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Anthony MacDonald's Blog


The silence is deafening.

Published: September 5, 2013 8:47 am ET

Last Comment: September 13, 2013 6:59 am ET | 68 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Nothing makes you turn your attention to the future like having a child.

When Ava was born, just over two years ago, our future was clear and solid. Best time of my life starting a family with Amy. We had horses to race and I had lots of races ‎to drive in.

‎Now Oliver arrived to a different world. Races are getting to be few and far between and it can be a struggle to make money last between start dates. It's a different world in horse racing and many of us have had to make changes as a result. Myself included.

It is my hope the people of this industry know and understand where I'm coming from. When I make suggestions for the future of our industry, as I see it, it comes from a desire to make improvements and build upon what's within our control.

I have a tremendous respect and appreciation for the people who gave me a chance and put me in a position to raise and support a family. Some of these people are now leaving the sport they love, some even the province and the only country they have ever called home. This is unacceptable. But what could any of us really do??
Bits and pieces of information and an overall lack of confidence about possible funding models are making it difficult to invest in ontario and are forcing some of us to give up and pull up stakes.

I don't disagree with some of the panel's recommendations. Growing a fan base, working with the OLG... It seems plausible to me and the questions that have been asked to date are very fair.

1) The slots revenue drops when live racing is not present that is a fact, so why such a dramatic reduction in dates?

2) This purge over the last year and a half of this industry has taken its toll. The general public knows why there has been a sharp increase at the slaughter houses, why has the panel and ORC escalated date reduction instead of understanding what is happening here and fighting for a more prolonged "right sizing" as the panel and government likes to call it?

3) If the operators left after this "transition" add expanded gaming to their facilities (which in all likelihood they will) will we -- Ontario's horsemen and women -- see increases in revenue streams and, in turn, purses?

4) How do we grow a fan base for our sport to the point it becomes self-sustaining through wagering while slashing race dates? With the 2013 stakes season winding down, how will we grow a fan base in the winter months? When will this transformation take place?

5) What commitments that we won't be totally decimated two years from now if things don't run as fluidly as the panel eludes they will? We are talking about a total metamorphosis of this industry in months. Winter months, at that.

Among many others these are some of the questions I still have.

I've been painting a picture for the future as I see it. Build a responsible model to secure our future and quite frankly the future of the sport everywhere else.

To think this won't happen in one form or another all over North America at some point would be nothing short of naive.

I believe we need a centralized race office so we can once and for all put on the product our dwindling fans base deserves to wager on. This could happen immediately.

We also need to keep the pressure on a government that has owned up to a hit and run but has not made any attempt at restitution other than promises.

This industry can't afford to divide anymore. We're all in this together - we're all on the same side with the same goal.

We want our lives back, at this point the degree of what we will except is quite varied.

I am one person. Not a lawyer, not a doctor, or an accountant. I have been given an opportunity to speak, an opportunity to run for a political party. Hopefully with success will come a chance to speak on behalf of all of us, to people who make decisions that will effect all of us and our families for years to come.

I have, and always will stand behind the people of this industry. We have never been faced with tougher times, but we have to leave the past In the past and push forward.

I would like to embrace some of the changes that have been proposed and see this industry move forward as a whole.

That doesn't mean we lay down and don't fight, but it does mean we have to, and the panel has to, and the ORC has to stop tripping over themselves and dragging their feet and acknowledge that everyday we hesitate is another day someone can't afford their mortgage, or car payment or decides to get out of this industry. How can we possibly grow an industry that can't communicate with one another.

Enough is enough -- the racing and breeding industry in Ontario are severely downsized and teetering on the verge of extinction.

It's time to start turning reports and hypotheticals into reality.

This industry needs to know its future and fate before there is nothing left to save.

Frankly tomorrow is too late.

Anthony MacDonald

The views presented in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Standardbred Canada.

September 13, 2013 - 6:59 amMr.Irving,

John Carter SAID...


Your comment is pretty much bang on. The game needs to market itself to gamblers because at the end of the day horse racing is all about gambling but they can't market themselves to gamblers with there current takeout rates. It is not possible, it would just be a waste of there time and money. Young people know about winning poker players and it doesn't have to be the Phil Ivey's of the world. There is all kinds of winning poker players in pretty much every community. I know plenty of them but try and find a winning horse player, you can't. I am not saying they are not out there but they are next to impossible to find and the reason for that is the track takeout is to high. Stop and think about it, you have to be 20 to 25% better then everyone around you just to break even and to make money you need to be 30 to 40% better then everyone around you. That is a tall task, next to impossible to most. How do you market that to the next generation of gamblers, the answer is real easy, you can't.

September 13, 2013 - 12:18 amHorse racing is all about

Horse racing is all about trying to make MONEY.Gambling.Most people don't go to the track to watch,like they do nhl/mlb/etc.MONEEEEY.

Horse racing will never attract the younger generation for one simple reason!The game lacks a superstar!That's right a SUPERSTAR.Your probably saying "we have lots of them".I am not talking driver/jockey/trainer,i am talking a "handicapping superstar".Someone that inspires others to emulate them.In order for ANY sport to prosper it has to have a superstar.Remember,people don't go to the track to cheer on the horses/drivers like they do hockey/baseball/basketball/etc.They go to the track to bet their hard earned money to make MONEY.

You people are marketing to the wrong people.You don't want the fan,you want the GAMBLER.LOL

September 12, 2013 - 1:15 pmAnthony,

John Carter SAID...


Thank you for responding. You do seem to be one of the few horse people that is not sitting back and saying it is everybody else's problem to fix not mine. You seem to want to play an active role in the discussion and are willing to admit the race game has image problems along with other issues such as takeout. It would be nice to see more horse people speak out and join in on the conversation on both sides of the border. It would also be nice to hear some management teams from various racetracks join in on the conversation and at least say they are listening. That they understand the issue's facing the industry. Jeff Gural spoke out here several years ago on a radio interview with trot canada and he said that race tracks needed to start competing with other forms of gambling by reducing takeout to 10% or less but i have yet to hear another single person from a track management team admit that takeout was an issue. There is nothing i would like better then playing the races once again but i cannot do it until the race game gets there act together. When that happens i will be back the next day and there is many others that feel the same way. The just want a fair game.

September 12, 2013 - 12:15 pmJohn, I have watched this

I have watched this landslide of posts and this is exactly why they were written. I happily thank everyone for responding.
Back to what I was saying,
John you are 100% right.
The gamblers have been neglected.
I was just as complicit and although for a large number of you that may be filed under too little too late, I'm hopeful if this industry changes in such a manner as to address the take out issue.
Address the transparency and accountability problems in the game.
Include gamblers in fans in the moulding of what is to come. Get it right because as John eluded to and what everyone should understand is this will happen everywhere.
It's shocking to hear people say "not in new york". So naive. 70cents of every dollar earned in the us goes to pay off debt. Do you really think anyone is safe anywhere?
We need to do this right or there will be no horse racing.
That's the biggest picture of all.

September 12, 2013 - 11:42 amWill your suggestion totally

Joe Riga SAID...

your suggestion totally contradicts itself. You mention that you want a sustainable plan. Explain to me please how bringing people to the track to watch concerts and engage in contests and get free food while they are getting hosed at the windows is a plan that will keep the gamblers coming back? Your suggestion simply glosses over the real issues. It is like the tracks trying to pull the wool over the head of it's most vital asset, the gambler.
A long time ago the tracks had great attendance and a very good handle. That all changed when the slots came in, proline came in etc etc. The gamblers slowly started to leave. Why do you suppose that happened. Is it because they got better entertainment for money?
At the end of the day tracks need to collect revenue. They can do this in a number of ways but the main way they will need to do this is to attract and retain a strong gambling base.
Gamblers gamble for one reason. To experience the thrill of beating the odds while collecting a handsome return for doing so.
When the opportunity for this presents itself in other ways (ie poker, slots, sports betting) most gamblers will wager on bets where they get the biggest bang for their buck. Currently (and for a variety of reasons) that is not horse racing. You can market something all you want but at the end of the day the number of people at the track does not necessarily correlate to the number of dollars wagered. I know of many corporate sponsored events that take place at the track. For the most part these people enjoy the food and the company but bet very few dollars and also are very unlikely to return on their own.
It takes a special kind of person to be a horse wagering fan. Yes I agree that getting all the exposure possible is helpful in bringing people to the track at least initially. But the true question that needs to be answered is how do you get them to come back and more importantly how do you get them to come back to bet.
You seem dismissive of Mr Carter's argument is supposrted by many long time gamblers myself included.
We are not dismissing your argument by the way. But what we are saying is that while your plan may have some merit andmay help bring people to the track at least initially it does not address the true issue that caused the fan base to dwindle in the first place.
Mr. Carter is absolutley correct when he says the horsepeople nor the tracks did absolutley nothing to keep the fans coming as they were rolling in the slots money. They seemed to take the attitude that it would last forever. I think on thispoint we all agree.I know for myself I have very often said that if the government ever took the slots away from racing the tracks would be broke. It was very easy to predict this because on any given night the grandstands were empty.
I don't claim to have the 100% perfect answer that will restor racing. I don't know that anyone has.We can all only give our opinions on what we percieve to be the problems and offer possible solutions.
I commend you and all the others on here who feel strongly enough about racing to take the time to do research and share their opinions and feedback.
I do beleive in my humble opinion that the solution lies somewhere in a combination of what you suggest which is to market the sport agressively which certainly cannot hurt but in combination with a revised takeout and better racing that will offer much better value to people who are willing to bet then is currently offered.

September 12, 2013 - 11:04 amYou know the shame of it all

John Carter SAID...

You know the shame of it all is, we make not be having this conversation now if the race game and all involved got there act together during the good times, the slot years. With the exception of the racing development and sustainability plan put forth by standardbred canada which no one supported, not the racetracks or horse men and women came forth with a single idea to address the declining attendance or falling handle. They could not see past today, they could not see the forest for the trees. Both parties foolishly thought the slot revenue would last forever and they wanted it all. The hell with everyone else. They never said what happened in quebec could happen to us. They didn't care about fan support or where the gamblers were going, no all they cared about was themselves. They couldn't see the big picture. Not a single one of them cared about the customer/gambler. The expressed no concerns when it come to takeout or anything else that might have mattered to there gambling base.

Now they are in trouble but wait a minute our friends south of the border seem to be sailing along but for how long. They are repeating the same mistakes that the ontario tracks and horse men and women did. The tracks and horse people there want it all to. The hell with the gambling base, we don't need you we have slot revenue. I have not seen a single plan by anyone, not by the tracks, not by the horse people or not even by the USTA. No once again they can't see the forest for the trees. Horse men and women may mistakenly believe that it is not there responsibility but it is your income, it is your future is it not worth speaking up for. It is high time this industry starts to recognize the importance of the customer/gambler, if not now when. Today's gambler demands fair value.

September 11, 2013 - 10:50 pmI was going to write another

Joe Riga SAID...

