It’s never easy to tell a loved one that they need help, that they need to change, and that it’s time for an intervention, but it must be said if you truly have their best interests at heart. It gives me no pleasure to say that I’ve been screaming about the situation racing now finds itself in for a couple years now. I begged, pleaded and called for action. I gave suggestions. I wrote to leaders. What was the most common response to me?
“You have great ideas but it’s not easy to implement change like that to the industry.”
“A racing czar? Why do we need that? Nothing is wrong, it just needs better marketing.”
“Of course you libtards want the government to run horse racing.”
So, do we feel more optimistic about the direction our industry is heading to now? Is anyone as confident in their words to publicly state which of these above three statements they have said to me?
The racing industry’s bad habit of turning a cheek to hit pieces, and ramblings from extremist groups has finally caught up to us. An uneducated public -who has only ever heard one side of the story- now assumes there is only one side. So what, that we’re doing things differently. Everything we say now will be taken as reactionary panic. I warned against being a reactive industry, I warned about the consequences of not being proactive.
It certainly doesn’t help things that Frank Stronach alleges his daughter wanted to sell the racetracks owned by her father’s group. In this article posted on the Blood-Horse, the picture painted is not a pretty one given the corporation owns Gulfstream Park, Santa Anita, Golden Gate Field, Laurel Park, Pimlico (on the verge of closing), Portland Meadows (closing), and Rosecroft (harness racing track in Maryland). They also majorly control the Maryland Jockey Club Association. What could possibly go wrong with this family dispute?
But here we are, on the tipping point, the one from which there is no return if we go in the wrong direction, and the industry is busy tearing each other apart over what is and isn’t a good method of fixing the sport. Here’s an idea: stop arguing about them and start trying them. At worst, we have to be flexible for a few years. Given that every state has its own rules and nothing is uniform, flexibility should be this industry’s crowning achievement. Enough “Oh that won’t work, why should we try?”, enough complaining about having to pay more in one place so that the horses or jockeys or backstretch workers have somewhere safe to land when they really need it.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, this is what fractured leadership has brought us. Congress is a picture of this literally every year, Rome was an example, and California is about to become another if The Stronach Group situation doesn’t get resolved and soon. We cannot afford to maintain status quo anymore. We’re officially out of time.
So, I suggest you start taking back your industry.
Stop being lazy keyboard warriors and nothing else. Call, demand change, send the same email every other day until they respond to you. Call your lawmakers whenever an issue comes up and make sure they know it’s in their best interest to be interested in a healthy industry. Educate when you see misinformation being spread and don’t just brush it off as “can’t fix stupid”. That mentality has gotten us to where we are and fake news is easier to spread now more than ever. We can’t wait for the industry “leaders” to change their views or (as some of you morbidly put it) to finally die so a replacement can be selected.
Take back your industry if you love it, because it will not save itself. It is a damsel in distress and the white knights are at home arguing about how best to slay a dragon than actually going out and trying something.
Don’t wait on them. No one ever said the townspeople can’t be the heroes in their own story.