TRA Press Release Archive:

Keeneland and Woodbine Dead Heat for Simulcast Award Honors

October 8, 2012 - Keeneland and Woodbine Entertainment Group were declared co-winners of this year’s Simulcast Award at the International Simulcast Conference in Clearwater Beach, Fla. The award gives both tracks the distinction of becoming five-time winners of the prestigious contest. The crystal trophies were sponsored by Post Time Technologies.

The Simulcast Award honors excellence in the presentation of a racetrack’s live race product to its simulcast outlets. A panel of five judges selected the winners as best among the 12 North American racetracks entered for consideration.

The judges cited Keeneland’s superb, sharp video and multiple paddock cameras as well as the streamlined Trakus presentation providing an enhanced viewing experience. Woodbine’s graphics package combined with exceptional commentators impressed the judges, who noted that “At Woodbine, it’s all about the horse.”

“We are so proud of our broadcast team and this award,” said Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason. “Their dedication to making an outstanding simulcast product comes from their understanding and appreciation for what horseplayers want. It also is a tribute to the teamwork that goes into doing a broadcast of that caliber and to the leadership of our Director of Broadcast Services G.D Hieronymus.”

“I’d like to thank the panel of judges for recognizing what is a great source of pride for Woodbine, the outstanding work of our Broadcast group,” said Nick Eaves, Woodbine’s CEO. “Congratulations to Doug Flaherty, Senior Director of Broadcasting, and his team for the tremendous honor.”

This year’s panel of judges consisted of: Vic Zast, author, Blood-Horse contributor and former racing executive with Delaware North Companies; Mike Mullaney, former Director of Media Relations at Gulfstream Park and Eastern Edition Editor/National Features Editor of the Daily Racing Form; Joe Clancy, Editor/Publisher/Owner of ST Publishing, publisher of Steeplechase Times and the Saratoga Special; Gary West, ESPN columnist, former president of the National Turf Writers Association and former racing columnist for the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram; and Mike Dorr, who while not at his daytime job as Pricing and Value Creation Director for Asurion, Inc., is a devoted racing and handicapping enthusiast.

The 12 track entries were the actual simulcast audio and video transmission of a single race sent to wagering outlets. Each entry included the pre-race features, odds, will-pays, commentaries, the actual running of the race, the results, and post-race features. Keeneland’s winning entry originally aired April 12, 2012 and Woodbine’s on August 6, 2012.

The winning production had noteworthy competition from other vote-getting tracks such as Calder, Churchill Downs, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Gulfstream and Mohawk. Each received first, second or third-place votes on several ballots.

Previous winners of the award are Churchill Downs (1997), Turfway Park (1998), Penn National (1999), Santa Anita Park (2000, 2001), Hollywood Park (2002), Keeneland (2003, 2008, 2009, 2011), Los Alamitos (2007), Del Mar Thoroughbred Club (2005), and Woodbine Entertainment Group (2004, 2006, 2007, 2010).

 

Birnbaum, Heagney & Weinrib Awarded Russell-Rice TRA Scholarship

September 11, 2012 - Adam Birnbaum, Nathaniel Heagney and Ben Weinrib will enter the freshman class at Vanderbilt University as the 2012 co-recipients of the 54th Fred Russell-Grantland Rice TRA Scholarship for sports writing, it was announced by the Thoroughbred Racing Associations (TRA) Tuesday.

Birnbaum, a graduate of Cypress Bay High School in Weston, Fla., Heagney, a graduate of St. Louis University High School in St. Louis, Mo. and Weinrib, a graduate of Providence Day School in Charlotte, N.C., were selected from a near record 179 applicants for this year’s scholarship in the amount of $20,000 per year for four years each at Vanderbilt.


Named in honor of two legendary sports writing alumni of Vanderbilt, the scholarship has an extraordinary record of producing prominent and successful writers and television personalities, including Roy Blount, Jr., Bill Livingston, Skip Bayless, John (Joe Bob Briggs) Bloom, David Sheinin, Tyler Kepner, Lee Jenkins, and Daniel Wolken.

Birnbaum was heavily involved in his school’s newspaper, The Circuit, serving as sports editor and editor-in-chief for the online version. In addition to being named first place Sports Columnist in the South Florida Sun Sentinel high school journalism awards, he has worked as a sports writer for Sports Link Magazine and was also Head Coach in the YMCA basketball program.