I was going to write another response to further emphasize my opinion. But Mr. Carter has made the argument so well that I don't know how much more I or anyone else can say. Those of us who have been at this a long time have our ideas of what the issues are. We can all agree to disagree but one this is for sure. The sport has been in a rapid downward spiral and may be on it's last legs.
It is my humble opinion that horse racing unlike many other sports exisits for one and only one reason and that reason is for gambling. If we are going to be honest let's call it what it is. No-oe (or hardly no-one) goes to the races to simply be a spectator, at least not on a regular basis.
Gamblers are the lifeblood of this industry and the industry should do all it can to bring gamblers to the track. I agree with Mr Carter that the tracks need both the big and small bettors and that no gambler who knows he is getting hosed will continually support that. They will simply get up and leave and that is exactly what has happened here.
I, along with Mr. Carter and Mr Robinski and many others I'm sure, have said this continually and I see no reason for us to keep repeating ourselves. By all accounts we are what you would describe as fairly big players and we have had enough. I will end with a line my brother used to say which was that racing has gotten so bad you might as well walk into the track and just hand over the money you have in your wallet and leave. At least you'll save yourself the aggravation of watching lousy racing and consistantly bad payouts. Another thing we used to say was we caught the win 4. I wonder how much we will owe the track.
I think everyone understands what we are saying.

September 11, 2013 - 10:36 pmHttp://

Will Yamakva SAID...


Look. If Santa Anita is suffering.... why are they spending a fortune on the customer area? Because they want fans. That idea was what Del Mar did.... make it happen for the fans.

Del mar is suffering?

Totally wrong. They took a different approach than saratoga
Notice... agressive marketing of del mar and external ways of revenue... concerts. Brought up on track attendance and handle.

Notice no focus on rake or take out?

Jeff gural even got these guys in the game
One of the biggest owners of the runners....

Again.... getting people to the track.

Another article that cites marketing as the key issue for the entire sport

Give the fans a reason to come.

Mr Gural went out and got a casino person, to market his game.

Why was marketing the key for all them, but take out is most important in Ontario

September 11, 2013 - 9:26 pmIt sounds as though you

Will Yamakva SAID...

It sounds as though you gentleman would be okay if these horses raced in front of zero people as long as people around the world wager on the event.

I assure you, that thinking, when you take that to the government will get your slots taken away quicker. They want and need peooke at the track, its betting money on the horses and slots. They want that revenue to increase as well.

Can gentleman please explain how you have factored this in to your plan?

September 11, 2013 - 9:18 pmMr Carter, I have

Will Yamakva SAID...

Mr Carter, I have respectfully asked you to refrain from speaking on my behalf if you are going to incorrectly attribute comments to me.

1) I never said I was a fan of higher takeouts.
2 ) I never disclosed my wagering habits.
3) I never suggested take outs are not an issue.

Again..... how are you going to convince the government lowering the take will put fans in the seats, that gamblers will come back? you see your plan works if you didnt factor in that you have to impress the government people will come to bet. I would agree with you but for that single most important factor.

If you dont show the government you there is a need for horses and slots to be in the same building, say good bye to slot money for good. My idea encompasses a plan to take to them.... and deal with the stuff you guys want... later.

Clearly you ignored what the government has asked. A sustainable plan.

If you make the take out change.... who is gonna hear about it? How us that gonna helo on track attendance which is essential to keeping the machines you need?

September 11, 2013 - 9:07 pmSaratoga's issue... was

Will Yamakva SAID...

Saratoga's issue... was fields suffered because they increased the amount of races. This thinned out fields and had too many 5 1/2 furlong sprints and state bred races. If you had been reading the comments or almost every article, every day, nearly 2/3 of the complaints were the races being thinned out by thinking more races a day was a better thing.

Bet night live was a brave venture that had issues right off the start... 17 weeks a year it goes head to head with Monday night football. It was also on the least watched of the three sportsnet works. It was a good idea, but in a poor spot. It also had horrific ratings. That was the main reason for cancelling. The contests cost you to play. That wasnt smart.

Del mar and santa Anita are having big bettor issues becsuse of the small fields.... on track attendance is not suffering ss much. Small horse population is there problem. Opposite of ontario.

But hey... if you feel Churchill.. Meadowlands, gulfstream... nyra have it wrong.

Good luck.

September 11, 2013 - 8:32 pmI have read and participated

John Carter SAID...

I have read and participated on this forum for a long time now and i have seen posters such as Mr.Robinski, Mr.Riga and Mr.Jones that consistently show me that they understand what high takeout has done to the race game. In other words they get it. If you go back to the 60's,70's and 80's takeout really didn't matter because if you wanted to gamble you more or less had to put up with it but times have changed and for what ever reason Mr.Yamakva cannot accept this. He still thinks the tracks can get away with excessive takeouts but they can't no matter how much he wants to believe it.

I can only assume Mr.Yamakava that you are a relatively small player and there is nothing a matter with that. The game needs both small players and big players, the same as all forms of gambling do. The reason i say you must be a small player is no big player could possibly be in favor of high takeouts the way you are. You suggest over and over again that takeout is not an issue and yes there are some small casual bettors that feel this way but the game needs hard core gamblers to get back on track and they do care. By your line of thinking i would suggest to all race tracks to just simply double your take out rates right across the board. Gamblers are so dumb and uneducated they won't even notice and if they do notice they probably won't care at least according to Mr.Yamakava. Your problems will be solved overnight with all that extra money you will be taking in. If someone complains just have a driver or a trainer sign an autograph for them and that will surely quiet then down.

September 11, 2013 - 5:57 pmMr Riga is again spot on. I

Mr Riga is again spot on. I have 385 employees some of which I treat to Vegas 4 day weekend fun. They want nothing to do with wagering on horses. They know the math!! Why would they wager on something that costs 400 to 1000 percent more when they have multiple other options!!

September 11, 2013 - 5:34 pmYou get's the churn

Kevin Jones SAID...

You get's the churn that will produce higher handles....not high take-outs. 10% of 100k is better than 20% of 40k! There's less "dead" money now in the game & the only ones left playing are the die hards a lot of whom are pretty good cappers. Even with rebates it's very hard to grind out a small profit now even putting the work in of watching tons of races ...keeping notes etc. More info out there for the serious player like replays. We need the lotto or slot type players who like to gamble without thinking too much, but our betting platforms have to change also......different type vs. horse with LOW take outs...odd/even...the V65 & V75 are huge over in Sweden with some large lotto type payoffs that get peoples attention...time to get out of the 80's

September 11, 2013 - 2:27 pmOne important point I would

Will Yamakva SAID...

One important point I would like to make..... tradition, will almost have to go out the window to get new fans.

All major sports had to re-invent themselves which offended purists, but the NBA, NHL, MLB all had to alter DRASTICALLY at some point when all were in the position you guys were in. Every league has suffered. Harness REALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLY needs to think out the box if it wants to compete. Im talking a COMPLETE altering of things. From the presentation, to rules, to marketing, to the entire experience.

Going to see a game in the 80s, isnt the same as now. The arenas are better, the sound is better, the lighting is better, the players are more fan friendlier than ever. Everything needs a BIG change.

September 11, 2013 - 2:23 pmAgain Mr Carter.... you would

Will Yamakva SAID...

Again Mr Carter....

you would not be correct about the slot take outs in Ontario being lower than the horses.

In fact,

this article states that at 85% Return to bettor, that is a 15% take, which is what SOME wagers in harness are. Now, that being the case, the difference is a few points in some cases. Not much. Not really all that big of a difference. So why is slots fair much better than harness racing? This is easy.... its easier, and its promoted better.


Mr Rose, you could not be more wrong. If you are a small bar, and going to play before who ever shows up, you are right, you do not promote, but if the bar does not do it for you, do not expect to make more than your few hundred. If you know guys in bands, someone is spreading word of mouth, someone is putting up posters, someone is talking to who needs to know the band is playing. If you wanna be making the kinda money where you do not need to promote, than you are up playing in arenas, to packed houses. Even then, the Timberlakes, the Celine Dions, The Mumford and sons..... they are advertising themselves, and making us pay for it, with this new "VIP TICKET" concept. To get near these people before or after a show, people are PAYING to do so. Every artist that half makes it, has autograph signings, promotional stops, all the cheesy stuff that goes with being a star, and that comes out of the artist's pocket. They hire and fire these people. (you are the pop star, but you have no one representing you)

Everyone of those guys, started at the bottom, and was out there, promoting themselves. If they weren't, it was THEM that hired management, or a promotions team, not the bar, and not the patrons. What harness needs, is a Donald Fehr, a David Stern, a (you are going to hate this), Gary Bettman.... someone that has no vested financial interest in the game, to market the game. Someone to go and fight for you, while promoting the game.

September 11, 2013 - 2:13 pmMr Carter, if you are going

Will Yamakva SAID...

Mr Carter, if you are going to continue with me, please do not make comments that I suggested a "free hot dog" was the extent of my plan. I have gone into comprehensive detail about MANY things. I never once suggested a free hot dog.

I agree with you, the grandstands are never going to be full again. I agree Meadowlands is once what it was. I agree the sport needs to attract gamblers....

I never once suggested that was not the case.

However, I noticed you completely ignored the stuff I said about lottery, slots and what not and the fact they are many times more popular, and the take, was not the issue.

You can suggest it is a recipe for disaster if you please, but please pay attention to tracks that are currently getting larger than normal crowds on regular nights, by targeting the younger market.

I site this article from 2011. Notice where they went, and notice what still happens today? Night racing exists at Churchill. The handles went up. The rake was not part of the lure.

Like I said, your idea, is not a bad one, it's just nowhere near as important to fixing the game or making the pitch to the government to continue with the slots, as bringing out fans is.

Not even close.

September 11, 2013 - 11:34 amWill once again you are off

Joe Riga SAID...

once again you are off the mark and I am really starting to beleive as Mr Carter points out that you simply don't u nderstand a true gamblers way of thinking.
First off Santa Anita and Del Mar are NOWEHRE NEAR FINE. I would suggest you read a few newspapers regarding those tracks for a totally different perspective then yours. They can barely fill five horse fields most days.
Secondly there is an article by a respected horse racing reporter on ESPN today speaking to the fact that Saratoga's handle and attendance was down again this year. The reason given for the decline is exactly the reason Mr. Carter keeps emphasizing and you keep ignoring, which is that gamblers have caught on to the fact that winning at the track is becoming an elusive proposition. As for your point about the curlers I did not miss your point. Even if a few curlers make a small amount of additional income from ads it is not nearly significant enough to sustain curling or their own livlihoods. Sure maybe a few of the top dirvers or jockeys would be able to make additional income from self promotion. What does that do for the 60000 or so people who make their living from the sport in capacities much less visible or lucrative then the drivers. The irony to your point is that the very people who can make additional income from exposure are most likely the ones who need it the least. I am sure that guys like Jody Jamieson, Randy Waples etc. etc are doing just fine. How is the track blacksmith doing? Also for the record racing has been on TV (on and off) for a very long time. I used to watch all the big stake races on CBC back in the 70's and 80s. Recently we have had BetNight Live and before that other shows. Drivers, trainers, owners, jockeys, were all interviewed.Contests, free betting vouchers among other things were offered. All this exposure did nothing to increase attendance or handle and the show was cancelled. You mentioned that pro line is more popular then horse racing. That may be so but what is the real reason for that. The answer is simple. It's not because it's marketing. Its because people who play proline a) like betting on team sports and this is th eonly way of doing it without having to opne an offshore account and b) because it's very accessble (just walk into any store) and c) because the sport they offer to bet on are very popular, Having said all that why don't you talk to people who wager BIG money on proline and hear what they have to say. They will tell you how proline is such a big sham because it is very tough to make money on proline due to the ridiculous odss the house gives. You need to bet a six team parlay to actually make any money. That alludes directly to Mr. Carters point about take out.
I guarantee you if the province ever allowed single team wagering on sports pro line would go broke.Again I am not saying some of your ideas have no merit. But your ideas do not solve the real issues and reasons why horse racing does not attract fans and it has nothing to do with marketing and everything to do with winning money.

