Thursday, March 25, 2010

It Took Awhile, But......

On this blog and many others, like the Horseplayers Association of North America's, there has long been a clarion call for the judges (or stewards) to be more responsive to the betting public. As we all know, when a call is made - with hundreds of thousands of dollars hanging in the balance - the lights go off and the horse's numbers are placed up, with nary an explanation. But that is beginning to change, as the Ontario Racing Commission becomes more proactive in explaining fouls, or non-fouls.

As part of its commitment to excellence in officiating and communication, the Ontario Racing Commission is launching two initiatives designed to communicate in a clear, concise and accessible way.

One is an online feature:

In a weekly feature titled 'From the Stand,' the ORC judges will select calls that have attracted discussion and questions (or the potential to do so) from the judges stand at Woodbine and Flamboro. The intent is to explain the reasons for the call, including reference to the rule and background to the reasons for the ruling.

The second is an on air feature:

[The second] in addition to the announcer relaying the decision, an ORC judge/steward will make an announcement, explaining the nature of the violation, where it happened and who was involved. The WEG TV crew will broadcast the announcement at an appropriate break in the race program. "It's similar to what other sports ruling officials have been doing for a number of years. We want the explanations to be clear and easily understood," said Stone.

In the last several weeks we have seen the following from racing in Ontario:

1. The ORC stepping in and telling feuding racetracks and horsemen groups to get their act together and stop penalizing the customer with their signal fee fights.

2. An initiative whereby the concept of purse pooling replaces the archaic, and completely ineffectual (and sometimes mind-boggling) laissez faire purse system in the province.

3. Judges being responsive to customer concerns.

Are these items a dozen years too late? Perhaps. But moving forward - no matter how slow - should be welcomed.

Now, let's work on the Woodbine takeouts. We might be able to get somewhere.

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