Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Are Major Changes (Still) Needed at the CHRB and TOC?

Most of you remember the Players Boycott of California racing in late 2010. California had just initiated one of the largest takeout hikes in racing history. Although some of the media reported this was a "strike action" whereby horseplayers simply wanted a better deal, if you read the fine print, this was not the case at all.

The boycott of California racing was not done to hurt California racing. The boycott was done to help it, by hoping to force change in the various organizations like the CHRB and TOC.

From the third item in the Boycott proclamation, as reported by Ed Zieralski was about a restructuring of the alphabets:
  • Players Boycott proposes a new "Gambling Board" to advise the CHRB on all gambling related matters such as new bets, takeout rates and scratch rules. Organizers see this board including an economist, a track official, and a player representative. They don’t believe the present CHRB members understand gaming issues. Players Boycott believes that experts should be the ones making gambling-related policy for thoroughbred racing in California.
At the time we proposed someone like a Barry Meadow to be a watchdog for the end consumer of the product. Barry is a smart person and world class gambler who has been around racing all his life. If a first time gelding is not reported, he would be a worthy person to be looking into a new policy. If a new bet was to be issued, he'd be equally worthwhile. If horseplayers are worried about horses racing lame or sore, he would as well. Certainly his perspective on the Baffert matter currently being discussed would at the very least put customers at ease.

Now two years later, with the recent news regarding the TOC, CHRB and the associated Ray Paulick and Bob Baffert feud, we believe this was especially prescient. We'd submit, if they looked into changing the leadership and putting people in charge with specific, professional skills at that time, they may not be in the position they are today.

California racing - its short fields, its infighting, its lack of trust in any form of leadership - has caused a vacuum. That vacuum has consumed the industry there where it seems no one trusts anyone, and nothing can get done in any positive fashion.

How can they possibly right the ship with the present structure? How can they get competitive takeouts, better field size, costs of doing business reductions, racedates, new tracks, old tracks, stabling and all the rest that's need to be done in a multi-billion dollar industry if they stick with the status quo?

Just like two years ago when the Players boycott was taking place, players believe that there needs to be an overhaul. There are good people in California racing - people who are smart, passionate and dedicated to the task at hand. They need to be moved from the background to the forefront. They need to be in charge of restructuring the sport in the Golden State, and lead like leaders do.


Anonymous said...

Well said and right on point. Purses are [and always will be] a function of handle. Had they listened to you and adopted more of your suggestions than just the 14% takeout P5, their handle would be higher than it currently is, their revenue would be higher than it currently is, and their PURSES would be higher too!

Charlie James
Del Mar Heights, CA

Anonymous said...

This is very interesting. I would like to see someone who knows what it is like to be a bettor making better bettor decisions.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, between the politics, the clueless political appointees and the self serving horsemen's groups there is just no light at the end of the tunnel. The only hope is that these groups give up some of their power to a problem solving leader that everyone can respect, that is capable of making decisions for the greater good. The current business model is broken and the status quo is unwlling or unable to fix it.

Anonymous said...

The biggest problem that California has, and most of racing in general, is that its a horseman's game and not a players game. The bettor is a necessary evil (according to the people running the game), while the trainer and owner are king. Everything from carding racing, to the betting menu, to the slaps on the wrist for violations, to no exchange wagering is all proof that its a horseman's world and the bettor is lucky he or she is even invited to the party.

There was a players panel about a decade ago (and i believe Barry Meadow was on that panel) and some amazing suggestions were put on the table, to my knowledge, very few if any of them were actually implemented.

Its just business as usual in California, its very unlikely that anyone there will listen to the 'lowly customers' when they make suggestions, its been that way for quite some time and it doesnt really seem like anything will change in the forseeable future.

Anonymous said...

Lets not forget - the "Players boycott" is still theoretically taking place.

... with about as much effect as ever.