Mr Carter and many many other horseplayers (myself included) have been sounding the warning bell for years.

*Racing has too high a takeout and this needs to change
*The driver and jockey have to stop all the questionable driving and drive every race to win. Just driving to pick up a cheques will not cut it.
* This buddy buddy system (especially in harness racing) has to go.
* Cheaters of any kind need to be eliminated from the game...permanently

These are the main issues racing needs to address if it wants to actually keep it's current fans and hopefully attract new ones.

Exposure alone will not solve the problems.

September 11, 2013 - 10:13 amOne more point, the house

John Carter SAID...

One more point, the house take on slot machines is much less then the house take on a horse race. In vegas the average machine has a house rake of about 5% and there are usually a row of machines in every casino that has a take out of as little as 1 or 2%. The reason the casinos can live with a small house hold on slots is because they know people will sit and play them for hours so eventually they end up with the money. The sheer volume of play allows the casino to win.

The people who play slots are a different breed of gambler, the people who want to think a bit, plays the races, poker, blackjack which has an approx 1 house edge if you play properly or they wager on sports. The race game or poker or sports is not likely to attract slot players but the race game can get back people who left who are now playing poker or betting on sports if they offer fair odds. Even if they don't get them back exclusively they are many people who would for example play both sports and racing or poker and racing. The new generation of gamblers who aren't slot p[layers who want to play a game where they have to think a bit, racing will always be the last option if the race game does not get somewhat competitive with sports and poker. You can fool yourself all you want but house take matters, winning matters, going home with money in your pocket does matter to people. If they keep getting them emptied eventually they quit or find another form of gambling.

September 11, 2013 - 8:27 amWill... We are the

Sheldon Rose SAID...

Will... We are the entertainers in your nightclub. The entertainers don't do the promoting.

September 11, 2013 - 7:14 amMr.Yamakva,

John Carter SAID...


You have plenty of ideas how to get non gamblers there looking for a free hot dog but i have yet to hear a single idea from you that will attract gamblers and retain them. Times have changed and with the exception of special events the grandstands are never going to be full again. Those days are history. The new meadowlands is a fraction of the size of the old building because crowds no longer show up like they did 30 years ago. This industry needs to attract gamblers and retain them wether they go to the track or do it from there living room. I do all my sports betting right from the comfort of my living room. I do not need to fly to new york to watch the yankees play to bet on them nor do i need to go to a racetrack to watch a race or bet on a race if i was playing the races.

I am not sure what to say to you, if you think the race game can attract and retain gamblers with there current takeout rates and other issues then you really have no understanding of the mind set of today's gamblers. What you suggest is a recipe for disaster in my opinion.
Attracting young people to the track assuming you could and turning then into gamblers with the current takeout rates will have an unhappy ending because all that is going to happen is there will be a whole new group of track players that catch on much quicker then our generation did and walk away to fairer forms of gambling. The race game needs to get there house in order and then and only then do a massive marketing campaign to show the game has modernized itself. They have no other chance of attracting gamblers and retaining them without doing this first.

September 11, 2013 - 1:07 amMr Riga, Santa Anita and Del

Will Yamakva SAID...

Mr Riga, Santa Anita and Del Mar are fine. There, horse population is the problem. They still get large crowds and massive handle. Hollywood is closing its doors and thats cause the location means the land is worth more as other things.
Golden Gate, Santa Rosa..... are our Sudbury and Dresden. I really see no point in either other than historic value.

I never suggested nhl or nba or mlb players would be on the same level as jockeys or drivers. In fact you missed my point about curlers too. Whether the have another job or not.... not the point. The income derived from participating in the promotion of the sport, 1) was additional revenue as being in ads or being a known face, is additional income. Why do you think Olympic athletes appear in ads? Its additional income 2) brought bigger gate, which brings bigger prize money 3) changed curling from a sport that paid to be on tsn, to tsn paying curling canada to televise events, which in turns means bigger prize money and exposure to fans and sponsors.

In this case.... 1) harness drivers/trainers/owners do not get sponsorship dollars 2) are nowhere on tv, not a news broadcast, barely a newspaper article. Curling changed that. It made its players relevant. Interest in curling went up. Guys once curling for a total purse of $3000 are curling for $50k.

Poker, curling, the Nhl, all had the tough task of getting new fans. Core fans came and went, but once new fans jumped on.... only a strike caused one to lose fans again.

With fans, they become gamblers, gamblers breeds more gamblers that chase bigger payouts.

Churchhill, Del Mar, Belmont and Meadowlands have aggressively marketed the product, starting with just fridays and night racing aimed at younger crowds. Agree with him all you like, I have examples of the successes I speak of.

Again, the key is looking at other situations and extrapolating the parts that apply to you or you can compare.

Curling,What was the key? It was marketing. The only real rule change they made at the time, was the free guard zone. Only once they had fans did they seriously tinker with rules like a shot clock, time outs, page play offs.

September 11, 2013 - 12:15 amMr Carter, Im well aware of

Will Yamakva SAID...

Mr Carter,

Im well aware of the math.

Again, you bring up poker games. I countered with slots which are more popular than poker. The rake is not announced. I showed you lotto max or 649 which is more popular betting than horse racing. No disclosed rake. I showed you pro line.... again.. as popular if not more so than harness.... again, does not announce rake.

I showed you 3 games..... more popular in Ontario than poker, where the rake is not announced.

While you focus on poker, im going to base my comments on gamblers as a whole. The biggest 3 gambling revenues in Ontario... lottery, proline, slots dwarf poker in terms of popularity. None announce the rake.

Please explain how they can be the three most popular gambling games..... if rake education is that important.

Its not.

If rake was that important, and an area one should focus on, explain why all gambling meccas focus on entertainment, glitz, whistles and bells? Because gambling is not enough. VEGAS learned this lesson early.

Nothing in your list is overly innovate or interesting enough to the new guy.

I do not mean disrespect, im coming from the perspective of someone that has a job similar to this. In my industry I could takea night club, and I can get the best light show, have the best drink prices, make the best dressing rooms, pay the entertainers handsomely, but if I do not gear my marketing to new faces coming in to ensure crowds keep coming, what was the point of the renovations?

September 10, 2013 - 11:59 pmSee... While I agree, those

Will Yamakva SAID...


While I agree, those are needed, only one of those are gonna convince the government fans are gonna return to a partnership of slots to horses.

Mr. Carter, reality is slots are gonna be needed as part of the success and rebuilding of the game. Nothing on the list you gave, shows a third party that holds the cards, that they should play with us. I say third party because party is government is the third party. Horseman being the first, gambler/fan being the second. This means the first two parties need to show the government the idea is worth saving. Only post time means post time is really a first step move.

Presenting the government a plan that includes bringing people to see these changes is paramount.

Most of the stuff suggested is further down the road. Go to the government with that list, and the first question they will ask is, if no one is currently watching, how will people know these changes are made?

I agree with the big tracks to play.... but look at the runners, they only play from April to December, so its not mandatory to play year round. There is no need for as many races that are being run to happen. If supply and demand rules any industry.... there simply is far too little of demand for numerous tracks.

Mr Carter, one pro to closing a few tracks, will be more competitive fields elsewhere as thess horses will have to race elsewhere in the province.

September 10, 2013 - 10:29 pmMr.Yamakva,

John Carter SAID...


You continue to mistakenly believe that house take does not matter to those who play poker or bet on sports and nothing could be further then the truth. You say rake doesn't matter. Single game sports betting has a house hold of 5%. You wager $110. to win $100 but the wager is a 50/50 proposition, so therefore you will win half the time on average so the takeout is 5%. What would happen if sports betting instead of being $110. to win $100. raised the rake to $140. to win $100 which would be a 20% household, which would be more in line with horse racing. I would tell you what would happen, sports betters would quit left, right and center because they would quickly realize the game is completely unfair and they have no shot of beating it.

What would happen if poker rooms increased the rake by 4 or 5 times so it was the same household as race tracks charge. Pretty soon the house would have all the money and the players pockets would be empty. People aren't going to be imitating Phil Ivey because there would be darn few left at the tables. They would either be broke or they would quit because the game would now be seen as unfair. With all due respect you must believe that every one who gambles is totally clueless, people are not nearly as dumb as you obviously believe they are. The reason the race game has lost so many gamblers is because people have caught on that there is better options out there. The race game needs to change this image.

September 10, 2013 - 10:00 pmWill with all due respect I

Joe Riga SAID...

with all due respect I think you are way off the mark if you think exposure is what will fix the problem of getting fanc (actually gamblers) to the track. You mention california. Well California's horse racing is in much worse shape then ours. Santa Anita, Hollywood and Del mark which at one time were all very good tracks can barely fill a card anymore. In fact Del Mar is closing it's doors for good after this year. If you were referring to Golden gate or santa Rosa or Zia Park when you said Claifornia, well you can have those tracks. They are not tracks any serious gambler would wager on.
The Meadowlands while it admittedly did have a great meet even Mr. Gural has conceded that they need to attract much more gamblers or put back slots in order to survive.
Also you are way off if you really believe that harness drivers or jockeys (with all due respect to them) can ever market themselves to the level of being anywhere near as popular as NBA, NFL or MLB players. That will never happen I don't care how much exposure they get. You also cite curling. Wll for the record most curlers have a primary job and do not live off their curling winnings. They wold be destitute if they relied on that and curlers are nowhere near as popular as you may think. Ask the average person if they can name you the top 10 curlers in this country and see if they can.
Mr. Carter has accurately pointed out what is wrong with the industry and I am inclined to agree. Don't get me wrong. I am not saying your ideas have no merit. I am simply saying that until you adress the primary problems with racing any exposure they get will not go anywhere near far enough to get people in the doors.
Yes as a kid I enjoyed meeting Sandy Hawley and Rbin platts and Ron Waples an Doug brown etc etc. But all that was not enough to keep me going. It was the possiblity of winning that kep me going and when racing no longer provided what I consider to be a reasonable shot for my dollars I took my ball and went home so to speak.
Whether anyone likes to admit it or not racing is aboyt gambling. Plaon and simple. And most gamblers I know will gamble on where tehy get the most bang for their buck. Racing lost that a long time ago while they had their blinkers on and is now seeing the results.

