Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Davidowitz Sounds off on California Racing

With all due respect to those in California who have some official status and/or can influence people in power. It is obviously embarrassing for anyone in the TOC, or close to the CHRB to admit they made a major mistake with the increased takeout percentages that have been in play for well more than a year in the Golden State.  

But real leadership requires courage; real leadership requires the ability to admit a mistake and correct it as soon as the law will allow. So where is that leadership? Where are all the people who profess the desire to straighten out Cal racing and push it once more to the top of American horse racing?

Consider: Purses were artificially inflated by the takeout increase to no noticeable gain in field size, or in gross wagering handle.

In fact the reverse has proven true as the "Players' Pick Five" has demonstrated repeatedly via larger than expected handles on that bet while others have stagnated or declined.

More evidence has been piling up on both counts, yet the voices for reason in high places remain silent. It is mind boggling, frustrating to observers and horseplayers alike.

CHRB Board Members who stand idly by while nothing is done deserve to be challenged by horseplayers, responsible media, California track owners and government officials. The TOC is only part of the problem. They have gained what their agenda said they wanted to gain. But their experiment with higher takeouts has failed.

From this vantage point, strictly as a horseplayer whose handle was about 50 percent directed to So Cal racing and now is restricted to a much smaller percentage of play and in fact mostly towards Pick Sixes with $250,000+ carryovers, this much seems true: California Racing is acting like it has six shooters pointed down at its feet. Give it enough time and all of its toes will be gone. Time is not your ally in this.

Show some real leadership. Use your best people with your best ideas. Do something constructive.

Some of us out here are rooting hard for any of that to occur.


Steve Davidowitz

Steve can be reached at


Anonymous said...

"responsible media" Who might that be?

That Blog Guy said...

Steve, I know you are concerned with thoroughbred racing but California is killing harness racing. For example, Los Alamitos is allowed to simulcast thoroughbred, quarter horse, and take Cal Expo harness wagers which is fine, but Cal Expo is limited by law to take in for simulcasting eight harness races from out of state when they race.

Think about it. Eight harness races from out of state. Meanwhile, if you have an ADW in California you can bet on any race in the country, I realize the tracks can't compete with ADWs, but shouldn't they be allowed to; at least within their own breed?

On top of that, CalExpo can't even simulcast on their dark days. So, to increase their revenue they need to depend on 16 simulcast races a week. No wonder Cal Expo is getting out of operating the harness meet and is looking for someone to takeover. Who would do that under these conditions.

The Golden State has a lot to learn about horse racing; of all breeds.

Anonymous said...


Horseplayers appreciate you writing this. Other than HANA, it seems very few care what happens to our racing handles and future. "Get it while you can" seems to rule the thinking.

Thanks again.