Andrew Cohen, CBS News Legal analyst and horse owner shares his thoughts in this month's Trot about the state of the industry. He says what many will not say; much of it needs to be said. Will this be ignored like most opinion pieces are in racing with each acronym solely concentrated on only protecting their slice?
Cohen on racing's stakeholders:
The gulf between authority and responsibility, manifested in “fragmented and confused” leadership on every level within harness racing, is the biggest structural hurdle in our industry. Greed, self-interest, old rivalries, new ones, cowardice, laziness — all of the natural forces in humankind which serve to thwart lasting solutions — are so prevalent now in the industry that it’s hard to see the way out (and that was true before the nation’s economic climate turned dramatically worse). We all know it. And yet we do next to nothing.
Dope a horse in a pari-mutuel race? Breach the promise you’ve made to your licensing agency and (by extension) to your fellow competitors? Then go away, forever, and ply some other trade. “Get rid of their asses,” leading thoroughbred owner Barry Irwin recently told Blood-Horse Magazine when asked about this issue. “Kick them out.” I cannot count the number of honest drivers and trainers and other horsemen and horsewomen who have talked privately to me about the cheaters among them. So why don’t those whispers turn into roars?
On horseman groups:
And then there are the leaders of the horsemen’s associations. More and more these folks sound and act like baseball’s union leaders — the ones who automatically appeal just about every suspension no matter how egregious the foul. These folks would have you believe that people have a right, instead of a license, to be in the business of harness racing; that ‘due process’ protects accused cheaters in our sport almost as fully as it does alleged murder suspects. Perhaps baseball can afford the luxuries of endless stays after suspensions and hapless testing policies and procedures. Harness racing cannot.
On a commish office with teeth, and funding it:
The Commissioner’s Office must be funded by every stakeholder in the sport. Owners must be willing to take less — say 85 percent instead of 90 percent — in purse money. Breeders must be willing to pay into the fund for each registered yearling. Tracks must transfer a small percentage of their handle — or allocate money into the new organization per race (or per horse). Trainers and drivers must be willing to pay significantly more to get the licenses that give them the privilege to earn their keep. The USTA and SC must do their part and charge significantly more in dues. If men and women in 2009 cannot afford to pay a few hundred dollars per year to be a part of harness racing then perhaps a life in harness racing is not for them.
These are only snippets. Full piece here and everyone in this business should read that about, oh 100 times in my view. Cohen went out on a limb and it deserves to be read and discussed and dare I say, most of it should be implemented before the year is out.