Thursday, June 12, 2008

House Subcommittee Hearings

I'm not a proponent of big government or its' intervention into the lives of its citizens. However, I do believe a government has a responsibility to see to it that any business that operates under its' protection also maintains a behavioral standard of operation that is in concert with the beliefs upon which that government is founded. In theory [our] government should protect the right of the individual over the interest of a business. Of course that's not what happens in practice. While it does happen that in the course of protecting business interests sometimes the government is protecting personal interests as well, I'm pretty certain that is not always the reasoning behind the action. Indeed I have lost faith in our government's ability to respond to the needs of the people. Perhaps it's runaway bureaucracy or just flat out corruption run rampant that is the cause. I can start another blog dedicated just to this subject, but, I bring it up because of the House subcommittee hearings set for the 19th, specifically dedicated to horseracing. I think government action is well past due in this instance because the industry has continued to demonstrate that they are unable to collectively address some of the issues that are vital to the well being of the industry. In my mind (and in the mind of almost all fans) the most important issue is the use of drugs, including steroids. The resolution of this issue is absolutely necessary to the health of the industry. It speaks to the most important ingredients for a healthy sport. First with uniform, strictly monitored and harshly enforced drug laws the fan can feel much more certain of the integrity of the game. Confidence is necessary if we are to expect fans to continue to invest their money at the track. Also, it would be a clear and unmistakable sign that effort is being made to insure the well being of the horses. Further, it would result in better breeding practices that would undoubtedly favor improving the breed by emphasizing soundness and endurance. With drug laws implemented we would be confident that horses that dominated in the afternoons are truly the superior horses.

There are many other issues that are slated to be considered as well. In my opinion there are few other, but imperative, necessities. There absolutely needs to be central regulatory authority that actually has authority to coerce action. There is discussion of amending the Federal Interstate Horseracing act of 1978 to insure adherence to conclusions that may result from the hearings to do just this. I also believe the industry needs absolute transparency as to all of its sources of income and exactly who is receiving what percentage of those monies. I mean all. We should know what cut the horsemen are getting, so we can be certain that a fair portion is being reinvested into the product. We should know what offshore AWD's are getting rebates and why. After all, in the long run it is the fan's money who pays for it.

I don't hold much hope that great things will come from these hearings. In my experience these shows are just that, pomp and circumstance. In the end, manifest results will be determined by who can contribute the most to who's re-election campaign or what fringe benefits or favors can be bestowed without detection. We all know who possesses the deepest pockets in the industry, so, as I stated, I don't expect much change. Sound a bit jaded? When it comes to big money and big government's ability or desire to do the right thing you bet I'm jaded!

You can read about the other issues - that would be ill conceived micro-managing on the part of the government - at either the Bloodhorse or DRF.

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