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State Control Of NYRA Extended Through 2017

by Paulick Report Staff | 06.18.2016 | 9:25am

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wanted to reduce payments to NYRA from the video lottery terminals at the Aqueduct casino

A final deal was reached Friday evening to extend the state control of the New York Racing Association through October of 2017, reports the Daily Racing Form. Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislators were unable to reach a deal that would return NYRA to private control.

“This agreement extends the New York Racing Association Reorganization Board until Oct. 18, 2017, continuing the Board, which has successfully turned around NYRA's finances since its exit from bankruptcy in 2012,” read a statement on Cuomo's website. “This agreement preserves the valuable public window into the operation of racing and wagering at New York's premiere racing facilities, and into the use of statutory racing support payments.”

The major point of contention between Governor Cuomo and the state legislators was the use of funds from the video lottery terminals at Aqueduct's casino. While NYRA received a total of $58 million from the VLTs in 2015, Cuomo wanted to cap that amount at $46 million in a re-privatization agreement. Reports suggest that the final deal does not put a limit on the VLT +payments to the NYRA.

Read more at the Daily Racing Form.

 

New York Lawmakers Vote To Legalize Daily Fantasy Sports

by Paulick Report Staff | 06.18.2016 | 1:11pm

 

New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman was one of the first to declare daily fantasy sports to be a violation of state gambling laws. Since that time, New York has been on the forefront of the battle for companies like DraftKings and FanDuel, who were forced to cease operations in the state, to prove that their games are not gambling and thus should not be subject to gambling laws.

Early Saturday morning, according to the Wall Street Journal, the New York legislature voted to legalize and regulate daily fantasy sports in the state. Governor Andrew Cuomo has not yet indicated whether he will sign the bill, which says that the games would be regulated by the New York Gaming Commission.

“New York is the seventh state to pass a fantasy sports bill just this year—frankly a remarkable amount of progress in a short period of time,” said FanDuel CEO Nigel Eccles. “It speaks to the popularity of our game, the passion and advocacy efforts of our fans and the immense potential states are seeing in the fantasy sports industry.”

Read more at the Wall Street Journal.

 

Casino Competition: New York Legislature Sends A Message To New Jersey

by Paulick Report Staff | 06.19.2016 | 2:43pm

 

Just before the end of the legislative session, New York lawmakers sent a strong message to their neighbor regarding the possibility of new casinos being built along the border. A resolution adopted by both the Senate and the Assembly would, according to bloodhorse.com, most likely include the state of New York authorizing casinos to be built downstate, possibly even New York City, as a measure to compete with any casino built in northern New Jersey.

A current law prevents additional casino licenses from being issued for seven more years in New York, in an effort to allow the newest upstate casinos to get off the ground and be prepared for competition. If the state violates that law, as has been proposed by the resolution passed on Saturday, it would have to pay each of the four upstate casinos $50 million.

New Jersey voters have a chance to approve a casino expansion in November, and if they do, the legislature will move to ask Governor Andrew Cuomo for a market study to determine the effects on New York's casino licensees.

According to the resolution, “if such constitutional amendment is adopted, then the New York State Senate and the New York State Assembly will assess the aforementioned market study to determine what actions, including the potential for additional casino licenses, might be necessary to protect the significant contribution made by casino operations to New York state's economy.”

Read more at bloodhorse.com.

 

INTERNET GAMING & VIDEO GAMING TERMINALS:

BAD FOR PURSES, BAD FOR JOBS,

WRONG FOR PENNSYLVANIA

 

ACT NOW -- HELP STOP THE PUSH TO DRIVE CUSTOMERS AWAY
FROM HORSE RACING FACILITIES!

 

THE PROBLEM:

State legislators in Harrisburg are trying to expand gaming practically everywhere...taverns, fire halls, truck stops, airports and more. There's even a plan to allow gaming online, at a much lower tax rate than brick-and-mortar casinos.
http://files.ctctcdn.com/2a4a4f5b001/8aab8c4c-f514-4828-9cc5-53c132a8cfd3.jpg

THE DANGER:

VGT development will cause the Race Horse Development Fund to decrease by $58 to $70 million according to one study--a whopping 24 to 29% reduction!  

Clearly, expanded gaming will drive customers away from racetracks and casinos, potentially resulting in a dramatic reduction in available purse monies. That's because our industry's percentage of slot revenue would be significantly reduced---or, in the case of internet gaming, eliminated completely. Even worse, these reductions would be in addition to the millions of dollars already being siphoned from the Race Horse Development Fund in a shortsighted attempt to cover state budget shortfalls.

THE BOTTOM LINE:

Expanded gaming will hurt the growing horse racing industry that has created 23,000 jobs and invests millions into local communities across Pennsylvania each and every year.

DON'T WAIT. MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD NOW... 

BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE. HERE'S HOW:

 

CALL or EMAIL YOUR LOCAL LEGISLATORS and TELL THEM YOU OPPOSE EXPANDED GAMING THAT ENDANGERS THE HORSE RACING INDUSTRY.

Ask for their support to:

  • Protect 23,000 jobs
  • Protect property tax relief generated by brick-and-mortar casino revenue
  • Protect farmers, the PA economy and thousands of acres of open farmland


Need help finding your local elected officials?
Click here.

Not sure what to write? Simply copy and paste the following message:

As a Pennsylvania resident and voter, I urge you to OPPOSE all forms of expanded gaming that threaten the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Industry. Expanded gaming in any form is detrimental to a growing industry that has created 23,000 jobs and invests millions into local communities each and every year. It also helps to undermine the property tax relief generated by slot machine revenue. Simply put, expanded gaming is bad for jobs, bad for horse racing and wrong for Pennsylvania.

Stay up to date on this issue. Click here to visit Our Expanded Gaming news page.

 

All Tracks Matter

The View  3/27/16 Standardbred Canada

I have had the pleasure of visiting the majority of standardbred racetracks across Canada. From Newfoundland to British Columbia, every one has made an impression on me. They are not all palaces, but the character and history in each grandstand and on every backstretch is unique and extremely special.

I’ve also been to many facilities weeks and months before they’ve closed their doors. Belleville, Montreal, Sudbury, Aylmer, Windsor, Quebec City, Alberta Downs. The list is too long.Lives progress, our industry evolves, and we adapt accordingly. One door closes and another hopefully opens. I can accept that.

However, the idea that attrition strengthens harness racing is a notion that I struggle with.

Yes, I will acknowledge that if purses are allocated across fewer races and fewer tracks, then racing horses at those remaining facilities could become more cost effective. I also acknowledge that racing at more tracks increases the overhead costs the industry must absorb.

But whether it’s losing racing in St. John’s or Edmonton or Sarnia, the undeniable result is that we will lose customers. It is a certainty.

Those parents who come to the track with their young kids on a Sunday afternoon are not going to head to a simulcast outlet - they are lost. Those retirees who bring their grandchildren to the races, and have been doing so for a decade, are not going to bet online - they are lost. Those college kids who are brought out to the local track for a bit of fun on a quiet Thursday evening, are not going to haul three hours to the closest town with a racetrack – they are lost.

We have many responsibilities in this industry, and one of them is to cultivate future racing enthusiasts across this country of ours. The solutions are different in every jurisdiction and no broad brush approach can be taken that will help racing in all 10 provinces. But creative thinking and co-operation can go a long way.

In Ontario, tracks like Leamington, Hiawatha and Dresden - that have all been recently talked about in discussions about viability, are examples of facilities that still draw good local crowds. Many of us have stood trackside and been impressed at the number of families and area residents that still enjoy these weekly traditions. Can we afford to lose that?

With the newly formed Ontario Racing Association, there is an opportunity. It’s a chance to harness our willing tracks to become powerful forces in selling the racing product. Short, strong, festival-like meets, supported by good purses, co-ordinated on-track entertainment, and centrally managed simulcast signals – are now achievable.

As horse population becomes an increasing concern, we may need to move larger purse pools into a smaller number of races. Ownership viability is an issue that must be addressed. In doing so, it is possible that we may be forced to lose cards of racing, and might see the number of dates drop accordingly.

But there are ways to manage all of that and still keep tracks open – a goal that should remain near the top of our list of priorities.

Over our lifetimes, we’ve seen racetracks celebrate 50th and 100th anniversaries. Thousands of hard working builders of the sport got us to this point, and have passed the baton to the current leaders of our industry. We owe it to our predecessors to do the hard work required - to not only keep these tracks open, but to make them a success.

Darryl Kaplan
dkaplan@standardbredcanada.ca

 

Santa Anita Bringing Back Rolling Doubles at Reduced Takeout

by Press Release | 04.11.2014 | 7:03pm

 

Santa Anita Park announced on Friday that in conjunction with the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC), the track’s popular two dollar rolling Daily Doubles, featuring a low takeout of 18 percent, will be offered with the beginning of the upcoming Spring Meet on Friday, April 25.

“We are very happy to be able to announce the return of the rolling Doubles in partnership with the TOC,” said Santa Anita President Tom Ludt.  “This is a popular wager with many of our best customers.  That said, we are continually analyzing and assessing what best suits our betting menu and the desires of our fans and we’re hopeful this decision is a winner on both counts.”

First instituted by Santa Anita on Dec. 26, 1961, the Daily Double requires bettors to select the winners of two races in succession, with a separate pari-mutuel pool for each two-race sequence.

Beginning April 25, the rolling Daily Doubles will be offered on the first race through the next-to-last race on each day’s program.

In addition to the rolling Doubles, Santa Anita’s wagering menu will remain intact, with the track again offering its popular “Players’ Pick 5,” which is comprised of the first five races on each day’s card featuring a 50 cent minimum investment and 14 percent takeout.

–Two dollar win, place and show wagering at Santa Anita continues to offer fans the lowest takeout (15.43 percent) of any major track in the country.

–The two dollar Pick Six, first offered at Santa Anita in 1980, remains one of the most popular exotic wagers in the country and will again be offered on the final six races each day.

–Santa Anita, in conjunction with the TOC, will continue to guarantee $150,000 in the Pick Six pools each weekend.

–Santa Anita will continue to offer one dollar exactas, trifectas and superfectas on each race and will offer rolling one dollar Pick Three wagers, beginning with the first race, throughout each day’s card.

 

Lessons From SeaWorld: Perceptions Can Be a Killer

by Ray Paulick | 04.07.2014 | 1:55pm

 

The documentary, Blackfish, has thrown a harsh light on SeaWorld and the captivity of orcas. Horseracing has company.

SeaWorld officials are under the microscope because of a film released in 2013 alleging cruelty to the orca whales that for decades have been entertaining tourists at the company’s theme parks in Florida, Texas and California.

Defenders of SeaWorld say the film was spliced together carefully to serve an agenda, that the filmmakers want to end wild animal parks as we have known them.

Sound familiar?


Since the documentary was released on DVD last fall and aired numerous times on CNN, attendance has declined at the company’s theme parks. A recent report said the number of SeaWorld visitors dropped by 13 percent for the first three months of 2014.

On Tuesday, the Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee of the California Assembly will be asking some tough questions of SeaWorld officials, who will try to convince lawmakers not to approve legislation that would prohibit the use of orca whales for entertainment purposes and put an end to SeaWorld’s captive breeding program.

I never once questioned whether those majestic creatures were happy to be entertaining us when their trainers gave them cues to jump through rings or splash us with their giant tails. Blackfish, whether it was fair and agenda-driven or not, made me think twice, and nothing I’ve heard from the defenders of the program has convinced me some of the charges of former SeaWorld trainers aren’t true.

In the wake of the video by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the articles in the New York Times and elsewhere, imagine what questions are going through the heads of new fans of horse racing, or those individuals who are considering investing in the sport as an owner.

Has the industry done enough to respond to the allegations and complaints to local, state and federal authorities by PETA that sore horses are given drugs in order to run, that some jockeys use electrical shocking devices to make them go faster, and that one of the sport’s leading stables facilitates immigration and tax fraud?

In the wake of the PETA attacks, all of racing’s alphabet soup organizations, from the Association of Racing Commissioners International to the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, circled their wagons around an ongoing effort to create uniform medication rules to the horses that race for our entertainment and gambling purposes.

And what does that uniform rule say? It states that “only” 26 approved medications may be given to a horse in order to train it up to a race. No matter how legitimate those drugs may be to treat specific problems, imagine how that sounds to someone who just watched the PETA video.

How tone deaf can our leaders be?

I’m not an animal rights person. I eat meat, like to fish and hunt, and enjoyed taking my kids to the circus and SeaWorld when they were younger.  But if you haven’t noticed, society is changing around us. People are less tolerant to the real or perceived abuse of animals, and their voice is becoming louder. When I was growing up we didn’t have “free-range chicken” or “cageless eggs.” Zoos kept animals in cages and circuses had elephant parades through town.

I have no doubt the majority of Thoroughbred caretakers are good to their horses, but there are enough bad apples in the sport to give everyone a bad name. As an industry we are only as strong as our weakest link. Our weakest links are killing the game we love.

Those who think the status quo in horseracing is okay, that we can continue what we are doing now and survive this latest storm, please get out of the bubble. Talk to people who aren’t involved in our business 24/7 and listen to their concerns.

Then work on a solution that doesn’t involve circling the wagons and shooting at the messenger.

 

PA Gaming Board Reports Decrease in Slots Revenue for Purses Last Year

by Press Release | 04.10.2014 | 11:12am

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board today released its seventh annual Racetrack Casino Benchmark Report. Since its first release in 2008, this annual report has concentrated on the impact of Pennsylvania casinos on the state’s horse racing industry.

In accordance with the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act, approximately 11% of revenue generated from slot machine gaming was earmarked for the racing industry and agricultural initiatives in 2013.  As a result, more than $252 million in slot machine tax revenue was generated for the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Fund.  Of this amount, approximately $209 million was used by both the thoroughbred and harness racing industries to enhance purses, assist breeding operations, and provide health and pension benefits for horsemen.

Among the specific findings in this year’s report are:

The amount of tax revenue generated for the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Fund decreased by approximately 7% in 2013 due to a decrease in gross terminal revenue generated by the casinos which host horse or harness racing.

In addition to revenue generated for the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Fund, racetrack casino operators invested over $6 million in 2013 (and approximately $52 million since casinos opened in 2006) to improve the stable and backside areas of their racetracks.

Total dollars wagered on races held in Pennsylvania, referred to as the live racing handle, was approximately 4% higher in 2013 due to an increase in wagering on races held at Pennsylvania racetracks by patrons outside of the Commonwealth.

While live racing handle increased, taxable handle decreased by approximately 8% in 2013 mainly due to a decrease in simulcast wagering which is offered at the racetracks, off-track wagering facilities, and through phone wagering services.

To view the full report, click here

http://gamingcontrolboard.pa.gov/files/reports/2013_Pari-Mutuel_Benchmark_Report.pdf

 

 

Beshear Signs Two Racing Bills Into Law

by Paulick Report Staff | 04.11.2014 | 6:16pm

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear put his signature on two bills on Friday that impact the racing industry.

One of the bills was SB 26, which makes KTDF registered claiming horses with a price of $25,000 or higher, eligible for KTDF funds in allowance optional claiming races.  The bill became law effective today. The bill was sponsored by Senator John Schickel and co-sponsored by Senator Damon Thayer. This legislation was requested by the KTDF Advisory Committee, and supported by the Ky. Horse Racing Commission, the KTA-KTOB and the Ky. HBPA.

The second bill established a 0.5 percent tax on residents using account wagering services. It also put in place a 1.5 percent tax on bets made on instant racing machines.

RCI Adopts Changes to Drug Rules

by Press Release | 04.11.2014 | 5:06pm

The membership of the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) this week approved several modifications to the group’s Model Rules.

The RCI members approved a recommendation by the Drug Testing Standards and Practices and Model Rules Committees to remove the words “Restricted Administrative Time” and replace them with “Recommended Withdrawal Time” on the RCI Controlled Therapeutic Medication Schedule. This change was considered after a request from the United States Trotting Association, American Association of Equine Practitioners, and the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC).

RCI also voted to make the following modifications to the Controlled Therapeutic Medication Schedule:

·         Reduce the current regulatory threshold for Ketoprofen from 10 ng/mL of plasma or serum to 2ng/mL. This would translate into a primary (24-hour) and secondary (48-hour) threshold for Ketoprofen in plasma or serum. Ketoprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory and analgesic medication which is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for use in horses as Ketofen.

·         Modify the recommended withdrawal time for Flunixen from 24 hours to 32 hours. This change is based on analysis of a recent research project conducted by the RMTC. 

RCI also voted to make the following additions to the Controlled Therapeutic Substance Schedule:

·         Isoflupredone Isoflupredone acetate is a corticosteroid that can be used for the treatment of allergic, musculoskeletal, and inflammatory processes in the horse. It can be administered via intra-articular, intravenous, and intra-muscular/subcutaneous routes. RCI approved a threshold of 100 pg/mL in plasma based upon the subcutaneous (10 mg) and intra-articular (20 mg) doses. The recommended withdrawal time is 7 days, based upon the research analysis performed by the RMTC.

·         Albuterol Albuterol is indicated for the relief of bronchospasm and bronchoconstriction in horses with reversible airway obstruction and is effective for up to 7 hour as a bronchodilator. Albuterol is administered either as an intra-nasal aerosol (either via intra-nasal apparatus or mask, depending upon which delivery method is available) or orally. The oral preparations are subject to very high first-pass metabolism and poor systemic bioavailability. Oral products have not been extensively studied and should be used with caution. The RMTC has indicated that Albuterol administered by inhalation at a total dose of 360 mcg resulted in a 70% increase in pulmonary function within 5 minutes of administration. While a 360 mcg dose is sufficient to cause this change, the researchers determined that, if using a mask system (such as an Aero Mask™), a 720 mcg dose should be used as much of the medication does not reach the target tissue. Based upon the RMTC’s Scientific Advisory Committee’s review of existing research and pharmacokinetic data available from studies in Europe and the United States, the RCI adopted the RMTC recommended interim threshold of 1 ng/mL of urine with a 72-hour withdrawal guideline.

The RCI also adopted a number of revisions to its Model Rules affecting Standardbred Racing that had previously been approved for Thoroughbred racing. Adoption of these rules were delayed to give Standardbred Horsemen’s organizations the opportunity to comment, though no comments were received.

Specifically, RCI approved additional restrictions on shock wave therapy to Standardbred races, requiring that machines in use be registered and approved by the racing commission and all treatments must be reported within 24-hours prior to treatment. The location of any such machine would also need to be disclosed. Previously RCI adopted rules that prohibit treatments within ten days of racing, affecting all breeds.

A modification previously made affecting certain thresholds for the androgenic-anabolic steroids in flat racing were formally adopted for Standardbred racing as was a technical change to eliminate redundant language pertaining to anti-ulcer medications.

RCI also adopted an amendment to provide greater clarification that a Thoroughbred horse is to be considered ineligible to race if wholly or partially owned by a person or spouse of a person who for any reason has been deemed ineligible to be licensed or participate in that jurisdiction. The Model Rule presumes that the disqualified person and spouse constitute a single financial entity with respect to the ownership of the horse.

RCI Model Rules represent best practice regulatory policy developed by the collective deliberations of racing regulators in consultation with industry representatives. RCI Model Rules are recommendations and the association has no direct regulatory power. In some cases, commissions, states and the Canadian federal government have adopted “by reference” portions of the RCI Model Rules, giving the rules the force of law in those jurisdictions.

 

Horse Racing Exempt From Federal Bill That Would Ban Interstate Gambling

by Press Release | 04.11.2014 | 12:13pm

Legislation has been introduced in Congress to amend the 1961 Federal Wire Act to ban all forms of interstate wagering, except horse racing.  The bill, named the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, was introduced by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) (H.R. 4301) and Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) (S. 2159).  The legislation would amend the Federal Wire Act – the 1961 federal law that prohibits interstate wagering – to prohibit interstate Internet gaming.

The bill is a response to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) change in its previous interpretation of what the Wire Act prohibits.  Since 1961, the DOJ had maintained that the Wire Act banned the interstate transmission of all bets or wagers or information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers.  But in December, 2011, the Department issued a ruling that the Wire Act applied only to sports betting, not all wagering.  This effectively broadened what gambling could be offered to include all forms of gambling so long as it did not involve a sporting event or contest.  Since then several states have legalized Internet wagering, including Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware, and others are considering it.

This legislation would amend the Wire Act to broaden the prohibitions on interstate wagering once again to include all forms of gaming, except horse racing.  It would outlaw Internet wagering on poker, casino games, lotteries, even in those states that have already legalized it.  In effect, the bill would roll back the prohibitions of the Wire Act to where they were before the DOJ changed its position in December, 2011.  Indeed, it would be even more restrictive because at that time there were those who argued that the Wire Act did not apply to interstate wagering on any gambling except sports.  Such an argument could no longer be made if this bill is passed.

The bill would not change, limit or broaden the relationship between the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978 (IHA).  What is legal now would remain legal with respect to racing activities under the IHA.

Each bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee in their respective bodies.

 

Going Up: Churchill Downs to Hike Takeout for Spring Meet

by Paulick Report Staff | 04.11.2014 | 8:34am

Bettors on the Kentucky Derby and other races at his year’s Churchill Downs spring meet will see a bigger cut taken out of their wagers.

The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that Churchill will increase its takeout to the maximum allowed under state law.  Takeout will range from 17.5 percent to 22 percent, depending on the bet.  The previous takeout was between 16 and 19 percent.

The higher cut will likely increase the track’s revenues – and purses – by about $8 million.  The track is required to channel half its takeout to purses after taxes.  Spokesman John Asher told the Courier-Journal that without the change, purses for the spring meet might have been cut.

“If Churchill Downs is to present a competitive racing product, purses must be strong enough to keep current stables in the state and attract new stables and horses to the Kentucky racing circuit,” Asher said.

Read more at the Courier-Journal

Horseplayers reacted swiftly to the decision online and on social media.  Click here to view some responses at the Horseplayers of North America website.

 

 

Report: Purse Supplement Bill Advances in KY House

by Paulick Report Staff | 03.20.2014 | 8:04am

A bill that would expand the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund’s purse supplement program passed a Kentucky House committee on Wednesday, and it appears that it will be approved by both chambers of the legislature.

The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that Senate Bill 26 was unanimously approved by the House Licensing and Occupations Committee in a vote held Wednesday morning. The proposed bill would expand the KTDF’s purse supplements to include those horses running for a claiming price of $25,000 or more. The current KTDF program does not include horses running in claiming races.

Several Kentucky-based trainers have supported changes being made to the current program, since many admit that at the present time, it’s more lucrative to run horses in Indiana instead.

“The hope is to keep Kentucky-bred horses racing in Kentucky rather than going out of state to other places where there may be more lucrative purses,” said David Switzer, executive director of the KTDF.

Read more in the Louisville Courier-Journal

 

Senate Votes Against Scarborough Bill

Published: March 20, 2014 12:22 pm ET

It has been reported that on Wednesday, March 19 the Maine Senate rejected bill LD 1111, which would allow slot-machine gaming to be introduced at Scarborough Downs if the results a local referendum supported it.

A report on the situation by The Forecaster explains that the Senate voted 20-14 against the bill.

The article goes on to say that the piece of legislation will now head back to the House where it has the possibility of being amended, tabled or sent back to the Senate. The report also states that a date has not yet been set for the House to take up the bill again.

Via statement, the Maine Harness Horsemen’s Association said, "[We] know this vote was extremely disappointing, but we knew the vote in the Senate would be difficult. There seems to be a strong move to work on a comprehensive approach."

The lawyer for Scarborough Downs owner Sharon Terry had made comments before the vote which indicated that, regardless of the vote, the raceway was in for a change one way or the other.

“(Terry) needs to get this bill passed for harness racing and the ‘Downs’ to survive,” Terry’s lawyer, Ed MacColl, said. “Scarborough Downs is the last small harness race track in the U.S. that competes with casinos that don’t have gaming, but it won’t be for long.”

(With files from The Forecaster)

 

Competing Tracks Thrive as Fair Grounds Struggles

by Paulick Report Staff | 03.20.2014 | 3:04pm

In the third installment of a five-part series on the Fair Grounds, The Times-Picayune examines the diminishing customer service at the historic racetrack.

Complaints continue to pile up, from not only longtime racetrack customers, but also from owners and trainers that have had horses stabled at the track for many years. From things that could be relatively simple to repair such as an infield video screen that broke several years ago but has yet to be fixed, to a turf course that has become almost unusable do to drainage issues, horsemen and patrons have become increasingly dissatisfied with the decline in customer service and the mediocre quality of racing.

As the Fair Grounds struggles, The Times-Picayune points out that other winter tracks are doing quite well. Oaklawn Park has raised purses twice this season, while Gulfstream Park has invested millions in improvements to its facility.

Read more at NOLA.com

 

Typhoon Hub Begins Commingling into Hong Kong Jockey Club

by Press Release | 03.21.2014 | 7:59am

Typhoon Hub, a Tote services company based in Sydney, Australia announced that it commenced commingling with the Hong Kong Jockey Club Horse Race Betting Limited (“HKJC”) on March 16, 2014 with a select group of customers of Global Wagering Group LLC, through an agreement reached between WatchandWager.com LLC (“WatchandWager”) and the HKJC.

The HKJC agreement is of particular significance as no other Tote Company in the world is currently able to wager internationally into these massive betting pools.

Typhoon Hub provides Tote services for WatchandWager.com LLC (“WatchandWager”) for a direct commingle into the HKJC’s pari-mutuel pools. Headquartered in San Francisco, California, WatchandWager conducts US-licensed advance deposit wagering and racetrack operations.

Internationally, the HKJC offers the highest quality of racing and racing integrity and also provides significant pool liquidity across all its bet types. Typhoon Hub was selected by the HKJC as a Tote provider due to Typhoon’s progressive and flexible technologies as well as its international business strategy.

William A Nader, Executive Director of Racing for the Hong Kong Jockey Club, said: “We are delighted to welcome Typhoon Hub and WatchandWager to what we believe is the best racing and betting experience in the world. The outstanding racing offered at Sha Tin and Happy Valley racecourses should be available across the globe and this is a significant step in that direction.”

David Bernsen, of Typhoon Hub said: “We have been exploring options with the HKJC to access the largest pari-mutuel pools in the world on behalf of our customers. The Typhoon Hub technology allows for rapid deployment into commingled pools, and with the enactment of commingling legislation in Hong Kong, it provides an opportunity to kick-off our global strategy of a premium players’ hub.”

 

Industry Reactions to ‘Disturbing’ PETA Video: Three States Launch Investigations

by Paulick Report Staff | 03.20.2014 | 2:01pm

Following are responses from industry organizations contacted by the Paulick Report for comment in the wake of allegations of animal cruelty and other charges by the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals against Eclipse Award-winning trainer Steve Asmussen and his chief assistant, Scott Blasi.

The allegations, originally detailed in the New York Times, followed a four-month undercover investigation by a PETA operative who gained employment in the Asmussen stable and compiled more than seven hours of secretly recorded videotapes and 285 pages of notes. Accusations of wrongdoing include animal cruelty, labor and immigration violations, plus charges that jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. carried an illegal electrical device in races.

PETA filed complaints with multiple federal and state agencies, including the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and New York State Gaming Commission. Statements from both organizations (see below) said they are conducting formal investigations as a result of the complaints. A third state regulator, the New Mexico Racing Commission, is voluntarily conducting an inquiry into the actions of Asmussen and Santana, because each is licensed in New Mexico.

Stan Bowker, steward for the Arkansas Racing Commission at Oaklawn Park, where Asmussen is leading trainer and Santana leading rider at the current meet, told the Paulick Report officials there have yet to decide what course of action, if any, to take in the wake of the allegations.

Chris Kay, CEO and President, New York Racing Association: “The New York Racing Association is concerned by the allegations that have been brought to The New York State Gaming Commission. We support the Gaming Commission and will fully cooperate with its investigation.

“The New York Racing Association takes the health and well-being of its equine athletes very seriously. Accordingly, we have taken action over the past year, in cooperation with the Gaming Commission, to ensure and enhance their safety. More recently, we have been privileged to have the expertise of newly appointed New York State Equine Medical Director Dr. Scott Palmer as we look to set the standard for equine safety regulations in the industry. We pledge to continue to work in partnership with the Gaming Commission and all industry stakeholders to promote the safety, integrity and transparency of our racing.”

Philip L. Hanrahan, CEO, National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, Inc.: “So far we have only heard PETA’s allegations. We have not heard Mr. Asmussen’s or Mr. Blasi’s responses to the allegations, nor has the adjudicative process run its course. Until these events take place, any statement would be premature.”

Thoroughbred Racing Associations of North America: The TRA’s position is the mistreatment of horses and the intentional violation of rules should be punished by swift and severe penalties.

Any allegations of mistreatment or callous disregard of the welfare and safety of horses and human participants should receive full investigation and prompt action.

Furthermore, in 2012, TRA members voted unanimously to advocate the Uniform Medication and Penalty Model Rules, developed by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium and approved by the Racing Commissioners International (RCI).  By the end of 2013, those policies had been adopted by many of the leading racing states, and efforts continue to ensure unanimous adoption in the current year.

The TRA urges all racing commissions to press for the immediate adoption of the Model Rules for the benefit of the sport, the racing public, and especially the racehorses in competition.

Terry Meyocks, National Manager of the Jockeys’ Guild: “The Guild’s main focus is, and will continue to be, safety for both horse and rider. Jockeys must be confident that the horses they ride are in the best condition, free from illegal medication or procedures that are not being properly administered in compliance with the rules and regulations that have been created by the industry, such as improper and abusive use of shock-wave therapy. Over the last several years, the Guild has worked with state racing commissions, the Association of Racing Commissioners International, the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, The Jockey Club, and the NTRA Safety & Integrity Alliance advocating for severe penalties for medication violations and supports tightening of race day medication rules. Once the due process is completed, if any individual is found guilty of abuse, neglect or any other rule violation, they will suffer the consequences.

“The Guild has in the past and will continue to make riders aware of the consequences of violating any and all rules pertaining to jockeys.”

Craig Fravel, President and CEO, Breeders’ Cup Ltd: “While the individuals involved are entitled to due process after a fair and impartial investigation, much of the alleged behavior depicted in today’s news accounts is unacceptable, deeply troubling and, we believe, not a reflection of the way we strive as an industry to properly care for our horses. The vast majority of participants in Thoroughbred racing work hard to care for the animals entrusted to them in an ethical and responsible manner and to comply with veterinary best practices and regulatory standards.

“We believe that it is imperative that Thoroughbred racing in the United States aggressively pursue adoption of the uniform medication rules that contain important reforms relating to the administration of therapeutic medications and that the multiple violation penalties associated with these model rules should be implemented as quickly as possible.  Moreover, the administration of medication to horses should be done in the context of an established veterinarian/patient relationship subject to guidelines requiring individual diagnosis and treatment plans.  Finally, we strongly believe that workers in our industry should be treated fairly and with respect and that employers in our industry should comply with applicable laws governing the workplace.

“At its annual World Championships, Breeders’ Cup has worked to set best-in-class standards for safety, security, race-readiness and testing.  Breeders’ Cup will continue to support medication and other reform efforts to ensure that a culture of respect and care for the animals is the norm and that those who do not comport with regulatory and ethical standards do not find comfort or shelter in our business. They put at risk the good work and reputations of many other industry participants.”

