Thursday, August 21, 2008

One Final Try

This is my final attempt to get some resolution to my California saga. Since my last rant and this, I have spoken to the President of the Thoroughbred Owners of California who, while sympathetic, could really offer nothing except empathy. The TOC is not a regulatory body and has no way of enforcing any California regulations. My last shot: right to the top of the CHRB with the following letter to Richard Shapiro, Chairman of the CHRB. I'm not expecting much, but big picture wise, something surely needs to be done to protect small time investors. How in the world are we supposed to attract new owners into this business if the partnerships that are formed to help the 'little guy' get involved are as crooked as can be? And for those of us that try to run an above board operation, how does it help when we can get painted by the same brush when yahoos like this rip people off? I'll let you know if I hear anything. The following was edited a bit to hide some identities.

Richard B. Shapiro
Chairman – California Horse Racing Board
1010 Hurley Way
Suite 300
Sacramento, CA 95925

Dear Chairman Shapiro:

I am writing in hope that you can clarify for me what appears to be a gaping hole in California regulations. I have been in touch with Richard Smith and Bill Westerman; both have been very professional, but ultimately unfulfilling.

In brief, I belonged to a racing partnership run by X Stable, a CHRB licensee. After the managing partner passed away in January 2007 a new managing partner took over on January 1, 2008. I’ll avoid all the interim details, but the crux of the complaint is that our last horse was claimed on January 31, 2008 and we still have not seen the proceeds. Excuses have been that he wasn’t left any money by the old Manging Partner, the new Managing Partner couldn’t obtain the line of credit he promised he would secure and his latest solution: how about you just take half and we’ll call it square. All the while X Stable is running other horses, collecting management fees and even has claimed and private purchased to the tune of $100,000 at Del Mar and in N. California in the last month alone. The “We have no money” excuse, as you can imagine, is ringing pretty hollow right now.

I had written to the CHRB to request some help in forcing a resolution to this matter. Again, while professional and courteous, Mr. Smith and Mr. Westerman ultimately referred me to the court system as I am not a CHRB licensee. We, as partners, own a small part of these partnerships. Individually the few hundred dollars that are owed make it cost prohibitive to bring suit. We cannot band together collectively because we don’t know who everyone is. I feel as the governing body that licenses X Stable, the CHRB would have some stake in making sure what is offered to the public – Californians and non-Californians alike – is above board and honest. How can a group that cannot close old groups properly (I know that there are at least two other groups in the same circumstance) keep offering new groups to the public? In my opinion there is no guarantee that these new investors will ever see any money if a profit is made.

I have turned to the Stewards and even the Thoroughbred Owners of California for assistance. I have not heard from the Del Mar Stewards yet. Mr. Couto, President of the TOC, was sympathetic, but not being a regulatory body, there is not much they can do except help raise awareness.

Mr. Shapiro, I turn to you for your assistance and advice in this matter. I know that I am a small time Minnesota owner but I do feel that I should have some reasonable recourse and that individuals that are writing checks to this group now can have some confidence that they are dealing with a legitimate operator.

Thank you for your assistance.

Best regards,

Ted L. Grevelis
Managing Partner
Grevelis Racing Stable LLC
www.grevelisracing.com
www.grevelisracing.blogspot.com

cc: Drew Couto, President – Thoroughbred Owners of California

9 comments:

PEM said...

Boy you're a lot kinder about the thief then I'd have been. I guess you have to approach Shapiro that way.....anyway--like to see whatever responce you get. Ain't holding my breath--I mean I wish you the best of luck----sad to say it but I really think the only satisfaction you're gonna get involves the employment of a pair of guys named "Turk" and "Moose".

Best,
G

Troy Racki said...

