JC / Railbird

Save Horses! Mug Horseplayers!

Let’s stop this idea in its tracks now:

Violette said there has been discussion about dedicating one-tenth of one percent of New York’s handle to retirement programs, which would need legislative approval. This would generate about $2.2-million per year.

“That way everybody that participates in racing — handicappers, tracks, jockeys, trainers, owners — would be giving something,” he said. “Yes, it means an increase in takeout. But I can’t think of a better reason for a takeout increase than the protection of our race horses.”

Raise takeout? An unfortunate necessity. Mandate that everyone who registers a foal pay $25 toward racehorse retirement? An impossible dream.

I’ve given money to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and other retirement groups in the past; I’ll surely do so in the future, because horses deserve a decent quality of life after the racetrack. But like most horseplayers, I don’t breed horses. I don’t own horses. And until those who do breed and own horses levy a similar burden on themselves to help cover thoroughbred retirement costs through registration, sales, or earnings — all possible sources of funds — then I’m not going to see a takeout increase, for the horses, as anything other than what it is — a politically palatable passing of the buck.

3/25/11 Note: There’s an excellent conversation going on in the comments about takeout and funding racehorse retirement, to which Violette thoughtfully replied this afternoon. “I will go even further; let’s not raise the takeout and take the same .001 from the existing levels,” he writes. “NO INCREASE. A solution must be found, this is for the greater good.”



Notice it’s not “Let’s take a look at where the takeout is going and maybe redirect X% to retirement.” It’s, “Let’s increase takeout.”

Incidentally, New York already has one of the worst takeouts on super exotic wagering in the country.

Posted by EJXD2 on March 24, 2011 @ 9:19 am

How about we put a tax on the fines that trainers receive for *any* violation. I’m going to set the tax rate at 1000%. Here’s the catch – the tax can only be paid by owner of the horse that the trainer has violated the rule with.

So, if someone like Dutrow gets a $100 fine for not having his foal papers in order, the owner of the horse has to pay $1000 toward thoroughbred retirement.

Two birds, one stone.

I’ll even go a step further – if Violette and his cronies implement that exact policy as described above, then let a tax on horseplayers begin only when the needs of horses in retirement are NOT fulfilled by his brethren violating the rules and paying fines.

Posted by o_crunk on March 24, 2011 @ 9:22 am

I know in CA there is a ‘voluntary’ fund of a certain percentage taken right out of purse winnings–but I sure don’t know how many owners do it. I don’t know the actual percentage rate, but if anyone is like me, ‘out of sight out of mind’ and it’s a lot harder to hand over the cash even though you know it’s going for a good cause–if it’s deducted right out of an account you’re not going to miss it, much easier, and surely that’s an opportunity that all tracks should be taking advantage of.

Of course the takeout is the forefront of all arguments these days about what is wrong with the picture, and yet I’m not a gambler so it doesn’t affect ME persay, however, we need horses to have gambling and so it goes. I can’t get behind another raise in takout fees. Not all gamblers are otherwise in the racing industry. But gamblers and racehorses are married to each other so there needs to be another way to fund this effort.

I really like the idea of taking a percentage out of fines, but the thing is the state would have to get that written into legislation and passed etc for that to even happen. And we all know how getting a bill passsed is exruciatingly slow and sometimes impossible–and most states are absolutely broke (I work for a state racing commission, ironically enough)so I doubt that’s going to happen.

For anyone who is employed, makes a living as a trainer, owner, jockey, agents, horse transportation companies, exercise riders, feed suppliers, farriers, veterainarians, everyone who touches a race horse in the course of the day, even at 1/4 or 1/2 a percent would add up considerably. And like a couple bucks on everyone’s phone bill, nobody would even notice!

For those tracks that charge parking and admission (which still blows me away), earmark a small percentage of all those monies towards a rescue fund. The food and beverages are already totally overpriced so that probably can’t help there.

Group sales people at major racetracks should be suggesting people/companies sponsor races where a $500-1000 goes to a chosen rescue fund instead of giving away another horse blanket that nobody really needs. They could probably get at least one group a day, 4 days a week, to help support this effort.

The trouble is that people tend to TALK about how to accomplish a goal for far too long before actually doing something about it. Mr Mellon’s trust poured in several million dollars for years, yet horses starved because there’s somebody dipping into the administration funds and getting paid way too damn much money to ‘manage’ nothing. This isn’t brain surgery. It’s feeding and rescuing horses.

Please excuse my blathering, it’s my first post of the day.

Posted by Lisa J on March 24, 2011 @ 11:39 am

I don’t think we need horses to have gambling. If poker on the internet is legalized they’ll probably need even less horses.

Posted by RG on March 24, 2011 @ 11:57 am

Mr Crunk wrote:
>> So, if someone like Dutrow gets a $100 fine for not having his foal papers in order, the owner of the horse has to pay $1000 toward thoroughbred retirement.

Two birds, one stone.

Mr. Crunk has a powerful slingshot. Where are the fines that are accumulated in New York currently being diverted to ?