He has a passion for all aspects of sports and hopes to focus his education on sports management.

Heagney served as the editor and writer for the school publication, The Prep News, along with being the editor of Sisyphus, the school’s literary magazine. He was a National Merit Semifinalist and won “Best Story” at the high school journalism institute at Indiana University. He has also contributed to heardthisblog.com, a Fox Sports basketball recruiting blog.

 

He will be an Economics major at Vanderbilt and will continue sports writing during his time at Vanderbilt.

Weinrib has written for his school newspaper, The Charger, for three years and served as its sports editor during his junior and senior years. He also served as editor for The Charger and another school publication, Charging Backwards. He started his own blog, The Knuckle Blog, as a freshman and has freelanced for the Charlotte Observer. His most ambitious project is an annual major league baseball preview, started when he was in seventh grade, as a comprehensive analysis of the upcoming season. The most recent issue totaled 105 pages of stats and ratings for the entire league.

He plans on majoring in Economics and/or Psychology and plans to become a sports writer.

The scholarship winners, selected by a panel chaired by Oaklawn Park President Charles J. Cella, have distinguished themselves not just in sports writing and broadcasting, but in other fields as well.

The four-year scholarship is co-sponsored by Vanderbilt University and the TRA and is awarded to an outstanding high school senior with special interest and potential in the field of sports writing. The TRA represents 48 member racing associations conducting Thoroughbred racing at 41 racetracks in North America.

The scholarship honors Vanderbilt alumni Grantland Rice and Fred Russell, two of the greatest sports writers of all time. Initially, the scholarship was created in 1956 to honor Grantland Rice, the dean of American sports writing, who died in 1954. The scholarship received a funding endowment from Mr. Cella on behalf of the TRA in 1986, and its name was amended to include the late Fred Russell, the famed Nashville Banner sports columnist for 69 years and a mentor to many of the scholarship winners.  Click HERE for a list of previous winners.


TRA Board Endorses Each State’s Adoption Of Uniform
Medication Policies and Stronger Penalties

June 21, 2012 – The TRA Board of Directors, after meeting in Baltimore in late May, has endorsed a number of safety measures intended to ensure only sound horses participate in North American Thoroughbred races. This policy calls for the implementation of uniform regulations regarding more restrictive use of a limited number of therapeutic drugs, a strong penalty structure for violators, and the elimination of treatment practices that could imperil the welfare of the horse when racing.

“The TRA Board identified those issues that most relate to the safety of horses and jockeys,” TRA president Chris McErlean said. “In many cases these issues have been studied by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) and the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) and rules already have been passed with the support of many of racing’s national organizations. We could make tremendous strides quickly by having each state implement those rules. That is the objective of the TRA members.”

The TRA Board seeks implementation across the nation of rules enhancing equine safety by strictly and uniformly regulating the use of therapeutic drugs in racing. In particular, the TRA supports extending current pre-race-day withdrawal times for approved non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS, e.g. phenylbutazone), clenbuterol, and corticosteroids.

The TRA also endorsed a revision of the RCI’s Model Rules on Medication to reduce the number of approved therapeutic medications to be used on horses in training and to increase significantly the penalty guidelines for prohibited substance violations and repeat violations of therapeutic medication rules. Furthermore, multiple penalties should be determined on a cross-jurisdictional basis, not state by state.

The RMTC already has begun work on a revision that would reduce the number of permitted drugs to the 26 therapeutic medications most commonly used to treat race horses and for which test thresholds and withdrawal guidelines already have been established. (Even minute trace residue of a drug can be detected long after there has been any pharmacological effect, so threshold levels ensure the drug has had no influence on the horse during the race.) Any trace level of any other drug during testing would constitute a violation and be subject to penalty.

TRA supports the existing RCI rule setting the threshold detection level at 2 micrograms (two trillionths per milliliter) for phenylbutazone as a result of the examining veterinarians’ position that higher levels could hamper their ability to evaluate the soundness of a horse during pre-race exams. TRA also advocates pre-race examinations in every regulatory jurisdiction.

