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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wednesday Musings

Cal Expo has inked a multi-year deal with TVG to televise their races on the racing channel.  This is a no-brainer as last year when Cal Expo televised their Saturday night Pick 4 races over the network, their handle went up dramatically for those races.  If your races get visibility you get customers, hide as one of the signals out on the Internet, and you are a blur.  Why some tracks still refuse to go the route Cal Expo is undertaking puzzles me.  Racetracks who refuse to accept the fact you need to pay to get visibility will continue having horseplayers pass them by.

You may be wondering why I was so upset about horsemen being able to use fine money for social activities?  Well here is one reason.  While the grooms at Cal Expo currently have it bad due to years of neglect by Cal Expo (the landlord, not the operator), this problem is not restricted to Cal Expo.  You can go to any racetrack with a backstretch and see grooms living in tack rooms despite the fact they are not designed for people to live in.  Grooms are woefully underpaid and often live paycheck to paycheck, many without healthcare.  If fine money should be spent for the benefit of anyone in racing, it should be spent on the grooms for providing medical services and other necessities, not for tickets to an amusement park. 

On the thoroughbred side of the ledger it looks like New York will be ending NYRA's franchise to operate Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga racetracks and then seek a private company to operate the tracks, similar to the way Jeff Gural is operating the Meadowlands.  This can only be viewed as a positive.  NYRA a non-profit organization was charged with operating the trio of tracks but without having to answer to shareholders ran the organization as their own club.  By getting a private company to run the facilities, the track will be run like a business with a focus on the bottom line..

In Ontario, a member of the Horse Racing Transition Committee is optimistic regarding the future of racing.  Big changes but racing should survive on a smaller scale.  While this is true, what is going on now is a mad rush to somewhere where no one knows what racing will look like in 2013, especially after March.  To try to get all the ducks in order in time will be near impossible.  For example there is a good chance racing dates will be assigned before a plan has been flushed out.  A more logical approach would have been for OLG to say the Slots at Racetracks program was going to end on January 1, 2014 which would have allowed a plan to continue racing without slot revenue to be developed without all the disruption which is occurring.
Leigh Fitch, 67, is in serious condition in a medically-induced coma following his falling out of the sulky prior to a race at the Cumberland County Fair after suffering from what is being called a medical emergency.  We wish him a speedy recovery.

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