The horse racing industry in North America is full of organizations with their own special agendas. For this reason, it is difficult for racing to unite on any given issue. The saying that “it is like herding cats” is true in the case of fragmented racing. The latest infighting is over the abolishment of race-day furosemide (a.k.a. Lasix or Salix).
A president of the United States by the name of Lincoln once had something very profound and cautionary to say about “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
A popular and valid lament is that racing lacks the ability to have a centralized authority to advance its welfare. Unlike the major sports leagues, a racing commissioner or president with sweeping authority is not possible because each state with racing makes its own rules and runs its own show.
During and after the 2012 Triple Crown season, racing in the United States was repeatedly pilloried in the media over various concerns, mainly medication. The most persistent and influential critic was the New York Times. A number of individuals from within the racing enterprise provided a rebuttal, mostly ad hoc. No one coordinated the efforts due to the absence of a strong central organization for the entire industry. NTRA evidently does not have the resources and/or the skills to do the job.
It is no doubt true that the last thing racing needs is another organization. However, maybe this is the time to consider an exception owing to the vacuum of leadership in the above-mentioned media attacks.
The major racing-industry organizations and racetracks could, in everyone’s best interests, create and fund a non-profit whose sole mission would be to advance racing’s image to the general public. The bylaws would be such that the bureaucracy would be limited to only a handful of employees, who would run day-to-day operations and outsource public-relations needs. In other words, the organization’s mission would be focused like a laser and built-in safeguards would assure that the administrative costs would not increasingly siphon off the funds available for image-building.
A significant player in American racing told me that this concept would not work because existing racing interests would not support it over parochial concerns. He may be right. But, to use a boxing metaphor, the racing enterprise will be KO’d for sure if it continues to lean defenseless against the ropes while the media pummels it. That is not the famous “rope-a-dope” tactic that Muhammad Ali used to sucker George Forman into expending his energy, but rather, that is being a dope.
Copyright © 2012 Horse Racing Business