Jeff Blea, DVM, 2014 President, American Association of Equine Practitioners: “After viewing the video, I found numerous items to be disturbing and tasteless. My personal experience on the backside of the racetrack is that many horsemen and horsewomen sacrifice tremendously for the horses in their care; the horses are their priority.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners strongly advocates that all veterinary treatments and procedures be based upon an examination and medical diagnosis. Transparent and direct communication between the owner, trainer and veterinarian is essential for the well being of the racehorse.

Everyone involved in the sport of horse racing has a fundamental responsibility to respect the horse and put the health and welfare of the horse first, in all aspects of care.

The Jockey Club: The Jockey Club is aware of a recent media report involving disturbing allegations of animal cruelty and related matters.

The Jockey Club fully supports and assists law enforcement agencies, the courts and racing regulatory authorities in the investigation of matters involving animal cruelty. Furthermore, pursuant to the Principal Rules and Requirements of The American Stud Book, The Jockey Club may deny any or all of the privileges of The American Stud Book to any person or entity when, among other things, there is a final determination by an official body that such person has committed an act of cruelty to a horse or violated applicable statutes or regulations regarding the care and treatment of a horse.

The Jockey Club has long held that for the health and safety of the athletes and the integrity of the sport, Thoroughbreds should only race when free from the influence of medications in their system. The Jockey Club remains committed to the comprehensive national reform of medication rules, laboratory standards and penalties currently underway in 19 racing jurisdictions that enhance transparency and severely prosecute those who operate outside the rules. The Jockey Club will continue to aggressively pursue these reforms until they are uniformly adopted for all North American racing.

National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, and Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (joint statement): “The allegations and incidents described in today’s report by The New York Times are very disturbing. While we have not been given the opportunity to review most of the documents referred to in the story, we will not defend or condone any proven cases of abuse or neglect. The attitudes and actions alleged in the story are not representative of the overwhelming majority of participants in our sport who care deeply for the horses they own or train and conduct their business affairs in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

“We urge the industry to aggressively pursue the nationwide adoption of uniform therapeutic medication rules, penalties and testing reforms. These reforms are already being adopted by the majority of major racing jurisdictions and we urge all other states to move quickly to adopt them as well. Once implemented nationwide, these reforms will help to ensure a higher degree of health and safety for horses and riders and integrity for the sport.”

Kentucky Horse Racing Commission: The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) has received documents from the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) regarding allegations of animal cruelty by licensees at Churchill Downs. The commission staff is currently reviewing the information.

The KHRC takes allegations of cruelty to animals very seriously. When our racing stewards are notified of any possible activity that involves cruelty to horses at licensed facilities, the stewards take prompt action to investigate and take the appropriate action. The KHRC strongly encourages anyone who has knowledge of, or suspects incidents of abuse to animals contact the commission immediately.

The KHRC will conduct a thorough investigation of these allegations and take appropriate steps once that investigation is concluded.” 

New York State Gaming Commission: The New York State Gaming Commission has undertaken a formal investigation into allegations of abuse and mistreatment of thoroughbred race horses in New York State by licensed individuals. The investigation was initiated after the Commission was provided undercover evidence of alleged violations by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

“The allegations and footage provided by PETA are extremely troubling and we are fully investigating the matter,” said Robert Williams, Acting Executive Director of the New York State Gaming Commission. “PETA has offered to assist the Commission in its investigation, and we welcome such cooperation. We expect that all other parties involved will be forthcoming as well. If the results of our investigation find that licensed individuals violated the State’s laws and rules, the Commission will consider all options.”

On Tuesday, March 18, PETA provided the New York State Gaming Commission with evidence and materials requesting an investigation into the conduct of several currently licensed individuals who participated in New York horse racing at Saratoga Race Course in July and August 2013. The individuals identified by PETA include: trainer Steve Asmussen, assistant trainer Scott Blasi, KDE Equine, LLC d/b/a Steve Asmussen Racing Stables, attending veterinarians Dr. Joseph F. Migliacci and Dr. James Hunt, and jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr.

The Commission initiated an investigation on March 18 and will obtain and review all footage documenting the allegations. The Office of Veterinary Affairs, led by Equine Medical Director Scott E. Palmer, VMD, is assisting in the investigation.

“The behavior depicted in the undercover video and supporting materials is disturbing and disgusting,” said Dr. Palmer. “We are working to determine what happened and ensure that proper protocols are put in place to prevent such actions from taking place again.”

Vince Mares, Executive Director, New Mexico Racing Commission: “We are very concerned with the actions documented in the video. A preliminary review reveals what appear to be two individuals who are also licensees of the New Mexico Racing Commission (trainer Steve Asmussen, jockey Ricardo Santana Jr.). New Mexico Racing Commission licensing standards require licensees to be of good moral character and integrity.

“Therefore, the NMRC will be conducting an inquiry into the actions of these individuals and will take disciplinary action as necessary.”

Read more at New York Times, Paulick Report

 

‘No Magic Pill’ to Solve Turfway Woes, But Customer Focus a Start

by Paulick Report Staff | 03.16.2014 | 11:30am

In many ways, Turfway’s troubles echo a common parable in modern horse racing: competition from nearby casino gaming, a declining fan base, shrinking field sizes, etc. While the lack of gaming is partly to blame for Kentucky racing’s woes, Turfway’s general manager Chip Bach, told the Kentucky Enquirer’s Amanda Van Benschoten that “there is no magic pill.”

Instead, Bach said the Florence, Ky., track is taking a personal approach to attract patrons. “We need to win our customers over, person by person,” he said.

Customer-oriented changes at the racetrack have included restricting smoking sections in the grandstand and adding a private suite next to the paddock for horsemen.

Customers can even sign up to call “riders up” in the paddock or visit the track announcer’s booth to watch Mike Battaglia call a race. “It doesn’t cost us anything but a few minutes, and they have this wonderful experience,” Bach said.

Dollar Fridays have been a popular promotion, typically drawing a younger crowd for dollar draft beer, hot dogs and soft drinks, followed by live music after the races. A crew of Turfway employees acts as handicapping ambassadors, teaching new guests the basics of betting.

“We’re cultivating a new generation of handicappers,” Bach said. “That’s what we need to do with all the racetracks: work collaboratively to grow the market.”

Read more at Cincinnati.com

 

Penn National Gaming Breaks Ground on New Massachusetts Racino

by Paulick Report Staff | 03.17.2014 | 11:09am

Penn National Gaming Inc. broke ground March 14 at the site of the future Plainridge Racecourse, a harness track in Plainville that will become the first slots parlor/racino in Massachusetts.

According to a report in the Taunton Gazette, Penn National was awarded the only racino license by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission two weeks ago. Penn National beat out two other competitors for the license.

Plainridge Park Casino will be a $225 million investment that will include a 106,000-square-foot facility on 90 acres of land.

“We’re tremendously excited,” Jay Snowden, chief operating officer of Penn National Gaming told reporters. “This is a monumental day for us.”

 

Lexington Tracks Eye Instant Racing Licenses

  • March 15, 2014 11:48 AMby Frank Angst and Tom LaMarra

    Two Lexington racetracks are expected to apply for licenses to operate historical race wagering machines when the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission meets April 2.

    Several industry sources and officials said March 14 that Keeneland and The Red Mile, a nearby Standardbred track, most likely will be on the agenda for the meeting.

    Details of the plans weren't divulged, but Keeneland vice president and chief operating officer Vince Gabbert said the track "has been looking at several opportunities" and likely would present ideas at an upcoming KHRC meeting. Gabbert said he couldn't confirm a definitive project involving Instant Racing, which currently is operating at Ellis Park and Kentucky Downs.

    Sources, however, said Keeneland could construct a standalone facility on its property that would house the historical racing machines and full-card simulcasting. They also said The Red Mile, located downtown, could embark on a major renovation of its facility to accommodate the machines.

    The tracks are said to be analyzing data and have inquired about the licensing process. Though Keeneland and The Red Mile have had an unofficial deal to partner on a facility should casino-style gambling be legalized in Kentucky, they plan to house their own Instant Racing machines.

    Though the Kentucky House of Representatives March 12 passed legislation authorizing a pari-mutuel tax on revenue from Instant Racing, it remains to be seen whether the Senate will act accordingly because of problematic language and pending legal issues.

    The state Supreme Court recently ruled that the KHRC had the authority to promulgate regulations for the devices, but it also said the Kentucky Department of Revenue can't tax the form of betting because existing statute pertains only to "live" racing in the state.

    The case has been sent back to circuit court for discovery. The high court's actions, however, didn't halt existing operations at Ellis Park and Kentucky Downs.

 

Mediation Fails in Virginia Racing Deadlock

by Natalie Voss | 03.14.2014 | 1:25pm

After a failed session with professional mediators, Virginia horsemen and Colonial Downs officials continue to do battle over 2014 race dates. With the traditional opening month of June fast-approaching, the Virginia Thoroughbred Association put out a call for support on Friday, urging breeders and horsemen to attend Monday’s meeting of the Virginia Racing Commission in support of the horsemen.

Initially, the Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association had requested a 32-day race meet for 2014 based on their available purse funds, which would have been five days longer than the 2013 meet. Colonial Downs countered with an offer for a 12-day meet, which horsemen said was not long enough. The two sides have been deadlocked for months over the issue.

The disagreement has lasted so long that the horsemen’s contract with the track to broadcast simulcast signal has expired, shuttering several of the state’s OTBs and causing both sides to lose money. It had appeared to many that a 28-day compromise was imminent, but Colonial officials came back with a six-day, $500,000 per day offer during this week’s mediation session. The Racing Biz reported that the mediation session was actually ended by the mediator when neither side could be convinced to compromise.

The open letter from the Virginia Thoroughbred Association reads as follows:

Dear Virginia Breeders and Horsemen:

As you know the Virginia HBPA’s horsemen’s contract with Colonial Downs expired on January 29, 2014 and as a result, thoroughbred signals have been discontinued in Colonial Downs’ OTBs. Obviously the heart of the dispute is over this summer’s race days at Colonial. Continued negotiations and even a mediation session this past Wednesday have not resulted in an agreement with Colonial.

In the recent past, the agreed formula to determine race days was to take the total amount of money in the horsemen’s purse account and divide that amount by $200,000 per day in purse money, thus arriving at the number of days. Using this formula the purse account would support 30 days of racing in 2014, which is 5 days more than the scheduled 2013 Colonial meet. Colonial chose to disregard this formula and initially proposed 12 days of racing this year, while the horsemen’s initial request included a 32 day meet spread out over 8 weeks. During the negotiations horsemen have repeatedly pointed out that the number of days is not as important as the number of weeks we run. The Horsemen’s experience was that last year’s five week meet limited their race opportunities, thus creating a financial deterrent to agree to continue the status quo.

During the last 30 days it appeared both groups were getting closer to a 7 week / 28 day compromise but in Wednesday’s mediation session, recommended by the Racing Commission, Colonial disavowed any interest in a 7 week meet and put forth a new proposal that would include only 6 days of racing at $500,000 per day in 2014. Obviously the Virginia HBPA rejected the proposal. It appears that Colonial’s strategy is to limit live racing and to profit the rest of the year from its eight off-track betting shops and its EZ Horseplay system. This strategy will do nothing to help grow the thoroughbred breeding and racing industry in Virginia.

Not only is Colonial’s unwillingness to compromise a change from past year’s negotiations but they have also been attempting to set up their own horsemen’s group to replace the Virginia HBPA. Obviously they feel they can negotiate the race day deals they desire with their own manufactured horsemen’s group.

I would encourage you to contact the Commissioners and if possible attend Monday’s Commission meeting to help educate the Commission why 6 days and even the 5 week / 25 day meet we ran last summer is not acceptable because of the limited racing opportunities. I think we have to remind Commissioners that we are Virginians and our goal is to grow our native thoroughbred industry. Probably the best words to use can be taken straight from the Commission’s website, their mission is to “… promote, sustain, and grow and control a native horse racing industry with pari-mutuel wagering by prescribing regulations and conditions that command and promote excellence and complete honesty and integrity in racing and wagering.” How does six days of racing at Colonial achieve this mission?

Below is the contact information for the Commissioners. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to give me a call. I hope to see you at Monday’s Commission meeting, 10:00 a.m. at the HPBA building at Colonial Downs.

Debbie Easter

Executive Director, VTA

 

 

J. Sargent Reynolds, Jr., Chairman                                   

P.O. Box 2

Morattico, VA 22523

(h) (804) 462- 9916

(c) (804) 436-3779

Term Ends: 12/31/16

Email: CGdawson98@gmail.com

 

 

D. G Van Clief, Jr.

1200 Inglecress Drive

Charlottesville, VA 22901

(h) (434) 202-2726

(c) (434) 531-2687

Email: dgvc@ntra.com

 

Carol G Dawson

P.O. Box 2

Morattico, VA 22523

(h) (804) 462- 9916

(c) (804) 436-3779

Term Ends: 12/31/16

Email: CGdawson98@gmail.com

 

Stran L. Trout

7200 Lakeshore Drive

Quinton, VA 23141

(h) (804) 932-3663

Term Ends: 12/31/14

Email: strantrout@cox.net

 

Philip T. O’Hara, Jr.

2320 Sandpiper Rd.

Virginia Beach, VA 23456

(859) 699-4359

Pohara@ptoharajr.com

 

Dead on Arrival: Outlook Bleak for Expanded Gambling Bill in KY

by Paulick Report Staff | 03.14.2014 | 8:05am

It appears that once again, legislation to allow expanded gambling won’t come up for a vote in the latest session of the Kentucky Legislature.

According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, House Speaker Greg Stumbo said that he won’t ask House members to vote on the proposed amendment if the Senate doesn’t act on it first.

“The House ain’t gonna start it … why do it if the Senate’s not going to act and history tells us that they can’t pass it,” Stumbo said in an interview.

Stumbo still believes that the House would pass the legislation, if the Senate would act first. Senate leaders continue to state that any gambling measure must start in the House.

Read more in the Louisville Courier-Journal

 

Hayward: Time to Give Up on a National Commission

In a recent editorial for Thoroughbred Racing Commentary, Charles Hayward declared that it is time to stop hoping for a national commissioner to organize racing.

Hayward pointed to two attempts at creating a centralized authority–the Thoroughbred Racing Associations, and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, which have fallen short of their goals to regulate racing on a national scale.

Further, Hayward wrote, there is no funding source for such a national authority, little chance that state governments would give up their regulatory control, and that tracks currently hold most of the power over the sport’s assets.

 

Monticello Standoff Profiled

Published: March 13, 2014 2:08 pm ET

The current standoff between the operators of Monticello Raceway and the horsepeople that race their stock at the New York State track has been profiled by a mainstream media publication.

The Times Herald-Record has run an article that explains that both sides have dug in on either side of a contract dispute which is affecting both the on-track product and the operational side of things.

The report states that the issues centres on the horsepeople’s desire to get a percentage of gaming revenue for purses. That percentage has been capped at 2013 levels.

Perennial top trainer Bob Lounsbury has been quoted as saying that "the morale is very poor" within the local racing community.

Charles Degliomini, executive vice president of Empire Resorts/Monticello Casino & Raceway, has been quoted as saying, "It's unacceptable that the Monticello Harness Horsemen's Association is attempting to leverage us into paying tens of millions of dollars beyond what is clearly stipulated in the Upstate New York Gaming Economic Development Act."

(With files from the Times Herald-Record)

 

Maine House Passes Racino Bill

Published: March 13, 2014 3:34 pm ET

It has been reported that on Wednesday, March 12 the Maine House voted 86-50 in favour of an amended version of bill LB 1111.

According to a report by the Maine Sun Journal, the bill would allow Scarborough Downs to be in a position to become a racino, but it would only be able to begin to offer slot-machine gaming once a hotel, entertainment complex and five-eighths-mile racecourse is built at the site.

It was also reported last week the expansion would be able to proceed if residents in the town where the track is located approve the gaming expansion via a vote.

The Maine Sun Journal article explains that the Senate will likely vote on the bill next week.

(With files from the Maine Sun Journal)

 

Plainridge Groundbreaking Friday

Published: March 11, 2014 10:55 am ET

Penn National Gaming, Inc, the licensee for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' sole slots-only gaming license, announced on Monday (March 10) that it will break ground and begin construction of Plainridge Park Casino on Friday, March 14 at 2:00 p.m. (ET).

"We are thrilled to begin construction of this new economic engine for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts," said Eric Schippers, senior vice president of Government Affairs for Penn National Gaming. "We look forward to celebrating this momentous occasion with our employees, members of the community, and local and state leaders who helped make this dream a reality."

Penn National Gaming was awarded the gaming license on February 28. The Company sent invitations last week to the members of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, state legislators, town officials and community leaders in Plainville, leaders of the harness racing industry, town officials in the designated surrounding communities of North Attleboro, Wrentham, Foxboro, and Mansfield, local businesses, labour organizations, and local non-profit organizations among others.

"Friday will mark the beginning of a long, prosperous relationship between Penn National Gaming, the Town of Plainville, surrounding communities, the harness racing industry, local businesses and labour organizations, and the Commonwealth," said Schippers. "We are committed to creating strong partnerships between each of these groups and Plainridge Park Casino."

At the groundbreaking ceremony, Penn National Gaming will share construction timelines, employment opportunities and upcoming activities. In addition to the creation of an estimated 1,000 construction jobs, it is expected that Plainridge Park will result in 500 new permanent jobs once completed.

(Penn National Gaming)

 

Meadowlands Announces Rewards Program for Harness Trainers

by Press Release | 03.11.2014 | 4:00pm

The Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey (SBOANJ) together with Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment announce that beginning on November 14, 2014, a system will be implemented for taking entries that will reward those trainers who raced their horses predominantly at the Meadowlands during the period of March 28, 2014 through August 2, 2014.

Over that same period of time the Meadowlands is pleased to offer horsemen an increase in purses at the B-Class and free for all level.

Beginning Friday, March 28, 2014, the B-2 Class will receive an increase from $14,000 to $16,000, while the B-1 Class will receive an increase from $16,000 to $20,000. In addition, the free for all will carry a purse of $35,000 if nine or more starters enter. It will remain at $30,000 if eight or fewer starters enter. The increase encompasses both pacers and trotters, horses and geldings, or mares.

Over the course of this four-month period, records will be kept by both the race office and the SBOANJ to determine which trainers are racing the majority of their horses at the Meadowlands.

Those qualifying for the rewards program will receive preference when entering their horses, beginning in November of this year.

There will be two criteria for a trainer to qualify for the rewards program.

1) Any trainer with a minimum of 20 total starts from March 28, 2014 through August 2, 2014, whose horses raced at the Meadowlands more than all other tracks combined over that period of time will qualify for the program.

2) Any trainer with more than 60 starts at the Meadowlands from March 28, 2014 through August 2, 2014 will qualify for the program.

Waiver Clause:

Any trainer with fewer than 20 starts over the same period of time at all other tracks combined may ask for a waiver to be included in the rewards program.

Exception:

The rewards program only pertains to overnight races. All stakes, early closer and late closer events are excluded from the program.

Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural embraces both the purse increase and the rewards program.

“I have asked our horsemen several times to support us over the last two years,” Gural said. “I am elated to be able to offer this purse increase along with this rewards program so that the horsemen who continue to race at the Meadowlands will be able to get their horses raced every week in the winter months, which is the period of time our entry box is in its highest demand. The horsemen that continue to support us deserve the opportunity to race for purses on the highest level. I hope this increase goes a long way in accomplishing that. It is their support, in allowing us to card full programs with full fields that makes this possible.”

“We tried to implement this program this past winter,” said Tom Luchento, president of the SBOANJ, “but trainers felt that they were not given advance notice of the policy and now their horses were not getting raced. So, we agreed to suspend the program until the following meet. Now, we are able to announce this program along with an important purse increase. Not only will our horsemen who support the Meadowlands be able to get their horses raced each week in the winter, but they will get to race for more money along the way. This is a win-win for the horsemen. The horsemen should acknowledge this as notice that if they want to get their horses raced each week in the winter, they should continue to race at the Meadowlands the rest of this season. Not only are they being given advanced notice, but they are receiving a purse increase as well.”

Speaking to the purse increase, Director of Racing Operations Darin Zoccali expressed why the B-Class was chosen for the increase.

“We have seen some gains in certain areas that contribute to our purses,” said Zoccali. “Some of the B-1 level races that have been contested at the Meadowlands this year have looked more like A-1 events. Those races deserve a bit more separation from the C-Level, and we believe this increase accomplishes that. This increase puts our overnight purses on par with the slot-enriched programs in Pennsylvania. To be able to accomplish that is a testament to the support we have been shown by the horsemen, allowing us to card full-fields all winter.”

This increase actually marks the fourth purse increase since Jeff Gural took over operations at the Meadowlands and the second for the B-class horses. Thus far, the Meadowlands has made the following increases since 2012, regarding purses:

NW1 $10,000 (Previously $9,000)

NW2 $12,500 (Previously $9,500)

NW3 $15,000 (Previously $12,500)

C-2 $9,000 (Previously $8,000)

C-1 $11,000 (Previously $10,000)

B-2 $16,000 (Previously $12,000, then $14,000)

B-1 $20,000 (Previously $14,000, then $16,000)

FFA $35,000 If 9 or more starters (Previously $30,000)

“We are close to having raised purses across the board since taking over operations,” said Gural. “It is interesting that it seems to have gone a bit unnoticed that we have implemented these increases over the past two years. I strongly believe our purse structure is competitive with any track in harness racing and hope the horsemen respond and continue to enter their horses.”

These increases will be in effect from March 28 through August 2.

 

Horse Racing in Advertising: Nice…or Vice?

by Ray Paulick | 03.11.2014 | 2:30pm

While there is little to no national advertising for Thoroughbred racing these days, a couple of companies have recently incorporated horses or horse racing into their television commercials.

The first that was brought to my attention recently was Rosland Capital, the precious metals retailer that in the past used G. Gordon Liddy to pitch its product on cable channels. Liddy, of course, was the operative of the Plumbers group responsible for the 1972 Watergate break-in that led to the resignation of former President Richard Nixon.

The new Rosland Capital pitchman is actor William Devane, who is also connected to a U.S. president, John F. Kennedy. Devane portrayed Kennedy in the made-for-television movie Missiles of October, one of his better-known roles.

A polo player and horse enthusiast, Devane is shown in the Rosland ad standing in the crowd on a racetrack apron while a race is being run in the background. He cautions viewers “this is not the way” to invest your retirement funds, “this is….gold and silver.”

Of course, no one has ever suggested that anyone should take their retirement money (or their rent money, for that matter) and play the horses.  Still, the message seems to be that only a foolish risk-taker would consider gambling at the races.

“When it comes to my retirement, excitement like this I don’t need,” Devane says.

Here is the Rosland Capital ad.

The other commercial, for the luxury automobile Acura, is far more creative and positive.

Filmed over three days at Barretts Sales and Racing in Southern California, the futuristic ad features a field of riderless, supercharged mechanical horses breaking from the starting gate and battling down the length of the stretch of a Meydan-like racetrack packed with upscale fans.

The mechanical horses are fighting and clawing at each other, when suddenly a real horse comes charging from behind, passing them all and then morphing into a sleek Acura.

The tagline of this visually stunning ad, called “Let the Race Begin,” is: Acura – performance that changes the game, a power that goes beyond the machine.

According to a press release from the Mullen creative agency that produced the ad, the racing scene was filmed at Barretts using real horses who were then converted into the metallic creatures by a post-production company.

Here is the Acura ad.

Which one do you think is more effective?

 

West Virginia Horsemen Watching Legislature With Concern

by Natalie Voss | 03.11.2014 | 8:43pm

West Virginia horsemen are closely following the proceedings of the state legislature with concern this week as state senators and delegates could consider serious cuts in slots funding to the racing industry.

House Bill 4333, which died at the end of the regular legislature session last weekend, was the latest attempt by its chief proponent, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, to reduce slots funding to breeders and horsemen in West Virginia. The bill originally proposed a 15 percent cut into the slots revenue for the breeders’ incentive fund and horsemen’s purse account, in addition to cuts into slots funding for greyhound organizations and city and county governments. Before its death, HB4333 was amended to spare cities and counties and cut 10 percent of slots revenue to horse and dog racing groups.

Officials in West Virginia say that 10 percent cut would equal over $4.8 million to the state’s purse account, and $538, 211 to the breeders’ incentive fund. Slots operators would also take six-figure hits to their capital improvement and modernization accounts.

Although extended discussion from Sen. Herb Snyder (which some called a filibuster) prevented HB4333’s passage from the House to the Senate, many are worried that the bill could come back in some form during the current budgetary legislative session, or during a later special legislative session.

The motives behind the legislation vary depending on who you ask. Some say the horsemen’s fund is an easy source of cash for a government that is under more financial stress than ever. The state is facing a budget deficit with both mining industry receipts and gambling revenues down this year, and the recent water disaster didn’t help matters.

“I think the underlying reason for it is to try to find money and this is what they identified as an opportunity to do that,” said Delegate Paul Espinosa, who opposed the measure. “While I certainly recognize the importance of having a balanced budget, I just really wasn’t willing to do that on the backs of our horsemen.”

Others believe that HB4333 or future similar legislation are part of a systematic attempt by the state lottery department to eliminate the horse racing industry.

“There has been an ongoing concerted effort from the opponents of racing [horses and dogs] for some time to put racing in a bad light,” said Martin Blaylock, vice president of the West Virginia Breeders’ Association. “This has gone on over the years. The state wants to essentially kill it.

“It’s going to be ugly.”

West Virginia was one of the first states to approve slots at racetracks, beginning with a slots program at Mountaineer in 1992. Breeders said the added income has begun to give the program the momentum it needed to become a strong regional player. Stallions Brother Derek, During, Windsor Castle, and Limehouse all now call West Virginia home.

“This would be devastating to a lot of breeders and people who race here,” said Mary Moore, farm manager at Naylee Farm in Summit Point. “You’re looking at a whole town that would basically go under.

“Our program has really flourished. On a national level, we’ve really gained a lot of respect, and this would completely go in the wrong direction for us. It’s just a shame to get this far and be held back by something like this.”

Espinosa pointed out that future legislation similar to HB4333 would act as the second in a one-two punch for the industry. The increased competition from online gambling sources and neighboring states with slots has already taken a chunk out of racing’s bottom line in West Virginia.

“While I was certainly pleased that the cities and the counties were spared the impact of those cuts, it did leave the horsemen and the casino operators sort of out there by themselves,” said Espinosa. “They’ve already experienced a significant declines in their purses and their breeders’ funds because of the declines in lottery play there at the casino. This would basically be an additional cut on top of the cuts they’ve already experienced.”

 

Ohio: Horsemen, Tracks Reach Long-Term Agreement on Dates, Simulcast Revenue

by Paulick Report Staff | 03.11.2014 | 8:35am

After more than a year of negotiating, the Ohio Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association has signed a ten-year agreement with ThistleDown Racino and Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course regarding racing dates, stall accommodations, and video lottery revenue.

According to a report in the Daily Racing Form, the two tracks will run a coordinated racing schedule with at least 200 live race cards, which will begin in 2015. In addition, Belterra Park (the former River Downs) is planning to run 100 days.

Officials with the Ohio HBPA were confident that the state would be able to fill those races in 2015, because of the purse subsidies from the video lottery terminals.

“Two hundred days of year-round racing on good surfaces for racing and training, at good purses, we’re confident we can do that,” Dave Basler, president of the Ohio HBPA said.

Read more in the Daily Racing Form

 

Congressional Horse Caucus Discusses Job Creation, Economic Growth in Horse Industry

by Press Release | 03.10.2014 | 1:35pm

As Co-Chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Horse Caucus, Congressmen Andy Barr (R-KY) and Paul Tonko (D-NY) hosted the first meeting of the Caucus on March 5, 2014.

“I was honored to host the first meeting of the Congressional Horse Caucus of the 113th Congress with my Co-Chair, Congressman Paul Tonko of New York,” said Congressman Barr.  “It was a great opportunity to raise awareness about the enormous impact the American equine industry has on our economy and provide more information about the industry directly to Members of Congress and their staff. I look forward to future Horse Caucus activities promoting the American horse industry and the hundreds of thousand of jobs directly associated with it, as well as the $102 billion it contributes to the U.S. economy.”

“Congressman Barr and I laid the foundation for an active year for the Congressional Horse Caucus,” said Congressman Tonko. “The equine industry is an important component of robust economic growth in the Capital Region of New York and across the nation, and I look forward to partnering with those looking to advance this sector of our economy. In places like Saratoga Springs, the equine industry supports countless small businesses and provides an economic ripple effect that is felt across the entire region.”

During the meeting, the Caucus discussed legislation Congressman Barr introduced, H.R. 2212, the Race Horse Cost Recovery Act, which would renew a provision that expired at the end of 2013 and place all racehorses on a three-year depreciation schedule.

The Caucus was glad to be joined by Mr. Stuart Janney III, who shared insights and observations about horse racing and answered Members questions about how Congress could best address some of the challenges facing the industry.  An immigration policy expert from the House Judiciary Committee was also present to discuss the challenges faced by agriculture-employers and the legislative proposals that would provide these employers much-needed relief from bureaucratic red-tape.

Barr continued, “I am confident this meeting has created positive momentum for the equine industry on Capitol Hill and greatly appreciate all of the support and leadership provided by the American Horse Council in advancing equine-friendly policies on Capitol Hill.”

 

Louisiana Breeders Call for Action Against Bills to Cut Dates, Slot Proceeds

by Paulick Report Staff | 03.10.2014 | 3:49pm

The Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association released a call to action for the state’s horsemen against Louisiana House Bill 550, which would change the minimum number of dates at Louisiana Downs.

Current regulations state that Louisiana Downs must run 80 days, but under the proposed legislation, the track would only have to run 30. The bill also reduces the percentage of slots revenue that goes to horsemen and breeders awards. currently, 15 percent of slot machine proceeds to go the purse fund, and 3 percent go to breeders awards. House Bill 550 will reduce the percentage to eight and one, respectively.

House Bills 493 and 714 threaten to eliminate slots proceeds to the track or breeders altogether.

Read more at Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association

 

Virginia Horsemen, Officials to Meet With Mediator

by Paulick Report Staff | 03.07.2014 | 7:04pm

After continued stalemate on the issue of 2014 racing dates, Virginia horsemen, racing commission representatives, and Colonial Downs officials will meet with a mediator next week.

The appointed mediator from the McCammon Group in Richmond is former federal magistrate judge Dennis Dohnal.

Horsemen want the track to host a longer meet than what track officials are willing to put on, and the argument has continued for so long that the horsemen’s contract with Colonial expired on Jan. 29, halting wagering on Thoroughbred races at the state’s OTBs. Since that date, Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association executive director Frank Petramalo said the horsemen’s purse account has lost more than $200,000, and estimated the track has lost more than that. With both sides smarting from the financial losses, officials told the Virginia Thoroughbred Association’s blog that they are doubtful an agreement can be reached.

Read more at the Virginia Thoroughbred Association

 

KEEP Board of Directors Oppose Latest Expanded Gambling Bill

by Press Release | 03.07.2014 | 8:04am

The Board of Directors of the Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP) voted Thursday to oppose HB 584, legislation introduced on March 3 that, if passed, would place a constitutional amendment on the ballot this fall that would authorize the state legislature to legalize any and all “other forms of gaming.”

KEEP, formed in 2004, represents every facet of the horse industry in Kentucky and has thousands of members in all 120 counties.