Ted,

Unfortunately it is stables such as these that give the sport of racing a bad name. While there is little that can be done to resolve your problem the best that can be done for the future is to prevent stables such as these from doing further harm. Recently the NTRA has begun to debate the creation of a certification program for ownership stables. To receive NTRA Certification a stable must meet a list of standards which includes communication and financial responsibilities. They also must make shares available for an amount ranging from $200-300 for public affordability. Stables that fail in their communication or financial responsibilities would have their certification removed. Loss of this certification would mean loss of future partners and ultimately closure of the racing stable. By making the list of certified stables available at NTRA.com, those stables that do right will thrive. Stables that lose certification would also be listed as such, intensifying new investor scrutiny. We hope that by placing our stamp of approval individuals would more likely become owners and that fear of the loss of such approval would urge stables to be more responsible. We at the NTRA believe that the safety and integrity of our sport is key for future growth of the sport and in the coming year are going take new strides in protecting both. We are sorry for your loss and hope that your future as an owner is a brighter one.

Sincerely,

Troy Racki
NTRA Ambassador Program, Director
NTRA Steering Committee

Ted G said...

Gino - Good to hear from you! In a few short months we'll be open at TBD! You may be right, but I'll keep it on the up and up.

Troy - Thanks. I appreciate you reading and your comment. I like the idea of NTRA certification, but I would have some concerns with the minimum share amount requirement. The record keeping necessary for a group made up of sixty or seventy individuals for folks that are trying to run small above the board partnerships (like myself) would be pretty onerous. If we could offer a limited number of shares at that price and still meet the requirements, I don't think I would have as much of an issue. All in all, though, NTRA certification would be a HUGE step forward - in my humble opinion - to start weeding out some of these fly by nighters or wanna be big shots who taint the rest of us and the game by their actions.

rather rapid said...

here's my opinion, Ted, for whatever it's worth. Managing partners (I believe) have fiduciary responsibilities to their partners violation of which probably can result in punitive damages. Moreover, since it's a partnership instead of corporation, liablity would extend to the individual person instead of merely to partnership assets. I believe you are complaining to the wrong people. To me, after it becomes apparent that you're unable to get their attention, the next step would have been legal action. My feeling is that unless you're minimally willing to look up on the internet your possible legal remedies which you can pursue pro se, then further protest whistles in the wind. If you're talking about a couple hundred dollars, well, that sort of loss you get in any endeavor. Crooks are hardly limited to our sport. My feeling is that this sport has too many problems to expect the powers that be to also "protect" against every possible negative eventuality. While I'm very sympathetic in terms of what occurred, I believe it's up to the injured party instead of Richard Shapiro to take appropriate action since that is the correct alternative. Keep up the good work on your blog! This is just my one-rat opinion.

Ted G said...

RR - thanks for reading and commenting. I agree with you to a degree - completely if I was only after the money.

In this instance there is the group I was a part of and, I have learned, two other groups as well. My concern at this stage really isn't the dough. As you said, a few hundred can be lost in anything (even in an afternoon at the track when you're nosed out of several photos...but I digress) but if this stable continues to legally operate and take money from people with no intention of ever paying them out anything, then I think the CHRB should take some action. This is a tough enough business to make a buck in, we don't need folks taking away the money people DO end up earning.

Ted G said...

RR - I guess to summarize my ranting: if these folks are not running a solid and up front endevor, then it is incumbent upon the licensing body to take action.

Winston...not really said...

While I think the NTRA certification thing is a good idea in theory, the fact remains that they are a marketing group with absolutely no powers.

Sure, they can have a list of "approved" stables but in the end all you have is a list made up by some random group. It is up to each "investor" to do their due diligence. If they don't check the list then it's useless, which it is.

I would be hard pressed to file a suit in this matter since the financial hit is small as you say.

My worthless suggestion is to use your bully pulpit and expose those SOB's for the frauds that they are. Name names. I am sure you have a following and they can tell their friends, who tell their friends...

Ted G said...

Winston - You're probably right. What I really need to do is accept that some people are crooks, I got screwed, learned a lesson, met some great people who I remain close to, learned how NOT to run a partnership and move on knowing I did all I could to make things right. I can only control my neck of the woods and even then just my corner of it.

Like my wife says, I need to accept it and let it go. THAT's my next step.

As faar as naming names, I'm sorely tempted...

rather rapid said...

It is an interesting question you raise Ted. More I think about it. Also thinking to what degree "financial responsibility" as e.g. a Vet owed a bill prevents a trainer from entering till the bill is paid. I've seen that done. In the final analysis is it maybe unfortuantely a thing where racing is too small and poor to deal with something like this?