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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Trainer Reports and Pseudo-Decoupling

So trainer reports are coming to the Meadowlands this weekend.  In what appears to be a trial/compromise, trainers of the top two morning line favorites in each race as well as all horses in the fifth race each night will be required to submit reports on their charges.

Will this be helpful?  I have my doubts but time will tell.  There may be some benefit to have all horses in a race subject to training reports but just the top two favorites in each race?  People will be wagering on all horses in a race, not just the favorites so they don't deserve protection?  What if a 10-1 choice had a spectacular week training (i.e., never trained better in his career) and this information is not made known?  If there is any benefit to trainer reports, it is all or none.

Meanwhile, confusion reigns in Kentucky with regards to quarter horse racing and the future of Thunder Ridge.  It would appear Thunder Ridge will remain a harness track, though bankruptcy seems inevitable as Keenland appears to have decided to apply for the last open race track license in the state instead of going forward with the previously agreed purchase and transfer of the Thunder Ridge license to run a race meet in Corbin County.  Only a temporary injunction by a Floyd County judge kept the KHRC from acting on Keenland's application.  An attempt to overturn the injunction yesterday was denied by the Appeals Court, only because waiting would not cause irreparable harm.  The Appeals court appears likely to overturn the injunction at its next session, meaning the commission will be able to act at its January meeting.

What has caused Keenland to change tack at this time is unknown.  While there is a bill pre-filled for the January session of the legislature to restrict each owner to one race track license and require anyone who buys an existing license to pay any outstanding debts of the original owner, it would appear the legislation, if approved would have been after the fact.  Perhaps it was a strategy to freeze out another track from doing what Keenland is doing, operating a quarter horse meet elsewhere in the Commonwealth just so it could operate historic wagering machines.  It appears the only way Thunder Ridge's license will be transferred to another operator will be if the proposed legislation is passed before the racing commission reconvenes.

You have seen this column speak about the decoupling threat in Florida, untying the link between racing and operating a racino.  What we are seeing here is pseudo-decoupling.  Kentucky horsemen, in particular quarter horse interests need to decide whether or not Keenland's application is truly in their best interest.  After all, while there will be simulcasting year round, does a 12 day meet really constitute a meet?  Quarter horse interests need to realize they are merely being used to open a slot parlor.  Is this any different from what is going on in Gretna, Florida where the conduct 'flag-drop' racing (two horses going down a straightway) or the 'racing' at Oxford Downs where the goal is to operate poker rooms?  The last thing Keenland really cares about is the actual racing of quarter horses; to them it is merely the cheapest way to open a slot parlor,

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