Archive for the ‘Horse Racing’ Category

Racing’s Demise

Thursday, October 17th, 2019

Racing’s Demise

After seeing a picture of a deceased Mountaineer race horse in a local landfill I can no longer withhold my concerns.  This photograph conveys the condition of those responsible for management and oversight of the racing industry in West Virginia.

There is no accountability or interest in assuring a quality product for the fans, horse owners, trainers or others involved in the sport.  This includes the Racing Commission, Governor, Legislature, state government bureaucracy and racetrack management.

Based on personal experience, after being appointed to the Racing Commission, I observed a general lack of interest and commitment.  Meetings were not held on a regular basis, often attendance was by telephone, meeting agendas were mostly “housekeeping” matters and there was a rush to adjourn.  It seemed enforcement of rules and regulations was not “top of mind.”  Serious issues were avoided.

The Executive Director was pre-occupied and not held accountable. Technology was outdated and held hostage by it’s manager who was the only person in the organization who knew how to operate the system.  Licensing records and issues were either months behind or not coordinated with the Association of Racing Commissioners International.  More importantly there was no interest in professional training for the staff.  In fact, just after I arrived I recall a horse was “apparently killed” at Mountaineer and it took several days before anyone visited the track to start an investigation.

Bringing about change was next to impossible when there were only three Commissioners…as the old saying goes “it takes two to tango.”  In fairness my fellow Commissioners joined me in asking to have our tracks accredited by the Safety & Integrity Alliance of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.  A team of experts conducted an audit.  My appointment to the Commission was rescinded.  The report was never publicity released nor to my knowledge implemented.  An excellent example of lack of interest and accountability.

Let’s pray this unfortunate horse laid to rest in a garage dump will serve as a wake up call for the West Virginia Racing Commission.

Why Not?

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

“Racing is in need of open-heart Surgery” Dean Crutchfield, senior vice president of Sterling Brands said in The Guardian story entitled “American horse racing isn’t dead – but it’s getting awfully close”.

Hall of Fame Jockey Gary Stevens says “we need to come together as a nation of horsemen with a commissioner.”

Bill Oppenheim in a Bloodhorse opinion piece wrote “the organizations with initials need to undertake a real effort to create an effective national office.”

The “Horse Racing Integrity Act” has been languishing in Congress since 2015. The idea here is to have a private, independent horse racing anti-doping authority manage a national medication program.

Respected horse trainer Graham Motion pointed out in a letter published by Thoroughbred Daily News “we constantly hurt ourselves not being represented by “a governing body who can guide us….and bring some kind of national stability to our industry.”

There was hope for an answer when three years ago the Association of Racing Commissioners International held “Town Hall” meetings across the country and convened a “leaders meeting” with the top brass from the “initial organizations.” These resulted in frank discussions.

With the issues being raised at Santa Anita and the Kentucky Derby on the horizon the national news services are paying attention. Thus, Governor’s in state capitals (33) will soon have racing issues on their desk.

Maybe what’s needed is for a Governor to step forward and ask their colleagues to send their Chair of the 33 state regulatory commissions to a national meeting. These are the people with the power to unite the industry, agree on regulations that would be the same in each jurisdiction and urge their Governor to issue an executive order putting them in place.

Why Not?