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Dec 21, 2012

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD-WISHLIST 2013

By: JOE GIRARDI


            As another year comes to an end and will welcome in 2013 we have some wishes for the racing world in the upcoming year. Three out of these four 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 2013.

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 for the last two years and it is our second wish again as still nothing has happened. There has been some ads in the racing form about horse racing groups as they try to change these laws. Hopefully before the end of 2013 these laws will be changed that will help the current bettors, the racetracks and it would help for 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. Some betting venues stack the tickets, so for example if you hit a 60 cent superfecta in your betting account and it pays $105 for 10 cents, they stack the tickets and send you a W2G form to report those winnings. Even if you had 6 different 10 cent bets. Also the problem with these thresholds is that they were put in place a very long time ago. They need to be adjusted. With the advent of  pick threes, pick fours, pick fives, pick sixes and superfectas, there is a better chance to hit something that pays over those numbers.  You could play a pick four for a total investment of $500 and collect $700 on one ticket and you have to report those winnings. Same goes for a winning bet when there are withholdings. 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 and ultimately, the lifeblood of the sport, the bettors. With these new bets the thresholds 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 might withhold some of 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 industry and the bettors can do something to alleviate this burden.

3.     This was a tough year for NYRA on many levels. Their president Charles Hayward and Senior Vice president and counsel Patrick Kehoe were fired following a situation where they may have known that NYRA was violating state law by not lowering takeout rates on exotic wagers. They were both fired on May 4th. David Skorton, the president of Cornell, has taken over as the Chairman of NYRA after being named by Governor Andrew Cuomo to Chair the Reorganization Board. Skorton does not have a background in Horse Racing, in fact he was quoted as saying, “I really do not know much about horse racing". However, he is a good leader and he is willing to listen to his customers. NYRA needs to make some changes and put them in place to put them back ahead of the racing industry. There has been so many chances over the years but now they have a big opportunity to make it right so let’s hope that happens in 2013.

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 2013!

 

 



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