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Friday, November 30, 2012

A Proposal Which Needing Fine Tuning

Horsemen have yet to respond to a decision by the Meadowlands, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs  to hire an investigator who will be responsible for ensuring the integrity of racing at the respective ovals.  I expect the horsemen in New Jersey to go along with the program but suspect the horsemen groups represeenting horsemen at Tioga and Vernond Downs  may be challenging the proposal thanks to prodding by outside influences.  Whether they will be ultimately successful in derailing the program in the end is another issue, but what will be really important is despite all the proclamations of wanting a level playing field, it may be the horsemen group's actions which will speak the truth.

One thing is for sure, don't be expecting the horsemen to provide funding for the proposal but that is another issue for a different day.

But what about the program itself as described (page 1)?  Will it solve all the problems of cheating and is the program somewhat overreaching?

Of course it will not solve all the problems of cheating, with respect to drugs but it should make a big difference.  One thing for sure, it will put those horsemen who violate existing medication rules on notice.  Unfortunately, some horsemen will still attempt to push the envelope, at least until they see some trainers sent packing.  The selection of the testing lab in Hong Kong is an excellent choice as they are considered by many as the gold standard when it comes to detecting prohibited substances.

That being said, as known thus far there appears to be some overreaching by Jeff Gural; his intentions to share test results with the racing commission.  As a private operator, Mr. Gural is within his rights to have horsemen agree to a testing program in order to race at his tracks but it is not his right to play regulator.  If tests come back positive, he has every right to decide someone is persona non grata and ban them from participating at his tracks, but he has no right to provide test results to the local racing commission.

Then comes the question of due process.  As a private operator of his tracks, Mr. Gural has the right to exclude whoever he wants.  That being said if Trainer A is asked to leave mid-meet, it won't take a rocket scientist for other track operators to conclude they were caught violating medication rules.  As a result, it is matter of fairness to offer horsemen the option of having a split sample tested before excluding them.

Overall, what Jeff Gural is proposing is a bold proposal which on the whole should be applauded, but some changes are necessary.

Pick-4 Players, You are Obligated to Play the Pompano Park Pick-4
Starting this Monday, Pompano Park is introducing a 10% rake on their Pick 4 for the balance of their meet.  The pool may not be the largest but anyone who plays the Pick-4 has an obligation to suppor the wager at the Florida track. 

Gamblers have been complaining about take outs for years and here is a track willing to cut the rake to a rate which is virtually unheard of.  If horseplayers are unwilling to support this wager, you have no right to expect other tracks to cut their take out rates.  So horseplayers, it is time to put up or shut up.

Change or Eliminate the Sires Stakes Programs
Thre is a story in HRU (page 2) which goes into greater detail as to why Perretti Farms is opening a stallion station in Pennsylvania.  More important is a proposal to open up the NJSS to the off-spring of broodmares who spend at least 180 days in the state prior to foaling, something I have been talking about for ages.  Hopefully, the proposal will be accepted.

To be perfectly honest, the sires stakes programs in all states should be scrapped as they no longer advance the goals orginally established.  When these programs were established, there was no semen transport so standing a stallion in a state actually served a purpose in bringing broodmares into the state to be bred and to remain until the foal was born.  This brought jobs into the state and resulted in developing a real economic stimulus to the states. 

Now, what is the real economic benefit of standing stallions in most states?  Broodmares seldom leave their homes to be bred or foaled as the semen comes to them.  There is no real economic benefit to having a Rocknroll Hanover standing in a particular state, the economic value is now where the broodmares reside.  Instead of having sires stakes programs, states should have programs for the offspring of resident mares.  Having such programs will induce breeders to ship their broodmares to a particular state to be bred and foaled.  A strong program will bring an influx of broodmares into the state and provide the economic engine standing stallions used to..

Deer Racing Anyone?  
See what happens when a trio of deer apparently decide to take to the track to show some horses how racing is done at The Meadows.

It doesn't look like they can trot a lick but it's good to know if they can't work out their gait issues, there is a future for them as steeplechasers. How far is it to Presque Isle Downs?


Anonymous said...


First thought on Mr. Gural's latest idea to clean up racing. Great! For any who doubted he is serious about getting rid of cheats, this should be very clear.

Second thought. Oh, no! The cheats will be on their way to tracks where owners can't or choose not to be as pro-active as Gural.

Could be a banner year in 2013 for shady trainers and owners who find their way to nearby Harrah's Philadelphia and Mohegan Sun at Pocono.

Pacingguy said...

Hopefully, Jeff Gural is successful and it is rewarded with the betting handle, though let's not kid ourselves, some cheats are still going to try their luck there.

I suspect if this program proves to be successful, other tracks will take similar steps. In this industry, most won't spend the money to do this unless it is proven to be financially beneficial.

Of course, I want to see which horsemen groups will be running to court or the racing commissions over programs like this.

Anonymous said...

When a trainer that is part of the "in crowd" sends out a bunch of eye-opening performers, will he/she be subject to extra scrutiny, or will that be reserved for those that have already been pre-determined to be the "bad guys"? Will any trainers/owners that have invested in the New Big M ever be under surveillence, or will that be limited to "outsiders". What if an inspector shows up at a farm OUTSIDE of NJ and is (legally) denied access by the farm owner? Seems like there are a lot of unanswered questions to what on the surface, SEEMS like a good idea.

affirmedny said...

Hopefully they won't hire that ex-harness driver that works for the state police.

Pacingguy said...

I can't address your scepticism, but let me answer the one question I can.

The racing agreement indicates the Meadowlands investigator is an agent of the trainer so assuming the investigator shows up with a copy of the racing application a farm owner will have no right to deny access; if they do that trainer will see themselves on the outside of the Meadowlands.

Anonymous said...

A farm owner in NY is most assuredly entitled to keep ANYBODY he chooses off his property. It would be hard to hold a TRAINER responsible for the actions of the guy he rents stalls from. Much as a private track owner can deny "privileges" to anybody he chooses, why wouldn't a private farm owner be allowed to exercise that same right? (not implying they WOULD -- but simply pointing out another potential flaw in the program.)

Pacingguy said...

Let's try it this way. I am a farm owner and you are a trainer who is a tenant who is current on your stall rental and I have no problem with you.

Would I deny you access to your horses? No.

Wouild I deny your grooms access to your horses? No, your grooms are your agents.

Hence, if Joe is an investigator who you agreed is your agent, why would the farm owner ban Joe from the farm? The only logical reason the farm owner would ban Joe is if you revoked the agency agreement which puts you in violation of the racing application. Guess what, you won't be racing at the Meadowlands, Tioga or Vernon Downs.