25 May 2008

Congress To Look Into Horse Racing: Drugs and Breeding

Congress Horse Racing Hearing Could Bring In Needed Changes
A Congress panel hearing is expected to be conducted in June with respect to horse racing. The hot issues will be drugs and breeding. Good things may come from this hearing. Here is a quote from a similar article: "One of the major problems in addressing these issues is the industry has no leaders." This hearing may force Drug Uniformity upon the industry, something that industry could not do by themselves. This should have been a no brainer, and dealt with a long time ago. But the industry doesn't have a brain.
Dealing with breeding could be easy as pie. Just faze in a plan where next year 4 year olds can retire to stud, but raise the age minimum to 5 in 2010, and 6 in 2011.
Raise the age to 5 for females starting in 2010. Simple. Breeding for longevity will occur naturally as soon as that happens.

The lack of leadership in the industry has caused the industry to be as dysfunctional as ever. And another thing that Congress is supposed to look at is the special status the horse racing industry is getting. It could get ugly. Right now there is an internet ban on gambling in the USA. Horse racing is exempt. Congress may decide that horse racing shouldn't be exempt.

The internet ban is a joke anyway. Many offshore sites openly take American customers. Check out RakeTheRake, and you'll see more than a handful of companies on the left side of the page that have a US flag, meaning they take Americans.

Some Whining From Nick Coukos
From his May report at the Ontario HBPA site. He calls this an issue that hinders horse racing's growth:
On the issue of unlawful internet gaming through offshore sites, such venues are pilfering our revenue streams with no compensation to our industry whatsoever. Recently, Betfair, an offshore entity, has announced that they are continuing to take bets from Canadians on horse racing without providing any compensation to our industry whatsoever. We need to have both our provincial and federal governments take immediate action in order to stop this proliferation of unlawful illegal gambling on live horse racing. In the United States, continuing action is being taken with additional internet legislation which was recently introduced on April 11, 2008. Prior internet legislation toughened enforcement against oversees internet gambling operators through criminalizing their acceptance of payments from US customers. This legislation makes it illegal for operators to accept payment and requires financial transaction providers to identify and block restricted transactions. With this action in US congress, offshore entities such as Betfair, have rightfully decided to avoid business with US customers. Similar action in Canada is necessary in order for us to continue the battle within this significant issue.

First off, I've said it before, and I'll say it again. It is not illegal or unlawful for a Canadian to bet using Betfair or any offshore house for that matter, as long as the operation doesn't have a server that accepts bets within sovereign Canada.
I can invite a Mountie over to my house, and have him watch me deposit money in my Betfair account, watch me play Betfair, and even watch me withdraw money from Betfair.
Secondly, trying to stamp out Canadians from betting with offshore houses will not bring much money back to HPI, if at all. Canadians bet offshore because of the bang for the buck they receive. Low rakes and takeouts is what makes the Canadian gambler tick these days. There are actual long term winners who play at these venues. This creates word of mouth, and it why gambling is growing all over the world.
Horse racing in North America is stuck on stupid. If anything is "criminal," it is the track takeouts. Nobody can show a long term profit betting through HPI. I don't care how great a handicapper you are. NO BUZZ from winners equals NO GROWTH.
Note to Nick: Don't bother expecting growth as long as track takeouts stay at such ridiculously high levels. It is unbecoming and illogical. The growth will be hindered until the horse racing industry grows up.
If the industry can't compete, or can't be bothered to compete, it should just disappear. That is what happens in business all the time.
The internet has changed a lot of things, and it should have been a huge boon for the racing industry. But the industry forgot that they aren't the only game in town anymore.
With that said, there is a good chance that Betfair and California is about to do a partnership deal in the very near future.. Betfair isn't going away.

You know what is illegal in Canada? Office betting pools and non sanctioned poker games. That is because the money is being collected within Canada. I haven't heard of any office pools getting busted lately.

The Ontario HBPA seems to be very impotent when it comes to dealing with government. I agree with Coukos that the amount a horsemen can write off in a given year needs to be increased. It really isn't fair, considering the financial risk that owners take, for example. I know prices have gone up for everything, but the write off cap has remained the same for a long long time.

The Ontario HBPA can do three things to benefit horsemen immediately. First thing is to get rid of that stupid rule that prevents Ontario bred horses from earning full purses once they are claimed. I've had a few owners tell me that it has actually prevented them from claiming Ontario breds. They just feel they are getting ripped off if they claim one. Claiming must be down this year. And aside from the fact that the game in Ontario is dying thanks to WEG, the claiming rule has a lot to do with it.
Second thing, is to get state bred claiming races implemented at Woodbine and Fort Erie. This will automatically make all Ontario bred horses worth more money. It will give owners an out as well if they can't compete at the allowance level, and it will even add value to open Ontario bred claimers who often have to run their butts off at Fort Erie, only to lose in a fast time to an American bred, even at the $5000 claiming level.
Third, and I know this won't happen, lobby for lower takeout rates. It is the only way for the industry to grow.

Betfair has been instrumental in finding out those behind betting scandals
What does HPI do about betting corruption?

The five Attards who train at Woodbine are off to a very slow start. Sid Attard is 5 for 54, Tino Attard (with a win yesterday) is 2 for 18, Kevin Attard is 1 for 16, while Paul Attard is 0 for 18, and Steve Attard is 0 for 25. This adds up to a total of 8 for 131. To put things in perspective, there are 4 individual trainers tied with 9 wins at Woodbine going into today. Nick Gonzalez (really Martha Gonzalez) is 9 for only 37.
It doesn't take much to turn these stats around. I'm sure we will see better things to come in 2008 from the Attards.

Follow up to the HBO slaughter piece. Apparently the Estate of Dale Baird sold quite a few horses to the meaters.

Scientific Games apparently knew about the bug that prevented quick pick players from getting a ticket that included number 20(Big Brown in the Kentucky Derby)

Trainer at Los Alamitos fined only $15,000 for 6 positives. What a joke.

Horsemen in Kentucky respond to lawsuit: They want a halt to the purse cuts for starters.

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