Did you ever play that time capsule game when you were a kid? You'd put a skateboard, Electronic Quarterback and a pair of corduroys in some sort of tube and bury it. Then like 50 years later you'd open it and have a laugh.
If you were awakened from some sort of slumber and saw the headlines today, you'd think similar. It's like the horse racing world has been thrown on its head. And I don't think it's a bad thing.
We saw a trainer leave the game, after being suspended for 10 years. This is a sport where for years people would complain about positive after positive resulting on a slap on the wrist. Only ten years ago a class I in New Mexico or Louisiana would be worth seven months, now the class one (please no more frog jokes) can get you kicked out for a decade.
How about a New York track talking about going to synthetic to try and protect the horses. I thought even a meeting like that would be considered heresy in the Empire State.
Today we saw Ray Paulick write an editorial about exotic bets killing churn and how WPS pools should probably be taxed less to help handles. That's a post you see at Paceadvantage.com or HANA, not at an industry website. Not to be outdone, another California supporter - Jack Liebau - said takeout rates need to be looked at in the state after the drubbing handle has taken there. As most know, California raised takeout by over 9% on exactas, and over 14% on three or more bets in late 2010.
The bacon is sizzling. Jack is talking turkey. It's a smorgasbord and it seems the lone-wolf Thoroughbred Owners of California is the only item on the menu.
What's going on?
I think the industry is maturing. It's gone from a monopoly where you put the races on and people will come, to a realization they're a business, and that business involves more than sires and dams, horse sales and purse levels. It involves people coming to see your horses race, enjoying the sport, and betting on them.
It's taken a long time, but I think this industry is getting there.