Even as the Thoroughbred industry appears to be slowly recovering from the global economic downturn of 2008, conflicting regulations and parochial practices inhibit development opportunities that would allow racing and breeding to maximize its potential as a multi-national business.
Three examples help illustrate this predicament. From minor issues such as rules governing the use of whips by jockeys, to the more problematic incompatibility of tote technologies from country to country, to the truly major discrepancy in the broad range of payments to the racing industry from wagering activity – a critically important aspect of international racing – inconsistencies abound.
Thoroughbred Racing Commentary was conceived to promote best practices and stimulate dialogue among industry constituents in an effort to create more consistency worldwide. The site will provide original articles and analysis intended to draw attention to the world’s disparate rules, regulations, and protocols, and will spark conversations that we hope will aid in global harmonization. Racing journalists and industry experts will address topics in eight subject categories (Racing, Racecourses, Breeding, Sales, Regulatory & Wagering, Owners & Trainers, Technology, and Aftercare) for an audience of industry professionals.
Underpinning this entire operation is the philosophy that we need national and international engagement and collaboration to continue to improve this industry.
I have spent the last 15 years in the Thoroughbred racing industry, most recently as president and CEO of The New York Racing Association, Inc., and previously as president and CEO of the Daily Racing Form, Inc. Prior to that, I spent 25 years as a book publishing executive including publisher at Simon & Schuster and president and CEO of Little, Brown and Company, Inc.
During my publishing years, I visited more than 20 different racecourses in the United Kingdom and learned a great deal about the British racing industry. The experience diverged vastly from what I was accustomed to in the U.S., and as I observed differences in everything from betting menus to training practices, the idea for TRC began to take root. Viewing British racing from an American perspective, it became clear to me that there were significant impediments to presenting U.S. racing to a U.K. wagering audience, and vice versa.
The need for clear industry standards came to sharper focus when I began working in American racing. I found situation after situation demonstrating how racing could benefit from increased communication and enhanced business practices. While at the Daily Racing Form, I often traveled to racetracks to build strategic industry partnerships and marveled at the overall lack of collaboration and cooperation - even within the U.S.
During my time at NYRA, we encountered significant impediments to executing joint simulcasting agreements with important racing jurisdictions and tracks around the globe, despite having the strongest year-round racing signal in the U.S.
Later, as the NYRA representative on the Board of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), I met some of the most impressive and powerful individuals in the industry. Despite representation from racing constituencies across the country, the NTRA Board was unable to develop a long-term strategic plan due to divergent interests and points of view.
As frustrating as I found this state of affairs to be, I was encouraged by the work of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities when invited to speak at their annual conference in October 2011 in Paris. The passion displayed by the racing officials attending the meeting and the tone of the discussions at the conference suggested that there was an international desire to share information on complicated racing issues and help reform the industry.
TRC’s mission is to stimulate national and international discussions about, and interest in creating, that reformation of the industry worldwide. Your feedback is vital, and if you have further thoughts or ideas on topics that you would like to see addressed, please let us know. Thank you for joining us, and I hope that you make visiting TRC a regular part of your day.