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John C. Harris

Candidate for TOC Board

Ballots are out for the TOC election, and due by March 15th.  I wanted to let people know where I was on the key issues.  I am not a part of any slate, but do care deeply about this sport and business and want to see it flourish.  There is too much dissension and my team/your team chatter occurring.  We need to work together more, but voters also need to understand positions more.

Fan/wagering generation-The only way we can really grow the sport is via growing the wager­ing pools.  We need to make wagering on a race easier to do and more fan friendly.  Racing is the only sport one can wager on here in California and most states, and yet we have not capital­ized on that opportunity.  We need to improve both our distribution and marketing programs.  It is also important to remember that many of us started going to the races with our parents, and figure ways to recharge that concept.  I am not too hopeful that racing will benefit from Internet Poker or other non-racing related gaming, but TOC does clearly need to be a player in any gam­ing legislation occurring, both nationally and here in California.

Exchange wagering concept-While controversial and deserving of scrutiny, we need to look at it as a way to grow fan interest and revenue base if it can be done without damaging the integ­rity of racing.  It is key that horsemen approve any adoption. 

Cost control ideas for owners-It is very concerning that the costs of breeding, racing, and training horses has so far outstripped the revenue potential.  We constantly need to look, both individually and as a group, for better ways to monitor and control costs.   There are inherent inefficiencies in many aspects of our business that we need to control, and there needs to be more cost sharing and frank discussions of how we make breeding and owning horses more of a realistic model.

Medication-The key elements are what is in the best interest of the horse, and what best as­sures the public that we have a fair game to wager on.  There needs to be a better understand­ing of the benefits/risks of therapeutic medications and how they can be utilized cost effectively and at the same time be sure that when a horse competes, it isn’t benefiting from performance enhancing medications.  The key issue facing us now is the use of Salix (Lasix).  Most horses do experience some degree of bleeding from their lung capillaries when exercised.  In some, but not all cases lowering blood pressure slightly via the use of Lasix probably has merit.  I am con­cerned with the dehydration impact of Lasix, and the need for continuing research into the best ways to humanely address the issue.  The horse industry can phase out race day Lasix if that becomes the norm for major races such as is being proposed by the Graded Stakes Commit­tees and Breeders Cup due to international pressure, but the key is more research to find a bet­ter long term solution to the overall bleeding issue.  It could be a new medication or longer term different genetics.  

Northern California-I have raced in Northern California for years and still have several horses racing there..  Two strong circuits are essential for the overall health of the state thoroughbred sector.  I am not sure how best to do it, but purses need to be improved.  We don’t need to have very many really large stakes purses, if it throws the overall purse schedule out of balance, but I do feel racing needs a varied stakes program there, as that adds interest and gives owners a breeders a chance at black type which helps values.  I also strongly support the Fairs, as they bring in new fans and provide enthusiasm and diversity; and are more likely to stick around than Golden Gate may.  

Cal Bred program-I have been an ardent supporter of the California breeding sector and think horses raised in California are competitive anywhere, but key here to maintaining a proper in­ventory of horses to fill race cards.  More importantly, the farms in California are an important part of the total agricultural resources of the state and employ thousands of people and greatly help the overall image of the sport.

Sincerely,
John C. Harris

If anyone has any further issues they would like my opinion on, please email me at: johnharris@harrisfarms.com

Please forward this email on to your friends if you wish.


 


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