“During the current legislative session our organization has worked very closely with legislative leaders to craft a Constitutional Amendment to expand gaming that would preserve Kentucky’s signature industry,” stated KEEP Executive Director Bob Heleringer. “We were not consulted about HB 584, which could be very detrimental to Kentucky’s horse industry.”

“We cannot support this constitutional amendment in its current form and we strongly urge all of Kentucky’s state representatives to oppose its passage. KEEP will continue to support any legislation that ensures the future success of an industry that has a $4 billion dollar impact on Kentucky’s economy and provides over 40,000 jobs.”

 

KY: Third Expanded Gambling Bill Filed in House

by Paulick Report Staff | 03.05.2014 | 8:37am

House Speaker Greg Stumbo introduced new legislation Tuesday to allow expanded gambling in Kentucky. It is the third such proposal to be introduced.

According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, Stumbo’s proposed amendment would add a line to the constitution that would read “nothing in this section shall preclude the General Assembly from authorizing other forms of gaming by general law.” Stumbo feels this would clarify the current constitutional language, which gambling opponents say only refers to lotteries, not casinos.

If at least three-fifths of each chamber approves, the question brought to the voters would read “Are you in favor of allowing the General Assembly to pass laws authorizing other forms of gaming?”

Stumbo told the Courier-Journal that he was aware that his proposal would upset some in the horse industry, since it doesn’t specify where the money would go, or how many casinos would be built.

“That’s up to the province of this body (the General Assembly),” Stumbo told the newspaper. “Now some won’t like that, but they haven’t been very successful in their quest, and so I’m going to try it my way.”

Read more in the Louisville Courier-Journal

 

NYRA, Churchill Downs at Odds over Simulcast Signal Rights

by Paulick Report Staff | 02.03.2014 | 4:03pm

 

Despite lengthy negotiations and several contract extensions, the New York Racing Association and Churchill Downs Inc. remain at an impasse over an agreement regarding NYRA’s simulcast signal rights, the Daily Racing Form reports.

The most recent extension expired today (Feb. 3); it is possible that if an agreement isn’t reached soon, Churchill Downs Inc. may drop NYRA’s signal on its Twinspires.com account wagering site as early as Friday. That most likely would have serious results for both companies – Twinspires.com is the largest account wagering site in the country, and NYRA’s year-round signal is one of the most valuable in the industry.

02/03/2014 2:39PM

NYRA, Churchill Downs Inc. lack contract for simulcast signal rights

By Matt Hegarty

The New York Racing Association and Churchill Downs Inc. have been unable to reach an agreement on NYRA’s simulcast signal rights despite several extensions to last year’s contract, a dispute that could result in a blackout of NYRA’s signal on the United States’s largest account-wagering site beginning later this week, according to officials.

The latest extension to last year’s agreement expired Monday, and negotiations between the two parties are ongoing, according to the tracks’ officials. NYRA’s next live racing day is Friday at Aqueduct.

The dispute involves two of the most powerful racing companies in the United States. Churchill owns four racetracks and operates twinspires.com, the largest account-wagering site in the country, and because of the size of its operation, the company has enormous leverage in negotiations over simulcast contracts with racetracks.

On the opposite side, NYRA has the most valuable year-round signal of any single racing operator, and its simulcast rate is believed to be the highest in the United States outside of major events like the Triple Crown races and Breeders’ Cup. NYRA operates Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga Race Course, which together account for approximately one-fifth of the handle on U.S. races.

Late last year, NYRA’s chief executive, Chris Kay, said that NYRA would be seeking a higher rate for its simulcast signal in 2014 as a way to shore up its bottom line. NYRA has had troubles over the past decade posting a profit on its racing operations when excluding subsidies from a casino located at Aqueduct.

Though NYRA officials said they would not comment on the negotiations Monday, an official with knowledge of NYRA’s contracts said the association has reached new contracts with all of the major signal brokers in the United States with the exception of Churchill. Those contracts were reached with a “modest” increase to the signal price, the official said.

A Churchill spokesperson said the company would have no comment on the negotiations as of early Monday afternoon.

A blackout of the NYRA signal on twinspires.com could have serious repercussions for both sides. Some twinspires.com customers could migrate to competing account-wagering companies, including NYRA’s own internet and telephone betting operation, to retain access to the signal. Meanwhile, NYRA could lose a significant amount of handle on its signal if twinspires.com customers are unable to bet on its races.

 

The Confiscation of a Horse Industry
Friday, January 31, 2014 - by Chris Wittstruck, Esq

 

 

Guide dogs serve extremely useful roles in our society. For the sight impaired, these canine companions are literally a lifeline to their masters. So, too, search and rescue dogs have been credited with countless instances of saving lives where human skills and prowess fall short. The services provided by Guinea pigs and lab mice are rightly credited with saving lives as well. Their sacrifices ensure that humans aren't exposed to harmful products and verify the efficacy of new medications and treatments.  

 

Of course, there is also a distinct reality attributed to each of the foregoing statements.

 

Guide dogs spend the overwhelming part of their lives harnessed. Unlike the Standardbred racehorse who spends no more than several minutes a day hitched to a jog cart or sulky, the guide dog is at the total beck and call of its needy patron, both day and night. When the impaired individual is at a fixed location, the dog remains confined to the human’s feet. If the dog experiences any leisure time at all, it is assuredly short lived and can be abruptly terminated as the owner’s next need for mobility arises.

    

The plights of search and rescue dogs are even more disquieting. After a fire, earthquake or other tragic circumstance, these heroes are pressed into service by human handlers in precarious places like collapsed buildings. The danger to the canine is real. Moreover, these animals live a paramilitary life, as they go through rigorous training and years of continuous, spur of the moment service analogous to their human supervisors.

 

Plainly put, and with no embellishment necessary, the laboratory animal is sacrificed for the betterment of mankind.

 

Cows, pigs and chickens are commercially slaughtered and eaten. Animals like bears, deer and rabbits are hunted. Zoos, circuses and aquariums confine animals for the amusement of humans.

 

In sum, the claim that animals possess “rights” is a farce. Humans possess rights, and one of the rights that humans enjoy is to make use of animals for human benefit. If those statements sound harsh, consider this: While animals possess no rights, humans have a continuous obligation, detailed by law, to see to it that the welfare of animals is genuinely protected.

 

Animals don’t have a right to be free from torture; humans have the obligation not to torture animals. Deliberating over the nature and extent of animal rights is meaningless. Where the human obligation for animal welfare begins and ends is the proper point of debate. Should cosmetics be tested using the eyes of rabbits? Without drawing a conclusion, the simple answer is that the determination is made by balancing the welfare of the animals against the needs, desires and, yes, the rights of the humans.

 

In New York City, the newly elected mayor has made it a top priority to remove the carriage horse industry from the streets of Manhattan and substitute it with a fleet of electric vintage automobiles that currently exists only on paper. Why? The mayor’s supporters view the industry, which dates back to the 1850s, as cruel, inhumane and anachronistic, purportedly because the horses breathe exhaust while dodging dangerous traffic. There are also reports that the move might be part of a scheme to reward campaign contributors by freeing up the valuable real estate which presently is occupied by the stables which house the horses.

 

The true motivation for the mayoral move aside, the over 200 carriage horses presently in service, as well as their living quarters, are heavily regulated. Chapter 4 of the Rules of the City of New York’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene provides stringent requirements for those who operate with the industry.

 

The Rules state that each horse must be licensed. There are mandatory reporting requirements in the event of a horse’s death or ownership transfer. The stables are under the continuous inspection of the City’s Department of Health, and any persons designated by the Commissioner to enforce the provisions of this title, agents of the ASPCA, police officers, and employees of the Department of Consumer Affairs. There are numerous regulations that detail minimum requirements for stable maintenance, including internal temperature, ventilation, lighting and sanitary conditions.

 

The horses are subject to mandatory veterinarian checks and a health certificate for each horse must be maintained and filed. Business logs detailing the daily movements of each horse are required to be kept. There are requirements regarding intervals for feeding, water consumption and rest. Carriages horses are prohibited from working more than 10 hours in any 24 hour period, and are not permitted to work at all when the temperature is above 90 degrees. Also, a horse may at any time be removed from service by any number of government agencies if deemed necessary for health reasons.

 

Click here to view N.Y.C. carriage horse industry regulations:

http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/about/healthcode/health-code-chapter4.pdf

 

It would appear that city government has ensured that the welfare of the horse is of paramount importance in the conduct of the carriage industry. Still, limited, anecdotal instances of horses collapsing while in service or being spooked by traffic have fueled the clamor by the “rights” activists to terminate the industry’s operation. The overall safety of the industry, as well as its tradition and charm, are ignored by the animal rights folks. As a spokeswoman for the industry put it: You cannot just get rid of a business, a perfectly legal well-regulated … just because a few people don't like it.”

 

Worse yet, the new mayor’s plan for the horses presently in service is to retire them to “sanctuaries.” The daunting task of placing over 200 horses out to pasture aside, the more important question is what right does the rights’ activist mayor have to confiscate the private property of the horses’ owners? First, can confiscation of the horses truly be classified as for a public use like the condemnation of real estate for purposes of building a school or hospital? Moreover, where is the provision for the horse owners to receive just compensation? Both the Fifth Amendment to the New York State Constitution, as well as Article I, Section 7 of the New York State Constitution, ensure that private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation. It appears that in their crusade for misplaced animal rights, the mayor and his activist supporters have totally forgotten the guaranteed rights of citizens.

 

What does all this matter as far as harness racing is concerned? Is it that hard to figure out? A highly regulated industry doesn’t appeal to a handful of rights’ activists. It doesn’t matter to them that for every Barbaro and Eight Belles there are thousands of horses who spend their entire racing careers without major incident. It also doesn’t matter that there are almost no catastrophic incidents in harness racing. The activists use the extremely limited, often inapplicable instances as sensationalized examples of why animal racing is inhumane, and further why all of the equine participants should immediately and permanently be put out to grazing paddocks.

 

Five years ago, the rights’ activists were completely successful in a similar campaign that led to the eradication of the entire greyhound racing industry in New England. Now, this same type of campaign is being supported by the mayor of one of the nation’s largest cities in an attempt to seize the private commercial property of an entire blue collar industry. If successful in destroying a 150 year old business sector that it had previous been content to vastly regulate, what industry will be next?

 

Can you hear the hoof beats?

 

Chris E. Wittstruck is an attorney, a director of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York and a charter member of the Albany Law School Racing and Gaming Law Network.

 

NY Racinos See Revenue Slip

Published: February 3, 2014 12:23 pm ET

The New York State Gaming Commission is citing brutal winter weather conditions in January as the leading factor in the seven per cent decline in revenue that state racinos saw last month.

A report by the New York Post explains that the drop off in wagering – in comparison to January of 2014 – comes on the heels of a disappointing December.

“Unusually severe weather across New York state definitely had an impact on January’s VLT (Video Lottery Terminal, or slots) revenue figures,” commission spokesman Lee Park was quoted as saying.

“During January, there were 11 separate weather-related closings at VLT facilities across the state. This is significantly higher than previous years. Additionally, several race tracks had to cancel racing due to unsafe conditions.”

The revenue declines come as New York is looking to further expand brick-and-mortar gaming facilities in the state, which has current gaming operators worried.

(With files from the New York Post)

 

VA Schedule Stalemate Closes OTWs

Published: February 3, 2014 11:49 am ET

A contract dispute over the 2014 thoroughbred schedule at Colonial Downs has caused the closure of four off-track wagering locations.

A report by martinsvilledaily.com states that the Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association has refused to sign a new contract which is the exact same contract as last year.

Until an agreement is reached between the two parties, Virginia OTW locations in Martinsville, Vinton, Scott County and Alberta will remain closed.

(With files from martinsvilledaily.com)

 

High Stakes: PA Bill Would Shift Funds from Racing to Education

by Paulick Report Staff | 01.30.2014 | 8:28am

Since Pennsylvania legalized slot machines in 2006, more than $1.5 billion in revenue has gone to boost horse racing in the state, via the Race Horse Development Fund. Purses at the state’s racetracks have increased, and both the racing and breeding side of the industry have benefited. If Rep. Todd Stephens has his way, though, that may soon end.

Stephens has proposed legislation that would shift $250 million of the annual revenue the racing fund receives and redirect it to education. Any remaining amount would then go to horse racing. The Patriot News reports that Stephens’ proposal would target school districts that receive less than 35 percent of their funding from the state.

“The bottom line is only people with means can get into horse racing and they’re the ones winning these purses,” Stephens said. “Right now, we have to prioritize our spending. We have a constitutional obligation to our children — frankly I think we have a moral obligation to our children as well — to provide them with a thorough and efficient school system and …. we are not doing that.”

If the legislation is passed, it could very well be the death knell to the racing industry in the state. Horse racing has an estimated $4 billion economic impact on the state. The most revenue the Race Horse Development Fund has received in one year is $263 million – with Stephens’ proposal, the fund would’ve only gotten $13 million of that.

“It’s gone,” said Todd Mostoller, Executive Director of the state Horseman’s Benevolent & Protective Association. “(If it passes) there is no industry in Pennsylvania.”

 

 

llinois legislators pass ADW bill
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 - from the USTA Communications Department

Columbus, OH --- Illinois legislators reconvened in Springfield on Wednesday (Jan. 29) to hear Governor Pat Quinn’s State of the State address. They also passed legislation allowing Advance Deposit Wagering to continue.

According to the Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association website, the bill passed the Senate by a vote of 47-4, then went on to the House where it passed by a vote of 95-10. The governor signed the bill into law at 4 p.m. (CST).

Advance Deposit Wagering allows racing fans to bet on horse races online and is not a new law. ADW has been legal in Illinois since 2009 but was due to sunset on Jan. 31.

A percentage of ADW wagers fund the Illinois Racing Board, which regulates horse racing. Without ADW funds the IRB could not sufficiently carry out their responsibilities. Consequently, harness racing could have seen up to a 95 percent reduction in racing dates, going from racing 251 days in 2013 to just 13 days in 2014.

 

Suffolk Downs to Partner with Mohegan Sun for Resort Casino

by Press Release | 11.27.2013 | 1:37pm

http://www.paulickreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Suffolk-Downs-logo-240x106.gif

Suffolk Downs announced today it has reached agreement with Mohegan Sun to be its development partner and gaming operator for a world-class resort casino on 42 acres of the track’s 52 acres in Revere, Massachusetts. The deal brings New England’s premier gaming brand – and one of the world’s most successful casino companies – together with historic Suffolk Downs to create a world-class destination that will create thousands of jobs, new opportunities for small business and economic development for the entire region.

“This is a historic day for the City of Revere, Suffolk Downs and all of New England,” said Richard Fields, principal owner of Suffolk Downs. “By choosing Mohegan Sun as our resort casino developer and operator, we bring new energy and excitement to our pursuit of a gaming license – and a leader and premier brand in resort casino gaming that has been hugely successful in New England for 17 years.”

The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority operates Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT; Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Wilkes-Barre, PA; and the Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, NJ. Mohegan Sun in Connecticut is one of the world’s most successful casinos, with more than $900 million in annual gaming revenue.

 “Mohegan Sun and Suffolk Downs each began our pursuit of a place in the Massachusetts gaming industry in different ways and different locations. Circumstances brought us together in recent days, and we immediately recognized that something truly special can be created in Revere,” said Mitchell Etess, CEO of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority. “This agreement represents an opportunity to develop an incredible destination that will make the City of Revere proud as a host community, that will benefit the entire region with new jobs and economic development, and that will become the signature project for Massachusetts in the resort gaming industry.”

Mohegan Sun has one of the strongest financial platforms of any Massachusetts gaming license applicant through its strategic partnership with Brigade Capital Management – a $15 billion investment advisor with extensive experience investing in the gaming industry. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has already found Mohegan Sun and Brigade, as well as Suffolk Downs, suitable as potential license holders in the Commonwealth.

“Mohegan Sun’s premier gaming brand has been hugely successful for 17 years with guests from around New England and the entire Northeast,” said Don Morgan, the Managing Member of Brigade Capital Management. “This resort casino in Revere will become the signature project of the Massachusetts gaming industry.”

In addition, Mohegan Sun brings to the project a tremendous marketing advantage through its database of loyal guests who visit its resort casinos in Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Atlantic City. By leveraging that marketing database, Mohegan Sun can begin engaging customers immediately on the resort casino project in Revere.

“We’re the best in the industry at delivering a resort gaming experience that drives repeat visitors from New England and the entire Northeast,” said Kevin Brown, Chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority and Mohegan Tribal Council. “And with Suffolk Downs, we’re the home team – because New England is our home. The destination we create in Revere will be unique to the area and a great enhancement to the many world-class attractions in this region.”

Mohegan Sun and Suffolk Downs are already underway in creating the design elements, gaming program, entertainment and other amenities that will be featured in their resort casino project in Revere.

As part of the agreement, Mohegan Sun will honor all commitments made by Suffolk Downs in its Host Community Agreement with the City of Revere – which is currently being amended to reflect the new proposal – and will immediately work together with Suffolk Downs in the process already underway of reaching surrounding community agreements.

Benefits of the amended Host Community Agreement will include millions of dollars in estimated annual payments to Revere once the resort is fully operational – determined in part by the resort’s performance. In addition to the annual payments, the agreement will include significant one-time community investments, including capital commitments related to municipal projects and millions in transportation and infrastructure improvements. In addition, the project will create 2,500 construction jobs and 4,000 permanent jobs, with a preference given to Revere residents “Our strong partnership with Revere goes back over seven decades and today’s announcement begins a new exciting chapter,” said Chip Tuttle, Chief Operating Officer of Suffolk Downs. “When completed, our agreement will reflect this community’s desire for economic development, jobs, community improvements, and small business partnerships that this development proposal will bring. On November 5th, Revere residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of
bringing world class destination resort gaming to their community and today’s news brings us another step closer to that goal.”

Suffolk Downs and Mohegan Sun share a long-standing commitment to working with local businesses, community leaders and cultural and tourist organizations. Currently, Mohegan Sun spends nearly $500 million annually on goods and services from local vendors near its Connecticut and Pennsylvania facilities.

Mohegan Sun is one of Connecticut’s five largest employers and has a strong track record of hiring and training local employees – more than 90 percent of its employees live locally.

Suffolk Downs has made partnering with local businesses a key part of its plans to develop a resort destination at its property. In Massachusetts, Mohegan Sun has already begun enrolling businesses in its “Massachusetts Player’s Club Card” program – a program that supports local businesses and enables guests that earn Player Points to redeem them at local establishments.

Mohegan Sun jobs support families and households, with the opportunity for career growth and advancement in areas such as gaming operations, hospitality, marketing and promotions, transportation, engineering, human resources, accounting and finance.

 

Going All In: Online Gambling Begins in New Jersey

by Paulick Report Staff | 11.26.2013 | 8:35am

Thirteen online gambling sites went live in New Jersey on Tuesday, ushering in a new era of gambling and making it the largest expansion of casino business in the state since the 1970s. Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation back in February, making New Jersey just the third state to legalize Internet gambling.

Online gamblers will have to be physically present in the state of New Jersey in order to gamble (software must be installed on their computer that records location), but once registered, gamblers will be able to play any casino games, such as roulette or poker.

Opponents of the new law continue to voice concerns that gambling addiction will become even more widespread, according to a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer. “There’s absolutely no denying the fact that offering Internet gambling to citizens is the equivalent of opening a Las Vegas casino in every home, office, dorm room, smartphone in the state of New Jersey,” Les Bernal, national director of Stop Predatory Gaming, told the Inquirer.

Bernal and others have expressed concern that problem gambling may become an even bigger problem with young adults, who spend a great amount of time already online, visiting social networking sites such as Facebook.

“In the past few years, that’s been something we’ve been watching, the convergence between the social media, the social games, and the real-money games. For some people it may be a gateway,” said Donald Weinbaum, executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey.

Read more in at Philly.com

 

Illinois Horsemen Hoping for Legislative Help on Slots, ADW

by Press Release | 10.27.2013 | 6:37pm

Illinois lawmakers return to Springfield today for their fall veto session. The session is scheduled to last six days; lawmakers will work through Thursday of this week, and then Tuesday, Nov. 5, through Thursday, Nov. 7.

Tomorrow afternoon, the House will hold a hearing on the gaming expansion proposal that passed the Senate but stalled in the House last spring. The hearing Wednesday is “subject matter” only, so lawmakers are not expected to vote.

The Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association strongly supports this underlying proposal, which would authorize slots at tracks as a means to enhance purses and help Illinois racing more adequately compete with other states already bolstering purses with casino-style revenue.

However, it’s unclear when House lawmakers may vote on whether to advance the proposal to Gov. Pat Quinn’s desk. The governor has said he won’t consider approving gaming expansion until after lawmakers approve a plan to address the state’s public pension debt, which is estimated at upwards of $100 billion.

A special conference committee appointed at the behest of the governor more than three months ago has been working to negotiate a plan to address the pension debt, but that panel remains divided and it’s unclear whether lawmakers will vote during the veto session on any solution.

 

ADW Must Be Revised and Renewed
The Illinois law authorizing advance deposit wagering will expire on Jan. 31, 2014. If ADW is not renewed, the Illinois Racing Board has said it will substantially reduce live racing opportunities in Illinois – hastening the demise of the Illinois thoroughbred and harness racing industry, which supports more than 35,000 jobs statewide.

Hawthorne Racecourse, Maywood Park, Balmoral Racetrack, the ITHA and the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association support renewing and revising our state’s ADW law to ensure the IRB is adequately funded to administer Illinois horse racing and to avoid draconian cuts to Illinois racing opportunities that would lead to catastrophic job losses throughout racing and Illinois agribusiness.

Moreover, our joint proposal will ensure that ADW revenue is fairly distributed among tracks and horsemen purses. It will ensure that ADW companies will no longer have the power to take far more than their fair and appropriate share.

Under the terms they negotiate with tracks, ADW companies routinely take more than half the profit – those dollars left after compensating bettors and paying taxes and other administrative costs. Tracks and purses generally then receive equivalent shares of the remaining revenue.

Advance deposit wagering in Illinois was not intended to enrich the ADW companies that facilitate wagering online. It was intended to support purses and the tracks that partner with those ADW companies, as well as generate revenue for the state.

In 2012, ADW handle totaled $122.17 million and purses received $3.37 million or 2.76 percent. In 2010, the first full year of ADW in Illinois, handle was $97.8 million and purses received $3.34 million or 3.41 percent. So while handle has grown, the percentage shared with purses has dropped. Illinois horsemen have moved their business to other states in recent years precisely because purses there are far more competitive.

The current ADW law has enabled an unintended and unequal distribution of commissions and purses. In 2012, out-of-state ADW providers received nearly $8 million in commissions from Illinois customers, while Hawthorne and thoroughbred horsemen purses there received just $360,000. Maywood and Balmoral received less than $200,000, and harness horsemen purses there received virtually nothing from ADW wagering (they received a minor subsidy created three years after original passage of ADW in 2009).

Illinois is heading into its fifth year of ADW, and it’s past time for ADW to adequately support purses and all the host tracks. We support a fair and appropriate ADW extension law that will maximize support for purses and truly promote the interests of horse racing. ADW was intended to foster the growth of the entire industry for Illinois racing stakeholders (tracks and horsemen).

Illinois horsemen are hopeful that Arlington Racecourse – the only major horse racing entity in northern Illinois not in agreement with the joint ADW proposal – also will agree to support fair and equitable distribution of ADW revenue to tracks and horsemen purses.

However, it’s no surprise that Arlington is defending the status quo and seeking continuation of the existing ADW structure to the detriment of its closest competitors and Illinois horsemen. When ADW company TwinSpires makes its revenue-sharing deal with Arlington, a fellow Churchill Downs Inc. subsidiary, CDI has no financial incentive to push for Arlington to keep more of the revenue because the parent company makes more money when its track and horsemen purses get less.

Under the status quo, a net loss for the track and purse account is a net gain for CDI.

  

Supporting the IRB
The IRB has also called for a supplemental appropriation of $725,000 to alleviate its budget stress. The ITHA has suggested two routes for identifying the funds necessary to reconcile this deficit in the short term – and better support the IRB’s budget over the long term.

HFL Sport Science, Inc., a fully accredited lab located in Kentucky, has reported it could provide equine drug testing services to the IRB at an estimated savings of more than $600,000 annually over the IRB’s current contract with a lab based at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

HFL Sport Science is accredited under both the ISO 17025 standard and the Racing Medication & Testing Consortium standard – a higher standard that’s uniquely tailored for horse racing. The UIC lab currently testing in Illinois is not accredited under either standard.

The ITHA has urged the IRB to consider contracting with a different lab, such as HFL Sport Science or another fully accredited lab, when its current contract with the UIC lab expires on June 30, 2014, as a means to save potentially more than $600,000 on an ongoing, annual basis.

Separately, we have suggested that state lawmakers consider tapping a portion of the recapture subsidy that compensates Arlington and other Illinois tracks for the loss in live handle related to simulcasting their races across the globe.

In 2013 alone, Arlington will enjoy an estimated $4.1 million recapture subsidy – dollars that flow directly from horsemen purses at a rate of $46,000 a day. Less than a quarter of Arlington’s subsidy would be more than sufficient to cover the IRB’s projected deficit.

 

Ontario: Investigation Questions Where ‘Slots-at-Racetracks’ Money Went

by Paulick Report Staff | 10.29.2013 | 8:47am

Although the exact amount is not known, several million dollars in revenue from Ontario’s ‘Slots-at-Racetracks’ program – money earmarked for the racing industry – were misspent or are unaccounted for due to lax oversight by the provincial government, according to an investigative report in the Toronto Star.

The Slots-at-Racetracks program was structured as such that slot machine revenue from the tracks was divided between the province (75 percent) and the municipality where the track was located (5 percent), with the remaining 20 percent split between the host track and purses for the winners of races, according to The Star. The publication discovered that there was no system in place that “controlled how the host track spent its share of the money.”

The Star questioned Premier Kathleen Wynne regarding the slots revenue; Wynne said her government cannot account for all of the money sent to track operators over 15 years that the program was in place.

“Can I give you chapter and verse on everything that’s happened in the past? I can’t,” Wynne said.

Read more in the Toronto Star

 

Too Many Casinos: Looks Like We’ve Reached Gambling Saturation

Even as more casinos open around the country, there are indications that gambling revenues are leveling off—that we're reaching a saturation point, with too many casinos for everybody to win.

By Brad Tuttle @bradrtuttleOct. 03, 2013

   

Americans are gambling more lately. From 2011 to 2012, U.S. casino gaming revenues rose 4.8% and hit $37.3 billion, just under the record high of $37.5 billion reached in 2007. And yet even as states push forward with plans to open more casinos around the country, there are indications that gambling revenues are leveling off—that we’re reaching a saturation point, with too many casinos, in too close proximity, for everybody to win.

The casino business in Atlantic City, for example, has been on the decline for half-a-dozen years, and it’s no secret why: What with increasing gambling options available in nearby Pennsylvania and Delaware, gamblers have had less reason to bother making the trek to A.C.

Surely, some gamblers from Maryland have decided to skip the trip to the Jersey Shore and stay closer to home. Gambling revenues in Maryland hit an all-time high in August, mainly because a new casino had recently opened up, and because existing casinos had introduced new table games. Two more casinos are planned to open in Maryland over the next three years, but despite the local gambling boom, industry insiders foresee a glut in the market.

“Somebody in the market is going to close,” said Bill Fasy, chief operating officer for the Casino at Ocean Downs, told one Maryland newspaper.

At Connecticut casinos, declining gambling revenue reports have been making regular appearances—and that’s before local gambling venues even have to start dealing with competition from casinos planned for the near future across the border in upstate New York and Massachusetts. The Hartford Courant highlighted how slot revenues at Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun rose 0.03% in August 2013, compared to the same month a year prior—notable because the revenues had been on a steady year-over-year decline dating back to December 2011. Slot revenues for its in-state competitor, Foxwoods, have remained on the decline.

A recent story in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel cast a heaping dose of skepticism on the idea that more and more casinos can possibly bring on more and more revenues indefinitely. “Many markets are seeing a point of saturation,” said Michael Paladino, a Fitch Ratings gaming analyst. “New casinos … are just cannibalizing the existing market.”

Casinos “certainly do reach that point where they just start essentially cannibalizing each other,” agreed Mark Nichols, an economics professor at the University of Nevada-Reno. “You’re seeing signs of that now.”

In late September, a panel of gaming executives in Las Vegas had the consensus point of view that there are very few places in the U.S. where it made sense to open new casinos. “New England is saturated,” said Penn National Gaming President Tim Wilmott, according to VegasInc.com. “The market is crowded in Ohio. It’s a little underserved in Florida.” 

While gambling revenues in Kansas soared by 600% in 2012, the growth came likely at the expense of Nevada, where gaming revenues inched up just 1.5% last year. Employment at casinos, by the way, was down 1% nationwide from 2011 to 2012, according to the Associated Press.

A TIME story published over the summer explored the new reality in Las Vegas, which has recovered after the recession in terms of visitor numbers, but which is suffering because visitors just aren’t gambling as much as they used to on their Sin City getaways. The trend makes sense: After all, when you can play the slots or black jack within an hour of your hometown, there’s less of a sense of urgency to gamble on a visit to Vegas.

Increasingly, destinations associated with gambling have been forced to look beyond tables and slot machines for revenues. In the past, restaurants, shops, clubs, and shows in Las Vegas were “usually loss leaders to bring in the gamblers,” Jon Gray, vice president and general manager of The Linq, a $550 million open-air retail, dining, and entertainment center opening near Caesars Palace, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. But as visitors have grown less focused on gambling, the math has changed, and nongambling amenities must bring in revenues. “Now we are driving visitation to Las Vegas. A DJ at a club can make $300,000 a night, but the club is making $1.2 million.”

“A property really can’t compete for the upscale visitor if it doesn’t have shopping,” Stephen Brown, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at UNLV’s Lee Business School, said in another Review-Journal article. “High-end retail is really what’s propelling the growth in taxable sales in Las Vegas.” In addition to The Linq, Las Vegas is moving forward with large-scale projects that don’t involve gambling like Downtown Container Park, a section of downtown with space for 40 restaurants and businesses, where patrons will be able to stroll and carouse in a pavilion with alcoholic beverages in hand. 

Back in Connecticut, Foxwoods, which is $2.3 billion debt, is placing a very big bet not on gambling, but shopping as its salvation. In late September, Foxwoods broke ground on a 312,000-square-foot outlet mall that’s expected to open by early winter of 2014. The hope is that the mall will draw visitors who might otherwise be attracted to forthcoming casinos in Massachusetts and elsewhere, and also encourage guests to extend their stays.

But just as consumers today are facing a glut of convenient gambling options to choose from, and therefore gambling feels less special, the novelty of outlet mall shopping may also be on the decline. Of the dozens of stores announced for the new mall at Foxwoods, the Hartford Courant noted, “Just one — Steve Madden, the shoe and accessory store — will be new to Connecticut.”


Read more:
http://business.time.com/2013/10/03/too-many-casinos-looks-like-weve-reached-gambling-saturation/#ixzz2iMc3q7WT

Brad Tuttle @bradrtuttle

Brad Tuttle covers business and personal finance for TIME. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife and four sons, and also teaches journalism at UMass-Amherst.

 

Tioga Downs Making Play for Casino License

by Paulick Report Staff | 10.20.2013 | 9:25am

Jeff Gural, owner of Tioga Downs and the Meadowlands, is lobbying for a referendum that could allow Tioga Downs to apply for a casino license. If the racino can get one, Gural has plans for a $60 to $70 million project that would include a hotel, convention center, and spa. Gural hopes that the addition of table games will draw a younger demographic to the facility.

