Building a Better Game

by Ed Meyer

posted on September 9, 2015 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, | No Comments >>

Horse Racing Articles: Click For A List Of All Handicapping Articles

If you aren’t pleased with your project at work, scrap it and try again. – The business of racing has become a hot mess in some areas. – Racing in the states is a place of second, third, and fourteenth chances. Our society has become so tolerant the outcome will be a second rate product, and the public will have little to no confidence. If you’re still standing on the sidelines with your arms folded then the people don’t believe in you or your methods, the bottom line will be affected, and the “lack of interest” clock begins ticking. – For a complete view on transparency and accountability take a look at the Japanese Racing Association.

The JRA is a complete jurisdiction, and a one-stop-place for rules, regulations, and what will be acceptable practice. This public company oversees: the biggest tracks, betting parlors, licensing of jockeys, trainers, owners, and even veterinarians. – During the Japan Cup all reporters have a “tail” that details where you conduct business. If this sounds tough, would you rather have a wide open runabout jurisdiction ? – I’ve read about reporters from abroad being met at the airport and escorted to any and all sites. The JRA pays for flight, accommodations, and travel in country. – The Japan Cup, an invitational, 2,400-meter turf race, was created in 1981 with two goals: to open Japanese racing to outsiders, and to see where the local horses stood against the best from Europe and the United States.

Racing in the United States conducts races and meets right on top of each other. There is no regard for the player in respect to having adequate time to handicap and make final decisions. Seven days a week with as many tracks that apply for dates. The post times are not monitored and mainly decided on by management or the stewards in place. There is a big difference the way the JRA conducts racing. – Races at the country’s 10 JRA-run courses are held on weekends (there is a second-tier circuit, which is organized by local governments and races on weekdays), and so horses only arrive at the track from the training center the night before the race. – If you scanned a media guide and noticed only one trainer had more than one horse in the race, a major change from all the big races in Europe and America, where a select few trainers monopolize the good horses.

Owners and trainers are not allowed to wager, and jockeys must be in “lock down” 9:00 p.m. the evening before the race. They are not allowed to use the telephone or any computer device. The riders are housed in dormitories located at the track for security purposes. -In 2013, the JRA put on 288 race days. The betting turnover on all Japanese racing, most of it handled by the JRA, was about $30 billion last year. That’s roughly triple the amount wagered on American races, despite American tracks running three times as many races and the U.S. having three times the population of Japan. Even though racing’s popularity has declined slightly since 2000 in Japan, the country is still mad about it: about 21 percent of all bets around the globe are taken here.  The JRA draws its budget from this betting turnover. In 2013, it sent nine percent to the government in tax, 75 percent back to bettors, five percent went to purses and 11 percent to its operations. – American racing is like Wall Street running wild with no Securities and Exchange Commission.

A race track or training facility is a self-contained city, because it’s designed to minimize contact with the outside world. –  At Mountaineer Park, in West Virginia reporters walked past empty security posts while filming an undercover investigation on its horse slaughter pipeline. -Everything that happens in Japan happens under central oversight. It has been well documented in the U.S. how private vets answer to the trainers—prescribing medications is how they get paid. In Japan, if a horse has a problem, his trainer must call a JRA-employed veterinarian. –  Similarly strict standards apply to jockeys and trainers. Jockeys must attend riding school for three years and then pass an exam. Trainers, too, get a formal education before being allowed to apply for a license. Now I understand why many started late in life—they had gotten started as soon as they were deemed able. The license examination is held once a year. Trainers ply their trade as assistants for a decade or two. Even after opening their stables, they are not allowed more than 70 horses but only 28 stalls at the training center. Nearly all of the Japanese trainers had only first received their licenses well into their forties.


If we’re seated in a large college auditorium, how many would like to see some changes to our sport ?  – I’m sure the game would wither and die if the strict rules of the JRA were implemented in any fashion. The players in the game come and go as they please, and the public wagers with tight fists as there are always those who have a belief of cheating the system. – I’m sure we can’t put it all back into the box, but there are some practices that could be implemented. Thoroughbred racing has been keeping a “less is more” mentality for quite sometime and this may allow for some subtle changes to be made. – If you missed the handle figure for 2013, it was over $30 billion dollars, which is almost three times our yearly wagering tally. Plain and simple, if the public knows for certain there is one governing body that regulates everything. I’ll bet dollars to donuts they’ll have a receptive attitude to making a bet on a horse race. – The wagering public has heard stories for years of deception and cheating practices. There is always a trainer or two every year that gives the sport a black-eye with under handed practices. When is the last time you heard the name Richard Dutrow mentioned in the headlines ? – Grab the powers that be and have a sit down. How long can we tolerate the crying about subsidies needed from outside sources of revenue to keep the game alive. Not once did I hear or read anything about monies funneled from an outside source to keep racing alive and well in Japan. Just food for thought, as we watch horses ship in hours before they run. Have trainers turn into self-medicating vets, and riders become the biggest gamblers at the track.