September 10, 2013 - 5:28 pmHere is some things that i

John Carter SAID...

Here is some things that i think needs to happen if the race game is going to have any chance of re-building there gambling base.

1. A competitive takeout rate of 10% or less in all pools.

2. Full competitive fields

3. harsher penalties for trainers who use illegal drugs.

4. Fine drivers for not filling holes.

5. re-visit what constitutes a fair start

6. post time means post time

7. The industry needs 2 or 3 big league tracks. Tracks like the big M and weg who have the highest handles should have the best horses but they don't. Having several tracks with high handles plus full competitive fields combined with a fair take out rate is what is needed to help turn this industry around. The whales need a place to play.

September 10, 2013 - 4:36 pmHeres a hypathetical

Heres a hypathetical reinvention of harness racing in Ontario copying the Japan model. The model they use is one that ensures the public that the integrity of racing is at its highest, which in turn maximizes a handle that dwarfs any racing jurisdiction in the world.

Would Ontario ever adopt a program similiar?

Would they agree to have 2 training centers in Ontario governed and run by Ontario Racing, where all participants would have to be housed and race from.

Where all participants must order supplies such as feed, linaments, bedding and supplements from a list provided to them from Ontario Racing.

Would they agree to have only vets licenced and employed by Ontario Racing be able to do work on all the horses and supply records of their work to Ontario Racing, who in turn would publish it, to the betting public.

Would stables be willing to stable at a place with 24 hour security and video that watches all barn activities?

Would Ontario Racing ever adopt a corporate structure similiar to this?

You may sit here and laugh at all of this but the numbers do not lie

September 10, 2013 - 1:42 pmMr Riga... " Most NBA, NFL,

Will Yamakva SAID...

Mr Riga...

" Most NBA, NFL, NHL ,MBL athletes have teams of people working for them who set up and arrange all the details for the athlete to get exposure. The athlete just basically shows up"

They hired people to do that. At one point, it was that. It was the players doing all the talking before player agents and marketing teams came along. If you recall in the 80s, when Wayne Gretzky was in the pinnacle of his career, the players were not making nearly what they do. It was them and Eagleson that fought the Ballards of the world and won. So yes, that conversation DID take place. Things have changed with the current group. They do not rely on the teams to get them the exposure deals. Nike does not approach the Penguins. At one point, it was that way. Once things took off, then the product went after the players. Harness needs the same exposure. Does not have to be sports products. Curlers do not really have a product to market, nor does poker, but you see them folk in ads. The exposure is a must. The connection has to be made, and that is not the track or the government's responsibility.

If you look at what other areas have done, to get people into the track. Meadowlands is flooded with young people that are into it on friday nights. Del Mar, Churchill downs and NYRA have either night racing, or twilight racing, which things were geared to 20 somethings, which in turn massively aided the increase at them tracks. ALL of them tracks have reported a much higher return to the races, not by the whole group, but many parts of any group have returned.

Out of that group...... how many do you think will be regulars or at least semi-regular?

"The only way to attract new blood is for the love of the game to be passed on by the old."

If that was the case, how did NJ, Cali, KY all manage to do so without a "pass it on" approach.

One thing I always suggest, is to look at what works, and take the elements that you need to suit your situation. In this case, it totally works to breed the bettors of tomorrow on your own, simply by making it a cool place to be. This takes 2 parts to work in unison. The track, and the horseman.


Mr Carter.... again, taking a look at "what works". When slots were introduced, was there a huge push to tell the take? No.

When people go to poker tables, do they discuss the rake when they sit? No.

When people go to Bingo or play the biggest risk of them all, lotto max, do they ask the rake? No, they just play the game.

You see, the key to having people make big money, is having pools large enough to warrant that big win. That require both gamblers, and bettors. See, young people at the tracks I mentioned, can dream big. They can win big. The program has been a success because it is a great combination of entertainment and dreams. Kentucky has a BRUTAL take out. In fact, you will find out that the slots, have as bad of a rake as horses do. Just depends on the machines that you are playing. I ask you to find me an article, that tells you what the rakes are on the machines in the slots in your parlors. Good luck.

You asked "why cant they" return? Well, today, society has changed. Horse racing is just not fast paced enough to compete with many other forums of rapid gambling (IE - poker, blackjack, slots), and its hard to get people into just one race (IE a football game or lotto). Like Mr Riga said, its too boring. I believe it was Mr Riga in a past conversation mentioned he can't for the life of him watch an entire card (forgive me to who ever if I am misquoting or not giving you credit). I do not have a rapid fix for this, that would please the horseman, but except for football, no other professional sport averages 4 hours to play. Attention spans are shorter, the need for the quick fix is today's society. Only those that are DEEEEEEEEEEEEEEPLY into the take, are worried about it. Go to any poker room in Canada on a friday night, and you do not see these 20 somethings, worried about rake. They are busy emulating Daniel Negraneau or Phil Ivey.

Woodbine, was the one place, that even though the numbers are way down ontrack, still draws out plenty of 20 somethings. There was guys showing off the little knowledge they had from a previous outing to the dates. There was families with kids running around, and the sentiment was "let's return to the races again" from the kids. This is still the case for the runners, and lesser so for the harness, but still could be seen. This was not the case on my many trips to tracks other than WDB or MOH. That needs to change. Those guys are your future bettors. Those are the guys that if they like what they see, can stick around. They are your bread and butter. That is for longevity.

Worry about all that other stuff.... is steps 2-4. First thing you need, is fans. You need a product that people care about. Ask anyone that has gone a few times if 1)they even know what a take is and if they care about it 2) if they enjoyed the races?

Again, look at what curling and poker.... see what they did. 14 years ago, both were BARELY getting the exposure they are today. Those are marketing strategies that you should look at to build for the future. Like I have said, it is going to be a LONG process, and some people are going to suffer or have to leave the game in the short haul, but in the long haul, it will work out, but the key, is getting new blood into the game. The key to that, is marketing the game better. Take, and racing rules, are all key, but not nearly as important as you might think. The game needs fans to survive. If there is a buzz, you will get the bettors coming back with friends. But the game needs to catch up to other forms of entertainment.

September 10, 2013 - 12:42 pmWill I don 't argue the fact

Joe Riga SAID...


I don 't argue the fact that exposure is vital to the game. However I think it is unfair to compare drivers and jockeys to other athletes. Most NBA, NFL, NHL ,MBL athletes have teams of people working for them who set up and arrange all the details for the athlete to get exposure. The athlete just basically shows up.
You don't believe for a minute that Sidney Crosby calls Alex Ovechkin, who calls Steve Stamkos and together they say hey let's see how we can bring publicity to hockey do you? They have tons of people set these events all up. Horsemen and women don't have this luxury so that is not a fair argument.
I also think you miss one very important detail when you talk about attracting new blood to the game. Most of us understand that the game requires new blood. However if you talk to most of us "oltimers" I would bet you that most of us were introduced to the game by a father, an uncle, a friend etc. who taook us to the track with them every now and again. The more we went the more we liked it until eventually we were old enough to go on our own. However the new generation will not get this because us oldtimers stopped going and we aren't introducing any new blood to the game. Online betting only exasperates this because people now bet from home and nobody goes to the track.
Let me tell you a story. I work for a large investment firm downtown. Ten years ago due to the knowledge people had of my involement with racing I was asked to set up a company night at Woodbine Racetrack. I did that and one night off we went about fifty of us to the races. We had dinner at the buffet, we drank we even had our picture taken with the winning horse. Everyone had a nice time. Now fast forward to last year. We had a meeting to decide on a company event we would like to sponsor. There wre about 40 of us sitting in the boardroom and it came down to two suggestions. Another night at the races or a golf charity game. Guess what the epople chose. Golf. It won in a landslide. I was the only one who voted for the races. When asked what factored in the decision most people said they chose golf because a) they found the races boring (it was harness racing for the record) and b) they didn't want to lose money again.
So there you have it. A group of casual bettors who were totally turned off on racing after one visit. My point it this. The only way to attract new blood is for the love of the game to be passed on by the old. This stopped happening because the earlier generations stopped going for the reasons Imentioned in my earlier post and were seconded by the likes of Mr. Carter, Mr. Robinsky and Mr. Brunet.
Until you fix those issues racing will simply cease to exist.

September 10, 2013 - 12:29 pmMr.Yamakva,

John Carter SAID...


Yes it is possible to get many gamblers back who left but they can't do it with there current broken, outdated business model. The worst thing this industry can do is go all out to attract new gamblers without addressing the serious issue of track takeout first. If you attract new gamblers with the current takeout rates you are only going to end up losing them to other forms of gambling, you will have no chance of retaining them long term.

The industry needs to address a lot of issues especially track takeout and until they do this there is no point in trying to attract new people to the race game because they are sooner or later going to get fed up with things and leave. This is the point you continue to miss, when we were young we had no choices if you wanted to gamble it was either races or bingo. There was no internet, or sports forums to educate people about the effects of takeouts so we didn't know better, we blindly played in to take outs of 15 to 35% The young gamblers of today have choices and they will not put up with it.

I have been on sports forums and most often when the subject of horse racing gets brought up it is made fun of because of the high house rakes. Who do you think reads these boards. For the most part it is young people and they get a very negative view of the race game. The race game needs to change this and the only way to do it is to get more competitive by reducing takeout. You continue to say the race game cannot attract sports betters or poker players. Well why can't they, if they compete for business. Poker and sports were certainly able to take away lots of race players by providing fairer game. This is a competitive world, if you don't compete for business you will not survive. The race game needs to understand this.

September 10, 2013 - 11:17 amOne thing I would like to add

Will Yamakva SAID...

One thing I would like to add with ALL my comments.

I am not saying any of you are wrong. In fact, I agree with much of what you are saying. The reality is, working to get back what you had, is counter productive to an industry that has to restart over again.

Im not suggesting giving hot dogs to bettors. I am not suggesting that drivers go shake the hand of a guy that lost $200.

I am looking out for the future. If you invest all your time and money on getting back what you had, you are going to run into this issue when your aging gamblers move on or pass on. The first plan of an industry, is to lure new customers, if you can't do that, then you will never succeed as all current customer bases move on or die.

Big gamblers, may never comeback, and they are the least likely to return to the track once they find a new vice.

This means a LOT of people are going to suffer. Lots of people will have to get out of the game. That is the cost of having to start over.

September 10, 2013 - 11:11 amMrs Guitard, if these things

Will Yamakva SAID...

Mrs Guitard,

if these things have to be organized, why does the drivers and trainers not do this on their own? They do not need the track to do this.

"do you think these football and golf and basketball players sit around after a game and decide what their next marketing scheme will be"

Yes, they do. They know without the fans buying the gear, and seeing the games, they make nothing. It might not be every night, but the players unions have a HUGE say in the marketing of the members.

"Does the Air Canada centre go to a group and say well what are you guys gonna do to promote your show and just let us know when you need to get into the building to prepare your posters and such"

Yes, when LiveNation has a show there, ACC isnt responsible for the marketing of the show or concert.

