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Dec 30, 2010

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


            As another year comes to an end and we will welcome in 2011 we have some wishes for the racing world in the upcoming year. Most of these wishes are close to the same from last year because just like every year in this industry nothing gets done. I am exasperated about how little gets changed and how it continues to affect the horseplayer. Let’s hope for better in 2011.

1.      Our first wish for the New Year as always is that all the jockeys and horses return after each race safe and sound. The riders are putting their lives on the line every day and we as fans should respect that. Although there are times we get upset with the rides they give we should also understand that this is a very tough job. The horses on the other hand are out there in all kinds of weather, rain, snow, hot, cold and any track conditions. The horses can’t tell their trainers how they are feeling and they are always out there giving it their all. Although everyone can’t return safe as it is the nature of the game we can hope for the very best each and every time in every race throughout the world.

2.      Our second wish is the same EXACT as last year and it concerns the taxable winnings at the racetrack. This was our second wish on the list last year and it is our second wish again as still nothing has happened. There have been some ads in the racing form about joining a horse racing group as they propose to change these laws. Hopefully before the end of 2010 these laws will be changed that will help the current bettors, the racetracks and getting new blood into the game. Currently if you hit a bet that pays $600 for $2 you have to report those winnings to the IRS, if you hit something for $5000 for $2 the government withholds a percentage of those winnings. The problem with these numbers is that they were put in place a very long time ago. They need to be adjusted. With the advent of the pick fours, pick six, pick three and superfectas, there is a better chance to hit something that pays big. However, if you play a pick four for $500 and collect $700, you have to report those winnings. Same goes for a winning bet that is a withholding. You can invest $2,000 into a pick six collect $5,100 and they withhold money. This takes money out of circulation which hurts the tracks, which in turn hurts the state, which in turn hurts the federal government. With these new bets the numbers should be raised to something like $3,000 for reporting and maybe $15,000 should be the number for withholdings. It is hard enough to win at the racetrack and then if you do and don’t even make a profit they withhold your money. This in addition to many other factors has hurt attendance and interest in the game over the years. Hopefully the NTRA which is in place to help the bettors can do something to alleviate this burden.

3.      Our third wish is that now with New York City OTB closing their doors and the state of New York racing up in the air that NYRA is able to take the bull by the horns and really put on a product that is strong. The VLT’s are coming and that should put a stop gap to any problems we have in New York racing for now. But to make their product strong they have re-build the horse racing side of things. I have seen the crowds grow at Aqueduct since the closing of New York City OTB; it made me feel like I was back in 1982 when crowds still came to the track to watch the races. We need to get things straightened out from every aspect to where they shows races, who takes what racetracks, and what tote companies accept what bets. Hopefully next year at this time some of our wishes come true.

4.      Our fourth and final wish is to have a good year at the racetrack. Get some winners, have some winning days and see some great athletes strut their stuff. Good luck to all in 2011!

 

 



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