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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

News for an Icy Day

After an imposed break in the action due to the Super Bowl, the Meadowlands reopens tomorrow night.  Free program pages for their Pick-5 and late Pick-4 races are available here.

The contract between horsemen at Monticello Raceway and track management has expired and as a result, horsemen are barring the export of their simulcast signal out of state.  The horsemen are within their right to withhold their signal and realistically it is one of the few tools at their disposal being horsemen groups are actually trade associations and are unable to legally call for a boycott of the entry box..  Unfortunately, if prior experiences hold true, if the simulcast ban remains in effect horsemen may expect the purses on the next condition sheet to be slashed severely.

Meanwhile, racing in Illinois is still on hold as the IHHA is still working on a contract with Balmoral and Maywood Park with a focus no doubt on recapture as horsemen were facing a 17% purse cut..

Recently, had a story about the declining ownership ranks in  harness racing and its impact on breeding.  As the story correctly indicates, this decline is a big problem in that less owners means the need for fewer horses.  Where the story goes wrong is its assertion that the USTA is doing nothing about the loss of owners.  They are well aware of the problem and are making attempts to get new owners interested in the sport.  The article is correct in there is a need to have graded stakes.  Owners want to say their horse is a Grade 1 winner; something they can't do now.  Unfortunately, racetracks are very protective of their stakes and don't want to see them graded low; hence we have inaction on this issue.

Getting racing partnerships is a good way to introduce more people to horse ownership.  Unfortunately, the recent high profile attempt at partnership involved horses who have yet to race.  Partnerships for new comers requires a ready to made horse; maybe not stakes caliber, but a horse already racing.

Meanwhile, over on the running side, NYRA and Churchill Downs is having a fight over the price to be paid for NYRA's signal.  NYRA has been able to implement a modest increase in their simulcast fee for their signal except for Churchill  Downs which operates  Unless an agreement is reached soon, those who use Twinspires will be denied access to NYRA's signal resulting in losses to both sides.

To me, the whole distribution fee issue is a result of a broken model.  Yet, the ones who suffer the most are the fans.  There needs to be a better way for distribution fees to be set in a fair method; one which allows all ADWs access to a track's signal and ensures a fair and reasonable fee is paid so both sides can make a profit while horsemen get their fair share of the pie (I know there would be a disagreement as to what is fair).

In France, an interesting experiment is being tried at Cagnes su mer where there will be a joint trotting and running program.  It will be interesting to see how this experiment works.  Of course, you can do this in France where the government controls racing.  In North America, it is highly unlikely it would occur as thoroughbred and standardbred horsemen have a dog/cat relationship.

West Virginia racing interests (thoroughbred and greyhound) are not happy with a bill which cuts lottery allocations by 15% to most groups which get funds from the slots.  This is not a racing only bill, but impacts counties and other groups.  It may be hard to fight this one since it doesn't single out racing.

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