Common Sense, Timely Decision Making & A Culture of Excellence

This weekend the NFL playoffs continue. So far a couple of the games were exciting and this weekend the tilts look have more potential for the thrills fans are used to from the NFL.

But there is a controversy.

Apparently for last weekend's game against the Steelers, Coach Fox of the Broncos started three players that were not on the roster. The NFL was not notified, the fans didn't know and Las Vegas didn't know. They just fielded three players that no one knew about, and they won.

......... No, it didn't happen. It could never happen. The NFL would never let it happen.

In racing last month, a horse raced as a first time gelding, and won, paying $56. That's fair enough, these things happen, as gelding a horse can change his attitude and make him race better.

But no one told anyone. The trainer didn't tell the program sellers, the track, the commission, the fans - no one in power to report it properly.

It supposedly has happened 50 some-odd times since 2007. There's been a few meetings now about this in California and it appears to be quite a difficult question to answer.

How hard is this? How could it happen 50 or more times before someone makes a common sense decision that a horse can't run that day? How has this practice gone on for so long?

We have no culture of excellence in racing, because we tend to not care what the end user (the fans) go through. The trainers train, and reporting something like this seems cumbersome, or not needed. The commissions are herding cats, and appear not to think it much of an issue, too.

It's the culture of racing that's the problem, and it always has been.

The NFL has no such issue. They would never allow something similar to happen, and if it did, heads would likely roll. It certainly wouldn't happen more than one time, let alone more than fifty times. It would not take committee's and emails and meetings to figure out a solution either.

The NFL expects and demands excellence from their participants, executives, and Board's of Governors. It's built right into their culture.

Racing's culture needs changing; from one of mediocrity and scraping by, to one of excellence.

Note: A group of horseplayers (while asking other horseplayers what they'd do) sent the following to the CHRB on this issue:

Proposed Rules Change for Failure to Report Horse as Gelded

Our position on how best to handle horses that have been gelded since the most recent start but not reported as gelded by the horse’s human connections on race day is as follows:

The wagering public must be notified of horses that have been gelded since the most recent start. Such notification must take place no later than 30 minutes prior to post time for the first race of the day.

In the event the wagering public cannot be notified by 30 minutes to post time for race one: Horses where failure to report has occurred will be ordered scratched by the stewards.

Mike, we believe the above proposed rules change is preferable from a revenue generating standpoint compared to the alternative of ordering such horses to run for purse money only. Here’s why:

When a horse is ordered scratched by the stewards for failure to report the track loses that horse as a betting interest. The track also loses that horse as a betting interest when ordered to run for purse money only.

There is a key difference between the two alternatives. When a horse runs for purse money only, the horse will likely be unable to race again for several weeks. However, when a horse is ordered scratched for failure to report, it becomes probable that the horse’s human connections will find another race for that horse within a few days. Ordering such horses scratched rather than the alternative of allowing such horses to run for purse money only results in a greater number of betting interests (starters) per meet.

Mike, if the above proposed rules change is adopted we are ok with reducing the fine or doing away with it entirely. (Based on the meeting package from the last CHRB Meeting, the current $1,000.00 fine does not appear to have been effective as a deterrent.) We are not seeking to punish horsemen for failure to report. We understand that mistakes can and do happen.

The rules change we are proposing is designed to: 1. Protect the wagering public from instances of failure to report. 2. Enable the CHRB to demonstrate leadership to the wagering public (on a national level) that it is working to improve the integrity of the game. 3. Stop the current practice of rewarding those who fail to report with purse money. 4. Offer an alternative to running for purse money only that does not punish tracks economically. (Under our proposal, tracks have a chance to get horses ordered scratched due to failure to report back into a race ASAP.)

Thanks in advance for any consideration you might be able to give the above proposed rules change.


Jeff Platt

President, HANA (The Horseplayers Association of North America)


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