If I Was the Commissioner of Racing . . .

markinsacmarkinsac Member
edited October 2012 in Thoroughbred Racing & Sales
Getting all of horse racing on the same page is virtually impossible. This is just a pipe dream:


Year-round racing would be eliminated. Let's face it, how excited does the Philadelphia horse player get when going to the races at Parx? The 1,100 in attendance know that they can go on just about any given week, 52 weeks a year. Instead there would be 4 circuits based in each time zone. On January 1st, the Eastern A circuit would be Gulfstream, B-Tampa Bay. Central A: Fair Grounds, B: Other Louisiana and Texas tracks. Mountain racing would be at Turf Paradise and New Mexico. While Pacific would be at Santa Anita. As the weather warms up, the circuits move north to places like Kentucky, Oaklawn, N Calif etc. I would eliminate winter racing at Aqueduct and summer racing at Calder. Even southern Calif would take a break so the A circuit could go to Golden Gate.

I would immediately lower the overbearing takeout to a more competitive 10% on Win, Place and Show bets, 15% on exotic bets. If possible, I would try to eliminate robotic wagering. Horse racing is similiar to poker. Players invest on horses or poker


  • I would eliminate veternarians and have a fleet of track-employed vets to service all trainers. And I would make trainers give an evaluation in the daily program of every horse entered. Example: Glenda's Boy has been sidlined for 4 months. I put him in a 6-furlong race in an effort to get him fit for his next race which will be longer in distance. WOULD I BET ON HIM? No because he's been on the shelf. But you never know, we might get lucky. Another example: Gorgeous Ginger has been working up a storm for her first start. She's beaten just about every horse in my barn during practice sessions. I trained her daddy and he won his first start. WOULD I BET ON HER? I'm not a betting man, but if I was, the answer is YES.

    Trainers should treat the bettors like partners. Give them pertinent information in helping them make complex decisions. A bettor who makes a logical decision and wins is a happy bettor and a happy customer. Creating winners keeps them coming back.
  • I would require all racetrack executives to spend at least one day a year at the track gambling on horses. Experience what the customer experiences, and try their dardnest to turn a profit. It doesn't matter what the starting bankroll is, $500 or $20, just do your best. Also, no freebies on gambling day. Pay parking, admission and pay for a form.

    Since many racetracks have vast empty parking lots, I'd diversify into hotels that could be used by travelling horsemen during the racing season, use the facilities for trade shows, weddings, concerts. These are big plots of land, many of them in the heart of metropolitan areas. Right now, they are being under used.
  • I would end lasix. Horses would then get more starts, be healthier and the owners could make more purse money. Field sizes would increase leading to betting handle increases. Horses aren't all that different than humans. We don't teach our kids that drugs are good. Once drugs are eliminated, the breed will become sturdier, getting injured less.
  • Why isnt anyone else commenting on your thread? All of your ideas sound good and for the better of racing. There was an incident at keeneland during opening day where one horse was accidentally administered lasix and the trainer was given the option of running the horse anyways or scratching, the trainer still ran the horse. Why? If the horse wasnt supost to get lasix and it got it why would u want your horse to run on it anyways. Maybe because all the other horses in the race had lasix? Horse didnt finish on the board.
  • I agree, Rachel, I think this is a great thread! I haven't commented because I don't think I know enough about it all, but I'm enjoying learning! I will ask this question, when did all the "drugging" start? Was it going on when we actually had triple crown winners? Like during Secretariat's day and Slews? Really curious about that!?
  • There was skepticism about secretariat being on some type of enhancement drug after they seen the records he was breaking and the lengths he was winning by
  • After reading Penny Chenery's comments about that in May of this year, you would have to show me on paper that it is true! I know there was speculation, never proven, and everyone can have an opinion about it, but I don't believe it for a second.
  • why exactly did they do an autopsy on him? was it just for his heart?
  • back when Daily Racing Form was doing their daily quizzes on their facebook page for real prizes, i answered a question correctly and was on of the people selected to win a secretariat book that has great stories and facts about him with lots of lovely pictures
  • According to the doctor who performed the autopsy, it was necesssary for insurance and to determine the cause of death was laminitis.
  • so when they do autopsies on horses that are euthanized or die suddenly of natural cause or just die of old age they explore the whole horse? i just find it interesting
  • LOL, you made me curious too, so I looked his up but I seriously don't know about all horses. I imagine if it's a famous horse they always do but not sure. And I'm sure most thoroughbreds are insured and they would need to know cause of death but I really don't know. I also saw he was one of the few horses buried whole! Apparently, they usually bury just "parts" and the rest are cremated!? Who knew?
  • i knew about that, its the head heart and hooves that are burried. its sort of a traditional tribute to the race horse: the heart of determination to get itself across the wire, the head is for something idk lol and the hooves that carried it there. thats what i remember anyways lol
  • i believe ruffian was burried whole
  • I didn't know about the head, heart, and hooves. That's interesting. I think you're right about Ruffian, too! She was such a pretty girl. It still breaks my heart. I remember in a movie about her that they buried her whole.
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  • same privilege of being burried whole? would be a disgrace if she were burried with just the head heart and hooves
  • RachelRachel Member
    edited October 2012
    the bodies go to meat rendering plants for dog food and such. some get cremated but for the most part thats what happens. in england they go to the knackery, which is their word for meat rendering. i sure hope that wasnt the case for Syncronized.
  • caseycasey any racetrack with camera in handMember
    so when they do autopsies on horses that are euthanized or die suddenly of natural cause or just die of old age they explore the whole horse? i just find it interesting
    In animals, it's called a necropsy. Necropsies are done to determine cause of death, if possible. Sometimes, a vet may suspect say an obstruction, and if they do a limited necropsy, they may not find an obstruction. Then, the vet must guesstimate- ex: a horse was brought into our hospital, in obvious shock, after colicking for several days. Bloodwork looked awful; no gut sounds; and obstruction was suspected. Owner insisted on surgery (vet advised against it due to debilitated condition of the horse). Horse was anesthetized, on the table, but before the vet could open her up, she went into cardiac arrest. Emergency drugs were administered with no success. Vet did a modified necropsy, found no displacement, no impaction, no obvious physical signs and ruled it endotoxemia due to prolonged colic. Now, had this horse been insured, we probably would have had to send it to a pathologist for a full necropsy. There are numerous steps involved in a full necropsy and many exact protocols that must be followed. Cost of a small animal necropsy is about 1500.00, so you can imagine how much a horse would be (every body system and the organs have to be inspected)
  • thank you for the info casey ^.^
  • Rachel and others, I thank you for your interest. But the fact that you describe yourselves as newbies is telling. You see, the old guard of horse racing refuses to bring it's product into the modern age of gambling. Horse racing is so uncompetitive, that it's becoming embarrassing.