I really do understand what it takes to prepare your athletes. Maybe the same amount of practice NHL players do. They do not show up at 6pm for a 7pm game and that is all. They put HOURS of training, HOURS of practicing. Hours of watching game film. But they still find time to market the game.

As I suggested, wear the colors in public.... TO SIGN AUTOGRAPHS.

this should be ideas YOU guys rush to the tracks to get done EVERYDAY. It is YOU guys that are losing, not the tracks.


Mr Riga...

"I am not a casual bettor and I don't believe the casual bettor is what is gong to save this game"

The only way to get big bettors is to start them out as fans. They are going to have to love the game, to bet big on it. You realize you will NEVER lure card players into horses, and you are NEVER going to get big sports bettors to horses, your only bastion, is making bettors of what used to be fans. IE... you, me, Mr. Carter.

Winning back gamblers, isn't helping your future.


Mr Brunet...

again, you are talking as someone that wants to win back what you had, and NOT build on the future.

I am not saying that the racing changes are not important. They are.... but that is like step 3 or 4. See, the biggest thing is the fans coming to the game need to enjoy it. I agree that Woodbine is an atrocious place to watch harness. Like really really bad, but that being said, do you see many 20 somethings there watching the races? No. When the current gamblers pass on, or quit gambling.... then what, you spent your focus worrying about horses getting holes, or a slow quarter. You should have been paying attention to your future.

September 10, 2013 - 10:57 amMr Carter.. when we talk

Will Yamakva SAID...

Mr Carter..

when we talk about these things, let's try not to use ourselves as a gauge. While you might heave left, the majority of horse players, still are out there. The wagering numbers show this. Any major decrease, is due to the age of the people playing and the ability to play.

"The reason to play other low vig games that give you a much better bang for the buck and it has nothing to do with the simplicity of the game"

Not so. Studies show the simplicity has a HUGE factor in choosing a game. "Getting a better bang for your buck", does not always factor in the rake. See, playing poker, you get more hands per hour, than you race. Thus you can increase or decrease your cash flow all that much quicker.

You really should look at what I have been saying, as your comments clearly do not get the gist of what I am going at. I made very few comments about giving the current horseplayers a thing. I made no comments about them getting free hot dogs or programs. I have made all my comments about drawing in NEW blood. Getting younger people into the game.

As for your last paragraph..... curlers, once were nobodies as well. Now, they are rock stars so to speak, and that is because the Curling Association and the curlers realized that the marketing of the sport, had to make the names that participated well known. So do not act like it cant happen. In fact, the same happened with poker. Those were not household names. Only poker fans knew who Phil Helmuth was. It was not until someone jammed poker in our faces on TV, did he become a household name.

You will NEVER attract the hard core gamblers at first. The way to get people into the game to be big bettors, is get them as fans first.

September 9, 2013 - 7:09 pmMr Carter as usual is exactly

Mr Carter as usual is exactly right. I would like to add along with the unconscionably high takeout, the fair(unfair start pole), and drug suspensions have poisoned Harness racing's Well!

September 9, 2013 - 5:07 pmToronto, with a population of

Norm Brunet SAID...

Toronto, with a population of 2.79 million people (5.5 million in the GTA - Greater Toronto Area)is a great breeding ground for new fans. However I don't agree that the product at Woodbine is top shelf or is instrumental in attracting new fans. The product is too far to see and can only be seen on a t.v. and forget about hearing anything. The venue much too large and is difficult to get from one place to another and gives the impression that it is deserted. I think for the good of racing Woodbine should not be hosting harness racing. I think OMAFRA have this right.
In regards to racing at Woodbine or Mohawk they should take a page from Mr. Gural and insist to the judges that drivers will be fined for opening and giving holes to other drivers. The industry does have a problem with perception and giving holes creates a whole lot more. So the buddy-buddy system needs to stop at WEG. These measures will insure that racing will be just as exciting as The Meadowlands.
Harness racing is the only breed that races 12 months a year in Ontario and winter racing is expensive not only for horseman but also for the track owners. The winter months are a good time to cut down to only a few tracks and let the demand get pent up for a change. These are a few changes that will help, but please not Will Yamakva, that they are Changes that are to be done by Weg and the ORC NOT the horseman.

September 9, 2013 - 4:40 pmThe only form of gambling

The only form of gambling allowed in Hong Kong is it's thoroughbred racing and a few lotteries.Thats why it's huge.Only difference is,they evolved the game even without any competition.North American didn't see any reason to evolve game.

It's by invite only to.Can't just ship your horse to Hong Kong.

A jockey was suspended three months for riding with a injured shoulder and not reporting it.

September 9, 2013 - 4:16 pmI said 7 months at Mohawk.I

I said 7 months at Mohawk.I didn't say 7 months of racing at all the other Ontario tracks.You would still have year round racing in Ontario.You just wouldn't have access to the BIG purses after Mohawk shut down for the season.Thats right,the horsemen would have 7 months to compete for the BIG purses at Moh,the rest of the year they can run at the "b" tracks(smaller purses).

Nancy,the product the horsemen are producing now isn't cutting it.The way to improve the product is to light a fire under the horsemen butts.Right now they are "comfortable" running 2nd/3rd "easy" cause they will have a horse for next week.In a 7 month meet at Mohawk,there will always be "next week" but not as many.

Does the NFL market gambling on their product?No.They have a shortened season which produces teams to play at their peak every game.This attracts GAMBLERS.

There is a gambling epidemic happening in North America and the horse racing industry can't seem to attract them!!!

I have said it before i will say it again.One team sports betting is coming to every province/state within a year or two,and if harness racing "hasn't" changed before then,it's OVER.

Marketing isn't going to save harness racing.Only the product will.

September 9, 2013 - 4:10 pmWill While I do agree with

Joe Riga SAID...

While I do agree with some of your comments I totally disagree with your remarks to Mr. Carter. In fact he is bang on with his comments. Like Mr. Carter I have been a part of this game for a very long time as has my brother. We started out as fans, then became owners and now back to gamblers.For the record (and I only say this because it is relevant to my opinion) I am not a casual bettor and I don't believe the casual bettor is what is gong to save this game. Like Mr. Carter I could care a less about getting a free hot dog or coke. I can certainly buy my own thank you very much. Anyone who cannot purchase their own hot dog or coke should not be at a racetrack. Whether we choose to believe it or not horse racing always has and always will be about gambling. And for that matter so is the NFL. Take out all the bookies, remove it from Vegas and the NFL will lose at least half it's audience. If horse racing wants to survivie it needs to win back the gamblers, pure and simple. I stopped gambling on WEG racing for a long time now for the many reasons that are constantly mentioned on this site. The take out is brutal, the driving is inconsistent at best, and let's be hones tthere are some people who are doing some very shady things. I will refer to the recent ruling by the ORC as an example.

Like you Will, I agree that racing at small tracks, from a gamblers perspective is totally useless. I am not a 42 bettor and therefore have zero interest in betting little half miler b tracks where the odds change from 10-1 to 3-5 on a single bet.
As far as harness racing goes I choose to bet only the Meadowlands. The reason is simple. Every race is competitive and the drivers go hard. An ealrier post attributed this to the shortened schedule. That is totally incorrect. I have been betting the Meadowlands for over 10 years for this very reason and they had a much longer schedule until recently.

I don't know that racing will ever be able to survive solely with revenue from the betting handle. The gambling landscape has changed completely and there are far many more options to gamblers today then were available a long time ago.
I don't believe anything the horsemen can do will necessarily change that to make a significant impact. Would it be nice to receive a free hot dog and meet a driver or two. Sure. But that won't be enough to entice people into going.
It may well be that what will be required is a partnership with the government whereby racing can share in some of the revenues from other forms of gaming and this can be tiered to the handle.

I do beleive that any agreement should be structured this way because as a government I would not be invovled in sharing revenues with a sport that really only serves itself and has a dwindling fan base.
The two must be connected somehow.

No matter what, at the end of the day the product is what is going to determine the future of the sport. And quite frankly if racing really wanted to be honest with tself they should realize how many true gamblers don't care anymore because the product is sub standard despite what we are being told.
I have heard so many people say they quit betting on WEG harness racing because of the lack of flow to the racing, the questionable drives,the trainers who cheat etc etc.

I beleive that any solution absolutley MUST address the issues I mentioned above. Not doing so will simply result in the ultimate demise of the game no matter what else is done.

September 9, 2013 - 1:58 pmWill most trainers and


most trainers and drivers would be more than willing to participate in crowd interaction...but they have to be organized ..hence the racetracks departments a prime example of this is Grand River if only other tracks looked at what they do on a weekly basis , but some racetracks think they are above these kind of ideas.
do you think these football and golf and basketball players sit around after a game and decide what their next marketing scheme will be ?
Does the Rogers Centre just sit back and let the athletes make a marketing plan and then implement it right down to who goes on bill boards ?
Does the Air Canada centre go to a group and say well what are you guys gonna do to promote your show and just let us know when you need to get into the building to prepare your posters and such.

I think you really don't understand what it takes to prepare OUR ATHLETES
for competition and keep them fit.
Horsemen would love the public to be able to see what it takes to race one, for years at Greenwood that was the case but from one extreme to another just look at where the woodbine paddock is located ? its not even practical for owners.
As for deflecting blame not at all we have fulfilled our part in the partnership by having horses fit and ready to race.

I put the blame directly on the racetracks many that have just focused on the slots and not the racing . Easy money for them, their paycheques remain the same whether they promote racing or not, and after they have decimated the industry they will move on to other ventures.

and Will fyi....colours are not to be worn in public areas only in special cases...autographs etc.

September 9, 2013 - 1:32 pmMr.Yamakva,

John Carter SAID...


You are dead wrong, you may not be going anywhere but i already have. I walked away from the game of my choice which was races approx 4 years ago. The reason to play other low vig games that give you a much better bang for the buck and it has nothing to do with the simplicity of the game. You might wonder why i am still around a site like this and although i no longer play the game i still enjoy watching young horses race and just keeping up on things and for the record i used to be a very, very, big player. I naively keep hoping the race game will get there act together and address the number one issue that is killing any chance of them re building there gambling base and that is excessive track takeout. If they do that i will be back tomorrow but no amount of free hot dogs or autographs will get me back because it is meaningless to big gamblers.

For you to say this is not the single most important issue facing the industry when it comes to re building the gambling base tells me that you know little or nothing about the mind set of people who pound the money thru the windows. I know all kinds of people playing poker and sports betting that used to be big players at the ponies and i have asked many of them, why sports or poker and not the races and not one of them mention the simplicity of the game but all say they get a much better bang for there buck.

The high takeouts have chased away many horse players especially the big ones, so if the race game cannot get the so call hardened players to accept the take out how are they going to get the young gamblers to accept it. The answer is really easy, they can't and there track record proves it. I have never heard a single person who has walked away from the race game saying the reason they left is because they weren't getting free hot dogs or pop or never met the drivers or trainers. I didn't care about that and the big gamblers, the whales if you will don't care about it either. The game needs to attract hard core gamblers not the casual fan who has 10 bucks in there pocket looking for a free hot dog.

