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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Maybe Now People Be Willing to Look at New Ideas

With the potential devastation of the Ontario racing industry, perhaps horsemen in the United States will realize the lifeline which racing has received from slots can be cut by a single bill in the state legislature.  Hopefully this will prompt racing participants of all breeds to realize a fundamental change to the structure of racing needs to take place. 

Here are the recommendations I would suggest.  Now I don't pretend to have all the answers, but these proposals should be considered a general framework.

  • The establishment of a national standardbred racing authority.  This may be a revamped USTA.   This authority will be responsible for ...
    • ... establishing uniform rules of racing.
    • --- maintaining the studbook.
    • --- maintain racing records.
    • --- being an appellate judicial body for regional racing authorities.
    • ... coordinating national promotion efforts.
    • --- the grading of stakes.
    • --- the scheduling of races of national importance.
    • --- negotiations of all national television contracts.
    • --- represent American standardbred racing on the international level.
  • The establishment of regional standardbred racing authorities.  These regional authorities will be responsible for ...
    • --- setting the racing calendar in their region to ensure there is not an over abundance of racing at any one time in the region (hopefully coordinating with other racing breeds to avoid direct head-to-head competition in local markets).
      • the same number of days of racing in the region will be offered for major and local level tracks.  Since there will be fewer major level tracks, they will race more days than local level tracks where there will be more of these tracks in the region.
      • fair tracks will be short duration meets and scheduled during the warm weather months.
    • --- classifying tracks as major, local, or fair levels.
    • --- the licensing participants.
      • licensing levels will be based on experience (based on number of wins)
      • will determine whether they can race at major, local, and/or fair meetings
    • --- enforcing the rules of racing set at the national level.
    • ---  adjudication of violations (fines and suspensions).
    • --- establishment of a regional ADW which will be run as a non-profit organization.  Any commissions the ADW will charge will be used solely for administrative costs and rebates.  This will not eliminate the existing ADWs.
    • --- the establishment of regional betting exchanges.
    • --- the establishment of a regional sires stakes program to replace state sires stakes.
    • --- administering breeders programs.
    • --- the hiring and assignment of judges.
    • --- the establishment of a regional simulcast signal which will broadcast all tracks racing on a particular day.
    • --- marketing of racing on the regional level and negotiating regional television contracts.
    • --- setting uniform take-out rates and distributions of the components of the take-out rates.
    • --- leasing racing facilities where appropriate.
    • --- allowing tracks to card a percentage of races to restrict to drivers of a certain level (this will allow inexperienced drivers the opportunity to race).
    • --- establish a uniform classification/conditioned system.
  • Racetracks will...
    • ---be able to offer stakes races (dates to be set by regional authorities).
    • ---be able to apply for classification as a major, local, or fair racetrack.
    • ---have purse levels set by the regional level depending on their classification.
    • ---be able to offer races of different distances.
    • ---be able to offer races under saddle.
    • ---be able to restrict races to drivers and/or trainers of a certain level to ensure individuals with different levels are given an equal opportunity to race.
      • Local tracks will be able to restrict some races to drivers and/or trainers with a local classification. 
      • Fair tracks will be able to restrict some races to drivers and/or trainers with a fair classification
    • ---be able to restrict some races to hores sired, bred, or owned within the region.
    • ---be limited in the number of days they can race and purse levels based on the classification of the track.
    • --- maintain the right of exclusion but an excluded individual will have the right to appeal to the regional racing authority.
    • --- continue to be able to offer simulcasting.
  • State Governments will...
    • ---sign compacts which will allow racing of all breeds to be regulated by national and regional racing authorities.
    • ---treat racetracks as any other business with respect to taxes.
    • ---not receive any takeout revenue.
    • ---be able to offer tax incentives to draw racing-related businesses to the state.
  • Horsemen Associations will be...
    • ...established on a regional level.

Make  no mistake, this means the end of year round racing at any one facility.  However, it will provide for an overall stronger racing product.  By being able to restrcit races to a certain level of driver and/or trainer, it will keep certain trainers and owners from overly dominating the racing scene plus ensures drivers and trainers with less experience to drive and race against individuals with similar experience and allows them to get the experience to be able to compete at a higher level.

The limiting of race dates should allow for tracks to offer competitive purses by the collection of simulcast revenue at the track.  With the rgional authorities organizing a non-prift, while competing against existing ADWs,  a track will be able to receive a significant infusion into the purses accounts by having a greater share of the revenue on bets made through the regional ADWs make it to the track.

Again, this is a proposal.  As I said, I don't have all the answers but this proposal can be used a a starting point for discussions.  It will require the states to give up control of the industry which considering racing is not profitable for the states, they should be happy to get out of racing business. 

Don't say it can't be done; a lot of hard work needs to be done to get this plan implemented but it is within the realm of possibility.  All it takes is a will.

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