and the USTA can be the agency running the lottery, distributing part of the profits to the tracks holding the races (and all tracks will get a chance to participate) and the rest being used by the USTA for marketing and product development.
  27. An ADW run by racetracks to compete against existing ADWs, offering rebates and similar perks; this way more of the handle can be kept by racetracks instead of  earning a pittance.
  28. Simple conditions that don't require a law degree to read.
  29. More racing dates in Michigan, for all breeds. 
  30. Continued racing at Rosecroft past 2012.
  31. Organized and coordinated race meets.  We don't need or have the demand for 21 tracks racing hin the summer,
  32. Legalize Pari-mutuel races in Georgia.
  33. More stake races on the same day.  We don't need four horses from the Burke, Takter, name the stable in the same race.  With more stakes, horses can race in different races instead of one race.
  34. Get rid of elimination races.  Either seed horses by earnings for Group 1 type races, and other races be raced in divisions instead of eliminations.  Eliminations are a sore spot.
  35. If we need to have eliminations, finals should be open draws.
  36. A fixed tote system, including a means to shut betting windows when a race actually starts.  Integrity in betting is essential.
  37. And finally, I am thankful that we had Stan Bergstein, a man who spoke his piece, developed the claiming race as a racing secretary in Chicago, writer extraordinaire, and the biggest champion for harness racing.  For a while I was an outsider at college as everyone sat around watching SNL, but I couldn't join them until I saw Racing from Yonkers or Roosevelt.  Stan will be missed by me and countless others.


AL P. said...

You make mention of the SOA computer, and its constant refural to MR. GURAL, and upstate owner
Well on the other hand you will have noticed that they made no mention of the passing of MR STAN BERGSTEIN, you see Stan was one of the first individual in harness racing to see the real JOE FARALDO

Pacingguy said...

Al P. What can I say? I am mortified. I had Stan Bergstein on the list as the last item and somehow it got dropped. I don't know if Blogger cut it off or I accidently dropped it.

You will see him now on the list, but not for 'seeing Joe Faraldo'.

My apologies to you and everyone else for the mistake.

Scott Jeffreys said...

Dear Pacingguy,

Many years back, I wrote an e-mail to Stan and asked for some guidance on a topic related to the fact that harness racing had lost the entire "youth" or next generation of harness racing. The exchange with Stan led to the first of several articles, starting in 2000, with Hoof Beats magazine.

I have an autographed program from the 1970s with Stan's and Spencer's scribbles in the Cloud Casino at Roosevelt as a teenager with my parents. I spoke with him at Goshen (Historic Meet), Monticello (NYC OTB Classic), and Yonkers at various stake races. He was my childhood celebrity idol if there is such a thing.

Here's to hoping he has found full fields, clean racing, packed stands, and peace.

Sincerely, Scott