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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Dime Store Analysis

An owner of a horse which was euthanized at the Meadows has filed an intent to sue the operators of the track for damages related to Little Bit Tricky's passing from a broken leg.  The horse owner is claiming the seven year old mare broke her leg due to unsafe track conditions.

While you may not remember the horse, you may recall the day, February 4, 2013 which was an unusual snowy day in that another horse died just before from a pulmonary hemorrhage.  After Little Bit Tricky's passing, the final race of the day was cancelled allegedly due to 'unsafe track conditions'.

Time to put on my Business Law 101 helmet and opine on this case.  Generally, the owner would have to wait for a cold day in hell to recover damages as all tracks make it part of the agreement trainers sign indicating they take no responsibility for any damages.  Secondly, the connections of the ill-fated mare could have scratched their horse from the race if they thought it was unsafe.

Back to the blanket statement indicating horses race at their own risk.  Courts have found these types of disclaimers are valid only if a person had taken reasonable precautions; they can't be held liable if a reasonable person could not have foreseen a problem developing.  This case may very well boil down to the question 'Could the track had foreseen the possibility of a breakdown after the death of Lislea Isebella (the horse with the pulmonary hemorrhage)?  I guess we will see.

Meanwhile, in Illinois and New York we have horsemen disputes that seem to have no end in sight....

In Chicago,  tracks responded to the IHHA's offer to extend last years' contract until a new agreement is hammered out through a formal mediation process, by offering a temporary contract with a 26% reduction in racing opportunities and a 15% purse cut from 2013 levels, suggesting it may be a while until we see harness racing in Chi-town.  It is disappointing the tracks have decided to hold to their guns but if stretching the purse account is their goal, it makes complete sense; after all if you aren't racing, you not spending the purse account down, thus extending how long it will last.  However, being the tracks are still allowed to import simulcasting, it may behoove the IHHA to request other horsemen groups to deny the transmission of their signal to these tracks in an effort to get the tracks to move forward.

The sides seem to be pretty much entrenched at Monticello Raceway where horsemen pulled the plug on interstate simulcasting, slashing handle severely.  So far neither side is ready to cry uncle but in the meanwhile, horsemen who are being restricted from training on the track have resorted to stabling their horses elsewhere just to use a track to train on.  With purses so small and additional expenses being incurred, one has to wonder if it is even worth racing at these reduced levels?  Of course it is illegal for the MHHA to call for a boycott of the entry box, but one has to wonder if horsemen decided to withhold their entries if the track would be willing to nudge their position so everyone can claim victory and restore simulcasting and race for better purses.

Harness racing is not the only sport writing weird conditions to fill races.  Andrew Beyer writes how California  and Florida racing secretaries are resorting to mixed conditions to fill races and it is ugly.  It seems the shortage of horses due to reduced foal crops is a problem across the various breeds.

Saratoga Springs has officially voiced their opposition to a full casino within their borders.  While their resolution is not binding on the state, it certainly is a negative.  However, unpleasant the Saratoga Springs council finds casino gambling, what do you think is going to happen to the town if a casino is built nearby?

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