The track’s market in the Southern Tier of New York draws from a population of about 600,000 people, which Gural told PressConnects.com is really not a large number for a casino to draw from.

If the track is not granted the opportunity to get a casino license, other interested parties could be allowed to bid–and Gural said that could spell disaster for Tioga.

“I’m not sure what we would do,” he said. “It would really be devastating, truthfully. There just isn’t enough business in this area for two casinos. Hopefully, people figure that out.”

Racino owner: Tier isn't big enough for 2 casinos

7:25 PM, Oct 18, 2013   |  

Jeff Gural, owner of Tioga Downs, gives a presentation on the referendum to expand casino gambling in the racino's Winners Circle Lounge on Friday. / JON HARRIS / Staff Photo

Written by

Jon Harris

@PSBJonHarris

NICHOLS — Jeff Gural doesn’t believe the region is big enough for two casinos.

“Obviously, if someone else applied in the region that I’m in, then we would be competing for the license,” said Gural, owner of Tioga Downs. “I’m hoping that doesn’t happen, simplyhttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png because the population of this region is so small.”

Tioga Downs draws from a 50-mile market that encompasses nearly 600,000 people. The racetrack casino, which opened in June 2006, attracted 1.16 million people in 2012 and raked in $61 million in revenue off its 802 slot machines from April 2012 to March 2013.

But that growing revenue — net incomehttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png came in at $42.8 million from April 2007 to March 2008 — could be threatened if another party enters a bid to win the Southern Tier’s casino license.

But first, New York votershttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png on Nov. 5 would need to approve up to seven privately owned casinos in the state. The first four casinos, with Las Vegas-style table games, would be allowed only in three regions: the Capital District, the Catskills and the Southern Tier. As the only casino now operating in the Southern Tier, Tioga Downs is the first party to emerge as a contender in the region.

Gural visited Tioga Downs on Friday afternoon to give a presentation on the referendum.

“Voters are not — I wish they were — but they are not votinghttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png on whether Tioga Downs should get a casino license,” said Gural, 71. “They’re voting on whether Tioga Downs should have the right to apply for a casino license.”

After covering the basics of the proposal headed to voters on Election Day, Gural touted the economic benefits that an expanded Tioga Downs could have on the county and surrounding areas. The Southern Tier would receive an estimated $20.1 million in tax revenues, including $7.3 million for school aid and property tax relief and $12.8 in annual government aid, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budgethttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png office.

The racino is planning a $60 million to $70 million project, to be rolled out over the next two years. That plan includes a 295-car indoor parking garage, a 136-room hotel, a convention center, a spa and an expansion of the gambling area to make room for table games such as poker, blackjack and baccarat.

The addition of table games would allow Tioga Downs to attract a much younger demographic than it currently does, Gural said.

“Most of our customers are older,” Gural said. “Older people enjoy the slot machines — that’s their thing. But younger people enjoy table games and poker, so the problem here is we don’t have as much ability to attract younger customers as our competitors.

If privately-owned casinos are approved, a five-member Facility Location Board would have 90 days to issue a request for proposals, which would detail how interested parties could bid for a casino license.

Then, it would become clear whether Tioga Downs would have competition for the Southen Tier’s license.

“If we were not to get that license, I’m not sure what we would do,” Gural said. “It would really be devastating, truthfully. There just isn’t enough business in this area for two casinos. Hopefully, people figure that out.”

 

Caesars Dropped from Suffolk Deal; Background Check Raised Questions

by Paulick Report Staff | 10.19.2013 | 8:58am

 

According to a report by The Boston Globe, state investigators had raised concerns that Caesars may have a business relationship with an individual who has ties with an unnamed organized crime family outside of the U.S. The news comes four months after South Korea rejected a project involving Caesars due to the company’s high debt.

Suffolk Downs officials are confident that the proposal will pass without Caesars as the casino’s manager.

 

Five other gaming companies have passed the state background check in Massachusetts: Penn National Gaming, Cordish Cs., Raynham Park with Greenwood Racing, Mohegan Sun, and Rush Street Gaming.

 

Beyer: ‘Racing Still Draws Fans – Just Not to the Track’

by Paulick Report Staff | 09.27.2013 | 10:02am

 

Belmont Park has six graded stakes races, including five Grade 1′s, on tap for ‘Super Saturday’, part of the track’s Breeders’ Cup Preview Day. Many horses will be using the races as their final preps for the Breeders’ Cup in November.

With such important races on the card, a big crowd is expected. Or at least they used to be.

In his most recent column for the Washington Post, Andrew Beyer writes that large crowds on big race days, for the most part, are a thing of the past. Many horseplayers now prefer to stay at home, and watch and wager on races on their computers. As Beyer notes, “They don’t have to pay for admissions, parking, or overpriced food.”

Racetracks such as Saratoga and Del Mar are exceptions; the tracks are more like resort destinations and draw a wide range of customers.

Beyer feels that racing leaders, instead of being anguished over empty seats and saying that racing is in decline, should instead “focus on improving their web sites and their own betting sites.” The fans of racing are still there – they’re just not in the grandstand and are watching from home.

“Racing executives should understand the changes in customers’ betting habits and explain them to the media and the public, in order to dispel the notion that diminished live attendance means that the sport is dying.”

Read more in the Washington Post

 

Wide Range of Issues on Tap for 2013 Symposium

by Press Release | 09.26.2013 | 12:45pm

The University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program today released the tentative agenda for the 2013 Global Symposium on Racing & Gaming to be held December 9-12, 2013 at the Westin La Paloma Resort in Tucson, Arizona. Scheduled topics cover a wide range of issues and include:

Current Legal and Policy Issues in Racing and Gaming
Speakers will look at topics that have moved across the radar screen of policymakers, regulators and operators. Speakers will address issues like Florida’s Gretna case; the rise of geolocation as a regulatory tool; the status of interstate Internet poker and other gaming in the U.S.; the possibility of federal legislation on medication in racing; and how the seismic change in the SARP in Ontario has changed the landscape and outlook for that province and the cautionary tale it provides.

New Strategies in Regulating Racing
Racing regulators face the same problems as other stakeholders. Budgets require doing more with less, which in some cases has led to doing things differently – more efficiently, more transparently, and more creatively. One strategy calls for out-of competition investigation and testing to help insure integrity. But in creating an out-of-competition testing scheme, regulators face new issues, privacy issues, confidentiality issues and others need to be addressed, to name just a few. This panel will address these issues and more.

New Ways to Look at Numbers
Sports fans are traditionally a group of people who have an insatiable hunger for facts, figures and statistics. Racing is a sport that is data rich but that attribute hasn’t been marketed. Panelists look at new data that could be presented to the racing audience, new ways to present the information we currently provide as well as how all of it can be used to attract new customers and increase the frequency of current players.

From Bridge Jumpers to Bettin’ the Chalk
From the creators of “JOCKEYS” comes a new racing-based reality show, but this time it’s the handicappers who are the stars. Get a sneak preview of the characters and story line for their new project, “HORSEPLAYERS,” from the executives from Go Go Luckey Entertainment.

The Mark Kaufman Workshop presented by the Turf Publicists of America
Pro-Active and Re-Active reporting: How can racing control the message instead of the message controlling us?

Handicapping Contests – Are They an Area of Real Growth in the Racing Industry?
Handicapping contests are attracting a lot of attention and a lot of players. Learn about the different mindset and strategies of the tournament player as compared to the traditional pari-mutuel player and find out how to cater to them. You’ll also get a perspective on the track’s and ADW’s goals for the tournaments as well as the results.

Being Prepared
Planning for the “worst case” scenario is a must today for all businesses. From large tracks on their biggest international days to a weekday at a small track with only simulcast racing – tracks must have a plan in place for a myriad of “what if” situations. Speakers will address security issues and strategies for preparing for the unexpected that are appropriate for organizations of all sizes.

Horse Racing and Social Gaming – The Untapped Potential
Social Gaming has exploded over the past five years. From games like Candy Crush Saga and Words with Friends to Zynga Poker and IGT’s DoubleDown Casino, more people are playing and making money on social games than ever before. Panelists will explain how the racing industry can tap into this fresh new market.

Muckraking Journalism as a Positive Force – The Second Annual Presentation of the Stan Bergstein Writing Award
At this year’s Symposium, Team Valor will present a $25,000 award to the writer of a story embodying the work of the late Stan Bergstein. Stan was a columnist and racetrack executive who worked tirelessly to promote horse racing and shine a light on integrity issues. Team Valor CEO Barry Irwin will lead a discussion with journalists on timely horse racing topics and the importance of addressing issues for the good of the industry.  Team Valor International is the Thoroughbred ownership group that campaigned Kentucky Derby and Dubai World Cup winner Animal Kingdom.

Cyber Security (or Lack Thereof)
As the Internet has grown, so have the threats to Internet security and e-commerce. Current issues range from DDoS (distributed denial-of-service), infiltration, and social engineering to hacking. The racing industry must be prepared for a wide variety of security challenges. Panelists will identify and explain the potential threats, their impact on business operations and solutions to greatly reduce the risks.

Collaborating on Track Safety
Participants from the 12th Annual Track Superintendent’s Field Day held at Del Mar report on the latest technologies affecting track maintenance, as well as other issues presented at the August conference.

Speed Networking
Don’t miss this new opportunity to participate in a fast moving event designed to put you in contact with a number of other racing executives. Speed networking is a meeting format designed to accelerate business contacts and involves multiple people who gather in order to exchange information. Participants greet each other in a series of brief exchanges and share their professional backgrounds and business goals thus giving them exposure to new markets and/or expansion of their pool of vendors.

Workshops:

• Event Marketing — Building an Event to Grow Your Racing Brand

• Aftercare — Managing and Supporting the Business of Caring; Racehorse Aftercare Check for updates on panel sessions, speakers and events here.

The Early Bird registration deadline to save $100 is October 14 – plus save $50 more by completing registration online.

 

Kentucky Downs Fall Meet Shatters Records

by Press Release | 09.26.2013 | 7:32am

 

Kentucky Downs concluded an historic season Wednesday, when live all sources handle, or money wagered, soared to $3,371,476, an all-time record and a 117% increase over the final day in 2012.

For its five days of live racing, from all sources, Kentucky Downs handled $12,814,966, an all-time record and an increase of 69.3 percent from a year ago. On-track handle of $645,343 increased 17 percent over 2012.

“This season showed what can be accomplished when we all work together,” said Corey Johnsen, Kentucky Downs’ President. “We were proud to offer quality racing with a low takeout, and horseplayers responded with record handle.”

Kentucky Downs paid out $4,121,142 in purses and Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund money.  That established a record for the racetrack and represented an increase of 103.9% percent from a year ago. The purses were augmented by revenue derived from pari-mutuel wagering on historical horse races, which accounted for more than 70% of the total.

http://as1.paulickreport.com/www/delivery/lg.php?bannerid=508&campaignid=185&zoneid=5&loc=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.paulickreport.com%2Fnews%2Fthe-biz%2Fkentucky-downs-fall-meet-shatters-records%2F&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.paulickreport.com%2F&cb=9b91b584d0

Beyond the numbers, the season also succeeded in establishing the Franklin, Ky. racetrack in the popular awareness and putting it in the national spotlight. Rosie Napravnik, who’s the fifth leading jockey in the country, topped the Kentucky Downs’ standings with eight wins. In his first trip around the unique course, Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens rode the winner of the $400,000 Kentucky Turf Cup, Temeraine. Ken and Sarah Ramsey, who were the leading owners at the recently concluded Saratoga meeting, topped the Kentucky Downs standings with a record nine wins. And Wayne Catalano, who sits securely atop the trainers’ standings at Arlington Park near Chicago, assumed the same position here with 10 victories.

“What impressed me most about the season,” Johnsen said, “was that we had top quality horses, trainers and jockeys from all over the country.  And, in my opinion, we had some terrific races, showcasing our great sport at the highest level.”

The numbers:

·         Live All Sources Handle – $12,814,966 (69% increase over 2012)

·         Live On Track Handle – $645,343 (17% increase over 2012)

·         Purses/KTDF Paid – $4,121,142 (103.9% increase over 2012)

·         Average Horses per Race – 9.96

2013 Meet Leaders

 

Jockey

Starts

Win

Place

Show

Win %

ITM %

Purses

Rosie Napravnik

30

8

5

3

27

53

$428,702

Trainer

Starts

Win

Place

Show

Win %

ITM %

Purses

Wayne M. Catalano

15

10

1

0

67

73

$576,537

Owner

Starts

Win

Place

Show

Win %

ITM %

Purses

Ken and Sarah Ramsey

25

9

1

2

36

48

$536,213

 

Council: Suffolk Downs Casino Will Go To Vote in East Boston Only

by Paulick Report Staff | 09.25.2013 | 6:13pm

Boston’s city council voted to keep a vote on the proposed casino at Suffolk Downs to East Boston only, despite arguments from opposition that the casino would affect the entire city.

Opponents of the casino also believed that a city-wide vote on the measure would have a better chance of blocking the casino at the track. Suffolk Downs officials praised the council’s move, stating that the council’s decision (and what they hope is an impending approval of the casino) best reflects the desire of most voters.

Supporters of the East Boston only vote believe that residents there would be most affected by casino gambling at the track, and therefore shouldn’t risk being overruled by city residents who live farther away.

 

Virginia Racing Commission Adopts Model Medication Policy

by Press Release | 09.25.2013 | 1:41pm

The Virginia Racing Commission today unanimously adopted the RCI Model Medication Rules, which set uniform thresholds for a determined list of controlled therapeutic medications. The effective date of implementation will be January 1, 2014.

“I commend Chairman Stuart Siegel and fellow commissions as well as Executive Director Bernard Hettel for advancing these reforms in a timely manner. Racing commissions across the country are moving to implement the new Model Medication Rules and many hope to have them in place by January 1, 2014. This is yet another positive step for an industry that has been wrestling with these issues for years,” said Ed Martin, President of Racing Commissioners International.

Virginia is one of several Eastern States that have adopted the reformed RCI Model Medication Rules as “The Mid-Atlantic Initiative” and had committed earlier this year to moving the reforms forward.

Virginia also incorporated by reference the new RCI Penalty Guidelines that provide for a “point system” to track medication violations in order to assist commissions in determining whether an additional enhancement is appropriate for licensees with multiple violations of the medication rules.

 

2014 Illinois Racing Dates Hinge on Legislative Action

by Ray Paulick | 09.25.2013 | 12:50am

 

With just over three months until the new year, horsemen and employees of Illinois racetracks have no idea what 2014 may bring after the Illinois Racing Board on Tuesday approved four alternate racing schedules ranging from a severe reduction in racing dates to a business as usual calendar.

In the end, it will be up to the state legislature to determine whether Chicago suburban tracks Arlington Park and Hawthorne operate as many as 189 combined live dates or as few as 64. In 2013, Arlington Park was awarded 89 live dates and Hawthorne 101.

The law permitting advance-deposit wagering, which helps fund the Illinois Racing Board, expires early next year and unless it is extended by Jan. 31 the IRB will run out of money to regulate racing. The IRB is also seeking $750,000 in supplemental funding from the state, money it says was lost when the previous ADW law sunset on Jan. 1, 2013, and wasn’t renewed until June.

If the legislature neither passes ADW nor provides the $750,000 in supplement funding, Arlington will only race 49 days in 2014 and Hawthorne 15 days. The tracks will split host-track status for incoming simulcasts, but that doesn’t do Illinois horsemen any good.

If supplemental funding is approved but ADW legislation does not pass, Arlington would race 68 days, with Hawthorne running 50. If ADW passes but supplement funding is not approved, Arlington would race 89 days and Hawthorne 81. The best-case scenario – both supplemental funding and ADW legislation are passed – Arlington will get the same number of dates it is running in 2013 – 89 – while Hawthorne gets one fewer day, 100.

Fairmount Park in downstate Illinois would also be affected, with its dates ranging from 10 to 52. Dates at harness tracks are also contingent on the two pieces of legislation.

Here are the different schedules approved, depending on what action the Illinois legislature takes.

Mike Campbell, president of the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, issued the following statement following the IRB meeting. In his comment, Campbell alluded to $600,000 in savings the IRB could obtain by switching testing laboratories from the University of Illinois-Chicago to HFL Sport Science in Lexington, Ky., when the contract with the UIC expires on June 30, 2014. HFL Sport Science is fully accredited with the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, while the UIC lab is not.

The Illinois Racing Board on Tuesday proposed four possible racing date schedules for 2014. The IRB intends to choose the final schedule, from the four options, based on whether lawmakers agree to continue advance deposit wagering and/or grant the IRB a supplemental appropriation of $725,000 to alleviate its budget stress.

The Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association had previously urged the IRB to avoid ordering a 30% cut to dates in 2014 – as the Board had contemplated. We are relieved and gratified that the IRB instead put forth an alternative schedule that is comparable to the 2013 schedule.

Other schedule alternatives, however, would mean draconian cuts to Illinois racing dates. For a PDF summary of the IRB’s four schedule alternatives, click here.

Ongoing Support for ADW
The ITHA is working with lawmakers to negotiate a fair and appropriate ADW extension law that will maximize support for purses and truly promote the interests of horse racing. Our state’s ADW law, which expires Jan. 31, 2014, has become a goldmine for ADW companies – ADW companies take half or more of the profit and leave the rest for tracks and purses to split.

Illinois is heading into its fifth year of ADW, and it’s past time for ADW to adequately support purses.

As I testified before the Illinois Racing Board on Sept. 11, ITHA will continue to work toward an ADW solution with a fair distribution of handle maximizing purse funding – as the law was intended to do. I also testified that if the only option prior to expiration of the current law is to continue the current law for another year, then the ITHA will, as it has twice before, agree to support such an extension.

In 2012, ADW handle totaled $122.17 million and purses received $3.37 million or 2.76 percent. In 2010, the first full year of ADW in Illinois, handle was $97.8 million and purses received $3.34 million or 3.41 percent. So while handle is growing, the percentage shared with purses is dropping.

ADW in Illinois was not intended to enrich the ADW companies that facilitate wagering online. It was intended to support purses, as well as generate revenue for the state and the tracks that partner with those ADW companies.

ADW companies earn their gaming privilege solely because of their association with horse racing. Saving horse racing, preserving jobs, and supporting Illinois agriculture is the entire point of expanding gaming opportunities related to horse racing, whether that’s allowing tracks to offer slot machines or Internet gaming, or permitting ADW.

Lawmakers return to Springfield for their fall session on Tuesday, Oct. 22.

IRB Budget Pressure
While the ITHA understands that the IRB would desire a $725,000 supplemental appropriation to bolster its administrative budget, we would be remiss not to note that the ITHA has suggested to the IRB a way to cut most of that amount from its annual expenses.

 HFL Sport Science, Inc., a fully accredited lab located in Kentucky, has reported to the ITHA that it could provide equine drug testing services to the IRB at an estimated savings of more than $600,000 annually over the IRB’s current contract with a lab based at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

What’s more, HFL Sport Science is accredited under both the ISO 17025 standard and the Racing Medication & Testing Consortium standard – a higher standard that’s uniquely tailored for horse racing. The UIC lab currently testing in Illinois is not accredited under either standard.

The ITHA has urged the IRB to consider contracting with a different lab, such as HFL Sport Science or another fully accredited lab, when its current contract with the UIC lab expires on June 30, 2014.

Illinois horsemen are committed to ensuring a vibrant future for Illinois horse racing and protecting more than 37,000 jobs that depend on our sport. We respectfully encourage the IRB to consider this solution as a means to address the majority of its budget shortfall and alleviate pressure to cut racing dates. – Mike Campbell

 

Can Santa Anita Bring Fans Back to the Track?

by Ray Paulick | 09.27.2013 | 11:18am

When I drove into Santa Anita Park Thursday morning to get a glimpse of the extensive renovations the track has undergone for the autumn meet that begins today, I flashed back nearly 35 years to my first visit to the Great Race Place. It was then, and is now, not only one of the finest racing facilities anywhere, it is one of the most spectacular sports venues in America.

But filling it up with people has been a challenge.

That winter of 1979 when I first set foot inside Santa Anita, daily average attendance exceeded 27,000. Arriving for my inaugural visit with a couple of fellow refugees from the worst winter in Chicago history, I parked in the lot north of the track, paid the admission charge, then walked through a tunnel into the infield. When we emerged into the warmth of the Southern California sunlight, the 360-degree view from the Santa Anita infield nearly took my breath away.

Horse racing was a major league sport in Los Angeles then. Hollywood celebrities populated the turf club and box seat section. Anyone who wanted to make a legal wager on a horse race had to do it on-track.

Just about everything the industry has done since then, purposefully or not, has led to a reduced emphasis on bringing people to the racetrack. Simulcasting, advance-deposit wagering via telephone or computerized device, and horse racing TV networks – all of them make it easier to avoid going to the place that made us racing fans to begin with. Even our wagering menus – littered with multi-race bets – and a reliance on speed figures for handicapping have discouraged the need to be at the track to study the equine athletes in the flesh to try and determine if today is going to be their day.

Is it any wonder attendance figures at all but a handful of race meets and major events have plummeted in the last 25 years?

The transformation of live racing at many tracks has been driven by another factor: multi-use buildings that highlight other forms of gambling – mostly slot machines – at the expense of racing. At many of these tracks, horse racing has become a necessary evil.

There are only a few tracks that have much upside in this new landscape, and two of them – Santa Anita and Belmont Park – are magnificent facilities near enormous population centers where racing was, in the not so distant past, a very big deal.

Both Santa Anita and Belmont Park were built for another era, however, in terms of crowd-size expectations and on-site amenities. Both have been in desperate need of a facelift to have any chance of bringing back the sport’s glory days.

Santa Anita moved first, investing upwards of $15 million and making stunning improvements to several areas of the track that now can offer the type of on-site experience 21st century sports fans and gamblers expect. Improved dining, seating and audio-visual technology has given Santa Anita something to market to a population accustomed to upscale sports and entertainment facilities.

I’ve heard the argument that the only way to grow the sport is to make the gambling side of the business a better bet for the consumer, and I won’t argue the fact that lower takeout is going to increase the churn of existing horseplayers. But I’ve not been convinced that strategy will create new fans on whom the future of horse racing depends.

This isn’t an either/or situation. It will take an all-of-the-above solution to ensure a healthy future. Provide a first-class experience that will attract people to racing and encourage them to come back. Offer a wagering menu that gives horseplayers an honest chance to win, then market the unique qualities of that sports/gambling experience that has no parallel.

I got excited when I had the opportunity to see the new-look Santa Anita on Thursday. It was the same feeling I had when I first laid eyes on the place those many years ago. It is one of the last great hopes for this sport.

 

Concerns For Ontario's Breeders

Published: September 26, 2013 10:53 am ET

On Thursday, September 26, the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association sent out a release which stated that even though Standardbred Canada’s recent 2013 Canadian Yearling Sale showed an average increase of nearly 22 per cent over the 2012 sale, participants in all facets of the industry still face more questions than answers regarding the future of the provincial industry.

The release states that until the Horse Racing Transition Panel’s final plan is unveiled sometime this October, participants in all facets of the Ontario industry still face more questions than answers.

The release states that ‘Only once the final plan is released will breeders have the ability to make informed decisions about the future of their operations.’

The contents of the SBOA release appear below in their entirety.


SBOA Voices Concerns For Ontario's Standardbred Breeders


The uncertainty that Ontario’s Standardbred breeding industry faces is substantial. Ontario’s once strong breeding sector has been devastated due to the provincial government’s ill-planned decision to end the mutually beneficial partnership that the Slots-at-Racetracks Program created between the Province of Ontario and the horse racing and breeding industry.

For the second consecutive year, Ontario’s standardbred breeders have had to weather tremendous losses. Although Standardbred Canada's 2013 Canadian Yearling Sale showed an average increase of nearly 22 per cent over the 2012 sale, it is important to realize that the 2013 sale average remained almost 31 per cent below that of the 2011 sale. Much like 2012, Ontario’s standardbred breeders have once again taken another drastic financial hit.

In her recent letter to the Horse Racing Transition Panel, Premier and Agriculture Minister Kathleen Wynne requests a comprehensive five-year plan for Ontario’s horse racing and breeding industry. This plan is vital in order for long-term sustainability and growth to occur within the industry. However, for sustainability and growth to be achieved through a five-year plan, the government must be willing to invest sufficiently in Ontario’s horse racing and breeding industry, as well as promote and encourage integration amongst gaming and horse racing within the province. Unfortunately, for many breeders the financial losses that they have incurred over the past 18 months have been so substantial that it is difficult, if not impossible, for them to survive to a point where the industry can see its way through to a five-year plan.

Until the final plan is released sometime this October, participants in all facets of the industry face more questions than answers. Only once the final plan is released will breeders have the ability to make informed decisions about the future of their operations.

 

USTA Rejects Model Medication Rules, Withdraws from RMTC

by Press Release | 09.26.2013 | 3:04pm

The Executive Committee of the United States Trotting Association unanimously voted to reject The Association of Racing Commissioners International proposed model medication rules on Wednesday (Sept. 25).

In a separate unanimous vote, the committee agreed that the USTA will immediately withdraw its membership from the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, Inc.

“We have carefully considered the RCI proposals and have come to the conclusion that the physical characteristics of the breeds are significantly different. Trying to fit them together makes little sense,” said USTA President Phil Langley. “We believe both breeds, Standardbreds and Thoroughbreds, will benefit from having rules concentrated solely on their needs.

“Many safeguards now in use in harness racing would never be acceptable to the more high-strung Thoroughbreds, including Lasix barns, two- to four-hour paddock times and racing on a weekly basis,” added Langley. “On the other hand, both the frequency that Standardbreds race and the lack of catastrophic breakdowns in harness racing make the utilization of some therapeutic medications much different between the breeds.”

As a result, the USTA, with the support of Harness Tracks of America, will ask RCI to maintain the current rules in effect for Standardbreds instead of having one set of model rules for two breeds with significantly different requirements.

“After studying these proposed rule changes, it is apparent to us that they are entirely focused on the needs of Thoroughbreds with little consideration for Standardbreds,” concluded Langley.

The USTA supports uniform medication policies, but thinks that they need to be customized for each breed.

“We want to make it very clear the USTA supports uniform rules,” said Langley, “but we strongly believe they should be by breed. Things like blood doping, out-of-competition testing, EPO and Shock Wave Therapy are high on the list of USTA research projects.”

In other action, it was determined that the USTA will immediately withdraw from RMTC. During the last 10 years, the harness racing industry has supported the RMTC with more than $1 million in contributions.

“While we applaud the intentions of the RMTC, we also feel that their efforts concentrate on the Thoroughbreds with little consideration for Standardbreds,” explained Langley. “We believe that the money can be better spent on research and testing in areas more concentrated on harness racing.”

The RCI released the following statement from Edward Martin, President and CEO on Thursday afternoon:

RCI continues to rely on the scientific review process at the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium involving key regulatory advisors who are actively involved with the regulation of both Standardbred and Thoroughbred racing as well as the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP). Unfortunately the United States Trotting Association has removed itself from discussions involving those recommendations before they are sent to the RCI.

We understand that there is a debate over Clenbuterol, but note that there are alternatives to treat a Standardbred horse post-race that will better accommodate the Standardbred business model without creating a back door to steroidal-type effects. We have also heard that some are advocating a liberalization of the recommended policy pertaining to corticosteroid use. The AAEP has advised that the use of these drugs in a limited way can be helpful to the horse but the overuse may be detrimental. The policy we have recommended recognizes this.

 

International Simulcast Conference opens Oct. 7
Friday, September 20, 2013 - by Jane Murray, director of services, Thoroughbred Racing Associations of North America

 

Elkton, MD --- The three-day 21st annual International Simulcast Conference in Lexington, Ky., will commence at 2 p.m. Monday (Oct. 7) with a series of sessions devoted to the urgent need to improve and enhance the customer experience at tracks and simulcast facilities. The current buzzword is transformative social experiences.

With all sports -- even the NFL -- concerned with competing with the comfort and convenience of high-definition, large-screen viewing at home, the afternoon's speakers will address facility amenities, customers’ demands for superior video and information access, and the need to produce a heightened shared experience.

With many football fans choosing to watch games from home instead of the stadium, two recent interviews on ESPN explore how the NFL is planning to reverse the trend. They may be viewed here: NFL Fan Experience and OTL: The NFL Experience.

Emerging technology and its effect on sports and entertainment venue design and use will be addressed by Populous Director of Equestrian Services Todd Gralla, Populous Activate director Brian Mirakian, and the New Meadowlands’ CEO/General Manager Jason Settlemoir.

Populous Activate uses the power of design to link fans, brands, and properties to enhance and extend the in-stadium experience through architecture and interiors, signage, graphics, interactive media and exhibits. Mirakian and Gralla will explore innovations that are important to next-generation venue design, how to better connect with the future fan and the integration of technology, particularly as it impacts fan engagement.

Settlemoir, whose management experience also includes Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs, will focus his comments on the New Meadowlands grandstand building currently under construction, sharing renderings of the facility and how it has been designed to fulfill the hospitality goals and philosophy of Chairman Jeff Gural and his management team.

Recognizing the integral role communication plays in building a socially gratifying experience, Ryan Donnelly, the COO of the wireless design firm Deep Blue Communications, will provide an overview of the Wi-Fi ecosystem within the racing industry currently and in the future, describing the numerous and varied functions of wireless in a racetrack or wagering environment. Monmouth Park’s Vice President of Racing Bill Knauf will recount his track’s utilization of the Deep Blue system installed this year and future plans for increased use.

Concluding the afternoon session will be specific advice on building a successful social media strategy by Rob Key, the CEO of Converseon, and Rick Liebling, a director for Young & Rubicam Advertising. Key has been engaged by the United States Trotting Association this year as Converseon utilizes its proprietary technology to help the harness racing industry build an “end-to-end” social media strategy. Liebling is the Creative Culturalist at Y&R, working across multiple teams and disciplines to help clients understand the changing nature of consumer behavior and how brands and consumers create and interact with culture.

Other topics to be discussed during the Oct. 7-9 conference will include:

  • An update of the TRPB Tote Security Initiative
  • New wagering mixes
  • State tax policies for ADWs
  • Video production of races
  • Impact of declining horse population and countermeasures

The International Simulcast Conference is co-sponsored by the TRA and Harness Tracks of America, in association with the American Greyhound Track Operators Association. Conference attendance requires registration with the TRA. Hotel reservations are available at the Hilton Lexington Downtown by calling 859.231.9000 and requesting the “International Simulcast Conference” room rate. The deadline for hotel reservations is Sept. 21. For more information, including the conference registration form and an invitation to an afternoon of racing at Keeneland, visit www.tra-online.com.

 

MSG Networks to Televise New York Racing Series

by Press Release | 09.14.2013 | 9:28am

MSG Networks, along with The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA), announced today that MSG+ will telecast The New York Racing Series, featuring five live thoroughbred racing specials from Belmont Park, starting Saturday, September 14. All racing specials in The New York Racing Series will air from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Between September 14 and October 19, The New York Racing Series will showcase a total of 10 live races from Belmont Park, including four Grade 1 races. The lineup of races includes the Garden City, Noble Damsel, Matron, Futurity, Foxwoods Champagne, Frizette, Jamaica, Pilgrim, Miss Grillo and the New York Showcase Day presented by The New York Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund, featuring seven stakes races for New York-bred horses.