You also keep going on and on about trying to make the drivers and trainers superstars outside of the sport. It is just not going to happen. Even back in the hay day of the sport, the 60's and 70's when the grandstands were full and the sport got all kinds of media attention in the sports pages and so on, they were not known to the main stream public and never will be. People within the industry know who they are and respect there talents but like it or not it ends there.

September 9, 2013 - 1:00 pmWill I don't think we are

Will I don't think we are very different at all. You see problems that can be fixed now to help horse racing and I believe I do also. Your at the north end of the house and I'm at the south end is all.
I think you not only passionate but concise about your recommendations.
I think that there is not just a place for these two sets of ideas but a necessity.
I think Ontario's model if done correctly with be a north American model in years to come.
Getting something "right" of this magnitude isn't something that will be easy. Everyone will not agree and frustration and anger will be present in some instances throughout this whole process.

Thank you. For you continued input, I fully hope and expect it continues.


September 9, 2013 - 11:34 amMs Guitard... How do the

Will Yamakva SAID...

Ms Guitard...

How do the owners in NJ make due with that shortened racing season? How do the owners in Florida make due with that shortened racing season? How do owners of horses that constantly lose make do?

You asked what I expected you to do?

What did the NHL players, the curlers, the professional poker players do that all wanted to make money? They worked with the league and made themselves part of the marketing.

The horseman need guidance, and that is correct, but you need to get your act together as a GROUP for the guidance. NHL, Curlers, Poker Players, Tennis stars, all went as a group to the leagues that run them, and worked with them. Its not up to the track or the government for you to have ONE voice that negotiates with them. Right now, you have a billion.

I have told you what horseman can do for the gamblers, repeatedly.

Here is a list of things that you do not need the track or the government for.

1) Create hype around your horse. I LOVE a few horses right now, not even good ones, but I have to hunt high and low to see them race. Worse, they do not race at the track near me anymore, so I cant keep tabs on them. Could you imagine if your favorite team played 3 home games.... then did not return for months? Facebook pages, and all the likes should be up for your "superstars". There are horses that have made half million this season, and if you asked your neighbor who they are, and they do not know, are they really superstars? THAT IS NOT THE TRACK'S RESPONSIBILITY.

2) Hassle your local media to send a reporter to do stories about these drivers. GO TO THE MEDIA to print articles about these people. Jody Jameson is a good looking guy, why he isn't in articles galore all the time, is why no one outside of the harness world knows or cares about the guy. I bet you if I asked 20 people at a sports bar if they knew who Wayne Middaugh is, I bet you I would have more answers for him than Jody. THAT IS NOT THE TRACKS RESPONSIBILITY.

3) Each winning driver should be handing out goggles, posing for pics, doing a wave, saying something into a mike when they win. They should be making the kids that do attend, feel like champs. THOSE are the bettors and fans of tomorrow. This should be done, without exception.THIS IS NOT THE TRACK'S RESPONSIBILITY

4) Drivers NOT racing, should not be in the barn chilling out, but meeting the people, while in the colors, that bet on them. I bet fans that have been there for weeks, could not identify these people. THIS IS NOT THE TRACK'S RESPONSIBILITY


Take note, on the rail at the runners, are people that examine and look at the jocks, and many times, heckle or cheer on the driver. Harness racing? They fly by at the speed of sound. THIS IS NOT THE TRACK'S RESPONSIBILITY

Like was said earlier, these things will not bring the gamblers to the game.....

thing is, most gamblers, started out as fans. There is no easy fix, and there is nothing that will fix it right away, but if you dont even do the small things that makes fans into gamblers, you might as well take up bingo.

September 9, 2013 - 10:53 am"how do you expect owners to

Will Yamakva SAID...

"how do you expect owners to pay bills with racing only 7 mnths a year ?"

How do the NJ people do it?

September 9, 2013 - 10:44 amRight onNancy great point

Right onNancy great point

September 9, 2013 - 8:12 amMr Carter... you, nor I is

Will Yamakva SAID...

Mr Carter...

you, nor I is going anywhere. Despite the rakes, and take outs, you and I have endured this. You and I know the core horse player, is staying right where he is. You said in your own comment, "back when I was young".... and THAT is the key. The key is to look at when people get into the game. Do you really think that an 18 year old sitting at a poker table in Hull knows what "the rake is" and how the percentages of that affect the pot that he is in? Unlikely. The simplicity of making the bet, playing the cards, taking the cash, is all he cares about. He also isnt going to machine to machine in the slots, and comparing "rakes".

walk into the slots on any race night, ask anyone sitting and playing, "did you know the take of this machine?" I bet the answer is no. If that is the case, why are slot machines more entertaining than horses to many people?

The rake certainly aint it. While it is an important thing, it is not nearly as important as you might think.

September 9, 2013 - 8:06 amMs Guitard.... It keeps being

Will Yamakva SAID...

Ms Guitard....

It keeps being asked, "how do you expect owners to....". If I cant pay my bills at my apartment, I have to move to something I can afford. This affects my landlord, the electric company and a host of others. This means either 1) I must make changes so I can afford to stay in the apartment 2) get a better job 3) pick up extra shifts.... why should it be different for owners?

Ms Guitard, posting of comments is an issue that I think should be addressed. People's comments are the best way that ideas can be shared, but when they are censored or monitored, it is counter productive.

Ms Guitard, you said "the tracks are responsible for everything else, including creating a new fan base that is the partnership between the horsemen and tracks.
the horsemen are willing to do lots of things but they need guidance and there isn't any and I don't mean Anthony .
tracks have the resources the horsemen don't."

This couldn't be further from the truth. I always ask, what does curling, poker, NHL and nascar have in common? They were in a position like you. When the players were not making enough, they went to the people that made the difference, but did it in a union. They went as a collective group, and said, "we want to make more money, and we will help you do it, by marketing us". Have you the horseman done that?


Nancy..... all NHL players, golfers, curlers, pro poker players.... they not only produce the product, they market the hell out of the product. QUIT DEFLECTING BLAME


Mr MacDonald, you are asking pointing out the races that had 11 or 12.... and that was what..... maybe 6 races all summer? Watch tonight's Mohawk card, let's take a look at the 1/2 and keep track of the flow, just to seee how it is.

I also attend a LOT of races, and you brought up Mohawk and what you did there. While that is commendable, those efforts happen about .5% of the time, in a sport where that should be done by every driver, after almost every race. The thing is..... not much needs to be done at WDB or MOH, all the work needs to be done at the Kawarthas, Rideau, Sarnia, Sudbury tracks. You tossing out shirts at Mohawk, isnt making a fan in Sudbury.

You most certainly can compare yourself to Hong Kong Racing. Not in terms of money bet, but marketing strategy. You certainly can look to how they did it. TOTALLY ignore the government part of the equation and look at the differences.

They have a billion times the people, but race FARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR less than you. They have targeted people, 19-25 to come to the track, Ontario has not.

the reason that I am always mentioning the horseman, is because the people suffering the most, are doing the least, however as you can see by the comments, are always deflecting blame at others. Its the government's fault, its the tracks fault. We dont have this, we dont have that.

Nothing I have suggested, really costs anyone much.

As far as the real gamblers, they are really not going anywhere. We can complain about takeout, and this and that, but reality is, we are not going to switch gears. The trick, is to get more people like us. If anything, the big time gamblers, are aging, and that is nothing that you can fix. The trick is injecting new money into the fold, instead of focusing on what you currently have.

September 9, 2013 - 7:48 amWill is exactly right!!!! THE

Will is exactly right!!!!

THE GAME MUST CHANGE. Mr. Macdonald, I've been involve with the Industry for 40 years. When you tell Will that the driver's are involve with the fan shows that you do not understand what the game needs, and now you want to represent the horsemen.... I, as an owner and fan, have been begging the tracks to open their paddock doors to the crowds for years. I still remember old Blue Bonnets used to open their doors and the place was packed!!! The younger crowds would come and enjoy themselves.

Last week I was at Saratoga to go see the runners and the place was packed. The young crowds were brigning their coolers and lunches and the music was made for a beautiful and fun day. In Ontario if you bring a coffee they will ask you to drink it before you get in....WE NEED NEW BLOOD TO RUN THE TRACKS.....not driver's or announcers....we need businessmen!!!! The game needs to evolve.

First: Make it fun for the crowd so we can reduce the average age from and bring the younger crowd. At the same time you will increase the handle. Take example from Saratoga...OK the track will loose a few hot dog sells but who cares. the crowds will triple. Get the people to bring the coolers and lunches and put the music on!!! let the people have fun....Now we have crowds that averages 70 years old. It has to be a pleasant experience for people to come back.

second : Close all tracks but 5.....Flamboro, Grand river, Georgian, Rideau and Mohawk. (Not Woodbine the fans are 5 miles away from the action, might as well watch it on TV). The other tracks needs to close they are bringing all other tracks down with them!!!! Horsemen stop crying about the closures they can't survive...the handle is not there. Would you invest your own money on those tracks....then why should the taxpayers...

Third: Since less tracks, increase purses to a level where the owners will come back to the game. This will also bring back the breeding Industry that is presently dying. I've never seen a business that does not think about the fan and the the investors. The drivers/trainers took the game over and they think about themselves ONLY!!!! One of the biggest reason the game is dying.

Fourth: Make the same rules and purses for all B tracks. people that cheats and get caught....They are out!!Permanently!! Now it's a joke, the trainer's get caught and they replace their name with a friend's name.

Then get good people to run the tracks, Businessmen!!! Then hopefully we will not need the governement help to have an Industry that we can call OURS!!!

It is soooooo sad to see our game dying.

September 9, 2013 - 7:48 amMr Carter... You could not be

Will Yamakva SAID...

Mr Carter...

You could not be more wrong about not attracting gamblers. See, you are doing what the horseman are doing. You are looking a the situation as a "fix for the now" thing. That isn't going to work. You see, while, you the gambler, isn't going to want the hot dog, the issue, isn't about you. You are not going to go anywhere. Just like me, the take out can suck, but you and I will still be betting at the tracks. All gamblers get into horse racing, for the love of the game, and the excitement. Only then, do you get into the finer details of take out and pool size and etc. You are NEVER going to get football guys switching to horses. You are NEVER going to get the bingo players switching over. You are NEVER going to get the card players to switch over.

The key, is breeding new horse fans, which gamble on the product.

There is NOTHING the horse industry can do to steal away those that have the vices they are currently playing. Only thing that can be done, is lose what you have, or build to your future


September 8, 2013 - 7:38 pmMr Irving how do you expect

Mr Irving

how do you expect owners to pay bills with racing only 7 mnths a year ?
are we supposed to uproot our families and go to Yonkers for a couple of months and then maybe Poconos live in caravans ?

Will I have responded to you several times but my comments have never been posted
you have been saying all along that the horsemen don't care about the gamblers but what do you expect them to do ?
the horsemen are producing the product they are not in marketing or accounting, they are shoveling manure and bandaging legs.
the tracks are responsible for everything else, including creating a new fan base that is the partnership between the horsemen and tracks.
the horsemen are willing to do lots of things but they need guidance and there isn't any and I don't mean Anthony .
tracks have the resources the horsemen don't.

