Wednesday, April 17, 2013

It Takes Time, But in Racing Things Do Change

About ten months ago the NYSRWB instituted a security barn for the Belmont Stakes. At that time the headlines said "Detention Barns Unwise Move" and "Belmont Stakes Trainers Bristle at Extra Security" and "Security Barns Irk Trainers"

Fast forwarding one year, the Derby, the Preakness, and presumably the Belmont again will add security protocols. This, on the heels of the Santa Anita Derby instituting their 72 hour surveillance initiatives. There's nary a peep from the usual suspects, who complain, sometimes only for the sake of complaining. It's likely you'll see more and more of these surveillance barns for years to come.

Change is hard in racing but sooner or later that change happens.

In 2004 or 2005 rebates were being given by offshores, much to (they had a point) racing's dismay. When bettors like me and you said "your customers are telling you your prices are too high - offer your own to compete and get them back", you were told it was "too expensive" and "never gonna happen". Racing hung their hats that shutting them down with things like the UIGEA would get those customers back, but that never happened, because it was the price, not the avenue that was the issue. Fast forwarding six or seven years, rebaters are here, and a couple shops are now owned by companies like Magna and CDI. Other than in backwards California, you can get a rebate if you are a big player, or a small one, virtually anywhere. Handle is probably $2B higher today with them.

The whipping debate in Ontario was tantamount to the hand-wringing of a woman getting married to another woman while drinking a large sugary drink at a gun shop; you'd think the world was ending. Now? The whipping is what was prescribed and those who use them use them within the rules.

Many other changes, like a six month ban for a class I, with horsemen groups fighting like hell to make them less penal, are long gone. Now, get caught with frog juice, you're getting ten years and your horsemen group commiserates with you in comforting silence, not on the front pages of the DRF.

I think this is why so many were upset with the Breeders Cup backing off their lasix initiative. It would've taken time, but some consensus on lasix would've been achieved much quicker if they held firm. The status-quo protectors won that round, but I doubt they'll win the entire fight. Because in racing change takes a long time, but sooner or later it comes.

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