The New York Racing Series telecasts on MSG+ will feature host Jason Blewitt with analysts Eric Donovan, Richard Migliore, Andy Serling and Maggie Wolfendale.

Below is the full schedule for The New York Racing Series on MSG+.

Saturday, Sept. 14     5:00 p.m.     Garden City, Noble Damsel

Sunday, Sept. 29      5:00 p.m.     Matron, Futurity

Saturday, Oct. 5      5:00 p.m.      Foxwoods Champagne, Frizette, Jamaica

Sunday, Oct. 6     5:00 p.m.     Pilgrim, Miss Grillo

Saturday, Oct. 19     5:00 p.m.     New York Showcase Day

MSG Networks is the exclusive local television home of the New York Knicks, New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, Buffalo Sabres (Upstate New York only), New York Liberty and New York Red Bulls, and the official regional sports networks of the New York Giants. MSG Networks also telecasts over 100 live college basketball games and over 35 live college football games from top national conferences (ACC, SEC, Big 12, Big East, Pac 12, Conference USA), as well as horse racing, boxing and award-winning original programming.

In 2013, MSG Networks received 18 New York Emmy Awards, including 16 for MSG and one each for MSG+ and MSG.com. MSG’s 85 Emmys over the past six years are more than any single network or station in the region during that time.

 

2012 Breeding Statistics Released by The Jockey Club

by Press Release | 09.13.2013 | 9:26am

The Jockey Club today reported that 2,392 stallions covered 37,908 mares in North America during 2012, according to statistics compiled through Sept. 9, 2013. These breedings have resulted in 22,001 live foals of 2013 being reported to The Jockey Club on Live Foal Reports received as of Sept. 9, 2013.

The Jockey Club estimates that the number of live foals reported so far is approximately 90 percent complete. The reporting of live foals of 2013 is down 2.2 percent from last year at this time when The Jockey Club had received reports for 22,500 live foals of 2012.

In addition to the 22,001 live foals of 2013 reported through Sept. 9, The Jockey Club had also received 2,891 No Foal Reports for the 2013 foaling season. Ultimately, the 2013 registered foal crop is projected to reach 23,000.

The number of stallions declined 8.7 percent from the 2,620 reported for 2011 at this time last year, while the number of mares bred decreased 4.8 percent from the 39,838 reported for 2011.

The 2012 breeding statistics are available alphabetically by stallion name through the Publications and Resources link on The Jockey Club homepage at jockeyclub.com.

Matt Iuliano, The Jockey Club’s executive vice president and executive director, stated that the breeding statistics are not a measurement of the live foals born in each state or province, but are a count of live foals by conception area, regardless of where the foals were born. He also reiterated that the statistics should not be taken to represent the final fertility record of any single stallion or conception area.

Kentucky annually leads all states and provinces in terms of Thoroughbred breeding activity. Kentucky-based stallions accounted for 41.1 percent of the mares reported bred in North America in 2012 and 48.8 percent of the live foals reported for 2013.

The 15,569 mares reported bred to 249 Kentucky stallions in 2012 have produced 10,726 live foals, a 2.1 percent decrease on the 10,960 Kentucky-sired live foals of 2012 reported at this time last year. The number of mares reported bred to Kentucky stallions in 2012 declined 2.2 percent against the 15,918 reported for 2011 at this time last year.

Among the 10 states and provinces in which stallions covered at least 1,000 mares in 2012, only Florida and New York stallions produced more live foals in 2013 than in 2012 as reported at this time last year. The following table shows the 10 states and provinces, ranked by number of state/province-sired live foals of 2013 reported through Sept. 9, 2013.

 

 

2012 Mares Bred

2012 Live Foals

2013 Live Foals

Percent Change

Kentucky

15,569

10,960

10,726

-2.1%

Florida

3,187

1,642

1,751

6.6%

California

2,475

1,600

1,582

-1.1%

Louisiana

2,306

1,344

1,172

-12.8%

New York

1,664

713

971

36.2%

Ontario

1,350

700

684

-2.3%

Pennsylvania

1,124

628

608

-3.2%

New Mexico

1,127

585

503

-14.0%

Oklahoma

1,124

509

470

-7.7%

Texas

1,014

444

417

-6.1%

The statistics include 322 progeny of stallions standing in North America but foaled abroad, as reported by foreign stud book authorities at the time of publication. In this category, 103 live foals by North American stallions were reported from Republic of Korea, 60 from Great Britain, and 42 from Ireland. Remaining countries on the list are Philippines, 23; Japan, 19; Mexico, 17; Brazil, 13; France, 11; Jamaica, 10; Argentina, 5; India, 5; Thailand, 5; Qatar, 3; Chile, 2; Dominican Republic, 2; Ecuador, 1; Sweden, 1.

The report also includes 75 mares bred to 30 stallions in North America on Southern Hemisphere time. The majority of these mares have not foaled.

 

Finley: Newspaper Cutbacks Behind Saratoga Drop-Off?

by Paulick Report Staff | 09.12.2013 | 2:56pm

 

There’s been a lot of speculation about why Saratoga’s 2013 race meet saw handle declines – both all-sources and on-track – and a nearly four percent decrease in attendance.  Too many races and a watered-down product?

At ESPN.com, Bill Finley says we shouldn’t dismiss cutbacks on racing coverage at both the New York Post and New York Daily News as significant contributing factors.  Finley writes:

“OK, so newspapers aren’t what they once were. But the combined circulation of those two papers is still at 1.5 million. That’s 1.5 million people who no longer read about horse racing, no longer are reminded every day that Saratoga is going on and that it is special. In New York, when it comes to sports, the News and Post are still very influential. Their abandoning racing is a signal to everyone else in the media that the sport isn’t relevant. No sport can disappear from these pages and not pay dearly.”

 

Maryland: State Expands Owner/Breed Program

by Press Release | 09.12.2013 | 10:46am

Kicking off with the Laurel Park Fall 2013 race meeting (Sept. 19-Dec. 31) a new Maryland-bred program will begin. It is designed to enhance the breeding and ownership of Maryland-bred horses. Modeled on successful regional incentive programs, it expands the opportunities for Maryland-bred horses.

Last May, the Maryland Racing Commission (MRC), after a nearly year-long study by an industry task force, approved the expanded incentives for Maryland owners and breeders. Similar comprehensive programs have had significant impacts on the equine industries in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York.

The new Maryland-bred incentive program is intended to resurrect the Maryland horse breeding industry, which has undergone a devastating decline in recent years. This innovative program provides the incentive to breed new horses through an immediate increase of breeder bonuses for Maryland-bred horses, and will also provide attractive financial incentives to own horses both now and in the future.

 

Starting in 2013 at Laurel, and continuing in the future, there will be a 30 percent breeder bonus payout for Maryland-bred horses who finish first, second or third in all races, and a 10% Stallion Bonus. The owner bonus awards will continue with the current program of 17.5% to the winner through 2013.

In 2014, not only will the new breeders’ program continue to reward Maryland-breds that finish first, second or third, but Maryland-owned horses will also receive a bonus for finishing in the top three. The owner’s award percentage will remain at 17.5% until 2015, for maiden, allowance and claiming races of $10,000 and up.

By 2015, the breeder and owner bonuses will be 30 percent for the top three finishers in all races.

According to Bruce Quade, Chairman of the MRC, “The goal of this program is to bring Maryland racing and breeding back to its pre-eminent position on the national stage, and to provide the incentives to breed, own, and race Maryland-bred horses. This program provides the economic basis and stability for horsemen in Maryland as well as attracting national investment in the Maryland racing and breeding industry.”

“This incentive program will result in more Maryland-bred runners to help fill our races, and it validates the faith that Annapolis legislators have placed in us to grow the business of racing and breeding horses in Maryland,” said Tom Chuckas, president of the Maryland Jockey Club which runs Laurel and Pimlico Race Course.

Maryland Horse Breeders Association past president Dr. Tom Bowman said, “Over the past 12 months, we have witnessed the evolution of two initiatives that will propel Thoroughbred racing and breeding in Maryland back into a position of national prominence. First came the 10-year racing agreement, and now, the horse breeding agreement. Both were made possible through the diligent efforts of Governor Martin O’Malley and his staff, the Maryland Racing Commission, and key members of both the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates. I am confident that their collective efforts will be rewarded by the revitalization of an industry so economically and environmentally important to all the citizens of Maryland.”

Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association president Richard J. Meyer said, “I am pleased that the horsemen and breeders have resolved their differences for the best interests of Maryland racing.  This accord, together with the long-term agreement we jointly signed with the Maryland Jockey Club last fall, allows us to focus our collective energy on moving Maryland racing forward, while giving us the flexibility to meet the challenges of an evolving industry.”

“The Governor and the General Assembly, through their continued support for Maryland racing and breeding, have given us the tools to permit the Maryland-bred program to flourish to the benefit of all Marylanders,” added Quade. “Just think of the farmland that will be preserved by these measures. The combination of this breeding initiative together with the 10-year agreement between the horsemen and the track earlier this year provides the stability and the economic incentives for Maryland horse racing and breeding to thrive.”

 

Wynne Sends Letter To Panel (Ontario)

Published: September 11, 2013 8:00 am ET

Last Comment: September 11, 2013 11:10 am ET | On September 10, Ontario's Minister of Agriculture and Food -- as well as the province's Premier -- Kathleen Wynne issued a letter to the Horse Racing Industry Transition Panel asking for a five-year-plan for Ontario's horse racing industry.

The letter from Wynne appears below.


Sept. 10, 2013

Mr. John Snobelen
Mr. John Wilkinson
Mr. Elmer Buchanan
Horse Racing Transition Panel
Ministry of Agriculture and Food
1 Stone Road West
Guelph, Ontario
N1G 4Y2

Dear John, Elmer & John:

Thank you for briefing me on the feedback you have received from horse racing and wagering stakeholders on your Draft Plan "Toward a Sustainable Future" released in June 2013. In anticipation of your pending Final Report, I want to ask you to please provide me with a comprehensive Five Year Plan, to be effective April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2019.

Specifically, the Five Year Plan is to incorporate the principles you have previously laid out. I would ask that you present your most comprehensive advice regarding the distribution of the proposed minimum of 800 race days for each of the three breeds by category of racing (i.e. premier, signature, grassroots), including identifying at which tracks these races should be run, their recommended competitive purse levels, and the stable support required for the breeding sector to maximize the economic benefit to Ontario.

I also ask that you recommend a revised governance structure to accomplish the Five Year Plan, including the role of the Ontario Racing Commission and industry associations.

Finally, I require that you establish the specific amount of recommended government investment required during the Five Year Plan to achieve a vibrant, sustainable horse racing industry that is accountable, transparent, customer-focused and of net benefit to the taxpayers of Ontario. This amount should include any necessary re-profiling of the existing Pari-Mutuel Tax Reduction revenues flowing to the racing industry.

I want to reiterate that I require specific recommendations on how to best achieve the integration of gaming and horse racing in Ontario.

I appreciate your collective efforts in the preparation of your reports to date, and your commitment to helping the industry move forward to a sustainable future. We are now in the home stretch. I look forward to seeing you at the finish line.

Sincerely,

Kathleen Wynne
Minister of Agriculture and Food

(OMAF)

 

Public Supports PNG’s Plainridge Plan

Published: September 11, 2013 1:29 pm ET

On Tuesday, September 10, seventy-six per cent of voters in Plainville, Massachusetts opted to support a proposal which would see Penn National Gaming operate a slot-machine parlour at Plainridge Racetrack.

A report on boston.com states that voter turnout was 37 per cent and that there were 1,582 votes in favour of the proposal and 502 opposed.

“It’s not bad considering we were dead three weeks ago,” Plainridge spokesman Bill Ryan was quoted as saying.

(With files from boston.com)

 

Sutherland-Kruse’s S-Bred Background

Published: September 11, 2013 3:21 pm ET

When Chantal Sutherland-Kruse goes to the Meadows on September 23, her attempt to break the North American under-saddle record for trotters will last less than two minutes. However, the event, sponsored by the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association, has truly been a lifetime in the making.

While the actress and model is best known for her achievements as a thoroughbred jockey, her early years were spent on a small farm in Ontario, and standardbreds played a major role in her life.

Hugh Sutherland, Chantal’s father, is a native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, but his career as an entrepreneur eventually landed him in the Toronto, Ont. area, where he raised his family on a small farm.

Chantal, one of three children, took an early interest in horses, and like many kids, wanted a pony. According to Hugh, “I bought a pony and my older daughter, Dominique, rode it. Chantal did the harnessing, the leading, the tack, and as they got a little older, we bought a ‘real’ pony I guess you would call it, just under the horse level. We went to a lot of horse shows and won every one of them. We won the Royal Winter Fair which is a huge thing in Toronto.

“Then my older daughter, who was the better rider at the time, was asked to be on the Junior Canadian Team. But I’d have to buy a horse I said, and they were talking substantial money.”

Hugh decided to take a slightly less expensive route, purchasing a two-year-old thoroughbred, but it wasn’t what the girls had in mind. “They said ‘no, it’s got to be about 10 years old!’ so we sent him to the track and he raced for a couple of years.”

The Sutherlands eventually brought the horse home and he became a Three-Day Event competitor.

As the family interest in horses progressed, Hugh eventually found his way into the standardbred business, and met Ohio-based trainer Garry Martin.

“I was racing in the North America Cup with a horse named Set The Trap,” recalled Martin. “He didn’t race well in the elimination but still qualified for the final. I had a local vet check him over that week, and the vet happened to be neighbors with Hugh, so he introduced us. Hugh had a few horses at the time and started sending them to me to race at the Meadows.”

Sutherland said, “I bought some cheap horses, $2,500 claimers. I’d send some to Garry, then I’d buy one and train it on the farm myself with the kids, and we went to the tracks up here.”

It was then that Chantal gained valuable experience with standardbreds. “She was small, so it was all she could do to get the horses checked up,” said Hugh. “Then we would throw her on the back of the bike and go. She liked that. She didn’t want to do all of the other work, but she enjoyed jogging.”

While the better horses would end up at the Meadows with Martin, the Sutherlands raced around the smaller tracks in Ontario with the lesser stock. “I don’t think we raced for 600 bucks,” said Hugh, “but it was a ball.”

Since he had room at his farm, Sutherland decided to branch out, and bought a standardbred broodmare named Sure Schatzie. It turned out to be his best decision in the sport. “We bought her right after a race at Batavia Downs, brought her right home, and bred her to Cam Fella.”

Her first foal, Sure Cam, brought Chantal and Dominique back to Martin’s door. “Chantal and her sister dropped off Sure Cam,” said Martin. “I said to them that the horse looked like a little doe. I had to call their dad and say ‘Hugh, what is this thing.’”

But the little family horse turned out to be something special. “He never got very big, only wore a 52” hopple, but he chased Life Sign and some others around the track and the family did well with him,” noted Martin.

Sure Cam took a mark of 1:53f and earned more than $300,000.

Hugh, who still owns four standardbreds, continued his success in harness racing with other foals of Sure Schatzie, including Sure Mac (1:50.4, $435,270), Sure Vivor (1:53.2s, $164,867) and Sure Fold (1:53.4, $162.419).

Chantal’s career, however, took a different turn. She went to York University in Toronto after being recruited there from Canada’s Junior field hockey team. Upon graduating, she surprised everyone with an announcement. “I remember sitting in her father’s living room when she came in and told him she was going to be a jockey,” said Martin.

Hugh Sutherland picked up the story. “I said, ‘you’re not going to the track.’ Well, she went, and she won the apprentice award the next two years at Woodbine. From there, she’s dragged me all over the world, to Dubai, to Santa Anita, to the Kentucky Derby to Breeders Cups.”

But while Chantal Sutherland-Kruse has become a star in thoroughbred racing, she hasn’t forgotten her background with standardbreds. On September 23, she will attempt to set a new North American record for trotters under saddle on a five-eighths mile track. DWs NY Yank, a winner in 1:52 at Pocono Downs on September 7 for trainer Ron Burke, will join her for the time trial. The goal is to beat 1:59.2.

It will mark the first time in years that Chantal Sutherland-Kruse has ridden a horse competitively that is not a thoroughbred… but it’s not a first, according to her father. “Years ago we had a pacer in to qualify at Orangeville. I think I blew a tire so I told her just to go out there and ride him. She did, but the judges didn’t know what to do with it. They had never had that happen before. So they made me re-qualify the horse.”

Given that harness racing under saddle experience – not to mention her thoroughbred work – Hugh Sutherland is quite confident his daughter will make the record happen. “I know one thing, if this horse can trot, she will get the most out of him.”

“She’s an athlete,” added Martin. “She’s very, very smart and very athletic. I think this event is great for both sports.”

Both Hugh Sutherland and Martin plan to be there for the record attempt, and both men have advice for Sutherland-Kruse. “I hope she warms the horse up herself before the mile,” said her father. “She needs to know what his gait is like.”

Added Martin, lightheartedly, “She’s used to thoroughbred racing on a mile track. I think I’ll have to remind her it’s a five-eighths mile track. ‘Chantal, it’s turns.’”

First-race post time for the Meadows’ card on Monday, September 23 is 12:55 p.m.

(Meadows Standardbred Owners Association)

 

MTR Gaming Merging with Eldorado Resorts

by Paulick Report Staff | 09.11.2013 | 7:56am

 

MTR Gaming Inc., the owner and operator of Mountaineer Park, Presque Isle Downs, and Scioto Downs, has reached an agreement to merge with Eldorado Resorts, a privately-held company that operates three casinos, it was reported in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

According to the report, the new company will be called Eldorado Resorts Inc. Once the merger is approved, the combined company will operate six casino properties in five states. Currently, Eldorado operates two casinos in Reno, Nevada, and a casino in Shreveport, Louisiana.

The combined properties will also have a total of 9,968 slot machines and video lottery terminals, 283 table games and 3,282 hotel rooms.

Read more in the Las Vegas Review-Journal

MTR Gaming, Eldorado Resorts agree to merge

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

CHESTER, W. Va. — Casino operators MTR Gaming Group Inc. and privately held Eldorado Resorts LLC, owner of a properties in Reno, said Monday that they have agreed to merge in an all-stock deal.

Under the terms of the deal, current MTR Gaming shareholders will be given a cash election option of $5.15 per share for up to 5.8 million shares. The remaining shares will be exchanged for shares in the new company.

The owners of Eldorado will be issued 35.6 million shares, or approximately 55 percent of the total shares, in the new company. The new combined company’s shares will be valued at $5.15 per share. That’s a 44 percent increase over MTR Gaming’s closing stock price on Friday.

The combined company will be called Eldorado Resorts Inc. and will remain publicly traded.

The deal is expected to close in the middle of 2014 and is subject to regulatory and shareholder approval.

Gary Carano will be named the CEO of the new company. Carano is currently president of Eldorado Resorts LLC.

“We are excited to announce this transformative transaction, which creates a new gaming platform with a diversified portfolio across the country,” Carano said in a statement.

The combined company will operate six properties and have a total of 9,968 slot machines and video lottery terminals, 283 table games and 3,282 hotel rooms.

MTR Gaming owns and operates Mountaineer Casino Racetrack and Resort in Chester, W. Va.; Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Erie, Pa.; and Scioto Downs in Columbus, Ohio. At one time, it owned Binion’s in downtown Las Vegas.

Eldorado Resorts owns and operates the Eldorado Reno and also the Silver Legacy in Reno, which is a joint venture with MGM Resorts International. It also owns Eldorado Shreveport in Shreveport, La.

Separately, MTR Gaming also said Monday that it naming Joseph Billhimer as president and chief operating officer of MTR Gaming. Billhimer has worked at the company since 2011, and worked at several casino companies in his career.

Shares of MTR Gaming rose 47 cents, or 13.3 percent, to $4.05 in Monday trade on the Nasdaq.

 

Report: KY Equine Industry Has $3B Economic Impact on State

by Paulick Report Staff | 09.06.2013 | 3:41pm

Kentucky’s equine industry had a total economic impact of almost $3 billion and generated 40,665 jobs in 2012, according to the Kentucky Equine Survey completed by the University of Kentucky.

The report also stated that the industry generated $134 million in taxes to Kentucky. The report’s executive summary is available here and the complete final report is accessible here.

The study was commissioned by Kentucky Horse Council and paid for by a grant from the Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy and the Agricultural Development Board, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. Those funds were matched by the horse industry.

Patrick Neely, spokesman for the Kentucky Equine Education Project, or KEEP, said the study emphasizes the importance of the horse industry to the state’s economy.

“Unfortunately, it also demonstrates that we have lost a large number of industry-related jobs in the past eight years, as our surrounding states have continued to use their competitive advantage to lure horses and industry jobs to their states,” Neely said in the Herald-Leader.

“Until we put our purses and breeders incentives on a level competitive playing field with our competitor states, we will most likely continue to lose jobs.”

Read more in the Lexington Herald-Leader

 

 

Horses worth $3B to Kentucky, create 41,000 jobs

 

Published: September 6, 2013 Updated 13 hours ago

 

UK's economic analysis of horses' impact on the state, the first in-depth study in decades, should be a benchmark for policy makers and community planners, said Jill Stowe, director of UK's ag equine programs and lead economist on the study. "For instance, we have a lot more trail riders in this area, and we don't really have any trails," she said.

 

By Janet Patton— jpatton1@herald-leader.com

 

Horses drive $3 billion in annual economic impact in Kentucky and create almost 41,000 jobs, according to the first in-depth study in decades of one of the state's signature industries.

 

The University of Kentucky economic analysis, based on statewide surveys of horses and of the people who enjoy them, shows that the equine industry creates about $1.4 billion in new income paid to workers, profits to businesses and dividends to shareholders and generates about $134 million in tax revenue for the state.

 

The $600,000 study, released Friday, was commissioned by the Kentucky Horse Council and paid for by a grant from the Governor's Office of Agricultural Policy and the Agricultural Development Board, along with matching funds from the horse industry.

 

Agriculture and equine groups sought the study to quantify what the horse industry brings to the state and highlight opportunities for future investment.

 

Jill Stowe, director of UK's ag equine programs and lead economist on the study, said that it should be a benchmark for policy makers, community planners and veterinarians because of its scope.

 

"I think this data will be useful for business owners and entrepreneurs, who might say we didn't realize there were so many horses in this area," Stowe said. "For instance, we have a lot more trail riders in this area, and we don't really have any trails. So maybe we can get some local support for trails."

 

The Kentucky Horse Council already has used the numbers to hold regional horsemen's meetings in Elizabethtown and Danville and plans at least three more, said Anna Zinkhon, Horse Council board president.

 

"With knowledge of how many horses are actually in each of 120 counties, the Kentucky Horse Council can plan targeted activities that more closely track real horse populations by breed and use," she said.

 

Patrick Neely, spokesman for the Kentucky Equine Education Project, or KEEP, said the study shows the importance of the horse industry to the state's overall economy.

 

"Unfortunately, it also demonstrates that we have lost a large number of industry-related jobs in the past eight years, as our surrounding states have continued to use their competitive advantage to lure horses and industry jobs to their states," Neely said. "Until we put our purses and breeders incentives on a level competitive playing field with our competitor states, we will most likely continue to lose jobs."

 

KEEP has lobbied Frankfort for expanded gambling at racetracks and has said that without casinos thousands of equine jobs are at risk.

 

KEEP used to use a figure of 100,000 jobs, based on an American Horse Council study that found 51,000 horse industry jobs in Kentucky.

 

But the UK study found far fewer jobs linked to the industry, which lost many jobs since the 2008 recession, with only about 32,000 directly employed in the equine operations and businesses.

 

"The survey methodologies were different," Stowe said. "Certainly there has been some contraction, and we would expect to lose some jobs both directly and indirectly. But if you look at the numbers KEEP has reported, and the American Horse Council study from 2005, the numbers are quite different and a large part of that is because they did the study differently. I feel quite confident in our study because of the way we did it."

 

"There has been a contraction, based on the economy and the competition from other states," said Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown. He said that the study might not change many minds on expanded gambling, but it might make a case for eliminating sales tax on horse farm items, feed and hay, which are exempt for other kinds of agriculture.

 

The $3 billion in economic impact — which represents gross revenue generated by the industry — includes $1.8 billion in direct effect plus $1.2 billion in indirect and induced effects. The net impact of this is about $1.4 billion, after costs are factored in.

 

This number does not include parimutuel wagering, which also generates millions of dollars every year, or banking, legal or accounting services.

 

Stowe said that all eight racetracks were asked to participate but only one responded with data.

 

Top impacts: racing, breeding

 

Thoroughbred horses are the most numerous breed in Kentucky, and the biggest economic impact comes from the racing section, at $1.28 billion, with an additional $710 million from the breeding sector.

 

Behind that, the biggest economic impact comes from something Kentucky has worked hard to develop as a niche market: horse competitions.

 

The researchers surveyed thousands of visitors — people from out of state or out of the country — at equine events to gauge economic impact.

 

According to the study, small horse events with about 200 attendees generate $21,400; large ones with 2,000 attendees might generate 10 times that amount.

 

The economic impact of the 2013 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, which drew more than 50,000 spectators, was $14.2 million, the authors found.

 

That is comparable to a spring and fall meet of Keeneland racing, which had an estimated $15 million in economic impact for its 2012 meets combined.

 

What would Kentuckians pay?

 

Another factor the UK researchers measured: How much is the rural landscape that comes along with lots of horses worth to Kentuckians?

 

Earlier this year, they mailed surveys to 8,000 people across the state to ask that question.

 

A large majority said they would support a hypothetical free program to protect farmland. Of those who were supportive, 80 percent were willing to pay "some amount of increased taxes" to preserve the horse industry, and 60 percent said they would pay $50 or more a year.

 

Where the horses are

 

Earlier this year, UK reported results from its initial survey of the horse population by breed and use.

 

The most common use of Kentucky horses was for trail riding or pleasure riding, with 79,500 horses compared to 38,000 broodmares.

 

The data released Friday dug deeper into the numbers, breaking the horse population down by county.

 

Although Central Kentucky, home to top Thoroughbred breeding operations, has the most horses, 39,000, or 16 percent of the state's equine population, there are some surprising clusters elsewhere:

 

Shelby County has more than 6,200 horses, with 1,500 American Saddlebreds.

 

Warren and Oldham counties both have more than 4,000 horses each.

 

The area just west of Louisville has a combined 11,000 horses.

 

Seven counties just south of the Bluegrass have more than 12,000 horses.

 

Seven counties along the central Tennessee state line area have more than 12,000 horses.

 

Northern Kentucky has more than 10,000 horses.

 

Janet Patton: (859) 231-3264. Twitter: janetpattonhl

 

Eng: New Fox Sports 1 ‘Prime Vehicle’ to Promote Horse Racing

by Paulick Report Staff | 09.06.2013 | 8:07am

Horse racing will gain more national exposure when the new network, Fox Sports 1, begins coverage of the handicap division early in 2014. The network will televise ten 90-minute broadcasts that will kick off with the G1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

In his latest column for the Las Vegas Review Journal, Richard Eng says that he believes that this opportunity is a rare chance for racing to promote itself. The executives at Fox Sports, especially Michael Mulvihill, the senior vice president of programming and research, are excited about bringing horse racing to a new fan base.

“When Fox started broadcasting the NFL, it changed the way games were presented. For the better,” Eng writes. “I believe in my heart a lot of new horse racing fans are out there. It’s just that they don’t know it yet.”

Read more in the Las Vegas Review Journal

 

Xpressbet Offers Wagering on French Racing

by Press Release | 08.29.2013 | 7:51am

 

Advance deposit wagering provider Xpressbet has reached an agreement with the French Pari Mutuel Urbain to offer its customers wagering access to French racetracks, making it one of the first North American wagering outlets to do so.

Effective immediately, Xpressbet customers are able to place wagers that directly commingle into the traditionally large French pools, the company announced in a press release Aug. 28.

Xpressbet customers are able to wager on traditional bet types—win, place, exacta, quinella and trifecta—and will also have the ability to play France’s popular OMNI wager. The OMNI challenges bettors to pick two of the first three finishers of a race in any order. Customers have access to free video and free past performances for all French racetracks, and are able to take advantage of the low win and place takeout on those tracks, which is just 13.7%.

“French racing is a great addition to Xpressbet’s wagering menu, and we think our customers will appreciate that product,” said Ron Luniewski, Xpressbet president. “French tracks feature huge pools, large fields and competitive, high-quality racing. It’s important to us that we continue to deliver our customers the opportunity to wager on races that they want to play.”

Xpressbet customers will have wagering access to all of the premier racetracks in France, including Longchamp, Deauville, Chantilly, and Saint-Cloud. There are 27 group I races contested in France annually, with their calendar culminating in the €4,000,000 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I). The Arc is held each October at Paris’ Longchamp racecourse and attracts many of Europe’s premier racehorses.

 

Taking a Gamble: Churchill’s Online Poker Expansion May Bring Additional Jobs to Area

by Paulick Report Staff | 08.30.2013 | 11:15am

As part of its effort to offer online gambling games, Churchill Downs Inc. is considering adding 50 new job positions to its headquarters in Louisville, reports Greg Hall of the Louisville Courier-Journal.

The 50 new openings would pay an average of about $100,000 per year. Churchill Downs received approval from the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority on Aug. 29 for $1 million in tax incentives to add employees.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bob Evans said the additional Louisville jobs “would be tied to Churchill’s hopes to offer Internet gambling as its legality is clarified by the federal government or individual states.”

Churchill Downs is also considering locating the jobs, which would all be technology-based, in Mountain View, California.

Officials at Churchill Downs hope to be at the forefront of the emerging online gambling market in the U.S. In December 2011, the U.S. Justice Department relaxed its position on the federal law that prohibited interstate gambling. So far, efforts to get Congress to pass legislation legalizing online gambling have failed.

Read more in the Louisville Courier-Journal

Churchill online gambling expansion could add 50 $100K-plus jobs in Louisville

Churchill Downs Inc. is considering adding 50 new positions paying an average of about $100,000 in Louisville as part of its effort to offer online gambling games like poker.

The Louisville-based casino and racetrack company received Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority approval Thursday for $1 million in tax incentives to add employees at its headquarters on North Hurstbourne Parkway as part of a $4 million expansion.

A statement issued by company Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bob Evans said the additional Louisville jobs would be tied to Churchill’s hopes to offer Internet gambling as its legality is clarified by the federal government or individual states.

The new employees would be “simply part of that effort and expands the technology team we already have based in Lexington, Ky., and Mountain View, Calif.,” he said.

Churchill also is considering locating the technology jobs in Mountain View, where its TwinSpires.com online horse betting business is based, or Atlanta, where Churchill’s Bluff Media division is based, said officials with Greater Louisville Inc., the metro chamber of commerce.

Beyond saying that the jobs would be technology-based and tied to the online gambling efforts, the company did not elaborate on what the 50 new employees would do.

“You’re going to see a lot of mainframe, technology and software,” said Daryl Snyder, a GLI vice president.

Mayor Greg Fischer said he believes the city has a good chance to win among the three locations.

“They were just hoping to get these incentives that were just approved. So I would expect a favorable outcome,” he said.

The application says the average hourly wage including benefits would be $81 an hour. Assuming a 40-hour work week over 52 weeks, the jobs would average $168,480 a year.

Craig Richard, GLI president and CEO, said it’s “a feather in Louisville’s cap” to compete with well-known technology centers for the jobs, a position he said piggybacks on a strategy to help existing Louisville companies

Churchill is hoping to be at the forefront of an emerging online gambling market, spawned in large part by a December 2011 U.S. Justice Department opinion that relaxed a long-held position that federal law prohibited interstate gambling.

