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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fines? Let's Party Hearty

One of the tools racing commissions have to ensure the rules of racing are adhered to is the ability to fine those who run afoul of the rules. It has been a position of this blogger that most fines are jokes; most so insignificant so not to act as a deterent. 

What happens to the fines collected by the commissions?  One would like to think it would be used constructively.  For the gamblers, it would be nice to use this money as seed money for guaranteed pools, perhaps for marketing, or otherwise used for the benefit of growing the game with the general public.  Failing that, it would be nice if the fine money was used for the purposes of policing the sport, perhaps used for additional drug testing or development of new tests, or be used for additional funding for the racing commission, perhaps to help pay for legal fees when individuals contest their penalties; so the commissions wouldn't have to plea out as many cases to save money.

Of course, my personal favorite would be to use that money to help finance retired racehorse programs, using the funds collected for each breed of racing in the effort to retraining and maintaining their respective breed's retired athletes.  Another good use of those funds would be to use it for the welfare of grooms who often have the toughest jobs at the tracks and training centers and get the least amount of compensation; perhaps to help pay for medical and dental clinics for the grooms.

In Ohio, the fines could be considered part of racing's sunshine fund.  Consider the following expenditures approved in July by the Ohio State Racing commission: 

Request for the expenditure of fine money:

a.  Thistledown: In a communication dated June 27, 2012, requests for the expenditure of $700 for the
HBPA Independence Day picnic to be held at the racetrack on July 2; $3,365 for an HBPA Family Day at
Cedar Point on August 7; and $700 for the HBPA Labor Day picnic to be held at the racetrack on Sept 3.
Each request was approved subject to ratification by the commission. Motion by Commissioner Roach,
second by Commissioner Koester. Motion approved 4-0.

In a communication dated July 5, 2012, a request to spend $3,450 on the HBPA Horsemen’s Award
Banquet on September 25. Motion by Commissioner Munroe, second by Commissioner Koester. Motion
approved 4-0.

b.  Scioto Downs: In a communication dated June 21, 2012, a request to spend $3,000 on an outing at
Foxfire Golf Course on July 30. Motion by Commissioner Roach, second by Commissioner Munroe. Motion
approved 4-0.

c.  Northfield Park: In a communication dated July 5, 2012, a request to spend $3,145 on a summer outing
for licensees and their families at Fun & Stuff Amusements in Macedonia on August 26. Motion by
Commissioner Munroe, second by Commissioner Roach. Motion approved 4-0.

This was not the only occasion funds were used in this manner.  In May, fine money was also spent for baseball game tickets, a trip to Coney Island (an amusement park), and to provide coffee in the paddock amongst other things.  Lest you think the problem is unique to Ohio, you would be mistaken. 

At least now we know why people in racing tend to be good at golfing and have lavish awards banquets. 

It is not that horsemen groups should not have family get togethers, after all the working hours in the racing industry are terrible and for some families, it may be one of the few days the family gets to spend together.  I don't be begrudge horsemen having golf outings or nice award parties.  My problem is with using fine money which could be used for the betterment of the sport or to provide medical care to grooms being used for social niceties.  If the horsemen groups want funding for such perks, I'm all for it; take it from their respective purse accounts.



Anonymous said...

Would like to know what they do at the big tracks?

Pacingguy said...

It depends on the individual state. I remember someone else talking about it elsewhere. The problem is it is hard to find this stuff out as many states don't publish this information.