Friday, March 25, 2011


Since arriving in Dubai, I have encountered a lot of people who want to chat with me, or learn more about the reaction in America to the New York Times story last Friday about horse retirement. Over the course of the past 10 years, I have thought a lot about, and given a lot of time to this issue, specifically to raise money for the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, the charity that was called into question in the article. I have given my time because I think their work is necessary. I think that their prison programs have been an incredibly compelling story, and have been very good news for the racing industry. Not only has it created good feelings about thoroughbred racing, but it has been a model of what good racing can do, particularly when the sport is under attack. I have always felt that these programs separated them from the pack of other rescue organizations--all of which do good and important work. Additionally, my publishing partner, Sue Finley, served on the board for 12 years, and I knew it was important to her and I wanted to support her.

TRF Retiree The Optimist, (c)
Over the past week, the issue has gone from something that it was nice to participate in as individuals, to something we need to do something about as a sport.

If we don't, I believe our entire industry is in jeopardy. I don't think we can trust that the positive attributes of Thoroughbred racing (whatever that means to each of us as individuals) will always be able to overcome the question that will be posed to our most prominent participants as they head for the Derby, run in the Breeders' Cup or maybe accept an Emmy. That question is: "Hey, you love Thoroughbred racing. Why does the industry allow its participants to be killed?"

In today's world of instant communication, I don't think we have the ability of controlling the message without solving the problem.

It has now become a mandatory thing if we want to stay in business.

--Barry Weisbord


The_Knight_Sky said...

I concur. What do you think of the NYTHA wanting to raise the takeout rates .1% on New York races to help the cause?

This is a state that is now blessed with racino revenues. FYI.

Have a safe trip in Dubai.

Anonymous said...

We should not raise the price to customers to pay for sport. Takeout is to high as it is.

--Barry Weisbord

Antigone said...

Although many in our industry recognize the need to care for retired racehorses, that need must be coupled with common sense. One of the horses mentioned in the New York Times article was a 24-year-old with no teeth. No wonder he was in poor condition. This horse should have been humanely euthanized and the TRF resources used to maintain younger, more viable animals.

The_Knight_Sky said...

Antigone - We are in a new era for New York racing. For decades various costs was passed on to the customers. Slots revenues now offer an alternative solution to problems such as these.

Horse racing cannot correct its decline if it continues to pile on levies on the remaining people who still support the racing by wagering.

It looks like NYTHA president Rick Violette did business "the old fashioned way" instead of exploring new solutions with the NYRA. When horsemen's group starts to dicate the pricing instead of the racetrack owners - everyone loses.

orange and yellow said...

There is no question in my mind that if you want to register a horse with the Jockey Club to race you must take responsibility from a financial standpoint for their well being in retirement. A mandatory fee of $1500 for every foal registered must accompany your application. I would go a step further and do the same if there is a transfer of ownership at a public auction. This would create a substantial pool of money for our horses who must be cared for after their racing/breeding days. If you don't want be responsible for you horse, stay out of the game.