The Louisiana State Racing Commission (LSRC) affirmed lifetime bans for two sibling jockeys from the Patin family on Tuesday related to the brothers’ criminal convictions for possessing illegal horse-shocking devices in races at Evangeline Downs in 2015.
The hearings concluded in bizarre fashion when Joseph Patin Jr., 58, apparently slipped out of the meeting room without telling anyone after first hearing that his younger brother, Billy Patin, 53, wasn’t going to be allowed to work as an exercise rider despite Billy previously agreeing to a lifetime ban of his license as a jockey.
LSRC commissioner Eddie Delahoussaye, a retired Hall of Fame jockey, addressed Billy Patin directly prior to the vote on his request. But he then launched into an admonition aimed at all jockeys who cheat and harm the reputation of the sport.
HOT SPRINGS, Ark.–Dave Basler sees betting on table tennis in Asia and envisions it being replaced with horse racing in America’s burgeoning sports books.
“We can fill that void a lot of times during the day so that they don’t have to play table tennis from China or cricket from Australia–things that people have no idea about,” Basler, the executive director of the Ohio HBPA, said Thursday during a morning session of the National HBPA Conference at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort. “That’s not just attractive to sports books, that’s attractive to horsemen and racetracks for the opportunity to increase our revenue.”
Eric Hamelback, CEO of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, at the 2018 conference cautioned horsemen that sports wagering was coming and the racing industry needed to be prepared. Shortly thereafter, the U.S. Supreme Court struct down the ban on sports wagering. Thirty states now have passed such legislation, including Arkansas.
A new lighting system at Delta Downs that was only operational for three races on the first night of the season back in October and has been repeatedly tweaked since then might not end up being deemed safe or usable for racing by the time the current Thoroughbred meet ends Mar. 5.
Ironically, after more than three months of debate over alleged shadows and perceived inconsistencies with how the patterns fall on the racing surface, the lighting installer and a consulting firm retained by Delta are now trying to rectify the problem not by increasing candlepower, but by actually turning down the intensity of the lighting from about 90% of full illumination to around 60% on each of the poles around the six-furlong track.
Jason Boulet, the Fair Grounds director of racing, was repeatedly pressed by Louisiana State Racing Commission (LSRC) member Tom Calvert Tuesday about whether or not his track would once again seek a statutory change to reduce its required number of race dates from 80 to 75 when the state legislature convenes its 2022 session Mar. 14.
The exchange did not yield a definitive answer beyond Boulet’s disclosure that the Fair Grounds and its corporate parent, the gaming firm Churchill Downs, Inc. (CDI), would be in favor of participating in discussions among stakeholders that might reduce race dates in Louisiana with the goal of making it easier to fill entries at the state’s four Thoroughbred tracks.
The dates statute wasn’t on the agenda for the Jan. 18 LSRC meeting. But Calvert brought it up after Boulet reported that so far through the November-through-March meet, the number of starters per Fair Grounds race has dipped from 8.3 to 7.6 in a year-over-year comparison, a decrease Boulet termed “alarming.”
According to figures released Wednesday by Equibase, $12,218,407,637 was wagered on horse racing in the U.S. in 2021. The figure marks the first time betting has topped $12 billion since 2009 when $12.315 billion was bet.
“Against an extraordinarily difficult backdrop, the resiliency of Thoroughbred racing was on full display in 2021, as we concluded the year with significant growth in purses and total handle of more than $12 billion, the highest since 2009,” NTRA President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Rooney said in a statement. “We thank our customers for their ongoing support, as their wagering dollars continue to fuel our industry. As we turn the page to 2022, we look forward to the beginning of a new era for U.S. Thoroughbred racing with the launch of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) and an even greater focus on equine safety and welfare and the integrity of America’s oldest sport.”
Wagering peaked in 2003 when $15.18 billion was bet.
Wagering was up 11.86% over 2020, when $10,922,936,290 was bet during a year in which the pandemic kept several tracks closed for parts of the year. A better comparison may be 2019, when $11,033,824,363 was wagered. The 2021-versus-2019 numbers show a 10.74% increase.
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Strenuous safety-related objections from Delta Downs jockeys about the allegedly inconsistent lighting from a new system that has been installed and tweaked over the course of several months kept the Louisiana State Racing Commission (LSRC) from approving a return to night racing when regulators met for an emergency session to address that one item Monday morning.
Mindy Coleman, an attorney representing The Jockeys’ Guild, told commissioners on the Dec. 13 Zoom call that while the Delta-based riders recognize and appreciate the efforts track management has made to try to improve the situation, “there are still some grave concerns” with the recently installed light-emitting diode (LED) system, which was necessitated by the old lights getting wrecked by a hurricane in August 2020.
Jockey Robby Albarado, a winner of more than 5,000 races and the regular rider of Hall of Famer Curlin, has decided to retire. The 48-year-old rider will end his career Saturday at Turfway Park, where he has a mount in the seventh race.
The news of his retirement was first reported by Daily Racing Form’s Marty McGee.
“It’s time,” Albarado told DRF. “I’ve been thinking about this for quite a while now.”
A two-phase fix to the allegedly unsafe new lighting system at Delta Downs is underway that could allow the Louisiana track to switch back from afternoon programs to traditional weekend night cards by Nov. 12.
The recently installed light-emitting diode (LED) system, which was necessitated by the old lights getting wrecked by a hurricane in August 2020, was only operational for three races on the first night program of the season Oct. 15 before a horse fell at the top of the stretch.
Fueled by complaints from some jockeys and trainers that areas on the turns were dangerously dark and shadowy, the remainder of that card and the Oct. 16 program were cancelled. Delta resumed racing during afternoons without lights Oct. 20-23.