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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Why Not Racing Compacts?

Recently, Nevada and Delaware entered into a compact regarding Internet Poker in an effort to offer liquidity to the games and offer big jackpots.  In other words, the two states entered into a mutually beneficial agreement to maximize revenue for both states.  New Jersey, the other state which offers Internet poker, has not yet joined the compact but it is expected to do so in the future.

If states can form compacts for Internet gaming, why can't they have compacts for horse racing?  Quite honestly, the states would likely be happy to do so if they thought it would reduce administrative costs of racing and increase revenues.  The problem lies with the horsemen.

Realistically, you would not find states like Pennsylvania and New York joining such a compact because let's face it, when things are going well, there is no way they would agree to cede any control to a regional compact.  However, I could envision compacts involving Maine and Massachusetts; Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia.

If a racing compact was formed, each state would have the same rules and have one racing commission, with appointees from each state's governors.  This commission would be in charge of assigning judges, setting race dates for the states part of the compact, in charge of marketing the sport by bundling their signals for simulcasting, dealing with violations of racing rules, and perhaps most importantly, the creation of wagers which would draw national interest within and outside of the compact area.

Of course, the problem would be the fear horsemen would have regarding loss of control.  For example, if the regional commission could decide a specific track should race less days than they currently are racing.  This would anger some horsemen, even though it could mean no more than two harness tracks or thoroughbred tracks were racing at the same time, allowing for handle growth.  Less tracks racing at the same time would also mean more horses available to race at these tracks so instead of compiling race cards with short fields, each race could be a full field (even though some owners rather race against five horses than nine horses).  While each state could still have their own sires stakes programs, instead of a state owned or bred breeders program, you could have an alliance program where races could be restricted to horses bred by those in compact states.

However, as I mentioned, horsemen will have fears about such compacts.  The mentality of  'more days of racing is good' is ingrained in horsemen and the idea of losing local control is likely to have horsemen raise objections.  So while states would likely have no problem with forming such compacts, they are not going to do it if the state horsemen raise objections for it would cause aggravation; something legislators could do without.

When I saw that Tracy Brainard was suspended, I wondered who would be 'training' her stable.  Apparently we have the answer in the name of Kevin Efimetz.  According the DRF, Efimetz is on a hot streak since he took over Brainard's operation/  Is Efimetz just a beard?  I don't know but I will give him the benefit of the doubt..  If you exclude this year's starts, Efimetz has a career UDR of .299 and a win percentage of 16.6%; no small feat.  Of course, success on the 'B' circuit doesn't necessarily transfer to success on the 'A' circuit so he may find it more profitable to be a second trainer than going out on his own..  If he continues successfully through Brainard's suspension, I hope we find him eventually trying to go it alone or at least given a string of horses to be in charge of.

Jay Bergman of the DRF becomes the second person (that I know of) to join the 'Get rid of the passing lane club" as a result of his column explaining why the lane should be eliminated.  The lane has done nothing in recent years but give drivers an excuse to sit in and let the leader often race unchallenged, especially on my beloved half mile ovals.

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