September 8, 2013 - 5:52 pmRobert, Look at the races

Look at the races when we have had 11 or 12 in it at mohawk.
There is no boat racing or"2 out and 8 in" as you so accurately described it.
The Meadowlands has always raced hard and it mattered little about dates. More now due to great efforts by the staff, hats off to Peter Koch and Jeff Gural and all the crew at the Meadowlands for putting quality tough races on.

You must not attend many mohawk races. Most of the drivers and myself (lol)have gone over to hand out shirts and hats many times over many years.
On the rare occasion I win I always invite random people out and I always talk to them along the rail and many other people do to.
Many trainers and drivers interact on twitter and Facebook and although some of these changes are new they do take place.

You talk of woodbine and how these races are great and riders interact with the fans.
Wonderful only the Standardbred product is almost as far away as Pearson airport.
You shake our head you say?
Hong kong is a massive gaming entity driven solely by gambling and is pushed forward by the government.
Comparing what they have there based on gaming numbers and the people to bet it and horses and horseman not to mention a different breed or otherwise would be like comparing apples and airplanes.
I believe 95% of horsemen now if nothing else understand that the customer has been hurt and driven away for decades and a massive metamorphosis is and desperately needs to happen here.
With no disrespect meant will because I do enjoy the debate that's why I wrote these blogs, you need to realistically look at what happened and what needs to happen sprinkle in what we would like to happen and try to build a solid foundation for a strong ONTARIO product.
Your clearly are an intelligent person but continually attacking horseman and explaining the right way for Ontario is easy to do?
There isn't a north American jurisdiction that can come close to Hong Kong and to then hold that over a ontario is a "tough stretch" to say the least.
We need to fix and polish ontario. Easy! Possible? Hopefully.
The gamblers are everything to us, the quicker we get that the better but the rest of the industry must be refined also will, something needs to be addressed also Will.
You can't stop a ship from sinking by only fixing one of the six holes.
That's what we are all up agaianst.
But again thanks for the remarks, taking the time to write them and most of all showing an interest.


September 7, 2013 - 1:08 pmMr.Yamakva

John Carter SAID...


Your ideas may attract the casual fan but they will not attract gamblers. I do not mean this in a disrespectful way but i have zero interest in meeting drivers or trainers or having them sign an autograph for me. I had zero interest in getting a free hot dog or a pop when i used to go to the track, and guess what, the next generation of gamblers feel the same way. Rest assured they are not interested either in free hot dogs or meeting drivers and trainers.

They like myself are interested in gambling on a form of gambling that they have a shot of beating and they know that they have almost no shot of beating the ponies with takeouts in the range of 15 to 35 per cent. The next generation of gamblers is more educated then our generation was because of the internet and they will not put up with the rake the race tracks charge, nor do they care about the expenses the race game has that other forms of gambling don't have. That is the race games problem, not theirs. Combine this with the choices today's gamblers have, back when i was young it was either races or bingo. They will continue to stick to low vig games such as poker or single game sports betting. Until the race game reduces their takeout right across the board to approx 10% in all pools they have no shot of re building the gambling base. Gambling has exploded world wide but yet the next generation of gamblers continues to reject the race game because they see it as being unbeatable. The race game needs to change this perception by competing for business with reduced take out. Nothing else that they do, will make any difference long term with out a competitive take out.

September 7, 2013 - 9:01 amWill has made a lot of sense.

Lynne Magee SAID...

Will has made a lot of sense. While I disagree with some of his points, I most definitely agree that horse racing has done a dreadful job of looking to the future and building a product that the younger generations will buy. While Hanover and Clinton racetracks are fun venues to attend, the betting is abysmal except for feature events such as the Dream of Glory and such. Those two, very well-maintained tracks do their damndest to promote and entice the bettors but the handle is pretty discouraging. Why? For the reasons that Will has spelled out----no chance at a decent payout. It's not like we don't have any competition anymore. It's also true that the CPMA too tightly controls the industry. We have to give the public some pretty darn good reasons to bother to come out to watch or, at very least, to spend their money on racing. To be honest, the OLG has done a real good job of purposely NOT promoting horse racing as compared to their casino and lottery advertising that is plastered all over the media.

As for Mr Hudak and the Conservative Party being our saviour---I'm doubtful. There has been nothing concrete coming from a party that desperately wants to govern but has missed the boat on this one when it comes to attracting support. Sure we have plenty of MPs that have shown great support for our industry but is that just grandstanding? Anthony has a vested interest and is genuine in his efforts to get a seat but unless the party wins, his getting a seat won't help us any. We simply haven't heard a good enough reason to throw our support behind Hudak and company. Besides, the next election will be too late.

As much as I am not a Liberal lover after McGuinty's reign, I really think that our best bet is with getting our message to Ms. Wynne. We need to by-pass the McGuinty-appointed panel and talk to the premier for she holds the cards. And yes, we need to rally together and come up with a presentable plan to sustain ALL racing in Ontario and that includes getting the right people to help us. We can write and whine all we want but action speaks louder and so far, there has been little of that.

September 7, 2013 - 1:44 amI love the enthusiasm Mr.

Will Yamakva SAID...

I love the enthusiasm Mr. Kingshott....

Taking notice of areas succeeding, new wagers were not the key to change. Looking at new customers to the game, wagering is already very confusing. Adding new wagers has 2 problems....

1) it makes more confusion for beginners
2) they take from already existing pools which as I already explained are brutally thin already.

Basically Mr Kingshott, increased wagering will be the byproduct of larger crowds. Thus the focus should be on the customer. Take a look at the suggestions I made. Not one required government approval.

If you want slot style jackpots.... look at todays last race at woodbine (friday). The Tri paid more for $2 than 3 tracks (not going to name them ) took in in handle......COMBINED.

The key to your future is your fans, not the government.

Fans show up.... fans will fight the government for change to help you. Right now.... as proven by the brutal pools at least 5 ontario tracks.... shows fans as a whole dont care enough to rally for you.

September 6, 2013 - 4:28 pm"The Meadowlands doesn't bet

"The Meadowlands doesn't bet more because they race less Will, it's because of the competitiveness of the racing."

The shorter season at The Meadowlands forces the trainers to race their horses competitively.There is less time to "pick n choose" when their going to race HARD.Wood/Moh run 12 months of the year roughly 4-5 months longer then Meadowlands.Why you think some races at Wood/Moh it's 2 out,8 in!!!

Move harness racing to Mohawk and reduce the season to 7 months.

September 6, 2013 - 3:30 pmMr. Yamakava I think we're

Mr. Yamakava
I think we're really on the same side with regard to the issues. The problem is with not getting fans betting. What I am blaming however is the CPMA and other Government bodies for blocking the tracks from trying new things. There are tons of things the Government blocks us from doing that would drive up revenues. Things such as large payout wagering, slot machine styled pari-mutuels, convenient store wagering, app historical race wagering, gambler versus gambler bets, group wagering, HPI leaderboards, for driving up the cost of operations via regulations and for forcing us to locate away from the larger urban areas.
There are lots of solutions and ways to improve our game. Most of the things I mentioned are just categories which have lots of different ways to try them out. The problem is that you can't implement them because of the amount Government is involved.

September 6, 2013 - 3:06 pmThe business model is

Kevin Jones SAID...

The business model is backwards & that is why it has failed even with the SARP in place. It was always about more dates....more purse money....nothing about getting people into see the product. Too much product for the demand. Only logical thing to do is scale back & try to rebuild. Not saying completely close tracks but lees dates until you grow a new fan base. There are going to be casualties which is unfortunate, but to make the industry grow you have to start small & grow as you fan base grows. More race dates are not going to do anything but water it down imo. The purse money handed out for tracks like Woodstock & Sudbury did nothing to enhance the industry or it image. If you go to a concert & there's 15 people you are going to have an opinion about the performer without even listening. New people go to a racetrack and see 20-30 disgruntled elderly bettors ...they likely are not coming back!...Image.

September 6, 2013 - 2:22 pmMr MacDonald, as a

Will Yamakva SAID...

Mr MacDonald,

as a driver...

when was the last time you said or saw...

1... to the other drivers, "hey, we have a great crowd, 5 of us should walk over to the grandstands and pose for pics, or sign racing programs?"

2... an entire card where the winning drivers invited random people to the winner's circle, or made the fans feel like they met the superstars?

3... a post parade like the thoroughbreds, where they are saddled in front of the fans and they could be mere feet from the drivers and trainers and runners like at WDB or at Fort Erie or at Ajax?

4... guys like Eurico Rosa Dasilva that gets the fans as much into his victories as Alex Ovechkin does when he scores, but in harness?

These are all TINY lil things that go a LONG LONG way.

You say the silence from the government is deafening? These are things that I have suggested in the past, and the silence from the participants of the game, is also deafening.

September 6, 2013 - 1:56 pmMr MacDonald, you might care,

Will Yamakva SAID...

Mr MacDonald, you might care, but look at 90% of the posts here by the horseman. They do not include a thing about us. It's always about saving this, or the government hurts that. If the fans were the focus, your numbers would be higher, and things would be better.

Also Mr MacDonald, the main reason the races are "chalky", is because of the incredibly small pools. One only needs to be $50 to win on a horse at Dresden, Hanover, Sudbury, Kawartha and you make a 4-1 shot less than even money. So YES, I am complaining about the chalkiness of the horses. In reality, many of these horses could have went off at reasonable odds, should the pool have been larger. The race might have ended up very competitive, but the pool size made it unbettable. Make sense?

Mr Gural also started out with less racing. He increased it, as the demand by the public called for it. He added more, when the handle was at a decent level.

Mr MacDonald..... never once, has Mr Gural had a handle that was under the purses given, so you REALLY cant use his situation, when you are talking about your B tracks. That is NOTHING like your situation in this case.

You attended discussions with gamblers, but the problem is, those are staples of the game, and will always be around. Have you been to a round table with "racing fans" or "people that gamble, but not on horses", to get insight on why?

Mr MacDonald, you do realize that the next generation of gambler, is who you need to be addressing the most, not the people that already get it. Horse racing in general, is doing a ridiculously poor job of getting those new faces in the door.

I have addressed how to get fans in the winter. I have addressed how to fill racetracks. I have addressed how to get new bodies in the door, instead, around here, complaining about the government takes the cake.

Mr MacDonald, pay attention to the articles that show increases of wagering, or attendance, like the Hong Kong Jockey club one, or the Meadowlands ones..... you do not see many posts by horseman. Mr Burgess posts a letter, and there is a billion, "Yeahhh, what he said".

Truth be told, I am so turned off by the being ignored, that I am really only going to take my family to Woodbine, it was the only place that my entire family could enjoy themselves. The jockeys all walked right past us. They posed for pics, they laughed and waved at the kids.

none of that stuff, had to do with "an orc panel".

Its the little stuff that would get people back to the game. Its the little stuff the horseman can do to strengthen your case to the government.

Personally, if I was in your shoes, I would not look to lead this. You need a marketing guy that you can trust and that has a clue how to get bodies back in the door. Horseman look at it from their point of view all too often, and that is not in the best interest of the fans for the most part. What is the difference between NHL, Curling, tennis and harness? The fans have a connection to the stars, and the stars are eager to connect with the fans. Until you capitalize on the marketing of that, this ship is not going to sail all that far from port.

