Open Letter to the Industry: Robb Levinsky

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Robb Levinsky

Dear Friends & Fellow Horsemen

Our industry stands at a crossroads; 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 rac- 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 and 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!

For Inquiries–Info. please contact;

Robb Levinsky

[email protected]

732-775-1930

Permission from each of the names below on file and available upon request:

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, Ricehorse 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, TOBA & 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, owners.

 

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