The Justice Department said that the law only applied to sports gambling, opening the door to poker, blackjack and other casino games. Efforts to get Congress to pass legislation clearly legalizing online gambling have failed.

But three states have legalized some form of online casino gambling — Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey — with others considering or having considered it.

Interstate gambling on horse racing is already allowed under a separate federal law that covers TwinSpires.com and simulcasting.

H2 Gambling Capital, an English-based consulting firm, estimated earlier this year that gambling companies had revenues — termed gross win — of $30 billion internationally from online real-money gambling excluding lottery and skill-based games, with Europe accounting for a majority of that market. But the company estimates that the United States may account for up to 30 percent of the global online gambling market by 2017, with gross win of more than $7.4 billion.

Seeking the Kentucky incentives is the latest sign of Churchill’s interest in that marketplace.

Months after the Justice Department memo, Churchill Downs acquired Atlanta-based Bluff Media, which includes a poker fan website and magazine, as a precursor to potential entry into the online poker market.

Nevada allows online poker and a Churchill spokeswoman said Bluff was approved for a license in July.

The company also has launched Luckity.com, a mobile and online site where people can play games and win money with the results tied to horse races.

 

Georgian Drops September Dates

Published: August 29, 2013 6:44 pm ET

The Director of the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) has considered and approved an application for variance from Great Canadian Gaming Corporation (GCGC) that will result in the cancellation of the eight race dates approved for Georgian Downs in the month of September 2013.

Through a Notice to the Industry issued April 12, 2013, followed by Reasons for Decision issued April 29, the Director approved the 2013 Ontario Race Dates for May to December, based on the needs of the Ontario Racing Program (ORP) while recognizing the racetracks negotiations with Government.

In reaching those race decisions in April, the principles of the ORP were applied to balance the interests of the various components including the interest of the customer and horse supply.

GCGC made application to race 25 days of Grassroots racing to be conducted June through August. In his decision, the Director varied the application made by GCGC for Georgian Downs approving 33 Signature race dates over the months of June through September.

The reasons for the Director’s decision to vary GCGC’s application were addressed in the April 29 release.

In the absence of the Director’s variance, the decline in Signature level racing in the central Ontario would be from ten race dates per week in September 2012 to two race dates per week in September 2013. This drop occurs at a time when horse supply and demand for racing opportunities is seasonally high and the summer-season tracks have closed thereby limiting customer options.

GCGC has remained constant that its negotiated funding arrangement reflects its application for variance and that Georgian Downs is not in a financial position to offer more race days than have been contracted.

While eliminating dates at Georgian in September is contrary to several tenets of the ORP, the Director respects the negotiated arrangement, and therefore cancels the eight race dates in September for Georgian Downs. The Director has given notice that this approval is limited to 2013 and may be reconsidered for future years as the ORP evolves.

The Director notes that the deficiency of Signature race dates in central Ontario for September created by this decision should equally create a market opportunity for another racetrack operator.

Please be advised that any aggrieved party has the right to appeal the Director’s decision to the Commission.

Steve Lehman
Executive Director
Ontario Racing Commission

 

Suffolk Downs Reaches Casino Agreement With City of Boston

by Press Release | 08.28.2013 | 9:48am

Suffolk Downs and Caesars Entertainment have reached a historic host community agreement with the City of Boston, a critical step in the pursuit of a license to develop a world-class casino resort at the site of the East Boston thoroughbred racetrack. The agreements provide the city with significant employment opportunities for local residents, infrastructure improvements and other economic and community benefits. The developers are finalizing the details of an agreement with Revere and expect to announce those details within days.

The agreement with Boston, announced today by Mayor Thomas Menino, is the result of a comprehensive and detailed review of impacts and benefits, informed by months of public input and more than 100 public meetings and forums attended by thousands of local residents.

“We are proud of the strong partnership we have built with Boston as well as our neighboring communities,” said Joe O’Donnell, principal owner of Suffolk Downs. “Our proposed development will directly benefit Boston with annual payments as well as up-front investments in schools, parks, vital services and transportation improvements. We believe our proposed project has the best location and will create the most local jobs and provide the greatest growth in tourism, hospitality and conventions and meetings in the Commonwealth.”

“We want to thank Mayor Menino and his team for their efforts in negotiating the most comprehensive and far-reaching host community agreement of its kind,” said Richard Fields, principal owner of Suffolk Downs. “We are also extremely appreciative of the efforts of Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo and his team, and look forward to finalizing an agreement there in short order.”

“We have a tremendous opportunity to develop a resort that befits Boston and complements the vibrant array of cultural, historic and entertainment offerings that exist here,” said Gary Loveman, chairman, president and CEO of Caesars. “Boston is ideally suited for our city-integrated resort model, which is designed to reflect the distinct attributes of the host communities and drive maximum economic impact to residents and businesses. Our proposal is intended to drive tourism to the region and introduce our guests to all the Greater Boston area has to offer.”

The proposed billion-dollar development is expected to be the most sustainably designed and built resort casino in the world. It will feature world-class amenities, including hotel, dining, spa, entertainment space and live thoroughbred racing in addition to gaming space and a World Series of Poker™ room.

As part of its agreement with Boston, the developers have made upfront and ongoing financial commitments to each community. These commitments include combined, estimated annual payments of $52 million to Boston once the resort is fully operational. The amount of the payments is determined in part by the resort’s performance and includes anticipated impact fees as well as tax payments. In addition to the annual payments, the agreements include more than $33 million in one-time community investments, including capital commitments related to education, parks, public health, arts, public safety and more than $45 million in transportation and infrastructure improvements.

The payments include annual community impact fees that will cover the increased cost of providing municipal services. These fees total approximately $20 million a year to East Boston.

“We are proud of the role that Suffolk Downs has played as a neighbor in East Boston for the past 78 years and believe these agreements and our development plans lay the groundwork for a future rich with opportunity for the community,” said Chip Tuttle, Chief Operating Officer of Suffolk Downs. “Local residents have played an integral role in our process to date by providing valuable feedback at numerous community meetings, and we look forward to continued engagement as we continue through this process.”

Among the specific benefits to the community detailed in the agreements are:

The creation of 2,500 construction jobs and 4,000 permanent jobs, with a preference given to local residents; $45 million in transportation and roadway improvements in East Boston and Revere; Annual spending with regional and local vendors to procure the goods and services; Capital investment in East Boston, including a new Business Improvement District, the construction of a new youth and senior center, and investment in local parks and schools.

 

Lawrence Downs casino documents made public

The plan

1,250 slot machines

41 table games

10 poker tables

200 restaurant seating capacity

Posted: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 12:15 am

Lawrence Downs casino documents made public BY ERIC POOLE EPOOLE@ELLWOODCITYLEDGER.COM EllwoodCityLedger.com | 0 comments

HARRISBURG -- The proposed Lawrence Downs gambling facility could create nearly 3,000 jobs in the five-county area within five years of its opening, according to an economic analysis by the group attempting to win its approval.

That analysis by Econsult Solutions, a Philadelphia-based consulting firm, was among the documents included in Endeka Entertainment's application for a casino license with the state Gaming Control Board. Endeka, formed last year in Delaware County with the goal of opening the Lawrence Downs harness-racing track and casino in Mahoning Township, filed that application in May. With the application, the venture officially became known as Lawrence Downs, changed from the previous name of Valley View Downs.

Earlier this month, the Gaming Control Board released many of the documents associated with Endeka's application. Much of the information -- including specific figures on financing and criminal records of the company's principals -- was redacted.

The documents are available at the Gaming Control Board's website at http://gamingcontrolboard.pa.gov/?p=234.

But some specifics of the proposed track near the intersection of Routes 551 and 422 were included in the proposal. The plan calls for 1,250 slot machines, 41 table games and 10 poker tables, and restaurant seating for more than 200 people. Under Endeka's approval from the state Harness Racing Commission, the company would be required to build Pennsylvania's only 1-mile harness-racing track at the location.

The construction phase would result in the addition of an estimated 1,350 jobs in the five-county region of Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Lawrence and Mercer counties, according to the Econsult study.

That study estimated that Lawrence Downs, within five years of its opening, would result in the additional employment of between 1,180 and 2,723 people working both directly at the facility or indirectly in jobs spurred by gaming-related development.

"Even if you took the low estimate, 1,180, that's a huge number for Lawrence County," county Commissioner Dan Vogler said. "I'm pleased to see those projected employment numbers."

The Gaming Control Board received applications not only for Endeka, but also for its principal investors, other entities involved in owning or operating the facility if it receives a casino license. That includes American Harness Tracks, which had been the primary investor until last year when Endeka took over the lead role, and Penn National Gaming, which is in line to manage the casino operations under the business name Western Pennsylvania Gaming Ventures.

In addition to the economic report, which indicated that Lawrence Downs would generate $1.9 million a year in tax revenue and have an economic impact of nearly $70 million annually by its fifth year in operation, the reports also included results of a traffic study by Pittsburgh-based Pennoni Associates.

Pennoni's study said most of the road system around Lawrence Downs' site would be sufficient but recommended that Route 422 be widened to include a stop light and turning lanes near the intersection with Baird Road, just west of 422 and 551. The company also recommended changing Baird Road so it intersects with Route 422 at a 90-degree angle.

The largest investor is Endeka principal Manuel Stamatakis, founder and CEO of Capital Management Enterprises, who holds slightly more than 18 percent of ownership in Lawrence Downs. Peter DePaul, president of the DePaul Group, and Ed Snider, who owns Comcast and the Philadelphia Flyers NHL team, own a little less than 18 percent. Stamatakis, DePaul and Snider founded Endeka last year.

The Melissa Silver Trust, a fund based in the well-heeled Philadelphia suburb of Cherry Hill, N.J., and attorney Thomas Leonard own shares equal to DePaul and Snider, and slightly smaller than the amount owned by Stamatakis.

Officials from American Harness Tracks, which previously held the state harness-racing license before transferring it to Endeka, own most of the remaining 11 percent of Lawrence Downs' interest, with Christine Biros holding about 3.30 percent and New Castle businessman Chuck Long at 2.37 percent.

 

Regis Meets Regis The Horse

Published: August 19, 2013 9:21 pm ET

Regis Philbin, co-host of the sports talk show “Crowd Goes Wild” on Fox Sports 1, showed up for work Monday (Aug. 19) with no idea that he would be given a present to celebrate his 81st birthday.

That present was a Standardbred horse named after him, just about to race during his new show's first episode. Showing no stage-fright, George Teague Jr. Inc.'s Regis The Horse ($3.20, Montrell Teague) performed admirably in front of a national audience that includes his namesake in his maiden win Monday at Harrington Raceway in 1:56.4.

The two-year-old Shadow Play colt was featured on the inaugural edition of Fox Sports One's "Crowd Goes Wild," a sports discussion show hosted by long-time TV personality Regis Philbin. The show featured a package on the Regis The Horse training at the Teague stables, prefacing the live feed of his race.

Regis The Horse didn't crumble under the national spotlight as he was a two-length winner over Samcro and Hillbilly Kid for his maiden win."It's terrific to get that kind of attention for the sport," said trainer George Teague, owner/trainer of Regis The Horse. "We were thrilled to be a part of this and I'm really pleased the horse raced well."

The process of getting Regis The Horse on the air was a collaborative effort by the United States Trotting Association (USTA), Harrington Raceway, George Teague and Fox Sports that had been several months in the making. Roberts Communication Network supplied the live satellite feed to Fox Sports.

"Crowd Goes Wild" airs Monday through Friday on Fox Sports 1 at 5:00 p.m.

 

Estimated 9,000 Jobs Lost Since End of Slots Program in Ontario

by Paulick Report Staff | 08.19.2013 | 8:42am

The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association estimates that since the end of the Slots at Racetracks program in 2012, approximately 9,000 jobs have left the horse racing industry as a whole.

According to an article at Guelph Mercury.com, the association also reports that over 3,000 horse owners have left the industry, bringing a loss of nearly $850 million.

In addition, the report shows that on the harness racing side of the industry, the number of horse owners licensed by the Ontario Racing Commission has declined 30 percent – from just over 7,600 in 2011 to a little more than 5,300 this year so far. According to industry figures, that’s a loss of nearly $650 million.

Read more at Guelph Mercury.com

 

Ontario horse racing down 9,000 jobs after slots decision, industry estimates

Anecdotally, anyone in the Ontario's horse-racing sector knows the end of the Slots at Racetracks Program has dealt a devastating blow to the industry. Now there are numbers to prove it, and they are staggering.

The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association has collected the data and reports that compared to the last full year of the slots program (2011), approximately 9,000 jobs have already left the horse racing industry as a whole, most of those in rural Ontario. Meanwhile, more than 3,000 horse owners have left the industry, taking with them nearly $850 million in investment, according to the racing industry's research. That's based on 2010 data that shows that horse owners have an average of $279,000 per owner invested in horses, tack and equipment and horse-related property improvements to farms in Ontario.

In the harness-racing sector alone, the number of horse owners licensed by the Ontario Racing Commission has declined 30 per cent from just over 7,600 in 2011 to a little more than 5,300 this year to date. That's a loss of investment of nearly $650 million, according to the racing industry's research.

That investment loss has hit the breeding sector particularly hard. Since 2011, the number of Ontario mares bred is down 60 per cent; the number of foals registered from Ontario mares is down more than 60 per cent. The number of stallions standing in Ontario has declined 54 per cent.

It's not just the people that work directly with horses that have been affected. The number of commission-licensed employees at harness tracks in the province has already declined 31 per cent from nearly 8,800 in 2011 to some 6,100 today, a loss of 2,700 jobs at those sulky tracks alone. Research indicates that for every job at a track, there's an additional 2.5 jobs on farms, many of them belonging to unlicensed workers. That means the estimated job losses in the harness racing side of the business alone are approximately 6,750 or 75 per cent of the total horse racing job losses.

Further, the number of Standardbred Canada members in Ontario has dropped 20 per cent from just over 6,000 in 2011 to nearly 4,900 in 2013. That, obviously, is the very bad news.

The slightly better news is it appears Premier Kathleen Wynne understands the devastating effect of her predecessor's decision to cancel the program, a move that caused more than 60 per cent of the industry's funding to evaporate which, in turn, destroyed investor confidence in Ontario, driving much of it to the United States.

There are indications that the three-member Horse Racing Industry Transition Panel tasked with fixing the mess is currently crafting a multi-year plan designed to stabilize the industry and at least give investors the details on which investment decisions can be made.

That plan is due in October and can't come soon enough for the province's suffering horse breeders who took a loss of more than 50 per cent at the 2012 fall yearling sales on horses produced before the government pulled the plug on the slots. Similarly, the matings that produced this year's crop of yearlings due to sell this fall were consummated in 2011 before the slots program was terminated.

Under the current environment — and given the huge losses the industry and the province have suffered already in the post-slots era — those breeders will take an even bigger bath this year unless the panel can come up with a plan that piques the interest of investors already once spurned.

 

Burgess LetterOn Consultations

Published: August 13, 2013 1:12 pm ET

After meeting with the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Transition Panel, Hall Of Famer and breeder-owner Robert Burgess has issued the following letter to the industry as a follow-up to his report in July.

Burgess met with the Panel along with prominent horseman Robert Fellows and another Hall Of Fame member, COSA President Bill O'Donnell. The letter, signed by Burgess and Fellows, appears below.


Updated Status Report to Ontario's Standardbred Horsemen and Breeders from Robert Burgess and Robert Fellows.

This Updated Status Report covers the very important matters discussed during our meeting with all three members of the Ontario Transition Panel, John Wilkinson, John Snobelen and Elmer Buchanan on Friday afternoon, August 2, 2013. William O'Donnell of COSA also attended this meeting.

1. A document titled "Current Status Report" was originally filed by Robert Burgess with the Transition Panel on July 16, 2013. In this report Burgess reviewed the Transition Panel's draft plan in detail and seriously challenged the Transition Panel's basic and 100% faulty premise.
This premise, that SARP had been introduced in 1998 in order to stabilize the horse industry , formed the inaccurate basis upon which the Transition Panel had based its radical draft plan for our industry's future.(this plan, if implemented, would destroy horseracing in Ontario)!
The Transition Panel has titled its draft plan "Toward A Sustainable Future-- a Plan for Horse Racing in Ontario" and has attempted to justify its controversial recommendations (including cutting purses by over 50% and reducing racing opportunities by over 50%) at seminars that it held for skeptical horsemen and breeders at Western Fair, Woodbine, Ajax and Ottawa. The effect of these recommendations will reduce Ontario standardbred racing from its current proud ranking of #1 in the World.

2. The Transition Panel in its draft plan for a "sustainable future" claimed that the slots program called SARP had been originally introduced in 1998 "in order to stabilize the horse industry" --- when we all know that the real facts were that the slot machines were only introduced into Ontario so as to enable the OLG to raise one billion dollars in net new funds every year for the Government of Ontario. In general terms, there was no need to stabilize our horseracing industry at that time.

3. To permanently create this opportunity for an annual one billion dollar bonanza for the Ontario Government for 1998 and for every year thereafter horseracing was required to surrender its gaming monopoly at our various long standing locations in Ontario. Horseracing was required by Government to permit our main competition, the OLG, to occupy and operate its slot inachines under horseracing's unique and exclusive zoning from horseracing's grandstand facilities all across Ontario.

4. However, the 10% from slots revenues traditionally paid to our horsemen and breeders under SARP in return for this essential concession by Ontario's horsemen made it possible for Ontario harness racing to prosper and expand, and to retain its preeminence in the world rankings -- until struck dead by Mr. Duncan's sudden announcement on March 12, 2012.

5. We hereby confirm to you that the Transition Panel has now been made fully aware, as the "stranded purse" funds run out and as the remaining SARP funds for the first three months of 2013 evaporate, that harness racing in Ontario, as we know it, will die. Without realistic purse monies and without adequate race dates ONTARIO will be without owners to buy yearlings and racehorses and without the owners' capital to pay training bills. Standardbred racing in Ontario will be doomed if the Transition Panel has its way. The Panel has been made aware that the size of almost all major racing stables in Ontario has already been reduced by 50% to 60% and that the smaller stables, having been family-run through generations, have almost given up. We raced for $4,000 purses thirty-five years ago and cannot do so now. The panel members appeared to indicate to us that they do not care. It is estimated that a billion and a half dollars in wages will be lost this year because of Duncan's order. And the Panel does not care about that either. We find it very hard to understand how Premier Wynne and Mr. Sousa can continue to be supportive of the Panel.

6. Unfortunately, from time to time the members of this Panel made it very clear to us at our meeting that they do not appear to understand or care about our crisis and the resultant job losses and pain. We all understand the importance to the Ontario economy and to the Ontario job front of the continued existence of large 60 horse public stables like that operated by Robert Fellows concentrated in racing at Mohawk and Woodbine. Unfortunately the Robert Fellows stable has now been reduced to 27 horses from 60 and will not be adding yearling purchases this fall. Last year his stable purchased 13 yearlings. To hopefully assist the Panel in understanding how stables of this size are normal small businesses operating in rural Ontario we filed with the Panel copies of Robert Fellows' federal income tax returns. We also filed full and detailed employment records for each of his employees and details relating to his retention of veterinarians, blacksmiths, feed companies, hay suppliers and expenditures on equipment purchases and repairs.

7. In fact, the Panel's unyielding stance on the destruction of standardbred racing in Ontario seemed to us, at our meeting, to be totally inconsistent with Premier Kathleen Wynne's enthusiasm and public utterances dealing with the future of horseracing in Ontario. Premier Wynne and Mr. Sousa have amply demonstrated to us their integrity and courage in their handling of the Paul Godfrey matter.

8. Furthermore the Panel members argued strenuously with us at our meeting on Friday that the 10% from slot revenues paid to horsemen under SARP for 12 years was not meant (for some unfathomable reason not explained to us) to be "permanent" but only "long term"!
In our opinion this incomprehensible attitude does not reflect an appropriate public policy for agriculture in rural Ontario.

9. Since the OLG slots currently continue to operate every day at full speed under racing's unique and exclusive zoning at all of our racetracks (albeit not as successfully as they had operated at the time when the slots were still complemented by horse racing prior to the cancellation of the SARP program) we still have absolutely no idea what the Transition Panel had in mind by their expression "long term". We fail to see any rationale at all for cancelling SARP without and until a mutually satisfactory replacement funding formula is in place. As long as the OLG slot machines are still operating in our racing facilities we must have SARP or a mutually satisfactory replacement funding formula!

10. By far the most remunerative (to the Ontario Government - approximately $600 million dollars annually) slot machine site in Ontario is the site at Woodbine Racetrack. A carefully negotiated renewal agreement was entered into by Woodbine Entertainment with the OLG in 2010 to install 1,000 additional slot machines and to extend the Woodbine license term potentially to 2025. One would normally have assumed that "long-term" would have meant that under SARP the payment to horsemen of 10% from this increase in slot revenues would have continued likewise to 2025. Obviously news of this slot renewal to 2025 and news of a big expansion instilled widespread long term confidence in Ontario's horse industry. However, this key long term expansion was also reversed by Mr. Duncan within a year of its signing with no prior research and with no reason given.

11. During our discussion with the members of the Transition Panel they expressly discouraged and spoke against any institution of legal actions by horsemen and/or breeders for damages against the Government or for damages against the OLG. They recommended against both class actions and actions to be based upon the legal theory of detrimental reliance. The Panel did not suggest to us any alternative means by which our horsemen could achieve fairness or compensation for their unexpected losses due to the precipitate and willful behaviour of our Provincial government.

12. Furthermore, it was not at all comforting to us to be advised by the Transition Panel in their role as senior representatives of our Ontario Government that if there had indeed been a breach of contract committed by Government or by the OLG this breach would only have amounted to a breach of a moral obligation! They told us that they did not view moral obligations seriously.

13. In response to questions from the Panel about possible legal proceedings by aggrieved horsemen we confirmed to the Panel Members that neither of us had a mandate to institute or discuss legal proceedings of any kind against the Government or against the OLG. on behalf of individual or collective horsemen and/or breeders. That is the role of counsel for the aggrieved party.

14. However, in response to their questions we did advise the members of the Panel, that based upon many discussions we have heard from standardbred horsemen and standardbred breeders, there is a great degree of outrage, disappointment and bewilderment over the current crisis. It seems to us from these discussions that a much more likely course of action to be followed by aggrieved horsemen and breeders (other than standard legal proceedings in response to the stonewalling they are receiving from their elected representatives) would be to collectively take matters into their own hands. This other alternative course of action could more than likely be patterned after the recent radical steps taken by Ontario's school teachers and by Ontario's native Indians.

15. Accordingly, we informed the Panel in answer to their questions that total desperation with the complete unfairness of their situation might ultimately lead standardbred horseman and breeders to demonstrating with caravans of horse trailers at 15 kilometres an hour on Highways 400 and 401. This may be all bravado but in our opinion this alternative seems to have the broadest support. The other alternative action that we have also heard widely discussed would involve the staging of a series of sit-ins utilizing all the stools at specified slot locations on racing's dark days. We are only reporting what we heard discussed.

16. In Sub-paragraph 4 of Paragraph 1 of the executive summary to the Transition Panel's Plan for Horse Racing in Ontario there is an unbelievable statement that reads as follows:
"To firmly link the industry with the horseplayer and fan, the Panel now concludes that future public funding for horse racing should be based on a dollar for dollar match with the industry commission on pari-mutuel wagering".

The Panel members seemed to agree with us that after they had just cut our purses in half and reduced our race dates by fifty per cent that our future public funding could also be reduced by another fifty percent! It is axiomatic that with fewer opportunities available for patrons to wager overall wagering must surely decline.

WITH PURSES AND RACEDATES REDUCED BY 50% HOW ON EARTH WILL INDUSTRY COMMISSIONS ON PARI-MUTUEL WAGERING POSSIBLY INCREASE? EVEN THE PANEL MEMBERS COULD NOT EXPLAIN THIS TO US.

17. In 2012, Thoroughbred, Standardbred and Quarterhorse racing deservedly received their 10% share of slot revenues earned in Ontario which horsemen and breeders had negotiated with the Government of Ontario at arm's length at the time of inception of SARP (in return for their consent to the introduction of slots in their facilities in 1998.) In 2012 this amounted to 172.5 million dollars. It is pure fantasy to try to reduce this to 60 million dollars as recommended by this three-man transition panel on its own.

18. On an equally important point the members of the Panel abjectly failed to properly explain the relevance of the Ontario pari-mutuel tax reduction passed in 1996, seventeen long years ago. The members of the panel continued to claim with great persistence that in calculating the Ontario Government's annual cash contribution to purses (and that is what the horses actually race for in order to enable bills to be paid) we must add in this unrelated 50 million dollars for this pari-mutuel tax reduction. This is an attempt by the Panel at double counting. To count this $50 million again as funding for future purse distributions is completely illusory. Dr. Ted Clarke of Grand River Raceway has already provided the Panel with a seven page memorandum fully explaining that this tax reduction has already been returned to the customer.

19. We explained to the Panel that our horsemen and breeders are still very disappointed that after McGuinty and Duncan precipitately cancelled SARP without conducting any studies (save subsequent to the cancellation order being issued) that the Government then proceeded to male new monetary deals only with racetrack operators and totally ignored the horsemen and breeders completely. We are therefore left with a situation where the operator of Kawartha Downs is now receiving millions of dollars each year in rent for a white elephant property while horsemen race there for purses as low as $3,200! The Government has left horsemen with no leverage in their quest for fair and equitable purses and race dates.

20. The Panel was unable to discuss with us the proposed expulsion of standardbreds from Woodbine Racetrack due to time constraints. However, we fully support the official statement made by Woodbine's President Nick Eaves unconditionally opposing this strange recommendation by the Transition Panel. Standardbred racing has always prospered in Metropolitan Toronto since the days at Greenwood Raceway ( Old Woodbine) and financially it is the most important and essential component of our business. To have any chance of surviving the current situation created by our Government standardbred racing must retain all of its pre-2013 racing dates on Woodbine's mile track with its appeal to the wagering public.

August 11, 2013

Robert Burgess
Robert Fellows

 

Wagering Up, Attendance Down in First Half of Saratoga Meet

by Press Release | 08.11.2013 | 11:55am

Total wagering on races at Saratoga Race Course increased compared to 2012 levels through the first half (20 days) of the meet, according to The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA).

All-sources handle, which includes wagers on Saratoga races both on-track and from simulcast outlets nationwide, was $286,598,192, up 0.5 percent from $285,295,757 last year.

On-track handle on Saratoga races totaled $68,809,989, off 2.9 percent from $70,892,924 last year.

Attendance for the first half of the meet was 388,607, a 2.2 percent decrease from 397,330 in 2012. Attendance figures were negatively impacted by less-than-ideal weather on the July 19 opening day program and on Saratoga’s lone Giveaway Day during the first 20 racing dates, July 28.

Through the first 20 racing days, average betting interests per race were 8.2 (1,689 total over 207 races) compared to 8.3 (1,724 total over 207 races) in 2012. There have been 100 turf races and 8 races taken off the turf and moved to the main track, compared to 85 on and 21 off in 2012.

* Note: Attendance figures for Giveaway Days include patrons who pay multiple admissions to obtain more than one giveaway item, either at the track entrance or at the multiple admissions area inside the track. There was one Giveaway Day during the first 20 days of the 2013 Saratoga meeting, and there was one through the first 20 days of the 2012 meet.

 

Jockey Club Round Table: Focusing on Integrity

by Ray Paulick | 08.11.2013 | 4:12pm

 

There was talk about the new Fox sports network and horse racing’s growing presence on television, along with the outreach made by America’s Best Racing “brand ambassadors” affiliated with The Jockey Club, but the main focus was on integrity and medication issues during the 61st annual Jockey Club Round Table Conference held Sunday in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

For years, the Round Table served as an opportunity for other racing organizations to talk about their efforts to improve the economics of the sport, but as the failures mounted, Jockey Club stewards decided they’d had enough and concluded it was up to them to lead on issues they felt were of the greatest magnitude.

As such, The Jockey Club enlisted business professionals from the outside world, consultants like McKinsey & Co. and the market research company Penn Schoen Berland to better understand the nature of American horse racing’s challenges and how best to address them. Rather than influence decisions, The Jockey Club has taken the bull by the horns, investing in television, first with a series on NBC Sports in 2012 and expanding that with a major presence in 2014 on the new Fox Sports 1 cable network that goes into 90 million homes beginning next Saturday.

The Jockey Club is trying to lead the way on medication reform, even though it has no authority and can only influence policy through public pressure, education, and financial support of certain programs.

Building on to its support of the now 12-year-old Racing Medication and Testing Consortium and the more recently formed Thoroughbred Safety Committee, The Jockey Club is pushing for advancements in several areas related to integrity. Specifically, the Thoroughbred Safety Committee is recommending that all veterinary treatment records of racehorses be entered into a database and that testing shift from standard protocol (depending on the state, it is generally winner, beaten favorite, random selection in each race) to “intelligence based criteria.” Jockey Club vice chairman Stuart Janney said horse racing must follow the lead of other sports and greatly expand its out-of-competition testing program.

“(Out of competition testing) plays an increasingly important role in doping control as organizations and regulatory authorities try to combat the growing sophistication of substances that enhance performance,” said Janney. “It can be a powerful deterrent and, in our sport, it is a perfect bookend to post-race sampling.”

Janney pointed out that the 2012 and ’13 Kentucky Derby participants were tested out of competition, along with recent Breeders’ Cup contestants and this year’s Wood Memorial and Belmont Stakes runners. Yet by The Jockey Club’s estimates, only 1,000 such tests are done each year.

The Jockey Club is committing up to $250,000 annually in 2014 and 2015, through the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, to increase that number, focusing out-of-competition testing on Graded stakes races.

While horseplayers may feel that all races should be subjected to out-of-competition testing, Janney said Graded stakes “are the most important races in the consumer market and with the most prominent horses competing, these races are potentially the most impactful to the Stud Book.”

The additional funding will only be used if the out-of-competition tests expand beyond blood-doping and look at anabolic steroids and all Class 1 drugs. Janney said the testing must be done at labs accredited by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium. The only labs currently accredited are the University of California-Davis Kenneth L. Maddy Laboratory and HFL Sport Science Inc. in Lexington, Ky.

Janney’s recommendation followed a stunning report from Rob Green, a partner in the public opinion firm Penn Schoen Berland (they were the pollsters who helped get Bill Clinton to the White House). Green’s presentation reflected the importance of doping and integrity issues to horseplayers, especially those wager the most.

Green’s company surveyed 816 “committed bettors” – many of them described as “big fish” or “whales” (in betting parlance, those who wager huge sums) and found that drugs and integrity outpaced excessive takeout and industry leadership (or lack thereof) as the most pressing issue they see.  The results led him to conclude, without any doubt, that drug and integrity concerns “directly damage” the economics of horse racing in the U.S. “Drug and integrity issues lead horseplayers to bet less,” he said.

Among some of the results of the survey:

— 86% of the biggest bettors avoid certain tracks and states because of concerns over medication/integrity

— 79% of horseplayers factor in illegal drug use when handicapping races at certain tracks

— By a margin of 9 to 1, horseplayers say they bet less, not more, because they have to factor the possibility of illegal drug use

— 91% of horseplayers are “tired of waiting” for medication reform and want it now

— 82% of big bettors want to see all drug testing results published, 79% strongly support out-of-competition testing, and 73% think a horse’s attending veterinarian’s name should be made public.

