Founder, president and CEO of West Point Thoroughbreds Terry Finley joined the TDN Writers' Room presented by Keeneland Wednesday to discuss an array of industry issues and potential solutions. Calling in via Zoom as the Green Group Guest of the Week, Finley provided his insights on how the game can better attract new customers, whether or not racing's drug problem is finally going to be cleaned up, the evolution of the owner partnership and much more.
Asked about how his friends who are casual observers of racing view the sport, Finley said he thinks the perception is improving thanks to the industry's belated but united response to its equine safety and drug crises.
“The people we want to influence and impact are, by and large, reasonable, and all they want is for us to take these things that we're not proud of as an industry seriously,” he said. “And I think we've shown over the last two years that we get it. We got our heads picked up. So I think they appreciate that. People come into the business and give us all a chance to show that we're doing everything we can to give them a fair shot. I think we're really starting to catch their attention in a sensible way and I'd like to think that we're on the way to continuing to grow. I'm optimistic that we're on the right track. I appreciate that a number of people and organizations have come to the table and compromised. When we've done that in the past, good things have happened, and I really think good things are on the way for us if we stay at the table and don't get mad at each other. We all get frustrated at the pace of change in our business, but it's all about an evolution.”
The discussion then turned to March's FBI indictments and how Finley thinks the alleged cheating scandals have affected participation in the sport.
“I really hope that there are some trainers and vets and other people in our industry who haven't slept in the last eight months because they're waiting for that phone call,” he said. “We've got to take our medicine as an industry, because we let it happen. I think we got beat in seven graded stakes races by those two turkeys, where we finished second or third behind Jason Servis or Jorge Navarro. So when I've talked to people in the last eight months about the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, I've said, 'Listen, they've taken money out of my pocket and my partners' pockets.' We've lost partners in the last eight months because they said the industry has had a long time to clean this up. Now we finally did it and I was very proud of the job that The Jockey Club did. We're going to keep after this. That's the only thing I can see that's going to be effective long term, is to just stay vigilant and try to identify the guys who are taking an edge and cheating.”
Elsewhere on the show, the writers talked about the latest coronavirus-related interruptions to the racing calendar, previewed a big holiday weekend of graded stakes, and in the spirit of Thanksgiving, revealed what they're thankful for in racing. Click here to watch the podcast, click here for the audio-only version.