The threshold limit for clenbuterol should be 2 picograms (two millionths per milliliter) to prevent the misuse of the FDA-approved syrup for any muscle mass-building effects, as well as effectively preclude the use of imported higher-strength clenbuterol compounds. (The presence of compounded clenbuterol on racetrack grounds should be severely punished.) The RMTC is awaiting the conclusion of laboratory research later this summer to determine a recommended withdrawal time for adoption in a model rule. Similar research is nearing completion for approved anti-inflammatory corticosteroids.

Also identified as vital to the safety of the horse and rider is the adoption of the RCI model rule prohibiting shock wave therapy within 10 days of a race and the implementation of minimum standards requiring ISO (International Organization for Standardization) and RMTC accreditation for all testing laboratories.

The TRA urges all racing jurisdictions to immediately prohibit the use of race-day administration of adjunct bleeder medications.

The TRA Board also took the position any jurisdiction permitting race-day use of furosemide should implement the RCI model rule which restricts its administration to regulatory veterinarians or a commission designee, sets a minimum and maximum dosage, and has provisions for post-administration monitoring of horses identified as racing that day.
 

Summary of TRA Board Medication Policy Recommendations

  • The RMTC and RCI are urged to pass a racing medication rule reducing the number of drug classifications to two – permitted therapeutics and prohibited – with the current number of approved-for-training medications reduced to 26, accompanied by much stronger uniform penalties, especially for repeat violations regardless of jurisdiction(s). All racing jurisdictions should adopt these revised medication rules by the end of 2012 or, if precluded by legislative or state procedural requirements, should be in the process of doing so by that time.
  • All racing jurisdictions should eliminate the race-day administration of adjunct medications.
  • All racing jurisdictions should immediately implement the RCI model rule regarding the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including a 2 (two) microgram threshold limit for post-race testing of phenylbutazone and the strict prohibition of the combination use of more than one of the permitted NSAIDs.
  • All racing jurisdictions should immediately apply strict penalties for the use of compounded clenbuterol substances.
  • All racing jurisdictions should implement a maximum threshold limit for detection of the FDA-approved clenbuterol of 2 (two) picograms with a recommended withdrawal time as established by RMTC later this summer.
  • The TRA Board encourages the RMTC and RCI to expedite the passage of a model rule prohibiting the injection of corticosteroids into joints as soon as withdrawal guidelines are established by laboratory research this year.
  • All testing laboratories should be accredited to ISO17025 standards by the end of the year and should participate in the RMTC lab testing accreditation program. The TRA also urges the RMTC to complete a manual of standard laboratory detection protocols to assure uniformity of results among the various laboratories.
  • All racing jurisdictions should immediately implement the RCI model rule on shock wave therapy, prohibiting its use to no less than 10 days before a race.
  • All jurisdictions should pass the RCI model rule regarding pre-race veterinary examinations of all horses on race day.
  • Every jurisdiction also should implement the RCI model rule provisions requiring independent administration of furosemide by the state or official veterinarian or commission designee.

Trager Heads Simulcast Conference TV Panel

September 20, 2011 - Mike Trager will head an all-star panel of experts discussing the need to drastically improve racing’s television exposure in the closing session of the 19th Annual Simulcast Conference (Oct. 3-5) on Wednesday morning, Oct. 5, in Scottsdale, Ariz. He will be joined by Amy Zimmerman, executive producer and senior vice president of production and programming at HRTV, Tony Allevato, senior vice president and executive producer at TVG and Ed Seigenfeld, former Triple Crown Productions executive vice president.

Trager was a partner in Sports Marketing & Television International, the Greenwich, Conn., firm that convinced Arthur Watson, the late president of NBC Sports and a horse racing fan himself, to give the new $10-million Breeders’ Cup four hours of coverage. SMTI was the television and sponsorship agency of the Breeders’ Cup through 2001. Currently the chairman of The Trager Group, which specializes in television consulting, rights and production, Trager has been involved with Major League Baseball, the NFL, the Moscow Olympics, the NCAA Final Four, tennis, football and auto racing. He has also been responsible for the production of various films and award-winning television shows related to sports during his more than 40 years in the advertising, sports and television industries.

