Welcome to the TDN Op Ed page, where a selected stable of writers will, from time to time, offer their opinion and perspective on matters concerning the racing industry. The viewpoints expressed herein are not necessarily those of the management, but promise to represent what we consider to be responsible comment.
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Bill Finley is a New Jersey-based writer who appears frequently in the New York Times sports and New Jersey sections. He writes a weekly column on espn.com, and is the co-host of Down The Stretch, an Eclipse Award-winning weekly radio program on Sirius Satellite Radio. Finley has a degree in Economics from Tufts University and has covered the sport of horse racing for over 25 years. His wife, Sue, is the co-owner and publisher of the Thoroughbred Daily News.
- 3/8/2013 - THE REAL PROBLEM WITH LASIX?
Does Lasix cause horses to race less often?
Forget about racing's image, the weakening of the breed, how Europeans view our sport, should it be part of the Breeders' Cup, even whether or not the drug is effective in treating bleeders. The question that needs to be debated and answered is whether or not the drug has created a horse that cannot race as often as its predecessors from pre-Lasix times. If it has, the economic effects on the sport have been devastating. — (click here to read the entire article)
- 2/6/2013 - CLAIM AFTER THE RACE, NOT BEFORE
When the claiming horse who had been winning for $25,000 is in for $10,000 after a six-month layoff, is the trainer trying to steal a purse or dump damaged goods on another stable? It's like a poker game, only these chips aren't made of plastic. They're horses and it's appalling that the very nature of the claiming game incentivizes trainers to run unsound horses in an attempt to dupe their competitors. — (click here to read the entire article)
- 9/28/2012 - NYRA IS FOR SALE. BUT WHO WOULD WANT IT?
So Andrew Cuomo wants to privatize NYRA, sell it to the highest bidder, which he figures will be any one of a dozen major companies who will be beating down the door of his Albany office with checkbooks in hand. Perhaps there is someone or some company out there who will want to buy NYRA, but that's only because the world is filled with gullible people. — (click here to read the entire article)
- 7/12/2012 - CHRIS CHRISTIE'S BIGGEST MISTAKE
When Chris Christie became the 55th Governor of the State of New Jersey, he was faced with many problems and forced to make immediate decisions that could either help get his state back on track during difficult times or further its trouble. Few situations would test Christie's foresight and his ability to make tough, but correct calls than that of the state's complex and struggling gambling industries, which needed fixing. — (click here to read the entire article)
- 4/25/2012 - WHY SLOTS PLAYERS ARE SMARTER THAN YOU THINK
Horseplayers tend to look down on slots players. We are the smart ones, using our brains to solve the complex puzzle that is a horse race. They, the slots bettors, are too stupid to think, and that's why they while away their hours mindlessly playing a game a trained chimpanzee could master in no time. — (click here to read the entire article)
- 3/26/2012 - SO WHY DID WE DISMISS THE SYNTHETIC SOLUTION?
Now the New York Times is pummeling horse racing. We've seen the first part of a four-part series and the “paper of record” has all but come out and said that racing is a notch below cock fighting. PETA, as vitriolic as ever, has had its say, choosing the HBO series “Luck,” and by extension, the sport, as its punching bag. Even New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has chimed in, telling NYRA that horses better stop dying at Aqueduct, or else. — (click here to read the entire article)
- 2/5/2011 - EXCHANGE WAGERING: QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
At last, exchange wagering, a wildly successful concept in Europe and elsewhere, is on its way to the U.S. Governor Chris Christie signed a bill earlier this week that, among other things, authorized exchange betting in New Jersey. Once exchange wagering begins in the Garden State, which could happen as soon as the beginning of the 2011 meet at Monmouth Park, New Jersey will be the first state in country to have exchange wagering. What is exchange wagering and what might its advent mean to the racing industry? — (click here to read the entire article)
- 1/4/2011 - TAMPA BAY DOWNS: A TRACK THAT GETS IT
When Tampa Bay Downs out-handled Santa Anita one day last week, it seemed that the world of horse racing had officially turned upside down. Some 10 years earlier, Tampa--then a cheap track no one cared about or paid any attention to--doing more business than mighty Santa Anita would have been unthinkable. Now it has happened, and it will likely happen again before both tracks conclude their 2010-2011 winter meets. — (click here to read the entire article)
- 12/22/2010 - FROM THE HARNESS GAME, HOPE
Amid the slumping economy, the empty grandstands and the tumbling bottom line, it's sometimes easy to forget that horse racing can be pretty special, even rather popular. Jeff Gural remembers. He came into the sport of harness racing during its golden era, when the stands were packed at Yonkers and Roosevelt Raceways and a driver, Carmine Abbatiello, had his own beer commercial. Whether it's harness or Thoroughbred racing, Gural isn't convinced that the sport can't climb its way back and do so without a crutch called slot machines. — (click here to read the entire article)
- 7/10/2010 - LESS RACING. LESS GLOOM. LESS DOOM.
