Maybe Greg Avioli, who is new to this train wreck called California horse racing, needs a lesson in how the industry here is faring these days.
The former president and CEO of the Breeders’ Cup, who is now president/CEO of the Stronach Racing Group, appeared at this week’s California Horse Racing Board meeting at Hollywood Park and said something very interesting.
What Avioli said has a lot of merit, but were any of the powers that be — i.e. CHRB and Thoroughbred Owners of California — listening?
I doubt it.
“We want to work with everyone,” Avioli told the CHRB. “When times get hard, it’s time to put aside your differences.”
Truer words were never spoken, yet trying to get the TOC to give an inch is like trying to pry that chew toy away from your dog.
Ain’t gonna happen, folks.
So while the TOC continues to stand its ground and argue in favor of the increase in takeout that took effect this year, the bettors have to suffer with bad decisions by both the CHRB and TOC.
Small fields, despite the fact the TOC told us the increase in takeout would lead to larger fields and, thus, more handle, continue to plague this industry. We had two five-horse fields and two six-horse fields during Hollywood Park’s Thursday program. Who wants to bet on that?
The TOC at first argued against the popular pick five, claiming it would not fly. Santa Anita wanted to institute it, but management was rebuffed. Finally, Hollywood Park was allowed to offer a pick five that carries an attractive 14 percent takeout, and the fans ate it up.
Maybe we should run a few more ideas by TOC officials, have them shoot them down, then adopt them and watch them flourish and help the sport.
Let’s start with rescinding that terrible idea to raise the takeout at a time when fans were staying away from the game to begin with. It just gave them further reason to turn their backs on the sport.
Sort of like a store with a $35 pair of jeans that’s been sitting on the shelf for two years and raising the price to $44.50.
Makes no sense at all.