The ORC has announced race dates for the first quarter of 2013 and for the most part, racing in the province date-wise remains unchanged through March 31. The harness tracks attempted to shed 26% of the race dates in the first quarter but when all was said and done, only 16 (7%) of the dates were dropped. Woodbine, which attempted to drop Thursdays, was rebuffed as was The Raceway at Western Fair District which attempted to drop Wednesdays. From the ORC's perspective, the tracks on the whole didn't make a good case for dropping dates. They do acknowledge purses may drop at certain tracks and post March 31, it will be a whole new world. Since thoroughbred and quarter horse racing doesn't occur until April, there was no need to make decisions on their side of the fence.
By the way, here it is, December 15 and still no word from the liberal government as to what type of subsidy will be offered in the post SAR world. The lack of progress shows the contempt the Ontario government has for racing. Meanwhile, columnist Dave Perkins laments about the end of an era at Woodbine this Sunday and how misguided the OLG and government's decision on SAR is. While Perkins is right, there is no sense in re-fighting old battles; it is time to go on to secure the best possible deal in the post SAR-era.
In Michigan, the state legislature has approved Instant Racing for the state's racetracks and the bill goes to the Governor's desk for his signature. At this point, Governor Snyder hasn't spoken out about the bill so what he may do remains an unknown. The next 14 days are critical as the Governor has the option to sign, veto, or let the bill become law without his signature. Since the legislative session has ended, a veto can't be overridden.
If you are a horsemen in the New York metropolitan area, and are interested in racing at the Meadowlands, have you signed up for text message from the race office? If not, click here for the details.
In New Jersey, the Senate and General Assembly will be voting on Monday to approve online gaming, a bill which would further devastate horse racing in the Garden State. Passage of the legislation is a foregone conclusion being it had passed before; the Governor vetoing the bill on the grounds it offered subsidies to the horse racing industry as well as constitutional concerns about casino gambling expanding outside of Atlantic City. The legislature has stripped the subsidies out of this version of the bill and heard from a constitutional expert who said the legislation would be constitutional. It's nice to hear from a single constitutional expert who said it would be legal. I am sure if racing interests were invited, they could have cherry picked an expert who would say it would be unconstitutional.
The argument being made is since the servers are in Atlantic City, the gambling is taking place there unlike simulcast wagering where a bet is made at the local track, not the track where the race is taking place. Of course, how do you explain the funding of the account to wager 'in Atlantic City'? Unless you are planning to make everyone travel to Atlantic City to open and fund the account each time the balance gets low, you are in effect allowing a person to make deposits outside of Atlantic City. The Governor should once again veto this bill on constitutional concerns and if not, racing should immediately challenge the bill on constitutional grounds in the courts.
Ouch! The Associated Press captured an exhibition race between South African Paralympic runner Oscar Pistorius and an Arabian horse to highlight the ability of disabled people. Well, this well-meaning exhibition went terribly wrong as in front of the press, the quarter horse was whipped 15-17 times in this sprint. Now people are hoping the story doesn't get too much publicity but it may be too late as CNN's headline for this story reads "'Barbaric' whipping of horse in Pistorius race".
Video courtesy of the Associated Press
Before racing tries to attract a larger market, it better clean up the game with respect to whipping because all it takes is one hack jockey or driver to go to town in front of a camera and it will be splashed all over the media.
The Future of Horse Racing? Brought to my attention is a new film (seeking funding) regarding greyhounds and greyhound racing. This film, 'Greyhound:Racing Into the Light' is purported to report on the issues of greyhound racing in a non-judgemental way, allowing all sides to make their case.
What was striking while watching this trailer is virtually the same things can be said about horse racing (including harness racing) and it is only a matter of time until a film like this on horse racing comes out. There are experts who claim greyhound racing will disappear from the United States within ten years, primarily due to concern about the dogs. Being the weakest of the racing breeds, unless racing deals with its problems, how much longer does harness racing have? For those inclined, if you want to support the 'Greyhound: Racing Into the Light' project, you may click here.