Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Frustration Starts Giving Way to Reality

It may be getting too late already to save the Minnesota racing season – both for Thoroughbreds and their Standardbred cousins.  After meetings yesterday between the DFL Governor Mark Dayton and Republican leaders of the state legislature, Dayton emerged stating that the gulf between them was same as it ever was.  Considering that the tracks have already lost one court battle to keep the MRC open, any positive resolution to getting Canterbury Park and Running Aces open again comes down to winning an appeal or a political resolution to the budget impasse.  From what was available in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune this morning, it looks unlikely on the political front with both sides retreating back to positions that they held a week ago.

A lifetime ago I worked in the U.S. House of Representatives.  This was during the Reagan administration while the House was run by the Democrats.  Recipe for inaction and divisiveness, right? But at the end of the day, Congressman Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neil, Democratic Speaker of the House, and President Reagan could sit down and have a cocktail and talk things through.  Compromise wasn’t a dirty word back then, it was how business got done – and done for 200+ years.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was civil. Now compromise is a dead art and disagreements are followed by shouts of “you’re “un-American” or that you hate this country, or worse.  Governing has not retained its place as a right or a serious responsibility but a pulpit to push narrow agendas.  There isn’t any sense of compromise or civil discourse and it sure as hell isn’t governing.  And don’t tell me that your side has tried – neither side’s version of “compromise” is much of one.  In the interim who gets hurt?  Minnesotans.

Right now horsemen are hanging tough, but you can only do that for so long.  As a trainer, your day rate will cover your expenses and maybe just a bit more – you make your real money on the percentage you get for winning races.  And what about jockeys?  There is no day rate to sustain them – you ride or you don’t get paid, period.  There is no way for them to stay in limbo too long without putting themselves at severe financial risk.

The question of the day is: How long will it be before horsemen leave and don’t come back?  My best guess would be any day now.  One weekend has already been lost but there is still the hope that a court appeal may salvage part of the coming weekend.  If there is no resolution, especially if the court appeal is lost, to save this coming weekend, horsemen won’t have a choice but to move on.  You can’t blame them, they have to make a living right along with everyone else.  Trainers will receive pressure from their owners to get their horses out of the barn and on to the track.  Jockeys will be feeling the heat from their own domestic situation to ride.  The track can try hard and put all kinds of incentives in place but unfortunately its fate would no longer be in its hands. 

I’m not thrilled with the possibility of racing somewhere else for the summer, but pretty soon what other choice will there be?


Jack said...

I think this weekend's races will be the trigger point and if they get cancelled you best stay out of the way at the backside gate as trainers w/horses will be leaving in droves.

We already have one horse at Arlington and that was before the shutdown but we always planned to return her to CBY in late July. Now we're looking at condition books in IL and IA for this weekend and next week as we need to run somewhere.

The next big question will be at what point is the entire season lost??

Blame said...

This article talks about being called "UnAmerican", etc., but the writer didn't also include how the one side is being accused of wanting to kill old people, wanting to starve the poor, etc.

The writer of this article is a perfect example of why the two sides are so far apart. The writer sees the other sides wrongs, but can't recognize their own.

It's simply unfortunate that politicians are playing a high stakes game with owners, trainers, jockeys, and track employees lives. The governor turned down a ten percent increase in spending because he didn't feel it was big enough. This state is broke.

Ted Grevelis said...

I agree with you, Jack. This weekend is going to be the test. Not good.

Blame - Uh, did you read the post at all? I take NO sides here except against the ridiculousness that keeps the racetrack closed. There is plenty of blame to go around, though by your comments I think you are the "perfect example" that proves the point of the post.