Posted by The_Knight_Sky on March 24, 2011 @ 12:19 pm

Ed or Jessica –
Do you or anyone out there have the gross handle figures
for the NYRA tracks in 2010?

Multiply that by .001 please.
It would reveal if this statement holds water:

>> This would generate about $2.2-million per year.

Truth or Dare?

Posted by The_Knight_Sky on March 24, 2011 @ 12:30 pm

Including NYRA, harness, and Finger Lakes, handle on horse racing in New York in 2010 was about $569,000,000, so a .1% increase in takeout would generate $569,100.

I have no issue with using takeout to fund retirement if that’s what regulators want to do. Just don’t INCREASE the total takeout.

The bigger issue here is how racing has used money from expanded gambling (e.g. slots) to help itself. The short answer, of course, is that it hasn’t.

Slots money went to the bottom line of corporations and to purses for bottom-level maiden claimers. None of it went to tote security, marketing the wagering product, or animal welfare.


Posted by EJXD2 on March 24, 2011 @ 12:35 pm

.1% increase in takeout would generate $569,100.

Mr. Violette’s statement falls way off the mark.
If you give them an inch, they’ll take a yard.

I agree with the rest of your post also.
Every racino should NOT be looking to pillage and plunder the horse racing wagering clientele. It’s a sad thing
that horsemens groups still do not get it in 2011.

Posted by The_Knight_Sky on March 24, 2011 @ 1:05 pm

NYRA’s exotic take increase a couple of years ago was to fund the OTB’s. There are no more OTB’s and the legislation was dropped in September 2010, where they could go back to 25% takeout.

So, one would think they could drop rake back to 25.1% and please Rick and horseplayers.

I guess 25.1% is still too high, though.


Posted by PTP on March 24, 2011 @ 4:23 pm

After whining for a decade and naming their horses “We Need VLT’s” and finally get a racino built at Aqueduct, the NYTHA still carrys on with the same “beg from the downtrodden” supporters of NY horse racing.

And for what? 0.1% increase?

As Ed’s numbers show above, Mr. Violette’s goals is not even in the ball park. I’d love to know which economist they consulted in order to try this ridiculous scheme.
Probably the same buffoon the TOC employed out west.
Or perhaps they hired no such clown – and it shows.

The time has come for those involved with racinos to finally set into motion incremental lowering of the takeout rates – not continuing on with the status quo.

Posted by The_Knight_Sky on March 24, 2011 @ 4:34 pm

I don’t have the exact numbers at hand, but racing handle in NY is far, far more than $569 million mentioned above.

A few years ago it was well over $2 billion. NYC OTB alone used to handle nearly $1 billion. Obviously the latter is gone, but some has been picked up by other OTBs and NYRA.

Nevertheless, without taking the time to look up the exact figures, my surmise is handle in 2010 was close to the $2 billion it was formerly.

Make no mistake. I am completely opposed to raising takeout. As Jessica said, let’s see owners and breeders put up their money first. Then horseplayers might be willing to talk.

Posted by Nick Kling on March 24, 2011 @ 5:35 pm

NYC OTB handled $1-billion on a bunch of races not in New York.

But yeah, my figure is for on-track. Good catch.

Posted by EJXD2 on March 24, 2011 @ 5:38 pm

In an uncanny coincidence, a year ago tomorrow I wrote about where New York State fine money goes and how it might be used for donations, as it is in in the NHL, NFL, MLB, and NBA.

Currently, the fine money goes to the New York State General Fund, and there’s not a hope in hell that the State will give up a penny of it.

Posted by Teresa Genaro on March 24, 2011 @ 5:54 pm

>> Currently, the fine money goes to the New York State General Fund …

Thanks Teresa. ;-)

Every takeout increase whether it is 1% or .1% still causes an automatic erosion of bankrolls which ultimately leads to lowered total handle.

The Big A racino has perhaps 5 to 8 years to make the game self-sustaining before gaming saturation sets in the NYC metro area. There will likely be another casino built in the suburbs of NY but more realistically at Meadowlands casino (or racino) down the road. The Big A racino isn’t going to be the same cash cow by 2020.

Why not take advantage of this period of racino revenues to bolster the horse racing handle during the interim? This 0.1% increase is another nail in the coffin for NY horse racing. When multiple nails are driven in this manner, we’ll have a harder time extricating from the mess when the next racing crisis develops.

Posted by The_Knight_Sky on March 24, 2011 @ 7:52 pm

The California retirement program takes 3/10 of 1% of owners purses and the participation rate is supposedly in excess of 80%. It’s great – no question – and did not involve an increase in takeout (well, not at the time it was instituted…). However, it’s about 5%-10% of what would be needed for non profits here to feel able to take in every retiring racehorse (and forget breeding stock that are dumped into the slaughter pipeline) depending on how many racehorses are actually retiring in CA these days. That number – horses retiring from the track alone – was formerly 2000/year, per the TOC.

