OP/ED Authors:

Op/Ed

Op/Ed: A Year Without Derby Makes Most Sense

A few weeks ago, I felt like a lone wolf howling in the wind (not the first time). I was calling for Keeneland to call off its April meet and for Churchill Downs to go ahead and announce the cancellation of the Kentucky Derby. Based on what I knew of the coronavirus spread in other countries and that it had reached our shores, it seemed obvious to me that within days we would begin cancelling events at a rapid pace. The first sports leader to acknowledge such was NBA Commissioner...

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Op/Ed: All of a Sudden, the Only Betting Game in Town

In a way that nobody ever envisioned or wanted, the gambling part of our industry is about to have a massive social experiment imposed upon it: For the near-term future, betting on horse races will be pretty much the only form of sports wagering in America. In an effort to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus, professional basketball and hockey have suspended their schedules. Major league baseball's season opening has been pushed back. The NCAA basketball tournament has been canceled outright. Racing's response to the coronavirus has been different,...

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Op/Ed: Cheating Will Stop With Harsher Penalties

Thirty-six years ago, I was dispatched to cover the annual gathering of the Association of Racing Commissioners (now ARCI). I had been covering Thoroughbred racing and breeding full-time for all of about three months. That night I found myself sitting at dinner with the head of a state testing lab. "I listened to the session on uniform medication," I told him. "Seems logical." "Never happen," he said matter-of-factly. "Every state has its own racing commission. Every state has its own testing procedures. No one wants to let go of that."...

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Op/Ed: Oh the Places We Could Go

Pat Cummings is Executive Director of the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation "Oh, the places you'll go," hoped Dr. Seuss. There are reasons to be optimistic about the future of Thoroughbred racing in North America. Our future could be far brighter than the present, but it is all very conditional. A massive effort to modernize the sport is needed. "Modernization" does not just imply technological or other sorts of novel innovation, but rather, change to long-standing practices that will improve the outcomes of our sport for all stakeholders--horses, owners, bettors, fans, etc....

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Op/Ed: Clenbuterol–It Has To Be Stopped, And Now

Clenbuterol is the most abused drug in our industry. For anyone who does not know what Clenbuterol is, please read this: a synthetic drug used in the treatment of asthma and respiratory diseases and also in veterinary obstetrics. It also promotes the growth of muscle and has been used illegally by athletes to enhance performance. This drug is banned by every major sporting body in the world. The Olympic Committee banned it more than 20 years ago, yet it is alive and well in the Thoroughbred industry. The mind-boggling thing...

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Op/Ed: Time to Double Down

Anne Sabatino Hardy is Executive Director of Visit Horse Country I didn't grow up around horses, but I did grow up with a gambler. My dad liked Craps and Blackjack mostly, and played well. According to family legend, during a high school spring break trip to Las Vegas, one successful late-night Craps game was punctuated by "Annie needs a new prom dress!" I can't verify the story (my parents had standards, after all--I was relegated to the room), but indeed my first prom dress was secured during a visit to...

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Open Letter to the Industry: Data, Wagering and the Future of Racing

Editor's Note: the following is part of the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation's weekly 'Free-Data Friday' series. #FreeDataFriday--VOLUME 17: DATA, WAGERING AND THE FUTURE OF RACING At some point the horse racing industry--owners, racetracks and industry organizations--stopped caring about gambling on live horse racing. If gambling on horse racing was any sort of priority, distributing free data would be one of the first things the industry would do. Get data into the hands of customers. Despite their massive contribution to racing, horse owners are required to relinquish any rights to data, even...

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Op/Ed: We Hired Two Millennials

We hired two millennials and it enriched my perspective. While I may be considered young, I caution that assumption as I am closer to 50 than 20, and hiring two individuals in their 20's has given me great hope for our sport. At this time I will focus on one, the Experience Coordinator, first of its kind in Mill Ridge (or Beaumont Farm) history. Liza van Dissel was hired to run our Horse Country experience at Mill Ridge. This involves giving tours, promoting our experiences in social media channels, and...

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Letter to the Editor: No Better Ambassador than the Horse

Back in November 2015, we were privileged to welcome American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile), "a horse of a lifetime" to our roster of stallions at Ashford Stud. With his arrival came many inquiries and phone calls from the public and fans looking to visit Ashford; we knew we had a responsibility to the industry and we wanted to find a way to allow access. We met with Visit Horse Country and set a schedule to enable fans to come and see their equine heroes. Shortly afterwards they launched sales to...

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TDN Op/Ed: the Black-Type System and Cataloguing Standards are Ripe for Overhaul

The modern black-type system began to take shape in Europe in 1971 when group designators were introduced to differentiate different levels of stakes races. This system was widened to North America/Canada in 1973 and was further refined by the creation of the International Cataloguing Standards Committee in 1981 and the Society of International Thoroughbred Auctioneers in 1983. Barring minor refinements and further geographical expansion, the core system has stayed much the same since. To summarise how it works, the system categorises races around the world into Group/Grade 1s, 2s, 3s...

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Op/Ed: Are Race Horses Being Put in Danger?

Editor's Note: The below editorial originally appeared in the Toronto Star on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 and is being republished here with the author's permission. Does the racing of horses carelessly force them into a danger zone? No. Horses love to run and compete. They do it naturally. From the day they are born thoroughbreds run in fields. When the foals are weaned and grouped, they race each other naturally, to see who is better at what they do best. It is what they love to do. It is what...

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Op/Ed: Never Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste

I imagine if you are reading this, we share something in common--the love of horses and horse racing. Like me, you may even make your living and provide for family by working in this industry. When I get the TDN Alerts at night that another important governing body is calling for an end to racing or to shut down the track, I feel sick to my stomach and can't sleep. And then I get up in the morning and read/listen to the finger pointing and infighting within the industry. The...

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