Saving Thoroughbred Racing, A Roadmap

Industry stakeholders urge fellow horseman to come together for a common goal.

 

Dear Friends & Fellow Horsemen;

Our industry stands at a crossroad; if we continue to accept the status quo, it could very well mean the end of Thoroughbred racing in the U.S. as we know it in the next few years. It’s time for tangible changes to finally put the welfare of our horses and the experience of our owners and racing fans first and foremost. We propose four key areas of reform as detailed below to revitalize our sport. Each of us signing this letter has different perspectives; we may not agree with 100% of every word or every suggestion, but we recognize in the words of Benjamin Franklin, “we must all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately”.

1.    Make Thoroughbred racing a truly national game, with uniform rules, regulations, promotion and marketing—coordinated and administered by a league office. Imagine the NBA or NFL operating with different rules in every state. If a touchdown was worth 5 points in California, 6 points in Florida and 8 points in New York, football would be totally dysfunctional. That’s exactly how thoroughbred racing functions today. Rules of the game must be uniform nationwide; medication, claiming rules, entry times, rider safety protocols, whip rules, etc. can no longer vary from state to state or track to track. The logical solution is what currently exists for other major sports; a national racing office run by a board comprised of industry stakeholders (owners, trainers, riders, veterinarians, racetrack owners, breeders sale companies and the Jockey Club), headed by a commissioner of racing with the ability to promulgate and enforce rules of the game nationwide.
2.    Embrace national medication regulations. The vast majority of stakeholders strongly support the passage of legislation to provide uniform medication rules and prohibit the use of performance-enhancing drugs. A program run by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) can address issues of both legal and illegal drug use and put U.S. racing jurisdictions in step with international standards. Many of us have different opinions about the use of race day medications but it’s time to get past the endless debates over Bute and Lasix. Whatever standards an independent regulatory agency comes up with, be it limited and strictly regulated race day Bute and/or Lasix or nothing at all, is something we must all be willing to live with for the greater good of our sport.
3.    Reform claiming races. All too often, claiming races as presently structured are a method of selling unsound horses. It’s time, both for the welfare of the horses and our public image, to turn claiming into a much-needed marketplace to sell good, sound horses. Here’s one approach utilizing an auction process; After each race is run, bidding on each runner starts at the listed claim price and the horse is sold to the highest bidder (no bids and the horse remains with the current owner). An owner may retain their horse if they don’t like the final bid price by paying the underbidder 20% of the highest bid price.
4.    Make ownership a pleasure instead of a hassle. Owners and racing fans are our most important resource and the backbone of our entire industry. The ownership experience needs to be radically reformed to minimize needless hassle and paperwork and guarantee a world-class experience every time an owner visits any racetrack. We need one national license honored in all states. One national Horseman’s Bookkeeper account that can be used at any-all tracks. Guaranteed perks and benefits for all licensed owners (free parking, admissions and programs, premium seating, dining discounts, etc.); every racing day at every venue. It’s time the Sport of Kings starts treating owners as kings instead of as an inconvenience. A high quality ownership experience at every racetrack can fill empty seats with owners, their families and friends.

We submit these as a template for discussion, realizing fully nothing will ultimately be implemented exactly as proposed here. Our goal is to encourage all industry stakeholders to sit down, reach some level of consensus, and come up with a specific, outlined business proposal for a path forward leading to action in each of these vital areas. Everyone in the game has a responsibility to get this right! We live in a different world now and ‘business as usual’ just won’t get it done. Either we get our collective heads out of the sand, grab the reins and take prompt action to bring the Thoroughbred industry into the 21st century or one by one, states will bow to increasing public pressure and outlaw our sport. When properly monitored and conducted, horse racing provides tens of thousands of jobs without mistreating horses and has been part of our social fabric since the beginning of the nation. The current model simply can no longer sustain itself; it’s time to come together and implement changes to finally put the safety of our horses and the total ownership experience first. Let’s get to work!

Thank you!
Ali Rice
Racehorse Stable

Barbara Luna
War Horses at Rose Bower

Becky Thomas
Sequel Bloodstock

Ben Colebrook
Trainer

Ben Taylor
Taylor Made Sales Agency, Inc.   Taylor Made Stallions, Inc.

Bobby Bulger
Founder – Monmouth Racetrack Memories

Bradley Weisbord
BSW Bloodstock/ELiTE Race Sales

Brandon Rice
Racehorse Stable

Donna Morejon
Owner – Sunrise Tack

Duncan Taylor
Taylor Made Sales Agency, Inc.   Taylor Made Stallions, Inc.

Eddie Kenneally
Trainer

Eddie Woods
Eddie Woods Thoroughbred Training Center

Eric Homme
Party of Five Racing

Frank Taylor
Taylor Made Sales Agency, Inc.   Taylor Made Stallions, Inc.

Gary Stevens
Hall of Fame Jockey

George Adams
Housatonic Bloodstock

George Katzenberger
Kenwood Racing, LLC

H. Robb Levinsky
Kenwood Racing, LLC

Jack Czajkowski
Kenwood Racing, LLC

Joe Lewko
Lewko Family Racing

Jennifer Young
Owner-trainer

John B. Madison, VMD
Ocala Equine Hospital

John Hamilton
Former Executive Director
T.O.B.A. and Bloodstock agent for Three Chimneys Farm

Kenny McPeek
Trainer
Founder – Horse Races Now

Lisa Bulger
Founder – Monmouth Racetrack Memories

Mark Taylor
Taylor Made Sales Agency, Inc.; Taylor Made Stallions, Inc.

Niall Brennan
Niall Brennan Stables

Nick & Jaqui de Meric
DeMeric Thoroughbred Sales

Ralph Pastore
Degaetano & Pastore Inc.
Empire Bloodstock

Pat Payne
Taylor Made Sales Agency, Inc.   Taylor Made Stallions, Inc

Ron Spatz
Trainer

Sol Kumin
Head of Plains Partners, LLC

Steven Denholtz
Denholtz Racing

TK Kuegler
Wasabi Ventures Stables

Tristan de Meric
DeMeric Thoroughbred Sales

Valery Mastromanaco
DeMeric Thoroughbred Sales

Wendy and John Slocombe
Owner

Please follow and like us: