- The National Players Boycott of California Thoroughbred Racing. Has The Time Come?
October, 2010

Has the time come?

If you walk into a store to buy a loaf of bread, and notice that the bread is stale and overpriced, you put it down and you walk out of the store.

Thousands of racing customers have been doing just that for the better part of a decade now. If you take all sources handle as it existed in 2003 and adjust it for inflation, and you compare it to all sources handle today in 2010, you will discover that all sources handle today in 2010 is approximately one half of what it was just seven years ago in 2003.

Consider the real life case where instead of walking out of the store, a group of conscientious racing customers took the time to contact the owners of the store and explain to them in a reasonable and intelligent manner why thousands of racing customers have been buying their bread somewhere else.

Instead of listening to the customer group’s suggestions, the owners of the store decided to implement a takeout increase at one of their stores: Los Alamitos.

Oddly enough, this same group of racing customers presented data to the CHRB clearly showing that year over year on track handle at Los Alamitos was down more than 27 percent during the six month period immediately following that takeout increase.

Instead of rescinding the takeout increase (as had been promised at the time it was implemented if it caused handle to drop) the CHRB voted unanimously to keep it in force – effectively telling racing customers everywhere what they could do with their ideas about fresh bread at competitive prices.

Shortly afterwards, the owners of the store lobbied the California Legislature to amend an innocuous bill originally written to promote the Breeder’s Cup. They were able to convince John A. Perez (D) to tack on provisions mandating a takeout increase of up to 15% over previous levels for exotic wagers at California's thoroughbred tracks. Takeout on exactas and daily doubles was raised to 22.68%. Takeout on all other exotic wagers was raised to 23.68%.

The above events actually took place during 2010.

Who are the owners of the store?

Hollywood Park, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Santa Anita, Golden Gate Fields, Los Alamitos, the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC), and the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB).

Who is the customer group?


The state law?

At the September, 2010 CHRB meeting, when it was announced that Senate Bill 1072 had been signed into law by the Governor: The owners of the store stood up and cheered.

At some point, as a consumer, you have to consider the possibility that the owners of the store no longer deserve your business.

That’s exactly where horseplayers are at right now given the recent actions of the store owners in California.

You do not raise prices in the face of economic downturn. You lower them.

The store owners in other states are watching. It’s time for players everywhere to send a clear message back to the store owners. It’s time for players to start speaking with their wallets.

To me, the fact that other states still have takeout even higher than California’s new 23.68 percent takeout on trifectas is irrelevant.

California is where the store owners decided to raise takeout over the objections of the players.

California is where the CHRB ignored the facts related to the Los Al takeout increase.

California is where the track owners, the TOC, and the head of the CHRB lobbied the Legislature for a thoroughbred takeout increase. California is where the Legislature ignored the voice of the player and passed that takeout increase. California is where the Governor ignored the voice of the player and signed Senate Bill 1072 into law.

California is where the owners of the store made comments like the following after they enacted the takeout increase:

CHRB Commissioner David Israel:

Quote From The Official CHRB News Release Summary 9-23-2010 CHRB Meeting:

“People often say we are competing with the casinos. I think that’s shortsighted and wrong. We’re not competing with casinos. We’re in the entertainment business. We’re competing with the Dodgers and the Giants and the Angels and the Lakers and we’re putting on a show..."

CHRB Commissioner Keith Brackpool:

Quote From The Official CHRB News Release Summary 9-23-2010 CHRB Meeting:

Midway through the meeting, Chairman Brackpool received a text message from the Office of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger indicating that the governor had signed two bills - SB 1072 and AB 2414 - that the Board and industry supported as a means to substantially increase purses and potentially provide a new wagering option for bettors subject to agreement by the major racing interests and a sunset provision.

"This legislation adjusts the takeout on exotic wagers making it comparable with other major racing states and providing for purse increases of as much as 20 to 30 percent in California," explained the chairman. "I think this is the biggest possible boost we could do for the sport right now - getting the purses levels up, particularly in the lower races."

Players attending the 9-23-2010 CHRB Meeting reported that horsemen and track management attending the meeting gave Brackpool a standing ovation after he made that announcement.

I hate to use the word boycott, but in my opinion California Racing no longer deserves even one penny of my business.

I have to put the question out there to other players:

Hasn't the time come for an organized National Players’ Boycott of California Thoroughbred Racing?

Player Comments:

I will use the "B" word.

Bout damn time!
- Ralph. F. - Ohio (US)

The time is now.
- Craig M. - Oklahoma City, OK (US)

Southern Cali is my circuit of first choice. It's the circuit I've specialized in and played mostly on track going back 20+ years. This afternoon I read the transcripts of the January 2010 and July 2010 CHRB meetings. The way Platt and Meadow were treated at the July 2010 CHRB meeting coupled with the passage of SB 1072 coupled with Brackpool's comments afterwards cinched it for me.

They no longer deserve my money.

Please organize a boycott and yes count me in.
- Charlie J. - San Diego, CA (US)

I have decided to discontinue all of my wagering and ownership activities in the sport of Thoroughbred Racing until I see a drastic improvement in the structure of the sport. This is not an easy decision, as it has been my vocation. The near total disregard of the handicappers time, effort, and financial support of the game has become intolerable. I have dealt with the conditions the sports administrators have imposed for decades, and I refuse to continue being pushed around.
- H.H. - Seattle, WA (US)

Great idea. Long overdue. Thanks.
- Frank D. - Los Angeles, CA (US)

Great post Jeff. I couldn't agree more.
- Mike - NJ (US)

Thanks for your efforts.
- Dennis - Baltimore, MD (US)

i'm in.
- Ed - Sacramento, CA (US)

Thanks guys.
- Pete - Worcester, MA (US)

Love your idea, heres hoping we can make an impact.
- Larry - Boston,, MA (US)

Include me in to "out" CA racing.
- Fred B. - near Boston, MA (US)

I am on board.
- Don - East Troy, WI (US)

Let me know how when and where I can help.
- Richie P. - New Rochelle, NY (US)

- Lou - Staten Island, NY (US)

...Why wouldn't a horseplayer want to join?
- Jens - Santa Rosa, CA (US)

Best of luck in the endeavor!
- Patrick - Denver, CO (US)

Good work initiating this.
- Dale - Oregon City, OR (US)

I'm with you on this.
- J. F. Boston, MA (US)

The CHRB should be LOWERING takeout not raising it.
- Barry from Fallbrook, CA (US)

Will burn my money before betting into their pools.
- Roger K. - Lindenwold, NJ (US)

You are so right!! It's time to "buy bread" some place else!!
- Bruce F. - San Diego, CA (US)

I got a neighbor to support the boycott...

If we all found 3 people to support this boycott then we would have 100's of names just from this forum alone!
- Mike B. - Los Angeles, CA (US)

Love your idea, I live in S. Cali and attend Los Al during the day for simulcasting, I will never make an exotic bet again in California until the take out is lowered considerably, these people are out of control and don't deserve a dime of play with their ridiculous abuse of the bettor. It's time we all tell them to shove it, without us they're out of business and out of a job.
- Jack - Southern Cal

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