SoCal racing continues to struggle

On a day when Santa Anita had to cancel its morning workouts over the synthetic Pro-Ride surface after it did not drain properly following three inches of rain Saturday (sound familiar?), I received an e-mail from a longtime racing fan. I won’t use his name, but I’d like to publish his thoughts here because I believe they are shared by many other racing fans:

Hi Art,

I am observing the downward spiral of So CA Racing. I looked at today’s program at HOL. The worst ever. Maybe they should just eliminate the Fall HOL meeting. We had 3000 atendance last year now 2000 or less. and very small fields with many hidden entries. I will not bet these fields. Many feel the same way. Now we see $50,000 “stake” races. What nonsense is this?? Allowance race really, non winners in 2009!! Mdn Clm and NW2, 3,4,5,6, year old, Starter races for winners of bad Mdn Clm races are usually non playable. If fans keep losing, they won’t come back. I watch owners come for their race, when it is over , they leave!!! If racing is no fun for them, why should I be there??

Ray Paulick writes this week . Along these lines.

At Santa Anita, many times I can count less than 100 people visible from Mezz. They report 3000.

What we need is real leadership in Horse Racing. Remember Harness Racing demonstrated leadership many years ago.

Not much is written about serious injuries from Jocks falling on synthetic tracks, the horses suddenly fall and jocks hit hard. All that energy in such a short time. On dirt there is lots of sliding.

One key is fans bring someone to races. One track has a special area for special treatment of newcomers.

The e-mailer is right. The fields these days are ridiculously small. Bottom line, there is just too much racing. There has been for years and the problem is only magnified now because of the horse shortage. Someone in this industry needs to step up and show some leadership or the ship is going to keep sinking.

4 thoughts on “SoCal racing continues to struggle

  1. Art, I posted this at the Paulick Report the other day. This is about a failure of leadership in California.

    This is an open letter to anyone that cares about Horseplayers and Horse Racing in California.

    Its obvious that the industry Executives in California dont give a damn. Look for the geniuses in California to raise the take by February. Maybe 1% or 2% on WPS and 2% to 4% on exotics. Horseplayers didnt destroy California racing but as usual they are the ones that are going to be asked to pay for the mistakes of the past. Hows that 40 million for the synthetic surfaces doing? Who has been held accountable for the bad decisions? The answer is not one friggin person. How many other bad decisions did this group of egomaniacal idiots of high social standing that run California Racing make that have led us down this path? These people remind me of a bunch of Al Davis types who were sharp guys 20 or 30 years ago but have degenerated into a group of incompetents.

    When is someone going to ask the question of certain Racing Officials like Dr. Rick Arthur and some Racing Executives maybe from Del Mar? Who if anyone received personal compensation for installing and promoting synthetic surfaces in California? Who has received money for perpetuating the myth that synthetic surfaces would be better for us? Ask the question and get these guys on the record! Is Polytrack the Horse Racings version of a Multi Level Marketing plan? Would it make a difference if the truth were told?

    It is my hope that at least one reporter will ask some tough questions of the distributors and manufacturers. Do they have sales agreements with Polytrack? Were some of these people commissioned sales people or paid advisors?

    I believe as Breeders Cup winning Trainer John Shirreffs does that synthetic surfaces are one of the worst things ever to happen to racing in the United States. There is little doubt that they wear out after two years and all 19 tons of material needs to be replaced. Just Compare Del Mar 2007 to 2009 or Arlington Park 2007 to 2009. Only one of the claims made by the synthetic advocates has proven to be true. They are better in rain. Thats it. By the way, how much rain has Del Mar gotten over the last 30 years during the live meet? Its rained maybe two days in the last 30 years. LOL

    The problem in California in my opinion is that the some of the Track Owners, Racing Executives, Racing Officials, and Politicians beholden to the Indian Casinos have absolutely ruined Horse Racing. You didn’t have to be a prophet to see this coming. The Racing Media has also been absent in most (not all) cases and has contributed to the decline by choosing to ignore the tough stories.

    Some Horseplayers think that the villains in all this are the Trainers who push the envelope, Whales who get to bet (or cancel bets) after the start, and the list goes on. Yes, these are significant problems but the real villains are the some of the Track Owners and Executives who think of Horseplayers as a “necessary evil”. Behind the scenes some of them joke about the degenerates who are their customers. They love it when Horseplayers concentrate their ire on anyone but them. They laugh! Those who think that these people are something special are sadly mistaken in some cases. They are the sleazy and slimy ones who have ruined and are currently ruining racing in my opinion. The buck stops with them and they need to be held accountable!

    Thanks for nothing,


  2. Horseracing only serves the horseowners. The customer/bettors are being screwed.

    Why not let the owners race their horses at their ranches and close down all these race parks. Build parking lots and malls.

    I have more fun at the pig races they have at the LA Fair.


  3. Governor Arnold has promised to help horseracing in California in some way ,before he leaves office.

    The problem starts at the top and can be turned around at the top. Why not call a summit conference of representatives of all segments from the industry(including the customers,like HANA)and seek a new business plan and organization that all can live with?

    We need a central authority,no majority of licensed horse owners on the CHRB Board, lower take out to send home more winners,return to dirt surfaces,Medicine control,work on a plan to deal with the perception of a lack of integrity and show respect for the customers as just a few of the issues to be resolved.

    The public loves horseracing and it can thrive again with the right plan and leadership.

  4. Good job Andy. So Cal racing is dead. They only have the people in charge to blame. Im so glad Tampa Bay is back, look at that card for tomorrow while So Cal sits dark. Great letter, you hit the nail on the head.

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