Saturday, July 12, 2014

Horseplayers Understand How Dinny Phipps Feels

In the article "Jockey Club Supports Federal Oversight...." you can sense the frustration by Dinny Phipps. He, and others from the Jockey Club, clearly do not think federal oversight is the best solution to their issues, but getting horsemen groups and states, as well as other alphabets, to agree to some sort of reform is elusive. He looks like a man who is saying "I can't fix this problem, so let the feds take over."

Really, can anyone blame him?

As horseplayers I think we know how he feels.

Today there was a thread on about a proposed (and rumored) hike in takeout rates at Del Mar racetrack, which will be carried over to all of California racing. It's titled "Is the TOC preparing to stick it to horseplayers again?"

The TOC, for those who do not know, is the Thoroughbred Owners of California. They have veto power over what racetracks charge us to bet the product. Why should an ownership group be able to tell tracks what to charge their betting customers, you may ask? It's because it's a part of the Interstate Horse Racing Act.

For example, at Del Mar, the state, Frank Stronach, the CHRB and horseplayers can be all packed with studies, economist testimony and econometric data to show that lower takeout rates of, say, 12% can work for everyone. Despite that, the horsemen group of record can say no. Then the policy would end.

They don't have to show a business case. They don't have to bring in experts to testify so that a decision can be made. They don't need data from economists.

They can just say "no" and it's over. We think that's just silly.

It's similar to a hay supplier going into Bob Baffert's barn and having the power to set Bob's day rate. That sounds nuts, and it probably is, but that's the power of the IHA.

Takeout rates should be set in a professional way, with professional people who know gambling economics in charge of the precedings. Giving a horsemen group the power to set takeout rates in a  capricious fashion - without any checks and balances - should've never happened in the first place.

It's a wrong that needs to be righted. The future of wagering for horse racing is too important for knee-jerk, non-scientific, arbitrary decisions.The IHA needs updating, and it needs updating before it does even more damage.

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