    Consider these facts:

    I was just reading a historical article (chha online) on harness racing in California, they show articles from the 1930's with 20, 000 people packing the grandstands, for a harness race!

    I was in Las Vegas this morning, in the race and sports books, the area reserved for horse racing patrons is filled with football fans. The manager at one high-profile book told me that he used to have legions of horse players, but 90% of them are gone, either died off, bet elsewhere or moved on to bet on to other things.

    Newspapers used to have horse racing stories on the front pages of the sports section, sometimes on the front page of the newspaper itself. Now, many newspapers don't even print the entries or the results.

    While football teams, baseball teams and basketball teams play in shiney new stadiums and arenas, many race track facilites are over 50 years old and some are approaching the century mark.

    Slot machines have funneled fresh money into purses that help the owners, there's no guarantee that this money will last. As state budgets are in deficit, politicians will eventually dip into the slot till. Already, Churchill Downs, Penn National and others are bigger casino corporations than they are horse companies. If the racing side is underperforming, believe me, they have plenty of young executives who have no ties to racing who will try to phase racing out. Furthermore, the marriage of racing and slot machines only bring more horse players into the casinos. Slot players aren't going to sit around waiting 5 or 10 minutes between races when they are already programmed to have action on the slot every 5 or 10 seconds.

    Horse racing's biggest asset is that fact that you can make a logical decision backed up by a wager. This element also exists in poker and sports betting. The logic factor doesn't apply to slot machines and most casino table games. The problem is the takeout is so exorbient, that the younger knowlegable crowd will take their action elsewhere.

    I have yet to see or hear of any race track executive claim that a 20% takeout is beatable or healthy to your bankroll. While racing has finally seen some modest gains in handle, I'd surely like to see the breakdown on the takeout paid on these bets. You see, while racings blue-collar bettors have to bet with the 20% takeout, there are some offshore betting shops where their high-end bettors get generous rebates. In short, these bettors are betting at a takeout of 5% or less, making the game beatable through skillfull bets etc. And the reason these high-end players bet so much is because the rebates reduce the takeout. So while executives claim they need the high takeout to make expenses, they also allow low takeout by big bettors. And these bettors continue to bet big.

    I think they call that a contradiction.
  • Folks, don't get me wrong, I'm want racing to succeed. I'm a big fan of the sport. But I can't silently see it move into extinction without shaking it and saying, "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?"

    In just two decades, many horse racing grandstands have gone from the happiest place on earth to ghost towns. It's time to shake some things up. First you have to recognize the problems . . .
  • Handicapping horses takes some brains. I do not think this country, with it's Nascar and monster trucks is capable of the smarts it takes to read racing forms and study pedigrees like my granddad did. Our Sonoma County Fair racetrack was packed with fans up until the 90's. They put in a turf course, renamed it Wine Country Racing, and it still did not bring them in. It hurts to see the decline. I remember the greats, Baze rides here, but it feels like a niche sport for sure!
  • breakdowns dont help the sport either, no one likes seeing a magnificent animal in pain like that or dying on the track. the story of Paynter might be helping tho
  • Very true, my non racing fan friends are absolutely horrified by the televised breakdowns. It is hard to explain that these things happen, you can not put a horse in a cast and in a bed for 6 weeks like a person, they just are repelled by the sight, and in all fairness to them, it is heartbreaking. It is a part of racing that will never be eliminated, they are so very fragile. I think breakdowns are a crucial reason why horse racing is going to continue to lose viewers, animal welfare is becoming very important to people in this country, and breakdowns can not be totally eliminated.
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