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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Time for a Revolution

There has been plenty of commentary made regarding Governor Cuomo's remaking of the NYRA Board, in particular how NYRA Chairman David Skorton has little knowledge of racing, never have been to any of the three NYRA tracks during their racing meets.  Some would argue this is a recipe for disaster; I would suggest it is an opportunity for re-birth. 

Of course, the NYRA shake-up is the result of one too many scandals, the last being knowingly assessing an incorrect takeout rate on gamblers (of course to the gambler's detriment).  Up to now, NYRA's board has been run by insiders within the industry, many of those who would be right at home with the owners hobnobbing at Saratoga.  Of course we have seen how well that worked as NYRA flirted with bankruptcy and scandal on more than one occasion.

While I would never suggest standardbred racing be run without any insiders involved, perhaps the sport would do better with a leadership whose knowledge of racing is knowing nothing more than the difference between Win, Place, and Show; know nothing about horse ownership, nothing about track management; nothing about horse breeding.  In other words, no one with preconceived notions regarding how the industry works, no alliance with any one segment of the industry.  Let those under the leadership team have the knowledge of the workings of racing, on call for consultation with the leadership when needed.

Insiders would be unhappy with this but think about the advantage of having a truly independent board; one charged with restructuring the industry, running harness racing as a business, willing to tear the existing model down and start anew, willing to ruffle feathers if need be to make a stronger sport.  Yes, some changes are being made at present, but they are baby steps due to the need to massage the egos of the various segments of the industry.  With an independent board, the changes could be revolutionary instead of evolutionary.

There are some great things about harness racing which must be preserved but change is needed.  The problem is the industry has frittered so much time away that we no longer have time for an evolution.  A revolution is needed.

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