That’s how deep the suspicions of doping run, that the biggest bettors believe knowing the name of a horse’s vet will help them cash a bet.

As Janney said after Green’s presentation, those who ignore the survey results are “numb, delusional, or possibly both.”

Eclipse Award-winning journalist Ryan Goldberg, the son of a former trainer, in many ways represented the views of those horseplayers during his presentation.

Goldberg co-authored a highly acclaimed series of articles on medication and racing for the Thoroughbred Daily News and said the overuse of therapeutic medications is just as much a problem as illegal doping.

Using information from a New York Task Force Report on the rash of fatal injuries at Aqueduct last year, Goldberg asked, “Why would a trainer inject the knee with hyaluronic acid six days before a race, and give dexamethasone, a corticosteroid, and Bute 48 hours before post time? Or in another case, DMSO, Vetalog, Vitamin K and Liquamycin, 48 hours before a race, then Bute and electrolytes the day before? Or separately, give 24 separate injections of 9 different drugs in three and a half weeks?

“This was one of the big takeaways for me,” he added. “In American racing there is no clear distinction between where therapy ends and competition begins. And that needs to change.”

Goldberg said he wants more transparency on what legal drugs horses are given and what the test results show.

“If racing is 99.9 percent clean – as some argue – then show me,” he said. “Publish who is tested, what they were tested for, what type of test was used, and what the result was – not just pass/fail.

“Most importantly, make medication records public. It’s been done before: NYRA published the records for the Belmont Stakes runners leading up to the race. Why not every graded stakes? How would the public, and journalists, and animal-welfare groups, react to seeing this information? I believe that transparency like this would stop excessive drug use in its tracks.”

Goldberg talked about the efforts of Jeff Gural, who is running the Meadowlands harness meet with an iron fist in an effort to clean up the sport. Gural has hired a private investigator who understands racing and makes unannounced visits to training centers to collect out-of-competition samples. The samples are tested at the best labs in the world. Gural kicks suspected cheaters off the track.

Handle at the Meadowlands has since soared.

“Except Gural is an island,” he said. “No harness tracks have reciprocated his exclusions. And he said not a single Thoroughbred executive or official has called to pick his brain.”

In closing remarks, Jockey Club chairman Ogden Mills Phipps said, “Clearly our wagering handle and our business are being compromised. We know that congressional leaders are frustrated by the speed of our reforms, and if we don’t get our own house in order they will do it for us.”

 

Gambling website suggests Florida is on way to pari-mutuel cheese rolling (Video)

 

Are the Division's bizarre actions when it comes to authorizing barrel racing an example of regulators being complicit with gambling interest lawyer/lobbyists whose aim is to circumvent decades-old laws? (No Casinos/youtube)

 

Adam SinclairElections Examiner

 

In recent years, gambling has gained traction in Florida, and across the country, as a way for struggling states to try and increase their tax rolls. In the 2012 election, voters showed their willingness to expand the availability of slot machines throughout parimutuel facilities an the legislators in Tallahassee were left trying to figure out how to legislate, regulate, and expand wagering in a responsible way. This has proven to be an uphill battle, and many gaming interests have proposed some interesting ways of defining the term parimutuel.

A recent video released by No Casinos, a lobbying group against expanded gaming in the state of Florida, raised questions as to what the next event will next be approved for parimutuel wagering in the state. After Gretna was given a “mysterious” license earlier this year for an unspecified set of events that likely include barrel racing, lobbyists wonder where the expansion will stop.

Among the possibilities: bog snorkeling, tail chasing, ferret legging, cheese rolling, and what appears to be competitive ironing. “Why do the people who are supposed to regulate gambling make up nutty excuses to have more of it? Because they’re not very good regulators!” quips the video.

Of course, the real world of pari-mutuels in Florida and across the country can be almost as crazy as some of the schemes laid out by the Paulick report. However, the world of harness racing can still be quite the money making proposition. The first weekend of August drew thousands of viewers in person, online, and on television to the historic Meadowlands for the Hambletonian.

On Saturday, August 3, Royalty For Life, trained by a small-time trainer based at Vernon Downs who spent the first part of his year jumping all over the racetrack, surprised the assembled masses by winning the first elimination and final of the $1.2 million Hambletonian, that was beamed on network television in the US and throughout the world via Equidiavideo. Experts in the trotting world never doubted that Royalty For Life had the talent to accomplish something special., but were in awe when has was able to finally put it all together.

One of the largest events of the harness racing calendar, the weekend also culminated with the Hambletonian Monte Final.

"Firing off a fast pace, veteran Flex The Muscle (6m Muscles Yankee-Alix Hall-Conway Hall) with trainer Ray Schnittker aboard stormed home to easily take the $32,800 Hambletonian Monte Final in 1:59.2," stated a release from Thomas H. Hicks, Managing Partner, Renaissance Partners LLC for www.monteamerica.com. "The winning stallion is owned by Schnittker, J&T Silva Stable LLC and Arden Homestead Stable and was bred in Indiana by Silver Linden Farms. Now a career winner of over $847,000 and a 27 time winner in 114 total starts, Flex The Muscle was ten lengths back of early pacesetter Point Of Honour ridden by Tara Hynes as she rolled to the half in :57 and three-quarters in 1:28.1. Chinese Cuisine (5g Revenue-Missymandarine-Malabar Man) then closed in and took the lead for Tina Duer before Flex The Muscle surged by to score by four lengths with Flowing James (8g Ilooklikemymom-Flowing Jody-Rule The Wind) closing for third with Emma Pettersson. The fourth and fifth checks went to Muscolo with Michelle Crawford up and Waldorf Hall handled by Jenny Melander."

South Florida fans of harness racing can enjoy the sport weekly at the Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park starting in September. You really haven't seen anything until you've been to an actual horse race, as television and the internet really don't do the sport justice.

"The trotting sport is very much alive and growing on a global basis," added Hicks.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tE7fVHBUCRc

 

http://youtu.be/BANr4j-F7jg

 

 

 

Enjoy the thrill of real horsepower at the Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park

·         Motorsports

·         July 21, 2013

·         By: Adam Sinclair

 

Americans are seemingly obsessed with the need for speed. It is the thrill of speed that draws thousands of fans to the temples of auto racing throughout the world. It is this overwhelming need to feel the power of pure adrenaline that has propelled the rapid growth of events such as the X-Games, and has encouraged the use and overuse of performance enhancing drugs in some of the world’s finest athletes.

It is also this need for speed that has spawned innovation in the world of horse racing, where modern harness races regularly end in less than 2 minutes over a mile distance. You might be wondering why a motorsports column would be talking about horse racing. The simple answer would be that NASCAR had an off weekend, and the closest auto racing track is 3 hours away. However, the closest horse racing facility is only 45 minutes away. You know what they say on all those commercials, support your local racetrack!

The Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park has a long and storied tradition in the world of horse racing. Built in 1953 on the grounds of a failed Depression-era thoroughbred racing track, it was founded by Frederick and Frances Dodge Van Lennep, who were determined to build a Standardbred horse track and to establish harness racing in Florida. The facility officially opened to the public on February 4, 1964. The original facility was painted a bright pink, known as Pompano Pink, simply because Mrs. Van Lennep liked the color!

The track itself is 5/8-mile in length, composed of Marl (combination of Florida type clay, concrete sand and rice rock-similar to limestone chips or crushed coral). The track is a relatively wide 80 feet, and features no hubrail, no passing lane, and pylons for safety. The homestretch is 608 feet from top of the stretch to finish, and is visible from numerous observation points at the facility, as well as through the live simulcast that is broadcast over the internet, and more than 100 parimutuel sites.

John Berry, the track announcer, and also assistant race secretary, has been calling races at the facility for many years. From the announcer’s booth on the sixth floor of the old grandstands building, he has a commanding view of not only the entire facility, but of the surrounding area as well. His knowledge of the racing business is second to none, and his genuine interest in the sport is reflected in his passionate descriptions of the racing events. He is not only informative but also entertaining, and definately adds to the experience of being at the track.

“Pompano is racing Wednesday and Saturday evenings in July, then closed until late September when the Florida Sires Stakes begin,” stated Thomas Hicks, Managing Partner a Renaissance Partners LLC. “Due to lapse from August – mid September the horse population is currently low as many stables have shipped north for stakes seasons and purses that are slots enriched in NY, PA, DE, OH and IN. The many two year-olds that train at Sunshine Meadows, South Florida Trotting Center, Palema Trotting and training centers in Orlando area shipped north about May 1. Their training season begins just after the annual Select Yearling Sales (last in mid-November) until May 1 of the next year. The horse population (standardbreds) in Florida peaks in the 4,000 range including Pompano Park stable area on-track and the approximately 50 training centers and farms in the state. There are approximately 20 standardbred stallions residing in FL with their offspring eligible for nomination to the Florida Sires Stakes program.”

Thomas Hicks’ family has been in the business as owner/breeders since 1945 and his family alone since mid-70’s. They currently have seven broodmares, seven yearlings that sell this fall at public auction, three 2013 foals and four trotting fillies in training and/or racing.

As with many businesses in the state, the track does a seasonal business with peak times between November and March. Over the past fifty years, the racetrack has featured world class standardbred horse racing with top-ranked trotters and pacers, award-winning drivers and trainers and some of the best racing action in North America. Known as the winter capital of harness racing, the entire Pompano Park race track facility is a complete entertainment destination. It is connected to the Isle Casino, and features numerous restaurants and bars to satisfy your need for sustenance. It can accommodate up to 7,500 spectators and 12,000 cars. It houses approximately 800 horses in it’s stables and also features a practice track.

Saturday’s racing action featured ten events, in which the horses and their drivers competed in a one-mile long race. Most of the races featured nine entries, and the winning horse was awarded between $3,000 and $9,000 depending on the event. Although the racing itself is a big draw, more than half the fun in the sport is the ability to bet on the outcome. There are numerous tools available online, as well as at the track, that can help you to determine the odds. (A racing progam is offerered for sale for a mere $1.50.) Sometimes, however, the most fun is to choose a horse whose name you like, or who has some personal connection to you, and see what happens.

In addition to the views from the grandstands and covered viewing area, some lucky spectators are given the opportunity to actually ride in the starting gate. Available on a first come, first serve basis, this unique vantage point gives riders a unique perspective on the event, and a better feel for the true speed and power of these amazing animals. If you’re interested, see Gigi in the Winner's Circle for details.

In addition to the on-track activity, The Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park also offers simulcasting of Harness and Thoroughbred Racing, Jai-Alai Games and Greyhound Racing from over 20 venues across North America. The Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park is open for (noon to midnight) simulcasting seven days and evenings a week (except Christmas Day).

The track is centrally located just one mile west of Interstate 95, one mile east of the Florida Turnpike and one block south of the corner of Atlantic Blvd and Powerline Road. It is only a 15-minute drive from the ocean, 20 minutes from the Fort Lauderdale / Hollywood International Airport and less than an hour from Miami Beach.

As with many forms of entertainment, the facility has suffered in recent years from a decrease in attendance. It is apparent that the current owners have a plan for the historic racing venue, as new grandstands and a new winners circle have recently been built. However, the old grandstands building still dominates the skyline of the facility, and is under-utilized and in desperate need of repair. You can see potential, but what the track really needs is an influx of money as well as increased community support.

There are still two more opportunities to see Live Harness Racing at Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park on Wednesday, July 24 and Saturday, July 27, with a first race post time of 7:05 p.m. If you miss these races, you’ll have to wait until they reopen in September. So, if you want to truly experience the feel of original horsepower, travel down the road to the Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park. You never know; you might just walk away a winner!

 

 

 

Wall Street Journal: Is There Too Much Racing?

by Paulick Report Staff | 07.21.2013 | 10:29am

 

As the New York Racing Association’s Reorganization Board re-examines the racing calendar, it will have to answer a question reminiscent of Goldilocks: what constitutes too little racing, what constitutes too much, and what amount is just right.

A recent report in the Wall Street Journal noted that NYRA raced 245 days in 2012, mostly at Aqueduct, and questioned whether the state needs so many dates, particularly at its least ”commodious” track.

Some owners, such as West Point Thoroughbred’s Terry Finley, believe that the size and number of race cards must remain the same to give horses at all levels a chance to run.

“There are different levels of market makers,” he said. “Not every race is filled with top-end horses. There have to be different levels for people to work with.”
Others, like owner Michael Michalisin, note the success of shorter meets with fans.

“Smaller boutique-style meets — like at Keeneland and Del Mar are what work,” he said.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal

·        July 19, 2013, 3:24 PM

Is There Too Much Horse Racing?

By Pia Catton

Associated Press 

Saratoga Race Course’s 150th anniversary season, one of the highlights of the horse-racing year, got underway today. But while the Saratoga Springs, N.Y., venue is the star of the three thoroughbred tracks run by the New York Racing Association, the other two tracks — Aqueduct and Belmont Park – are currently the subject of a thorough review.

One of the key issues under consideration by NYRA’s Reorganization Board, established by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in October 2012, will be the racing calendar. How much racing is the right amount – for fans and the industry alike?

In 2012, NYRA raced 245 days, the bulk of which happens from November to April at Aqueduct, the least commodious of the three venues. But does the state need so much racing, especially in the winter when many of the best horses are shipped to Florida?

One Saratoga-based owner, Terry Finley of West Point Thoroughbreds, argues yes – partly because of the spectrum of racing talent. “There are different levels of market makers,” he said. “There are ten races a day. There are 50 to 60 races a week. Not every race is filled with top-end horses. There have to be different levels for people to work with.”

Finley, who has about 65 horses including 2013 Peter Pan Stakes winner Freedom Child, believes finding the right number of race days will probably be a trial and error process, but one that should include the needs of owners, trainers and employees who are based in New York. “It wouldn’t work to think that we could close in the middle of December and turn the light switch back on in April.”

Taking an opposing view are observers like investment manager Michael Michalisin, a New York-based horse owner, who argues that with too many races and too many venues, the product dilutes itself for fans, “Smaller boutique-style meets — like at Keeneland and Del Mar are what work.”

 

New Jersey Waging Federal Battle to Allow Sports Betting

by Paulick Report Staff | 07.15.2013 | 8:41am

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Despite the four professional sports leagues and the NCAA being strongly opposed to it, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has vowed to continue the battle to allow legalized sports gambling in his state, and is ready to fight the current ban on the federal level.

In 1992, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was passed. This federal law banned gambling on sports everywhere, except in the states of Nevada, Montana, Delaware, and Oregon. Of those four, only Nevada currently has unlimited sports betting.

Gov. Christie wants that law overturned so sports betting would be legal in New Jersey, which would in turn, boost the state’s bottom line through tax revenue.

“Every town in this state has people betting on football, baseball, basketball, hockey, on all the major sports, except now it’s being done by criminals,” Gov. Christie told reporters in March. “What we’d like to do is to bring it out in the open and have the citizens of the state benefit from it.”

The case has made its way to a federal court in Philadelphia. According to NBC News, Christie has vowed that should the state lose there, he will take the matter to the Supreme Court.

Read more at NBC News.com

 

Burgess Letter On Draft Plan

Published: July 16, 2013 3:11 pm ETComment(s) | Jump to Comments

"This opening statement as the Panel's basic and fundamental premise for their current analysis of the Ontario Racing Industry is itself both completely false and very misleading."

In a letter penned on July 16, Canadian Horse Racing Hall Of Famer Robert Burgess provides the Horse Racing Industry Transition Panel with his take on their draft plan. The letter from Burgess appears below.


CURRENT STATUS REPORT by ROBERT BURGESS

Status Report by Robert Burgess on the new Plan of the Transition Panel that calls for the TOTAL DESTRUCTION OF HORSE RACING IN ONTARIO as we have known and enjoyed it for so many years.

This new Plan was presented with great fanfare to many of us by the Ontario Transition Panel at Woodbine Racetrack during the afternoon of July 9, 2013.

The Panel's new draft Plan is prophetically titled: " Toward a Sustainable Future - a Plan for Horse Racing in Ontario." Certainly one thing is very clear. Standardbred racing in Ontario will have no sustainable future if even part of this new Plan becomes law.

My five most serious criticisms of the Transition Panel's new Plan for Racing are:

1 . Please see Page 4, Line 11 of the Panel's draft report. Here the Panel refers to the introduction of the SARP program by the Ontario Government as follows:

"The SARP program provided FAR MORE FUNDS than necessary to stabilize the industry -- ITS ORIGINAL PURPOSE."

This opening statement as the Panel's basic and fundamental premise for their current analysis of the Ontario Racing Industry is itself both completely FALSE and very MISLEADING.

SARP WAS NOT DESIGNED TO STABILIZE THE HORSE INDUSTRY and provide it with far more funds! SARP was designed by the Ontario Government in power at that time, for an entirely different purpose and to solve an entirely different Government dilemma.

The Ontario Government designed and introduced SARP IN 1998 as a structure to compensate the racing industry financially and permanently for its specific agreement to assist the Province of Ontario in its drive TO EXPAND GAMING OPPORTUNITIES IN ONTARIO.

This agreement made by racing with the Province allowed racing's major direct competitor, the Ontario Lottery Corporation, to permanently sublet parts of horse racing's exclusive gambling facilities all across Ontario. The agreement by horse racing with the Province to authorize this sublet was equivalent to Wal-Mart agreeing to sublet parts of its store facilities to a highly motivated competitor like Costco! And to compete with Costco within these very facilities forever.

Under this permanent sublet agreement with the Province the rent to be paid to the horse industry of 20% (10% and 10%) of revenues represented a very fair and negotiated contractual amount that reflected the racetracks' existing facilities, infrastructure and zoning and the intrinsic value of this permanent sublet. These gaming locations continue to be valued as politically safe and socially responsible.

Therefore, we all should know that the true original purpose for the introduction of slots at racetracks in 1998 was to provide a means by which the then Ontario Government would be enabled to enjoy over a billion dollars of new net revenues from these new slot machines installed at Ontario racetracks every year. And Government intended to continue to enjoy over a billion dollars or more in new net revenues from these new OLG slots in every year after 1998. This revenue to the Province will continue in 2013 and thereafter in the foreseeable future.

In 1998 only the racetracks and their horsemen possessed the necessary and essential zoning to permit the installation and operation of these new slots by the OLG throughout Ontario. Therefore, only because of the horsemen's available and essential zoning at its racetracks was this new billion dollar annual windfall payment to Government made possible.

To suddenly cancel SARP in 2012 with OLG slots still being operated by the OLG at our racetracks and to not replace SARP with comparable compensation for our horsemen would be civilly actionable if perpetrated by any normal commercial enterprise. Accordingly, the Ontario Government should not be above the law and should be held accountable for its acts just like any normal commercial enterprise.

Having due regard to all of the foregoing circumstances and the history outlined above our present Government should not be allowed to continue to expropriate the horse industry's unique and essential zoning (permitting the operation of slot machines at racetracks) without continuing to provide proper compensation to the horse industry. This compensation must be comparable to that received under SARP for the past 12 years. Notwithstanding this obvious truth, it seems that after March 31,2013 the slots have still continued to operate on a daily basis across Ontario under the horse industry's unique and essential zoning. However, so far no one has done anything about this serious breach by the current Ontario Government of its legal and moral obligations.

Instead, we have been left to beg for fairness to this Transition Panel whose apparent major goal is to downsize horseracing's importance in Ontario and to render the Province of Ontario completely noncompetitive with all other racing jurisdictions in North America. Neither the Panel nor our Government seem to understand the importance of our business or history to the Ontario economy and to the rural electors in many important provincial ridings.

And what the Panel has offered so far to our industry (a basic $60 million yearly for the finite term of three years and a top up of the HIP program to $30 million for two years) to replace the $345 million paid yearly under SARP is grossly inadequate and insulting. We do not need more bureaucracy and more subterfuge and more public forums.

Given that in 2012 since at least $250 million in provincial taxes is estimated to have been paid by members of the Ontario horseracing and breeding industries (together with their tradesmen and suppliers) the entire payment structure for SARP is almost revenue neutral .

Furthermore, experience at Ontario's racetracks has clearly shown that slot wagering and Government revenues increase substantially where and when coupled with available pari-mutual wagering on horseracing. This resultant increase in Slots wagering also provides additional funding from horseracing to Government. Accordingly, SARP essentially had little, if any, net cost to the Ontario Government.

In order to resolve this urgent matter equitably we now require direct negotiations for representatives of Ontario's standardbred horsemen and breeders with the Transitional Panel and, more importantly, with our Government. No such negotiations of this nature have been offered or proposed to date. As an example, my two requests for an audience with the Panel after it received its second mandate were not even acknowledged by the Panel. Others experienced the same rejection.

2. Please see Page 5, Line 2 of the draft report.

The Panel, in discussing their forlorn efforts for 2013 on page 5 of their report, appeared pleased to be able to state that in its new Sustainable Horse Racing Model that the total purse money available in 2013 would ONLY DECLINE BY ABOUT ONE HALF. This new Sustainable Horse Racing Model also reduced the number of race days for 2013 by about one half. At the same time we are also watching the slaughter or export of about one half of our horses in 2013... It is totally incomprehensible how these scorched earth policies will assist us in growing our overall pari-mutuel wagering handle as specifically requested by the Panel. That request will be absolutely impossible to fulfill with racing dates and available purses cut in half.

The Panel also took great care to include a pious set of paragraphs on Page 22 titled "Promoting Equine Welfare" containing the cautionary note to the reader as follows " The racehorse industry must treat equine athletes with the care and kindness the public reasonably expects".

Surely the public cannot be expected to condone the current widespread slaughter of breeding stock and racehorses for which the Panel should bear 100% responsibility. These deaths resulted directly from their illconceived policies on purses and race dates.

The Panel members likewise seem to be equally impervious to the rampant destruction of the lives and finances of horsemen and breeders. These Ontario residents had the great misfortune to be members of the Ontario standardbred industry at the time the totally unresearched and unexpected announcement was made by Finance Minister Duncan. Standardbred Racing in Ontario fell from Number One in the World to the bottom of the list. The Ontario Government should care. No other thriving and major world class industry in Ontario has ever been treated in this fashion by its own Government.

With 2013 breedings down by 55% we will, over time, have decimated many of Ontario's new stud farms that were built based on the logical expectation of a continuation of enlightened policies by the Ontario Government. In closing these farm facilities we will have eliminated our future horse supply. Mighty Ontario will then be just like Quebec- no horses, no racetracks, no farms, no employment and no pride in its sporting accomplishments.

If any of our standardbred owners actually decide to stay in horseracing they will be forced to patronize stallions standing in jurisdictions with a slot program modeled on Ontario's SARP or to buy a yearling eligible to a similarly progressive sires stake program. They will then have to leave here and race there. There is no hope for anyone else! Even the tiny Ontario Racing Industry championed by the Transition Panel will cease to exist as far as standardbreds are concerned, save at the fairs.

3. Please see Page 11, Line 13 of the draft report.

The Transition Panel has tried to create an illusion of fairness for us by stating the following conclusion in its draft Plan----- " In 2013-14 the public contribution to racing from transition payments will be $60 million and from the pari-mutuel tax reduction will be $50 million making a total of approximately $110 million. This is the funding the Panel has calculated would be needed to maintain a viable industry by keeping a competitive racing product in the marketplace."

Obviously these calculations are not explained by the Panel. Nor is there is any factual basis for such a misleading statement about "a viable industry" by the Panel. We barely have a competitive racing product now even with the carried over funds (currently described as "stranded funds") and three months of SARP revenues for 2013. If no relief or interim funding is received before 2014 then it is absolutely clear that we will have no competitive racing product commencing on January 1, 2014.

There is an additional problem. No one knows exactly what this figure suggested by the Panel amounting to $110 million yearly may mean. This uncertainty exists because the Panel has only promised the $60 million in transition payments for three years.

To even talk about the $50 million pari-mutuel tax reduction now is very specious logic as the Ontario racing industry originally received the $50 million pari-mutuel tax reduction following negotiations with Government in 1996. This reduction was created under a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 1996 with the Government of Ontario and renewed every year since then as a permanent offset to the tax levy.

This is an outstanding example of double counting as the gentlemen on the Panel had nothing to do with this permanent offset to the tax levy. To count it again as funding for future purse distributions is completely illusory. It is a blatant and intentional attempt to mislead the reader and the Government.

For example, Woodbine Entertainment has used all of this annual tax reduction since 1996 to enable it to cancel public admission fees, to offer free parking to patrons and to reduce pari-mutual takeouts. It would be calamitous and impossible for Woodbine to cancel these long term inducements to its customers after 17 years!

4. Please see Page 18, first five paragraphs.

These paragraphs touching upon the integration of horse racing into the OLG's gaming strategy are encouraging, forward- looking and progressive for all parties concerned. Mr. Phillips' new conciliatory attitude towards racing seemed very encouraging and we can hope that it is permanent.

However, the greatest applause at Tuesday's meeting was reserved for the recommendation to the meeting that if gaming modernization is to go forward in Ontario with the development of casinos at Ontario racetracks that NO NEW THIRD PARTIES are needed to share in the resultant distributions.

None of the present parties: tracks; horsemen, the OLG and the Ontario Government can afford the luxury of a new and added and unnecessary partner, foreign or otherwise! Our Racetracks must be given every opportunity and priority to qualify as operators of their own facilities. They have the required expertise.

5. Please see page 19, paragraph 22 of the draft report.

Pages and pages in this draft report are devoted to endless meanderings trying to distinguish among different kinds and sources of wagering.We hear about the different treatments to be applied by the Panel to remote wagering, to wagering on track on local races contrasted to foreign races, to teletheatre wagering and to computer and telephone betting. These distinctions may be important to academics. However, in my view they are and should remain absolutely meaningless as between thoroughbreds and standardbreds. The Ontario horse industry currently has enough other problems without wasting our time on distinctions and false differences of this nature.

These meaningless distinctions do not provide new funds or race dates to thoroughbred racing, standardbred racing or to quarter horse racing.

Our energies should instead be entirely expended in improving our racing product and in enhancing our revenue streams in partnership with the OLG.

We have enjoyed outstanding relations and respect between thoroughbred and standardbred horsemen in Ontario since the days of E. P. Taylor. With the sale of Greenwood both breeds continued in harmony at Woodbine without any serious controversy concerning potentially divisive issues such as the management of the distributions from remote wagering.

To remove standardbred racing from Woodbine and for standardbred racing to abandon the fourth largest municipality in North America would be totally irresponsible. This proposal on Woodbine is an absolute and complete non- starter.

CONCLUSION

Live dates decline, tele-theatres close, purses decline so that betting deteriorates rapidly, commissions decline and the down cycle accelerates so that standardbred purses paid for the first five months of 2013 were $31,981,430 contrasted to $52,860,786 for the first 5 months of 2012. Starters in May 2013 fell to 3490 from 6240 in May 2012.

This flawed Draft Plan for horse racing in Ontario is the current legacy of our Panel. It is further proof of the Panel's failure to even try to make a meaningful contribution to a healthy and prosperous Ontario economy.

Surely they can do better!

July 16, 2013
Robert B. Burgess Q. C.

 

Kentucky Awarded Major Settlement in Online Gambling Dispute

by Paulick Report Staff | 07.11.2013 | 8:48am

The Commonwealth of Kentucky has been awarded over $6 million in its efforts to halt unregulated online gambling in the state.

According to the Blood-Horse, in 2008 Kentucky’s Justice and Public Safety Cabinet filed suit to seize 141 domain names it said were used to conduct unauthorized and unlicensed Internet gambling in the state. The case was the first of its kind in the country.

In 2011, Kentucky joined the Southern District of New York and the District of Maryland, which had similar lawsuits against some of the same internet domain names that had been seized in the Commonwealth. In the settlement, Kentucky was awarded $6,075,000.

Gov. Steve Beshear indicated that the amount from the settlement would go into the General Fund.

Read more at the Blood-Horse

 

Ohio Racino Moves Up Grand Opening

by Paulick Report Staff | 07.10.2013 | 6:02pm

 

Officials announced on Wednesday that the Miami Valley Gaming and Raceway, a joint venture between Churchill Downs, Inc. and Delaware North Companies Gaming & Entertainment, that the facility will open earlier than previously expected.

Originally, the new racino was on track for completion in early 2014, but at a job fair this week, the opening date was changed to December 12.

The facility, which is currently under construction between Cincinnati and Dayton, is expected to create more than 500 jobs. Licenses and other assets of the Lebanon Trotting Club Inc. and Miami Trotting Club Inc. were purchased in 2012 by the partnership, and transferred to the new facility.

Miami Valley Gaming is currently accepting resumes online.

 

More than Just ‘Friends’: Facebook to Allow Users to Wager on Racing, Football in UK

by Paulick Report Staff | 07.11.2013 | 8:18am

The popular social networking site, Facebook, is teaming up with online bookmaker Paddy Power to offer real money wagering on horse racing and football for its users in the UK.

The game, called ‘Paddy Power In-Play!’, is set to launch in the next few days, according to the Daily Mail.

Facebook came under fire last year when the site launched Las Vegas-style casino games with the promise of huge jackpots. Gambling laws are more relaxed in the UK, which allows such games to be offered. Facebook also offers ‘virtual slot machines’ to children as young as 13.

 

According to the Mail, officials from both Paddy Power and Facebook have assured critics that they have safeguards in place to prevent minors from accessing the new game. However, many are understandably concerned that children could get around this by either lying about their age, or by having access to a parent’s credit card.

One such group hoping to stop the new venture is ‘Stop Children Gambling’, which stated, “High Street Bookmakers have the same 18 year age limit but have the benefit of at least being able to determine whether the intended gambler at least looks old enough. This is not the case on the internet.”

Read more in the Daily Mail

 

July 16 Trial Date Set for AQHA Cloning Lawsuit

by Paulick Report Staff | 07.11.2013 | 7:40am

A July 16 trial date has been set by a judge in U.S. District Court in Amarillo, Texas, in the lawsuit filed by Abraham and Veneklasen against the American Quarter Horse Association to allow cloned horses and their offspring to be eligible for registration in the association. The plaintiffs are also seeking monetary damages from the AQHA.

According to the AQHA’s website, both sides in the lawsuit met in federal court July 8 and indicated that they were ready to go to trial.

The AQHA will be updating the website throughout the trial, which is expected to last two to three weeks.

 

Ohio: Racino Revenue Propels State Lottery to Record-Breaking Year

by Paulick Report Staff | 07.05.2013 | 8:31am

Two new racinos in the state helped propel the Ohio Lottery to record-breaking revenue for the recently concluded fiscal year, according to a report by NewsNet5 in Cleveland.

The Ohio Lottery Commission oversees the operations that have opened at Scioto Downs Racino in Columbus and ThistleDown Racino in North Randall, both of which operate VLTs. As a result, lottery sales for the fiscal year were a whopping $2.8 billion, which surpassed the previous record set in 2012.

The Ohio Lottery transferred a record $803 million to the Lottery Profits Education Fund, which supports K-12 education in the state. That amount was an increase of four percent over

2012′s $771 million.

 

KY Supreme Court Sets Aug. 21 Hearing Date on Instant Racing

by Paulick Report Staff | 07.05.2013 | 7:45am

The Kentucky Supreme Court has marked Aug. 21 as the date it will hear oral arguments in the dispute over whether Instant Racing is legal in the state.

Both the state and the Family Foundation, which is challenging the Instant Racing games in Kentucky, were given 30 minutes each to argue their case, according to an article in the Blood-Horse.

