26 October 2011

Horse Racing Needs Rats To Help Clean The Game Up

Former backstretch employee T.Y. Faulkner wrote a piece on The Paulick Report, A Bounty For Cheaters, that seems to have struck a nerve (judging by many of the comments).

He pretty much sums up his proposal in one paragraph:

"The racing organizations should step up with some serious monies to "bait" this information from within the backside. I would like to see posters offering $10,000 or more for information that leads to catching cheats. This information would have to be represented to the authorities and the bounty paid only if and when we could identify by testing the substances being used. Someone held that horse for the injection or saw a veterinarian in the barn in the middle of the night."

As I pointed out in the comment section, his idea has already been implemented in Ontario:

Horse Racing Community partners with Crime Stoppers

Call 1-800-222-TIPS to anonymously report information on any crime

In order to maintain the honesty and integrity of horse racing, the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) maintains an official partnership agreement with Crime Stoppers. Crime Stoppers is a not-for profit community-based charitable program involving the co-operative efforts of the community, the media and the police in the fight against crime.

With the financial support of the industry-funded ORCEquine Medication Control and Drug Task Force, there is now a program in place to give Ontario’s horse racing community an anonymous, confidential way to report any illegal activity related to horse racing.

With the Crime Stoppers program, Called ID is never in place, callers are never asked to identify themselves, nor will they ever be asked to testify or be named. Cash rewards are offered to people who call the program and their information assists in an investigation.

By far the majority of people who work in horse racing are honest, dedicated professionals who care about the horse and play by the rules. If you witness or know of any illegal activity, don’t hesitate to take a stand. Report the activities anonymously. It’s your future. It’s your business.

Call Crime Stoppers 1-800-222-TIPS (1-800-222-8477)

This program began over 4 years ago. The obvious questions are How many cash rewards have been given out? How many suspensions has this initiative led to? and How reliable have the tipsters been?

Ontario might be one of the cleaner jurisdictions in North America, but there are still many horses that rebreak in the stretch (which to me is an indication of extra oxygen...I could be wrong, but on polytrack, I doubt I am wrong more times than not).

The biggest problem with Faulkner's idea and the ORC initiative is that there needs to be a huge fine and huge suspension associated with getting caught. What is the point if the trainer gets a slap on the wrist?, as is the case in most instances that are made public.

Disgruntled ex employees (grooms and hotwalkers etc.) may not be the most reliable source, especially if the reward is too high. But I don't see the harm in at least trying snitch programs at every track to see where it leads.

It would be great if ex trainers or ex vets had the balls to "rat out" the industry, but there seems to be some sort of mafioso club type of connection backstretch people have whether they are in the game still or out of the game. And when someone finally does talk they get slammed by their former coworkers (remember when Shane Sellers admitted to using buzzers?).

Dutrow may be a scapegoat, hopefully not. Hopefully severe fines and suspensions will become more persistent, and finally become a deterrent to the obvious cheating that is going on in horse racing.

Personally, I get turned off handicapping races and sometimes it prevents me from handicapping full cards, when I see super trainers in the race or races. They definitely do not help the game in any way shape or form. And of course, it isn't just the super trainers who cheat, but the super trainers seem to have their Teflon ways about them.

ITPP Research Receives Funding From PHHA

Researchers have found that mice with damaged hearts increased exercise levels by 35 per cent when given the drug orally, and 60 per cent when it was injected in the abdomen.

Hong Kong Has ITPP Test

One of the Group One Winners at the Moonee Valley meet in Australia tested positive for arsenic (one of the ingredients in ITPP)

Hanging On By A Thread
Fort Erie announced that they have applied for less dates and a shorter season next year. They intend to race 69 days, down from 78 this year.

Interesting observation:
...the track was successful in accomplishing their goal of attracting new customers with their twilight races and live music, but over the same time period, they lost many of their older, more dedicated attendees, mostly attributed to the poor economy and weak US dollar which kept many Americans on their side of the border.

I'm not sure that I buy into the excuses given. It doesn't make sense that they could attract new customers if the reasons given for losing the older customers is correct. Older customers are dying out, more people are playing online, and as for the economy I don't see people buying less lottery tickets, and as for not attracting Americans to cross the border, that is old news, long before the Consortium took over.

If they are in fact attracting new customers, it won't last too long as a 26% takeout on exactors and doubles wipe them out very quickly and take away incentive to come back.

Handle at Fort Erie this year has been abysmal. The only bet that seems to be doing well is the Pick 4 (they reduced the takeout on that bet to 14% this year).

Horse racing is in decline when it should be flourishing, but it all starts with takeout. The money returned to bettors is too low and non competitive with other forms of gambling.

Woodbine Attempts To Optimize Dates:
Woodbine is looking to dump low handle Thursdays during the summer and extend the season, so the race dates remain the same.

Great thinking on their part. Now how about optimizing takeout? Handle has been crappy lately there. Big purses, yet we still see plenty of 6 horse fields, and way too much dominance by certain outfits and jockeys. At least I can't say that super jockeys are cheating....Luis Contreras seems to be in a league of his own, but I doubt he is using ITPP or snail venom:) He just outfinesses the rest of the colony it seems.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So Fort Erie is on the brink!!
Its up to current management to steer the track either 1)to its demise or 2)to a dynamic resurrection.

And management's decisions re: takeout will determine whether 1) or 2) applies.

Clearly the current takeout levels have resulted in NEGATIVE growth and more of the same will result in permanent closure of the track.

To restore Fort Erie to a postion of dynamic racing and betting a brand new and innovative approach to takeout is necessary. Here's what management should try for the first 3 months of racing in 2012. REDUCE takeout on all exotic bets to about 15% and REDUCE takeout on all WPS bets to about 5%. Then sit back and watch handle go to unprecedented levels, meaning levels now being bet at Woodbine.

Audacious and new management would try it. Current management will not because it is stuck in the mindset of racing executives that existed 30 or 40 years ago. (hello Rick Cowan)

And that's too bad. Hence, after 2012, I'm saying goodbye to Fort Erie, one of my favourite tracks!