Zimmerman, who has worked in racing since joining the Santa Anita staff in 1986 and has been in charge of HRTV production since its inception in 2002, has worked with all four major networks as a horse racing producer.
 She has been a producer in 13 Eclipse Award-winning television shows, including HRTV’s winner last year in the Feature Programming category. Allevato has managed the television production of TVG since the ground-breaking launch of the network in 1999. Seigenfeld joined the New York Racing Association in 1981 as vice president of marketing before becoming the executive vice president of Triple Crown Productions in 1990 and working on the negotiation of television contracts with ABC and later NBC.

The McKinsey Study commissioned by the The Jockey Club to drive sustainable growth in the Thoroughbred industry cited television exposure as the key component of any plan. The panel for this year’s International Simulcast Conference was assembled to provide a broad spectrum of expertise in television production and programming and to assess the racing industry’s strengths and weaknesses regarding development opportunities, as well as offering their own suggestions.

Rooms are still available at the host hotel, the Scottsdale Plaza Resort. For more information, please call the hotel directly at (800) 832-2025 and indicate you are with the International Simulcast Conference.

The Thoroughbred Racing Associations (TRA) and the Harness Tracks of America (HTA), in conjunction with the American Greyhound Track Operators Association (AGTOA), co-sponsor the annual conference.

The Jockey Club's Wilson to Discuss McKinsey Study at Simulcast Conference

September 16, 2011 - Jason Wilson, Vice President - Business Development for The Jockey Club, will review the recent study conducted by McKinsey & Co. on the Thoroughbred racing industry Monday afternoon, Oct. 3, at the 19th annual International Simulcast Conference (Oct. 3-5) in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Wilson, who joined The Jockey Club a year ago after serving as a vice president in the real estate, gaming and lodging investment banking group of Banc of America Securities, will elaborate on McKinsey’s study, including its analysis of the causes of the decline of racing, where the industry is headed over the next 10 years if it follows its current course, and recommendations for not only stemming the decline but also sparking vital growth.

Following Wilson, Brad Kimbrell, Executive Vice President of InCompass Solutions, will describe the toolset being developed as part of the “Fewer, Better Races through Rational Scheduling” initiative. This toolset will address scheduling of race dates and post times, suggest which races are most likely to fill based on horse inventory and which of those races should result in the best pari-mutuel race card. Metrics gained from the McKinsey Study will be applied to racing data along with historical information available to the InCompass RTO System to optimize race cards.

The conference’s opening speaker will be cybersecurity author Joseph Menn, who wrote “Fatal System Error: The Hunt for the New Crime Lords Who are Bringing Down the Internet.”

The Tuesday schedule will feature presentations and discussion on innovations in types of wagers, betting devices, and mobile apps. There will be sessions on simulcast marketing to outlets, development of international markets, takeout reduction, and appealing to a younger demographic.

The McKinsey study’s recommendations regarding the need to raise awareness of racing through television will be addressed in the conference’s closing session on Wednesday morning.

A few rooms are still available at the host hotel, the Scottsdale Plaza Resort. For more information, please call the hotel directly at (800) 832-2025 and indicate you are with the International Simulcast Conference.

Conference attendance requires registration with the TRA. Hotel reservations are available at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort by calling 800-832-2025 and requesting the “International Simulcast Conference” room rate. Reservation deadline is September 16.

Click HERE for more information, including the conference registration form.

 


Joseph Menn to Address Simulcast Conference

Joseph Menn, author of “Fatal System Error: The Hunt for the New Crime Lords Who are Bringing Down the Internet,” will address the subject of cybersecurity Monday, Oct. 3, to kick off the 19th annual International Simulcast Conference to be held at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., Oct. 3-5.

Menn covers cybersecurity and other technology issues for the Financial Times and previously wrote for the Los Angeles Times. He is the author of 2003’s “All the Rave: The Rise and Fall of Shawn Fanning’s Napster” and a two-time finalist for the Gerald Loeb Award, the top prize for business reporting. Menn has spoken at the largest security industry conferences as well as meetings convened by the U.S. Secret Service and bank regulators.

“Fatal System Error” tracks the evolution of cybercrime from its early attacks on internet gambling companies to government-sponsored involvement in intellectual property intrusion.

The International Simulcast Conference also will feature panel discussions and presentations on exchange wagering, handicapping and betting apps, post time coordination and reduced takeout.