It has been another week of gloom (Turfway scraps Kentucky Cup) and doom (wagering off $519 million through first half of 2010) and more gloom (Hollywood cancels another card) and more doom (Mace Siegel throws racing leaders under bus). It gets a little tiresome, especially when the solution should be obvious to anyone who understands the most elementary economics, and yet the industry doesn't do what needs to be done. — (click here to read the entire article)
- 3/10/2010 - IN NEW JERSEY, A BOLD IDEA THAT CAN CHANGE A SPORT
Horse racing's response to its myriad problems has too often been no response at all. There is too much racing, particularly too much bad racing, and not nearly enough betting dollars around to maintain the status quo, yet bold initiatives have been sorely lacking and the industry is led by individuals who have no true power and/or no good ideas. The situation has become so severe and so troubling that it was reasonable to fear that unless something dramatic happened, the very future of the sport was in jeopardy. — (click here to read the entire article)
- 1/26/2010 - STRUGGLING BUSINESS? JUST RAISE YOUR PRICES
I own a restaurant, and business is not good. From what I hear, my food is too expensive and that seems to be my problem. There are 10 other restaurants within a mile of mine and all charge less for food that is every bit as good. My entrees are in the $30 range. The competition sells virtually the same entrees for $25 or less. I have to do something--my revenue goes down every month and I am going broke. — (click here to read the entire article)
- 12/3/2009 - HIALEAH: WORTH ROOTING FOR
There were a lot of big races run around the country last Saturday, but the most important event in Thoroughbred racing occurred when a field of seven Quarter Horses burst out of the gate a few minutes after 1 p.m. on a memorable day at Hialeah Park. Hialeah is not yet back: running Quarter Horse races with small purses in front of crowds sure to dwindle to meager numbers after the initial excitement wears off is just a first step. But it could be a major one toward what could be the most improbable comeback in Thoroughbred history. For that, everyone in Thoroughbred racing should be grateful. This place is worth rooting for. — (click here to read the entire article)
- 11/3/2009 - A BREEDERS' CUP SOLUTION THAT COSTS JUST A DIME
Based on recent trends, it's a pretty safe bet that the pool for this year's Breeders' Cup Pick Six will decline, maybe to as little as $2.5 million, or less than half of what it was 10 years ago. That's an alarming trend, especially when you consider that the Breeders' Cup is constantly looking for ways to grow handle. The Breeders' Cup Pick Six, which should be a wildly popular wager, is broken, but no one seems inclined to fix it, even when the obvious solution is staring them right in the face. — (click here to read the entire article)
- 6/18/2009 - RETHINKING THE CLAIMING GAME
It was a while back that Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella came up with an idea to help protect the horse and reduce the number of catastrophic on-track injuries. Mandella suggested that North American racing should do away with claiming races as we know them and adopt the European system in which some horses are sold or claimed after, and not before, they race. That, he contended, would remove any temptation a trainer might have to run an unsound horse in a claiming race in hopes that someone might be duped into taking them of his or her hands. If the horses are sold after the race, no one is going to buy an unsound or injured horse who may not have made it around the track in one piece. — (click here to read the entire article)
- 1/17/2009 - THE FIRST RACINO TO DROP THE “RAC” & JUST HAVE THE “INO” ?
Fort Erie is like a lot of racetracks. It has slot machines, which make money, and horse racing, which doesn't. It seems that's no longer okay with the track's owner, Nordic Gaming Corporation, which is vying to end live racing at Fort Erie, a lovely little Canadian track that's been around since 1897. The slots, though, may not be going anywhere. — (click here to read the entire article)
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