Instant Racing, or historical racing, allows patrons to bet on past races without knowing the names of the horses, jockeys, or trainers in the races. According to the article “they are similar to slot machines in that they have dials that spin, but unlike slots, the outcome of the game is based on the results of previously run pari-mutuel races.”

The KY Supreme Court will decide whether Instant Racing is a pari-mutuel game, like horse racing, or more like slot machine gambling, which is illegal in Kentucky.

 

Hong Kong Races Going Global With Commingled Pools

by Paulick Report Staff | 07.04.2013 | 9:58am

Horseplayers around the world may have the opportunity to wager into Hong Kong’s massive betting pools by September when the Hong Kong Jockey Club opens its new race season. The club’s chief executive, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, writing in his blog one day after the Legislative Council passed an amendment to its Betting Duty Ordinance, said the HKJC now has the “green light to set up two-way commingled pools with our partner jurisdictions overseas.”

Hong Kong has restricted access to its pari-mutuel pools from outside and limits the number of simulcast races that may be imported.

“Importantly, having commingled pools in place will allow us to work together with overseas racing jurisdictions to combat those illicit groups that conduct odds arbitrage activities on local or simulcast races,” Engelbrecht-Bresges wrote.

Differences in time zones (Hong Kong is 12 hours ahead of the U.S. Eastern zones during daylight savings time) will make it a challenge for deals between the U.S. and Hong Kong, though separate pool ADW wagering currently is available on many racing programs in Japan via TVG). Australia and New Zealand are expected to benefit the most from the new law.

The Breeders’ Cup has simulcast some of its championship races into Hong Kong, with limited success. The new law does not expand the number of races that may be simulcast into Hong Kong. Currently, separate-pool wagering is allowed in Hong Kong on 10 imported races during the live race meet and 15 days of imports are allowed during the “dark” season.

“This will serve as an opportunity for us to help export Hong Kong’s racing brand and our premier racing products to overseas racing fans,” said Engelbrecht-Bresges.

 

BHA Considers Implementing Horsehair Testing to Better Detect Steroids

by Paulick Report Staff | 06.25.2013 | 11:53am

The British Horseracing Authority may add testing mane and tail samples from horses as it strives to improve testing measures and catch any illegal substances.

According to an article in The Guardian, BHA officials will more than likely add the drug testing of horsehair to their drug testing arsenal. The hair in a horse’s mane or tail can provide evidence of the substances in its body throughout the time that the hair has taken to grow. This would be “invaluable in detecting sustained use of steroids.”

“At HFL [Horseracing Forensic Laboratory] Sport Science there is a team whose role is to constantly research methods of improving our sampling techniques,” Robin Mounsey, the BHA’s media manager, told the press on June 24. “If it was deemed an effective method of testing and of benefit to achieving our objectives, then the introduction of hair samples is a possibility. It has been explored in the past and could be incorporated to our rules and procedures in the future.”

In the recent doping scandal involving former Godolphin trainer Mahmood al Zarooni, the testing of hair samples could have provided officials with a much clearer picture of the extent and duration of Zarooni’s doping activities. Also, according to the article, such testing “could also provide evidence of steroid use on horses from foreign jurisdictions, such as Australia and the United States, which do not adopt Britain’s zero-tolerance approach to steroids.”

Read more in The Guardian

 

The Breeders’ Cup Forum: A New Way Forward for NYRA?

by Scott Jagow | 06.20.2013 | 7:17am

The recent history of New York racing might best be described by the opening lines of a Charles Dickens novel: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…

Just as the state’s racing and breeding industries were being revitalized by proceeds from the new casino at Aqueduct, a rash of racehorse fatalities at the same track attracted a harsh spotlight.  A takeout scandal, in which bettors were being overcharged, led to the firing of Charles Hayward as president and CEO of the New York Racing Association. There was criticism of budget oversight and a plan by state government to privatize NYRA.

But the agency’s board of directors hope this week they’ve found the man to put NYRA on a road to less turbulent, more consistent times as it makes a significant transition.  Christopher Kay will take over as president and CEO July 1.  Kay, 60, most recently handled operations for the Trust for Public Land and its 37 field offices.  The attorney has also been an executive with Universal Parks & Resorts and Toys ‘R’ Us.

In a brief press release and Q and A released Tuesday, Kay discussed his background, his love of racing despite having little experience with the industry, and the appeal of his new job.  We followed up with a few questions of our own.

What are your impressions about the state of horse racing in general and specifically New York racing?
I think that there’s a great history. I think there is a great deal of interest among fans. There are a lot of committed horse racing fans. There are a lot of people that have invested many years of their lives as horsemen in the industry. And so there’s the potential for us to be better than some of the things that may have occurred in the last couple of years. I’d like to think that the situation right now is such that the state and NYRA will be working together to create a structure and a solution that will ensure the success of horse racing in New York for many years to come, and that’s one of the reasons why I joined as the CEO to be a part of that process.

Having something of an outsider’s perspective on the industry, how do you think that will serve you in this role?
I’m going to try to be very objective. That’s what I’ve done my entire career, and that’s the approach I’m going to take here. I know that there are different ways to look at problems and opportunities and challenges. I’m going to try to take an objective and positive frame of mind towards all of these and help others do the same.

What areas do you feel you might need to get know better to understand racing as an industry?
I’ve been blessed as a lawyer to represent a variety of different industries, and so initially, I had to learn a great deal about each one of them. I’ve learned that you can never know enough, so you always keep learning. So just about every area of every industry that I have represented, I continued to learn more about it. The same will be true with racing.

 

So whether you’re talking about the financial viability, the strengths and weaknesses, whether you’re talking about the capital improvement needs, whether you’re talking about regulatory issues, in every one of those areas, I’m going to try to learn as much as I can.

When you were asked about your top priorities, you mentioned a three-year strategy for NYRA. Can you talk a little bit about that?
The board of directors has set a plan over the three-year period of time of things that must be achieved. And that plan is what we will execute to. Now, I said in the Q and A such things as enhancing the guest experience, improving the purses and the quality of horse racing, and working with all the affected parties, including state government, to create a re-privatized NYRA. Those are some of the most important elements in the NYRA board’s three-year plan work plan.

Are there things outside of that plan you already have your eye on that you might want to pursue?
There isn’t anything that I have my eye on at the moment. I want to go in, and I want to listen and ask a lot of questions and learn as much as I can, as opposed to coming in with some preconceived ideas about what must be done. However, I do understand the three-year working plan, and I do intend to get that done.

On the privatization issue, what do you consider the pros and cons of pursuing that strategy?
I don’t think that the state wants to run NYRA as one of its agencies. I don’t think anybody wants that. So, to re-privatize (NYRA) will meet the needs of the governor and the state legislature and the needs and desires of horsemen and everyone else associated with NYRA.

But there will certainly be adjustments and obstacles to overcome. What are those obstacles?
I don’t want to answer that question right now because I simply don’t know. A similar question was asked earlier of me, and I said when we decided to go through a strategic review of Toys R Us, there were three or four different roads we could travel. And during the process, we thought we’d purse one structure, and then a couple of months later, we learned certain things, and we said oh, no, we should pursue a different structure, and then a change in the marketplace occurred, and we chose a third structure. Based upon my experience, it might not be the best course of action for somebody to start on his first day and assume he knows exactly what’s going to happen.

Takeout remains a sensitive issue in New York, particularly in light of errors that helped lead to the ouster of the previous leadership. What steps might be taken to address concerns by the betting public at this point?
Good question, and one of the first things I’m going to be looking at: Number one, how do we make it easier for everybody to understand what the rules are and adhering to them, and then, number two, to be able to generate the kind of confidence and trust that the public will have. It’s my understanding, based upon the steps that have been taken, that the mistake that was made in the past has been completely rectified, and judging from the people I’ve seen at Belmont, I think the confidence is there.

Why do you think you were hired for this position?
That question was asked yesterday, and (NYRA Chairman David Skorton) answered it by saying, what the board was looking for was somebody that has skill in management and had leadership skills. And that’s why I was chosen. David pointed out that the problems that NYRA experienced in the past are not on the racing or operational side of the business. It was because of management and leadership. And so, to use his words, those are the critical criteria that were employed by the search committee, and that’s the reason they selected me.

You’ve obviously had a few different roles. Is there anything that compares to this? Have you stepped into a situation like this before?
That’s a great question. I hope that I can bring a variety of different experiences from other chapters of my career to help NYRA in this particular role. When I was practicing law, I was involved in a number of projects where you needed to make determinations like those that will be made in the re-privatization. And some of them are situations where you don’t really have a precedent to follow, and you had to be creative. I think some of the things I’ve done in the past will be helpful in that regard.

I think that we also want to provide great racing to those loyal fans that we have and continue to do so. We want to provide a better guest experience, and clearly Universal Studios has provided a great guest experience to its guests for many, many years. In addition to keeping a strong relationship with our existing fans, I hope we can go out and bring new people to the sport, people between the ages of 18 and 34, more women, and those are the kinds of people we were able to connect with so successfully at Toys R Us. So you put all that together, and hopefully I can draw from the various experiences to help NYRA succeed both today and in the future.

 

Kentucky gets $6 million in online poker case settlement

Posted on June 19, 2013 by Gregory A. Hall

Kentucky officials announced Wednesday that the state is receiving $6.075 million in an online poker case settlement. Kentucky officials filed a lawsuit in 2008 to seize 141 domain names that it alleged were involved in illegal internet gambling in the state. Later, Kentucky joined lawsuits filed by federal prosecutors against some of the same internet domain names in the Kentucky case. The settlement is between Kentucky and those prosecutors, the state announced. Gov. Steve Beshear said in a statement that the efforts help protect “our signature horse racing industry and legitimate charitable gaming interests.” Beshear said the funds would be put in the state’s General Fund. But the settlement far from ends the issues of online poker and Internet gambling, which are hot topics in the Congress and in state legislatures. Louisville-based Churchill Downs Inc. hopes to conduct online gambling if it is legalized by Congress and/or individual states.

 

New York Times’ ‘The Rail Blog’ To Meet Its Demise?

by Paulick Report Staff | 06.19.2013 | 6:43pm

A recent report on Capital suggests that amid discussions about cuts to blog content, the New York Times has elected to shut down “most, if not all sports blogs.” This would include The Rail Blog, a horse racing blog which includes features on a variety of aspects of the sport from Times writers and outside contributors alike.

Additional sports blogs rumored to be on borrowed time include Bats (baseball), Straight Sets (tennis), Slap Shot (hockey), and Off the Dribble (basketball). Media Decoder and The Choice, both Times blogs, have already been shuttered. About four dozen blogs, including many unrelated to sports, are said to be on the chopping block.

Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said the goal is to discontinue blogs that duplicate subject matter which already has its own subsection on the Times homepage.

“We hope to decrease confusion for readers about where to find information on various subjects by eliminating the duplication of publishing platforms,” said Murphy.

The report comes on the heels of a cessation of racing coverage by the New York Post, which fired its entire horse racing department the day before the Belmont Stakes.

 

Slots revenue at Pa Racetrack Casinos falls 2.8 percent in May
Thursday, June 20, 2013 - from the Pennsylvania Equine Coalition

Harrisburg, PA --- Warmer temperatures and the beginning of the summer race season were not enough to stave off the continued downward trend in Pennsylvania racetrack casino slots revenues as another 2.8 percent decline was reported for the month of May, compared to the same month in 2012.

The decrease in slots revenue caused funding for the state’s Race Horse Development Fund -- which supports live horse racing and breeding in the state -- to decrease by approximately $650,000 for the month of May compared to last year.

“Although the declines in revenue for May was slightly lower than previous months, we have seen steady declines for the Race Horse Development Fund in 10 of the past 11 months,” said Pete Peterson, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Equine Coalition. “This downward trend is very real and has major repercussions for horse racing in the state of Pennsylvania as competition from neighboring states continues to eat away at overall revenue.”

The Pennsylvania Equine Coalition projects that funds to the Race Horse Development Fund -- which are based on the performance of slots revenue at the state’s racetrack casinos -- will fall approximately $15 million short of the Governor’s revised FY 2013-14 budget projections, and $26 million short of initial projections made by the Governor during the state budgeting process in February.

“It is clear that competition from neighboring states is negatively impacting revenues for Pennsylvania’s racetrack casinos and will continue to do so,” said Peterson. “These decreases will impact horse racing and the breeding industry in Pennsylvania, forcing cuts in purses and breeders incentives. Given the hit we are already taking from increased competition, the budget proposal to divert $31 million from the fund could drive small businesses out of Pennsylvania to other states that offer more attractive purses and incentives.”

The Pennsylvania legislature legalized casino gaming in the state as part of an effort to save and revitalize the horse racing and breeding industry, and it succeeded. According to the Department of Agriculture, as a result of casino gaming, the economic impact of the racing industry in Pennsylvania more than quadrupled and employment tripled from 13,870 to more than 41,100.

“Pennsylvania has been a success story, a model for other states,” continued Peterson. “Recent wins by PA-bred horses during the Kentucky Derby weekend have caused the racing industry to take notice of the tremendous strides made in Pennsylvania. With every win in the national racing spotlight, our state attracts new interest by owners, trainers and breeders looking to find the most favorable conditions to grow and prosper. If the RHDF becomes a pool of money that can be dipped into by state government to fund other government programs, businesses involved in the horse racing industry are not going to invest in Pennsylvania. That in turn will have a ripple effect on the farmers who produce feed, veterinarians and others who care for the horses, and small businesses that sell supplies. Horse racing is in an industry that needs to be nurtured in Pennsylvania, because it is the horses themselves that are the economic engines and job creators.”

The Race Horse Development Fund enhances live horse racing and breeding programs in the Commonwealth by supplementing purses and enhancing race horse breeding incentives. The fund was a crucial component of Act 71 of 2004, the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act, which legalized slot machine gaming in Pennsylvania in an effort to save the Pennsylvania horse racing and breeding industry.

The Pennsylvania Equine Coalition is a statewide group representing more than 10,000 owners and trainers of the horse racing industry in Pennsylvania. Members of the coalition include the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association, the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, the Standardbred Breeders Association of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association, the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association, and the Pennsylvania Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association.

 

GAMBLING: State doubles down with racino movement

By CHRISSY KADLECK, Crain’s Cleveland Business
2:55 pm, June 19, 2013

At breakneck speed, the race to keep even more betting dollars in the Buckeye State is rounding the halfway point.

 

About a year into the state's gamble to resurrect its ailing race tracks by adding video lottery terminals, two of the hybrid casinos — or racinos — are up and running with the remaining five slated to start jockeying for guests by June 2014.

And so far, the addition of Vegas-style gaming, dining and entertainment is breathing new life into the race tracks and surrounding communities, said Bob Schmitz, chairman of the Ohio State Racing Commission.  “There's a bright light at the end of the tunnel, and it's not a freight train,” he said. “Without (VLTs), I don't know where the industry would be.”

Indeed, the Ohio Lottery Commission is projecting more than $400 million in additional profit during the next two fiscal years because of racinos. That number will be even larger once all seven racinos are open for business, said Dennis Berg, director of the Ohio Lottery Commission.

“We transferred $771 million to the Lottery Profits Education Fund at the end of June last year, which is an all-time record. We are in the ballpark to have an $800 million transfer for this fiscal year, which closes at the end of this month,” Mr. Berg said.

“This coming biennium, fiscal 2014 and 2015, we are telling the state we will give them $417 million more than what we told you we would give you in 2013,” he said.

Early returns

Since Scioto Downs Racino in Columbus opened in 2012, it has set a pace of earnings that has exceeded expectations.  The state's first racino has generated more than $41.8 million for the Ohio Lottery in the past 11 months, easily surpassing what had been projected to be $3 million a month. Owner MTR Gaming Group of West Virginia also has paid more than $50 million in licensing fees to the state.

And since reopening on April 9, ThistleDown Racino has generated $6.3 million worth of VLT net wins for the state's education fund.  ThistleDown, which underwent an $88 million renovation, is owned by Rock Ohio Caesars LLC, a joint venture of Midwest-based Rock Gaming LLC and Caesars Entertainment Corp., which owns two of the four gaming and entertainment casinos in the state, Horseshoe Casino Cleveland and Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati.

That's a total payout of more than $48 million so far this fiscal year to the Ohio Lottery, according to unaudited figures on the lottery's website.

(Unlike casino revenue, which is divided and distributed directly to a variety of entities, racino funds first pass through the Ohio Lottery Commission, which shares in about one-third of each racino's revenue. An additional amount of no less than 9% of gross revenue from VLTs go into the horsemen's purse fund for race winnings.)  “We're capturing back some dollars that have been leaving the state for a number of years,” Mr. Berg said, adding that border casinos and racinos in Indiana and West Virginia will continue to take a hit.

“To some degree, we have a leg up in the sense that we are now able to present first-class facilities in the state of Ohio that is perhaps better than what is over the border,” he said.

John Payne, central division president for Caesars Entertainment, said revenues at ThistleDown also have surpassed original expectations in the first 50 days of operating its new VLT parlor with 1,100 machines.  “It's been a great start to that facility and creating a new experience for the Cleveland market,” Mr. Payne said. “We've been operating our Horseshoe property for a year and this is a nice complement to that facility. We are beginning to market the facilities, having different events and promotions and finding which customers like which facility and which event.”

Competition matters

Joe Billhimer, president and chief operating officer at MTR Gaming, said its Scioto Downs racino has attracted more than 2.7 million customers to its renovated location, which now boasts 2,100 VLTs, a 300-seat buffet, a 100-seat casual dining restaurant and an 82-seat bar/lounge alongside its 55-year-old race track and facility.  “We have a whole new customer base. The customers who would have otherwise gone to Indiana or West Virginia are patronizing our facility,” Mr. Billhimer said. “In addition, the Greater Columbus area was an underserved market to start with.” He said he isn't concerned with increased competition from other racinos in the state, noting, “They are geographically dispersed so I don't think it will affect us to any great extent.”

Scioto Downs has hired more than 600 employees locally and has contributed more than $10 million to the horseman's fund since the inception of VLTs. “The fact that we have a competitor in the market with Penn National who opened (its Hollywood Casino) in October, we performed very well,” he said. “We are also very optimistic that the Columbus market will continue to grow and support both facilities.”

The wild card in the Cleveland market is what will happen when the Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park opens in December with its 2,300 VLTs later this year, Mr. Berg said.  “That's going to be a brand-new, first-class facility, and we don't know how that is going to impact ThistleDown and the Horseshoe Casino downtown,” he said.

Not horsing around

It might be unclear what will happen when all seven racinos open here, but the model has been a proven winner in almost a dozen other states.

Take New York, where they estimate that 35,000 jobs in the agribusiness are driven by the race tracks, said Chris Riegle, president and general manager of Finger Lakes Casino & Racetrack outside of Rochester, N.Y.  Mr. Riegle said since adding gaming to its offerings in 2004, the Finger Lakes Casino & Racetrack has generated more than $400 million in tax revenue for New York state and has invested about $33 million in the facility. In 2012, Mr. Riegle said his casino had $128 million in revenue. “I have 510 jobs between racing and gaming, and I have more than 100 people authorized to work on my back-side (trainers, vets, stable hands, blacksmiths, etc.) who earn a living off the property,” he said. “That's the part that is kind of hidden by the industry. I have as many as 2,500 horses race here a year.”

Purses have quadrupled at Scioto Downs and increased interest in the equine industry is the real upside of the racino model, Mr. Schmitz said. “Before the VLTs came to Scioto Downs, the top race (on a Saturday night) was $6,000. Now the top race is $25,000,” he said. “It's nice to see people back and the excitement back, and people, instead of racing for a bologna sandwich, are racing for a strip steak on Saturday night.”

Jim Simms, president and general manager of our Miami Valley Gaming and Racing, said the relocation of the Lebanon Raceway will have an initial economic impact of $24 million. However, while the new facility is being built, the company is continuing to operate the Lebanon Raceway at a loss.
“We've got really high purse rates here, and quite frankly the track has been in business for a long time and volume hasn't been here,” he said. At the new racino “our primary customer, first and foremost, is going to be the gaming customer. That's the piece that is going to carry the day so to speak.”

  
NY: Cuomo Announces Gaming Commission Appointments
by Press Release | 06.20.2013 | 2:29pm

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the Senate's approval
of multiple appointments within the administration.

"When I took office, I pledged to restore integrity and
performance in state government," Governor Cuomo said. "To fulfill that pledge,
my administration has worked to recruit the finest candidates to work for New
Yorkers. These individuals bring valuable knowledge and experience to all areas
of government that affect the public, from transportation to housing to
insurance to the arts. I congratulate them on their confirmations and now let's
get to work."
 
Gov. Cuomo made the following appointments to the Gaming
Commission:


John A. Crotty is a founding member of
Workforce Housing Advisors, a New York City-based development firm with a
particular focus on affordable housing. Mr. Crotty has nearly two decades of
experience in housing, government and finance in a variety of capacities. Mr. Crotty is a former member of
the Board of Directors of the New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation and
was appointed by Governor Paterson to a panel to restructure the Off Track
Gaming system statewide. Mr. Crotty was also a member of the New York State
Franchise Oversight Board, which oversees the finances of The New York Racing
Association, Inc.

John J. Poklemba serves as General
Counsel to American Transit Insurance Company, a New York City-based Commercial
Automobile Insurer. Previously, Mr. Poklemba was the managing partner of his
general practice in Saratoga County for more than a decade. Prior to that, Mr.
Poklemba was the principal attorney responsible for governmental relations and
litigation for Bartlett, Pontiff, Stewart & Rhodes, P.C. in Glens Falls.
Mr. Poklemba also served in New York State government for many years working on
criminal justice.

Barry Sample recently retired from Governor Cuomo's
Administration as Deputy Director of State Operations where he handled the
day-to-day management of state government following nearly two decades in
service to New York State. Previously, Mr. Sample served as Deputy Director at
the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, Deputy Director at
the New York State Division of Budget, and Director of Intergovernmental
Affairs and Community Relations at the New York State Comptroller's Office.

Todd R. Snyder is executive vice
chairman of North American Global Financial Advisory and co-head of the debt
and restructuring group at Rothschild, Inc., a leading international investment
banking and financial advisory firm where he is also Senior Managing Director.
Mr. Snyder has been an advisor for Rothschild Inc.'s companies for more than
two decades, including work with Emerald Casino, Dow Corning and United
Airlines. Mr. Snyder also served as part of Governor Cuomo's Labor Negotiating
Team, where he was instrumental in forging new contracts with the state's
public sector unions. He advised the Bush and Obama administrations on the
restructuring of the auto industry.
 
 
 
 

 

Racehorse drug testing gets boost from $700,000 gift
Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - by Ed Kobesky, Director of Media & Marketing, Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association

Kennett Square, PA --- Advanced equipment and supplies recently donated by leading horsemen’s organizations have given the New Bolton Center at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine a powerful forensic research tool for the development of innovative racehorse drug testing protocols.

The Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association, a trade group that represents industry participants at eastern Pennsylvania’s harness racing tracks, donated approximately $470,000 to purchase a mass spectrometer. This state-of-the-art equipment is highly sensitive, allowing staffers to research protein-based drugs and peptides, and develop methods to better detect, identify and characterize medications that can enhance performance and/or cause potential harm to the health, welfare and safety of equine athletes. It is capable of analyzing changes in proteins that may be related to the administration of drugs and shock wave therapy.

“Plain and simple, we want a clean sport,” said Sam Beegle, president of the PHHA. “This grant is part of our ongoing investments to ensure a level playing field, and keep horses healthy and safe.”

In addition, two other prominent horsemen’s organizations will provide hundreds of thousands of dollars in software, supplies and accessories for the research project. The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association, which represents horsemen at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino near Pittsburgh, and the Pennsylvania Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, which provides services for horsemen at both Penn National in Grantville and Presque Isle Downs in Erie, have so far contributed more than $250,000 for the same goal.

New Bolton Center’s Dr. Lawrence Soma said that while instances of positive drug tests are relatively low, the forensic laboratory can only test for known substances.

“It’s a moving target because new medications are constantly coming into use. These gifts are an essential part of our efforts to stay ahead of the curve.”

In just a few short months since the equipment has been in use, researchers have made significant progress on multiple fronts. For example, studies are near completion to determine if the hemoglobin of the equine is altered by the administration of Inositol tripyrophosphate (ITTP), which can make oxygen more readily available to working muscles and potentially enhance performance. Research is also well underway into detecting the prohibited use of non-drug therapies and naturally-occurring substances.

Racehorses are tested for prohibited substances under the authority of the Pennsylvania Harness and Horse Racing Commissions, which also employ a team of on-site investigators at each state racetrack. Samples are sent to the Equine Toxicology and Research Laboratory under the direction of Dr. Cornelius Uboh for analysis. Positive test results are reported to the Commissions for enforcement. Repeat offenses and certain types of infractions can result in an individual being banned from competition.

The cooperative program between New Bolton Center and PETRL has been ongoing for many years. It brings together veterinarians, chemists, molecular biologists and technicians engaged in an advanced drug research and state-of-the-art forensic program.

Collaboration between the New Bolton Center and PHHA dates back to the 1980s. Previous gifts have contributed to the development of a pre-race cardiovascular monitoring protocol, development of new drug testing protocols and a comprehensive set of guidelines for administering therapeutic medications to equine athletes.

“We’re very pleased to contribute,” said Richard Gillock, president of the MSOA. “The importance of these efforts for our sport cannot be overstated.”

 

Kay Chosen to Run New York Racing Association

by Press Release | 06.18.2013 | 5:58pm

 

Christopher Kay was named President and CEO of The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) following unanimous approval by its Board of Directors at a meeting on Tuesday, June 18. The appointment is effective as of July 1.

Kay, 60, most recently served as Chief Operating Officer for The Trust for Public Land, where he oversaw the operations of the land conservation organization’s headquarters and 37 field offices. Prior to that, Kay was a consultant to Universal Parks & Resorts, serving as its Managing Director of International Business Development. From 2001-2006, Kay served as the Chief Operating Officer for Toys ‘R’ Us, a Fortune 200 international company, and prior to that he was the retailer’s Executive Vice President of Operations and General Counsel. Kay was also a minority owner of Orlando’s AA baseball team and a member of the ownership group that sought to obtain the first MLB franchise in Florida.

Kay is a graduate of the University of Missouri and of the Duke University School of Law.

“After a careful search involving many highly qualified candidates, we are delighted to select Chris as our new President and CEO,” said NYRA Chair David J. Skorton. “His wide range of expertise and skills—including experience in the legal, regulatory and corporate governance environments—will serve him extremely well in his new position at NYRA.”

“Chris’s unique blend of experience in retail, theme parks, sports and legal helped set him apart during this extensive search,” said NYRA Board member and Chair of the Nominations and Governance Committee Michael Del Giudice. “We look forward to working with him as NYRA moves forward in the months and years ahead.”

“I am confident that we have found the right person to lead NYRA forward,” said Board Member Stuart S. Janney III, who was also a member of the search committee for the vacant CEO position. “Throughout his career, Chris has demonstrated the type of leadership and strategic vision so crucial to NYRA’s future success.”

“Chris has a thorough understanding of the need to develop and drive brand strategies in a competitive and ever-changing environment,” said Board member Jane Rosenthal, who was also a member of the CEO search committee. “He supported and enhanced the Toys ‘R’ Us brand in every country in which it did business and sought to introduce the Universal Studios theme park brand to new countries as its Managing Director.”

“Though he has had no direct involvement with thoroughbred racing, Chris is familiar with the sport and will make great use of the outstanding team in place that has successfully guided NYRA through the past month and a half—a period that included the 145th Belmont Stakes,” said Board and search committee member Bobby Flay. “Chris’s arrival will bring new ideas and synergies to our organization that will benefit NYRA, horsemen and fans, alike.”

“We were fortunate to choose from an abundance of fine candidates, but Chris’s business and leadership skills stamped him as our first preference,” said Board and search committee member Earle Mack. “I know the Board and others will enjoy working with Chris once he takes over.”

“I’m honored by the confidence expressed in me today by the NYRA Board,” said Kay. “Thoroughbred racing is an important part of the lives of so many—including the hundreds of thousands of fans who have loyally supported us through the years. I will work hard to earn their trust and respect as we embark upon an extremely important chapter of NYRA’s history. Working with the talented professionals at NYRA and its dedicated and experienced Board, I anticipate an exciting and successful future for our sport.”

The NYRA Board retained the services of the executive search firm RSR Partners to assist in the filling of the President and CEO position.

 

Comparing Kentucky To Ontario

Published: June 18, 2013 8:28 am ET

"I have trainers and owners say to me all the time, 'Governor, I'm sorry but I'm pulled my horses up to West Virginia last weekend and ran in those races up there at that track because the purses were three times as big as they were at Churchill Downs or at Keeneland.'"

In an interview taped last week with TVO, Steve Beshear, the Governor of Kentucky discussed his meeting last week with Premier Kathleen Wynne. Beshear told TVO's Steve Paikin that the two heads of state and province discussed horse racing in their meeting.

"She thinks through issues and obviously she's got the best interests of Ontario at heart. We talked a little bit about horse racing. She indicated that she was trying to find that balance of looking at the whole gaming industry and racing as a whole, and trying to find the right balance that keeps a viable industry going because it is a wonderful industry to have and at the same time, have some revenue to invest in things like education and all of the things she has to do also.

"I think she's going through a process right now and I'm sure she will - with the parliament - try to figure all of that out."

Beshear is facing similar issues in the Bluegrass State, with one of Kentucky's "signature" industries feeling the pinch from neighbouring states with expanded gaming - the likes of which Ontario boasted up until 2012 when the slots-at-racetracks partnership was cancelled.

"I've been trying to get expanded gaming in our state for two reasons. One, I would love to have three-to-five hundred million dollars that casino gaming could bring to Kentucky and invest in our education system and healthcare system and all those things our people need," said Beshear. "Secondly, our racing industry -- in particular -- and breeding industry is competing with other states that are trying to do that same thing and every one of those other states right now subsidize their breeders fund, their purses at the tracks and all that with expanded gaming revenue. I just want us to have a level playing field because I want to continue to be the horse capital of the world."

Governor Beshear stated that the majority of Kentuckians support expanded gaming - to the tune of 80 percent. Last year, similar numbers of Ontarians polled were also in favour of maintaining the slots-at-racetracks program but those same Ontarians were not as keen on casino expansion.

"About 80 per cent of the people in Kentucky say that they want to vote on it, put it on the ballot and the polls show that it will pass. But as a lot of people know, it's one thing for the people to want something...it's another thing for the Legislature to agree to vote for it, because a few minority loud voices get people's attention on any issue."

While Gov. Beshear did state more than once that the horse industry in Kentucky is "self-sufficient" it's clear to him through his interview that staying status quo will not produce the desired result. The state is trying to improve its standardbred Sire Stakes program by opening up the restrictions on mare and sire residency.

"Our problem in Kentucky is that now we're facing that competition from other states that supplement the industry in their states with gaming revenues. So we're trying to figure out ways to make sure that we stay competitive," said Beshear. "I have trainers and owners say to me all the time, 'Governor, I'm sorry but I'm pulled my horses up to West Virginia last weekend and ran in those races up there at that track because the purses were three times as big as they were at Churchill Downs or at Keeneland.'

"It's starting to affect us and I just want to make sure that we maintain this very viable industry. We've got 100,000 people that are dependant on that industry here. We want it as a signature industry and I'm going to make sure it stays that way."