The takeout increase implemented by the CHRB and TOC is almost nine months old, but the new life intended for California racing has not yet been delivered. The “anesthesiologists” at the TOC have already eliminated any financial pain for that small but powerful, self-perpetuating group of owners; forcing the “surgeons” at the CTHA and the “general practitioners” at HANA to try and resuscitate the wallets of less influential horsemen and most horseplayers, respectively.
The official birth of the Player’s Boycott was recorded in the middle of January, but some of its supporters had already closed their wallets the day the infamous bill was signed into law by the lame duck appointer of some other fowl balls laying eggs and hatching plots at the CHRB.
Some may ask what the boycott and the dedicated work by horseplayer advocates have actually accomplished. The answer is 1) heightened national awareness of California racing’s failure to thrive, 2) confirmation that the primary cause of that sad state of affairs is the existing balance of power on the TOC board of directors together with the CHRB chair, and 3) sufficient interaction with reasonable and rational industry insiders that helped trigger initiation of corrective action by astute and concerned horsemen. Indeed only cooperation between horsemen and horseplayers can reverse horse racing’s decline in popularity and handle.
Careful tracking by boycott leaders of handle at Santa Anita for comparison with previous year figures revealed discrepancies between data available for public consumption from EQUIBASE and those determined privately for the CHRB by CHRIMS. Those discrepancies have finally been explained, and some CHRIMS-adjusted data is now being made available publicly. Boycott supporters continued tracking comparative handle at Hollywood Park and Del Mar which are both down for the year as was Santa Anita’s.
Some track executives have acknowledged the boycott was a contributing factor in the downturn in California handle, but even in the face of objective data, the TOC power brokers refuse to recognize that their plan is not working, and that change is in order. Fortunately, not all that organization’s members have been deceived by its leadership.
The CTHA has already gathered well in excess of the required number of TOC member signatures on a petition calling for decertification of the TOC, and submitted them to the CHRB in advance of their August board meeting. Yet no mention was made publicly of that fact by the CHRB, prompting concerns that the legally-mandated processing of that petition will be at best delayed and at worst derailed by CHRB leadership.
The CTHA took out an advertisement in the Daily Racing Form for Pacific Classic day stating that they had offered to halt the decertification process if the TOC would permit “a free, fair, and open election … for every seat in the TOC Board of directors and let every licensed California Thoroughbred owner … choose how they wish to be represented …,” but that “The TOC did not respond “
It’s now clear that those currently in control at the TOC will neither voluntarily share any of their influence and power nor cease exhibiting the blatant yet self-defeating self-interest that is causing responsible racing participants of all stripes to turn away from them -- not just angry customers.
In my opinion, people who have already shown their resolve to set things right in California by either withholding their betting dollars and/or distributing them elsewhere, should not only keep the pressure on, but find additional ways to support horsemen who seek reform as well. Together we will prevail. Going betless in California continues to display its virtues for all to see.
Long time poster, commenter, industry watcher and horse racing fan "Indulto"submitted this piece this week. Thank you!