He will explain some of the things that are turning him away from the game. Track executives and horseman reps would do well to read this series, in my opinion, as when we lose people like Hajck we are not far off from losing many more.
Here is Hajck's Bio:
Hajck's first introduction to the races was on October 28th, 1974 when he watched a 16 year old kid boot home his first win ever aboard Oregon Warrior in the 6th race from just outside the fence at Yakima Meadows. That kid's name was Russell Baze.
In 1976, Hajck attended college in Santa Barbara and later moved to Los Angeles where he managed nightclubs while honing his handicapping chops at Santa Anita, Hollywood Park, Del Mar, Pomona, and Agua Caliente. Opportunity joined technology in 1989 when he moved to Lancaster, CA, just two blocks from the Satellite Wagering Facility featuring simulcasts from across the country.
In 2003, Hajck was named to the Brisnet Handicapper's Hall of Fame where just some of the tickets he has cashed are documented.
In 2007 he attended his first Kentucky Derby and savored the flavor of racing in the Bluegrass, and at the same time was hired as a Fan Educator at Emerald Downs in Seattle, WA where he was a 25% partner in Four Star Stables.
On October 25th, 2008, he sadly walked away from the sport he had always considered his passion. His support of the game has taken a different direction, from a financial one to one he hopes will make the game better for those that have it in their blood.
He continues work on his novel, SINGLING DEEP, a mystery/fiction suspense thriller with a racing backdrop set in the Pacific Northwest.
Why I Left Racing
…and what it will take to get me back.
Doug "Hajck" Hillstrom
It was a left jab to the chin, a glancing blow, but enough to assure me that my adversary wasn't a friend, or even an associate. It seemed that every time I encountered this foe, I would somehow, someway, get sucker punched with a left, while his right hand was taking approximately 25% of the cash out of my pocket. It was the same right hand that just moments before had caressed my shoulder while he was whispering in my ear "Come on into this wonderful building I built just for you, and you will be rich and happy."
My rivals were racing administrators everywhere that had been beating me down for years, and I wasn't going to take it anymore. When I say "everywhere," I should mention the caveat being in Lexington, Kentucky with Keeneland Race Course the glaring exception, a place where the game is played closer to where it should be played.
On October 24th, 2008 I purchased my Brisnet Ultimate PP's and sat down to what I always consider to be an enjoyable three hours of analysis for the opening day card at my profit center, Hollywood Park. For what ever reason, I do better at the Inglewood oval than any other, and in this game, that usually helps shape how well you like a track. When I awoke on the 25th, and discovered that the California TOC had blocked the signal to those wagering outside the state of California via ADW sites, I was livid. The switch had finally been thrown.
It was that dark day that I left the game I had helped support for years. No longer would I be the sport's pawn, readily sacrificed by factions in a house of cards divided. No longer would I wager hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. No longer would I be purchasing thoroughbreds and bring them to the track to race. No longer would I be sharing the joys that the sport brings to people across all sections of society.
For years I had resisted addressing the dark side of the sport, choosing to accentuate the positive and ignoring all of its flaws. I dealt with the foul-ups and mismanagement as part of the fabric of the sport, and pressed on. Racing isn't a game for the feint of heart, I would tell myself, and tomorrow will be a fresh slate. Truth be told though, the slate is never a fresh one, but the same battered one recycled over and over again, covered with a layer of grime that is merely polished at the close of each racing day.
Drug use, steroids, excessive taxation, excessive take, integrity of the wagering pools, and the general integrity of the sport need to be standardized throughout the industry. It is time to bring the sport together. States can keep certain distinctions to their product, but the sport needs to join together for the common good. Jurisdictions, horsemen, administrators, and horseplayers have to come to together on a level playing surface and pound out some realistic objectives. They need to realize that they are all in this together, and that a model needs to be created. I believe Keeneland is a good place to start in building that model.
Let's start off with something easy and long overdue. Let's ban the use of the conventional whip used in the United States. I can meet the jockey's halfway, and allow the use of the more humane whip used in Europe and in Steeplechase racing. This is a no-brainer, folks. It is the visual that has been giving the sport a black eye for decades now. Imagine the infusion of good press it could generate?
That is the first step forward in bringing this handicapper back to the sport. When that hurdle is scaled, I will present my second step, but I won't be holding my breath in the meantime. I'd be amazed if the whips were repealed in our lifetime, as the wheels of progress grind slowly in this sport. Next we'll look at the derisive divisions in racing between Administrators, Horsemen, and Horseplayers.
Until then, I will find a poker game to play in without much hassle, and with parameters that are well defined and well managed.
If you would like to join Hajck and us here at HANA, please sign up today.