Posted by Caroline on March 24, 2011 @ 9:34 pm

If tracks really want to help horse’s, pretty easy place to start is set up a few stalls at the racetrack where live racing is being conducted and horses can be given to the track who are too unsound to continue their racing career. The track can then give the horse to established retirement centers in the region. Yes this costs money, all fines from trainers go to this fund. Fundraisers during the meet go towards this, and maybe % of food/alcohol etc.

Posted by Pete M on March 24, 2011 @ 9:40 pm

Raise the takeout! Why yes. In fact look at how good this brilliant idea has done in California? Raise more takeouts here, raise more takeouts there.

You takeout raisers cant dump on me anymore. I’ve already given up trying to beat a 20% takeout. A 20.01% takeout likely is not going to bring me back.

Posted by markinsac on March 25, 2011 @ 12:43 am

I do breed hundreds of horses each year.

Take out increases are fine but wont get the job done. Breeders donations are fine, but wont get the job done.

Simple solution. Government reduction of 10% of W2G withholding. Say you are lucky enough to surpass the 300-1 or $5000 marks. A mandatory 10% off the top as a reduction to liability.

A reduction of the mandatory 25% fed rake to 15% and a 10% charitable tax deductable contribution.

Posted by Me on March 25, 2011 @ 9:10 am

The headline from Paul Post reads:
>>Officials want better way to raise money to fund retired racehorses

Well keep looking.
This is the same Rick Violette who proceeded to get lights installed on the training track at Belmont Park back when the NYRA was floundering financially and the grandstands falling apart. This was a few years back when racino project was held up in Albany.

Well now the NYTHA has it, they do not seem to realize how to help NYRA racing correct the various woes to horse racing brought on by an over-priced product.

I think Mr. Violette is a terrific trainer. But the pricing to attend and participate in horse racing is better left to the New York Racing Association.

horsemen around the country should NOT be running (and ruining) the racetracks. It is a major reason why horse racing has gotten to this point.

Posted by The_Knight_Sky on March 25, 2011 @ 9:50 am

Hi all it’s Rick Violette. It has been very interesting reading all of your comments. There are some good ideas out there, but unfortunately none of them solves the problem. And it is a big problem. First of all the TRF is a separate issue. The 1,200 horses that they are responsible for is only the tip of the iceberg. Thousands of horses are retired every year in most racing states. There are plenty of very responsible owners, trainers and breeders out there that every day find GOOD homes for the horses that are in their care. It is not cheap and it gets harder and harder to find these good homes. We also go back to the same, kind and philanthropic people time and time again for donations for this and many other needy causes. We need to find a solution that takes care of the rest of the iceberg.

I would like to makes sure everyone out there has the facts right first. The total all source handle in NY State is 2.2 BILLION dollars. 00.1 of that number is 2.2 million. We need that kind of base. NY does not distribute any of the uncashed tickets to the racing industry it all goes to the state’s general fund; more than 7.5 million. Of the almost 3 million dollars of breakage about 1.2 million went to the NY Breeders Fund. Half of that amount was produced by the now defunct NYCOTB. In many other states this money; both the breakage and the uncashed tickets, go back into the industry. Either to horsemens groups who then help support retirement entities or some of that revenue goes directly for retirement and other benevolent purposes. Efforts to access some of that money in NY State specifically for horse retirement unfortunately has fallen on deaf ears.

The California .03 solution would only be about 300K. While that is a good start it needs much more than that. FYI right now in the proposed state budget there is a 2.75 levy on purses. At NYRA this would reduce purses another 3 million. That is all on top of the 2 million per month that we have lost with the demise of NYCOTB. And it is not including the 12 million that the state owes the purse account via the NYCOTB’s pre-bankruptcy position.

Purses at NYRA are at their lowest level since the early 90’s. We do not have the vlt revenue yet and spending money that you don’t already have is the simplest path to being broke. Just ask NY State. Reducing purses further would simply be suicide and is not the answer. A good portion of that vlt revenue will go to just replacing that shortfall. So you look at the biggest pool of money, take as small a percentage as possible and make sure that money is well spent. Adding $2 to “everyone’s phone bill” was on the right track. Only way too expensive. If your phone bill is $100 per month, .001 would add 10 CENTS to it.

Taking retirement funds off of the top of handle is the cleanest way of doing this. All the parties in the industry are included. Before the revenue is distributed to the; state, the tracks, the OTB’s (yes some are still in existence ) the horsemen, the jockeys and yes the horseplayer, that .001 or 10 cents on the hundred would go directly to supporting NY’s retired race horses.

I will go even further; let’s not raise the takeout and take the same .001 from the existing levels. NO INCREASE. A solution must be found, this is for the greater good. And while I am sure that this (no increase ) approach might appease some, I am also sure that while the rest of us are at dinner table dividing up the check; there will also be some that have headed to the restroom to make sure that they are not included. Shame on you. All the best Rick

Posted by Rick Violette on March 25, 2011 @ 1:40 pm