In fact, you should be organizing a round table, or SC should be organizing it.

One, where 2 trainers, 2 media people, 2 government folks, 2 people that have no clue about racing, 2 drivers, and 2 gamblers all travel together. This group should not announce where they are going, but video tape the experience. They should take the time out to stop at a few race tracks, and a few bingo halls, a few off track betting houses, and a few slots (not attached to a race track), and talk to people. You will THEN get a better picture of this.

I read the minutes from a few of these meetings, and just shake my head.

September 6, 2013 - 12:52 pmWill, You and I have gone


You and I have gone back and fourth about topics but I don't know why you keep eluding "horsemen don't care about gamblers"?
Did we in the past?? NO.
This entire industry let our patrons and fans down.
But that's quite a wide brush your painting with?
I have attended the panel with gamblers?
I have always made myself available to the public socially in every form known to modern man. I am not the only one also.
You have said in the past that there is nothing wrong with the product and yet you make reference to "chalky races" now?
The Meadowlands doesn't bet more because they race less Will, it's because of the competitiveness of the racing. Ask Jeff Gural, he may have some insight on this topic.
My blog is a reaffirmation that this industry is on a sinking boat.
We are dragging our feet and while the orc and the panel trip over one another like two kids at their first dance we again are being smothered.
Can their plan work?? I'm not Mark Carney?? I don't know but none of us will find out if we don't get moving.
How do we grow a fan base in the winter with the overnight product being what it is currently?

I have submitted some policy stuff to the party this week, I will be requesting time with Tim and the party policy people with a yet to be determined group from this industry and hopefully we can cement a proper pc position on this file and we can start to make headway and garner support where we always should have had it.



September 6, 2013 - 1:56 amWe are rehashing a lot of the

Georg Leber SAID...

We are rehashing a lot of the same arguments and reliving the facts of what has been done to the industry. What actions can we take. Frankly not very much except go where the money is and let the government plan fail. At one point they will start looking so bad (As if GCGC hasnt already made monkeys out of them)that they will address the situation and go back to some sort of SARP-like fix.

In the meantime a lot of good people will have their lives put on hold and even suffer financial ruin. I know someone who has the power to do something. TIM HUDAK. Before you read my next paragraphs, know I gave money to the Conservatives in support because the other two parties are the evil of lessers.

I have been critical of HUDAK in the past. Anthony and I have discussed it a couple of times. The fact is that the Conservative Party has done almost zero in coming out with a plan. Monte has supported us among others but only a few twitters and photo ops. The Conservative White Papers are total fluff that a high school student would be ashamed to submit.

HUDAK can step up or step out. He can submit a plan to the newspapers of exactly what he would do. Get us all involved so its in black and white and make the Liberals and the panel take a hard look and either refute or agree. There will not be an election until the Liberal term is over-NDP make sure of it. So HUDAK should lead from the position of opposition where he is the voice. He spends too much time denouncing the Liberals so he can get his shot instead of being a man of the people for the people. Show the people how you will change things, don't just complain. Rural Ontario needs you, roll up your sleeves. We will support you if you have a plan. You know the panel doesnt have the answer.

Georg Leber-ICR Racing

September 5, 2013 - 9:54 pmMr Kingshot.... I know plenty

Will Yamakva SAID...

Mr Kingshot....

I know plenty about horse racing and understand where the government is coming from. While im not sold on their plan, have horseman given a proposed idea that as a group they agree on that works for the government, the horseman and most importantly the fans or gamblers? There is lots of rhetoric from the people affected by this, but no feasible solutions.

2/3 of the races in ontario are not worth betting are for one of a few reasons.

1) pools are far too small. Hanover, kawartha, dresden, sudbury, clinton and Sarnia have such small pools that one stands to make more at bingo than at those tracks.

2) too chalkish. Looking at those tracks I mentioned, look how many races have a horse at even money or less. Combine that with number 1 and a decent exactor with that favorite cant be pounded, or you affect your own payouts badly.

Everyone seems focused on new wagers, or take out or this and that. But does Suzy Homemaker that is out with her grandkids care about this? No. The straight win olace or show is where her money goes. So why have they stopped coming? She isnt gonna make money with as many chalks that win on b tracks... abd the pools are too small to make a 50 or 60 to 1 shot.

The key to bringing fans is making this an experience. Its the furthest thing from it right now.

Mr Kingshot, Mr MacDonald and all other horseman... Please answer a few questions I have....

1) why are 90% of the comments here about government and not tossing out ideas to pack the stands?
2) since the government is deemed to not have a clue, what is the plan that horseman have voted on that they are tabling to the government? Unions go to government with a plan coming from a voice voted on by the body represented
3) since the average age at tracks is getting up there, with no new blood coming to the track, who do you expect to keep you alive when your wagering dips even more?
4) how come states like California, New York, Massachusetts, and Florida have less tracks than Ontario but each has more than double the population?

Let me tell you, while Mr MacDonald is appluaded by horseman, I couldnt be more disappointed by the lack of real respect us the fans, the gamblers, the lifeblood of this game are given around here. I am under the impression its more important that 50k horseman get what they want rather than what the people who have a percentage of each wager we make that goes to you wants.

Like all professional sports, the fans come first. Clearly that is not the case here.

We are an after thought.

September 5, 2013 - 5:16 pmAlright I'll take up trying

Alright I'll take up trying to answer your questions...Lets see how I do.
1) I tried to calculate out how much this was going to be when this whole fiasco started. Unfortunately the amount live racing increases slot revenues was far less then the money going into the pools from the slots. My attempt to calculate this was based on comparing racedays with non racedays at tracks. The total increase was about 50M if I remember correctly (about 1.5-2%)The amount offset was pretty much dependent on the level of the purses.
2)Probably because date reduction is the right sizing they are referring to.
3)They will probably only give us enough to placate the media and be on their way.
4) Attendance and wagering has always dropped during the winter. Though the issue here is not the season. The issue is that there is very little to offered in terms of product to increase the fan base.
5)The panel is mostly smoke and mirrors. Any new product or game of chance has to be Federally approved. The CPMA regulates almost any action the tracks could try to take to increase their handle and the Minister of Agriculture(FED) has the powers to personally oversee any proposed type of wager and give it the ok or the no. Typically it has been that the CPMA will not let any large pools be paid out because they view it as lottery like.
Extra Qs)A centralized office is only good for Government run things. What we need is less Government oversight, particularly Federally so that we are free to try new wagers out. Centralization where our tracks our free to try out new wagers would prevent them from organizing their racing events to suit their track. Try imagining a central office running the races in any sort of pattern while still leaving time for Grand River's bouncing pony race. Oversights would happen.
Patricia Martin is close on what she says but the problem is not with the Government not doing stuff. The problem is with what they have done. It's precisely because they know pretty much nothing about horse racing that we need to get them out of the way as much as possible. They always have moved slow and pretty much always in the wrong direction. The issue however is more the CPMA then the OLG.

September 5, 2013 - 2:42 pm"4) How do we grow a fan base

Will Yamakva SAID...

"4) How do we grow a fan base for our sport to the point it becomes self-sustaining through wagering while slashing race dates? "

Take a look at the dates you have now. You cant bet at Hanover, Dresden, Sarnia, Sudbury or Kawartha. The pools are just too minuscule to lure fans. You really think increasing dates will change that? The markets have shown, the fans just are not interested in wagering on the racing at them locations.

You can race there all you want, it will not change the situation. Take note, the runners, and Meadowlands.... reduced dates, and the wagering has gone up.

Mr McDonald, while I feel sorry that people have to change lifestyles, the reality is, that this grew FAR too fast, and depended on other people FAR too much. There has to be a balance between a losing business model, and the ones that are able to make it. You can't possibly expect the government to keep THIS many tracks open, just so you have a place to race.

There is more harness tracks in Ontario.... than California, Florida and New York, COMBINED !!! Each of those states, has more people than Ontario. There has to be a point where the harness people realize, there simply is too many tracks, the wagering money is spread FAR too thin, to the point, it makes the small tracks not worth looking at from a gambler's perspective.

Ask yourself this..... if you went to Hanover, and wanted to make a $50win wager, what affect would you have on the pool? You would crush it, and make your horse less than even money. The fans of that, would struggle to make $100. Owner of the horse that finishes 4th, gets that much. Simply put, you are not going to get fans betting money, when the possibility of a big pay day... is not there. Take a look at the results of either Fort Erie on a Monday or Woodbine on a Friday or Wednesday night, they have winning tickets on triactors and supers all night long that pay 4 figures. Why? Because they run less.

There is no way around it, there is too much racing for the amount of wagering going on in the province. You have NO shot at sustaining a fraction of the tracks that you do with the model as it is.

I would love for a way to work it out, but you have to realize, for the bettors, 70% of the racing in this province, is not bettable for either one of 2 reasons, 1) the pools are too small 2) too many races with less than even money horses.

I've begged you for months to lead this parade correctly, like the gentleman in NJ is doing with Meadowlands, but it appears that blaming others and wanting others to fix it, is your method.

I PRAY SC prints this reply.

Sad, because you have wasted as much time waiting for them, and not getting the non-government people together, as the government has not coming up with a plan.

Do the horseman have a VIABLE plan that is agreed on by the vast majority of you that you can take to the government? No.

September 5, 2013 - 12:14 pmI hear what you are saying,

Kevin Jones SAID...

I hear what you are saying, sadly though the time to do this was when there was an unlimited supply of money while SARP was in place. There was no sense of urgency the, it was all about purse money. So it's hard to leave the past in the past when a lot of people(mainly fans) were saying more money needed to be spent to create a "NEW" fan base instead of racing in front of empty grandstands for what were ridiculous amounts considering the amount wagered!

I do not know what the industry has available now to promote itself to a new generation, but to continue to race without new fans are going to shut down tracks permanently. One thing to do is have shorter meets & spend more on promoting than ever before. Try to get takeout's lowered at all tracks offer rebates on a scale of the amount a person wagers & whether it's live at the track or online. Have promotions that will get people to the track & bring them back. Not hats or t-shirts that is just a waste of money imo. Give them an opportunity to win a big prize like...100k...a car....a cruise..... I'm not saying make it easy, but it will at least draw attention.

September 5, 2013 - 11:43 amIt really is moving way too

It really is moving way too slow! I'm sickened by the whole turn of events.

September 5, 2013 - 11:11 amI am not disagreeing 100%

I am not disagreeing 100% with what you say. However, I still don't know who is going to take charge, who is going to make the ORC and Racing Panel get busy and do SOMETHING. The industry is already fragmented, has been for years. How can we be responsive to the client base when we have to work with tack and government officials who don't give a damn about horse racing? How do we get opposition parties to call an election when they aren't ready? I have never been one to give up without a fight, However, there is no one allowing me or the others who care, put up a fight.

September 5, 2013 - 10:46 amYou hit the nail, right on

Ronald Hess SAID...

You hit the nail, right on the head Anthony.

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