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A Cut in Pay? Quite the Brouhahaha

One trial balloon floated out at the meeting of racing secretaries recently was that drivers should take less than the 5% fee for each drive. People seem to be quite perplexed this could even be floated.

On a number of fronts this does make sense, and has for some time, in my opinion. It's hardly a cash grab or power play.

A few thoughts that I have read over the years (this is not a new idea since slots money has perverted the economics of the sport). These are thoughts that are rarely published much - the media and others can be very sycophantic when it comes to this topic - so they aren't front and center in the trades. But they are spoken. If you disagree, by the way, don't shoot the messenger; go yell on twitter or something :)

"It's a trainers game" - We know this to be true. Put Yannick Gingras on five obscure trainers who race 40-1 longshots every night and he probably won't make a car payment. Put Aaron Merriman on the Burke stock at Chester and the Meadowlands and he is likely leading driver in both places. I remember hearing a story about one of the top trainers (now long gone for infractions) saying "I can make anyone a leading driver anywhere". He did, a few meets. Let him pay 3% if he wants to - the line will be a hundred miles long with drivers wanting the account.

"It's not Cuba" - Capitalism is here to stay. There are drivers willing to break in the business who are very capable who will work for less. Let trainers pay them less.We hear it often: The top ten (or twelve or 15, or whatever) are "interchangeable". That's probably true. Wayne Gretzky is not interchangeable with Dave Semenko and they arent paid the same rate. A 15% guy with good stock can be replaced with another guy and he'll be 15% with the same stock too.

"Slots Have Made Catch Drivers Rich" - Has there been another group that so benefitted from slot machines? Seriously, the leading driver in 1993 at Greenwood and Mohawk would bring home $60k. In 2011 or 2012, a journeyman could bring home double that, while driving at B Tracks like Flamboro and Georgian Downs. The CPI is only up 1.6 during this time, too. Trainers have had vet bills gone through the roof (paid for by owners). Horse prices have gone up over the years as purses rose. The cost of doing business as a horse owner in slotsville is well above any CPI number.  In 2013? Boots is going to pull down $1M in revenue, or double the salary of a vascular surgeon. That might make sense if the sport was popular and brought in huge revenue, but it isn't - it runs on slots and government help. As the kids say "that's cray cray".

There's the scoop on some old time, long time arguments on this matter. Nothing usually comes of this when its mentioned, and I doubt it will this time either.

Have a great Tuesday everyone.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Been preaching for years: The horsemen group's strategies with slot monies have only made jockeys* and vets rich.

* it's really jockeys/drivers but jockeys and vets has a better ring to it.