The International Simulcast Conference is co-sponsored by the TRA and Harness Tracks of America, in association with the American Greyhound Track Operators Association.

Conference attendance requires registration with the TRA. Hotel reservations are available at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort by calling 800-832-2025 and requesting the “International Simulcast Conference” room rate. Reservation deadline is September 16.

Click HERE for more information, including the conference registration form.


Citak & Tripodoro Awarded 2011 Russell-Rice TRA Scholarship

July 25, 2011 - Matthew Citak and Anthony Tripodoro will enter the freshman class at Vanderbilt University as the 2011 co-recipients of the 53rd Fred Russell-Grantland Rice TRA Scholarship for sports writing, it was announced by the Thoroughbred Racing Associations (TRA) Monday.

Citak, a graduate of Horace Mann School in Riverdale, N.Y., and Tripodoro, a graduate of Chaminade High School in Mineola, N.Y. were selected from 109 applicants for this year’s scholarship in the amount of $20,000 per year for four years each at Vanderbilt.

Named in honor of two legendary sports writing alumni of Vanderbilt, the scholarship has an extraordinary record of producing prominent and successful writers and television personalities, including Roy Blount, Jr., Bill Livingston, Skip Bayless, John (Joe Bob Briggs) Bloom, David Sheinin, Tyler Kepner, Lee Jenkins, and Daniel Wolken.

Citak served as the sports editor and writer for the school publication, Manhattan Review, along with being the editor of The Score, a school sports magazine. He played junior varsity soccer as a freshman in high school, moving up to varsity in his final three years, and was starting goalkeeper during his junior and senior years. He was named to the New York Post All Bronx Soccer Team and the All Ivy League Soccer Team in 2010 as well as receiving the Horace Mann Coach’s Award.

He will be a Communications major at Vanderbilt and hopes to pursue a career in sports broadcasting or sports journalism.

Tripodoro was heavily involved in his school’s newspaper, Tarmac, serving as managing editor and sports editor before being named editor-in-chief as a senior.
 In addition to being on the Honor Roll all four years in high school, he was one of only seven finalists for the National Merit Scholarship from Chaminade.

He is interested in many subjects, including English, journalism, psychology, sociology and history, but hopes to focus on economics as his target area of study. His goal is to work as an attorney, journalist or in the financial industry.

The scholarship winners, selected by a panel chaired by Oaklawn Park President Charles J. Cella, have distinguished themselves not just in sports writing and broadcasting, but in other fields as well.

The four-year scholarship is co-sponsored by Vanderbilt University and the TRA and is awarded to an outstanding high school senior with special interest and potential in the field of sports writing. The TRA represents 48 member racing associations conducting Thoroughbred racing at 41 racetracks in North America.

The scholarship honors Vanderbilt alumni Grantland Rice and Fred Russell, two of the greatest sports writers of all time. Initially, the scholarship was created in 1956 to honor Grantland Rice, the dean of American sports writing, who died in 1954. The scholarship received a funding endowment from Mr. Cella on behalf of the TRA in 1986, and its name was amended to include the late Fred Russell, the famed Nashville Banner sports columnist for 69 years and a mentor to many of the scholarship winners.

Click here for previous winners of the Fred Russell-Grantland Rice TRA Sports Writing Scholarship

Deadline for Simulcast Award Entry is August 15

May 13, 2011 -  The award honoring the racing industry’s best simulcast production will be presented at the 19th annual International Simulcast Conference held this year in Scottsdale, Ariz. The deadline for all entries is Monday, August 15.

The International Simulcast Conference is co-sponsored by the Thoroughbred Racing Associations and Harness Tracks of America, in conjunction with the American Greyhound Track Operators Association.

The award honors the best simulcast presentation by a host site and is open to all pari-mutuel breeds. The simulcast entry will be judged on technical merit, quality and timeliness of racing and wagering information dissemination, as well as overall appeal.

The winner will be announced and presented the award at the conference, which runs October 3-5 at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort.

Entries for the award must be no more than 30 minutes in length and contain one complete race presentation, including pre-race features and graphics, the race itself, and any post-race replays and/or wrap-ups.

Entries must have been part of a normal simulcast program and not a collection of highlights or features and have aired after August 13, 2010.

Tracks may submit a “marquee” race but will not be given special consideration for the extra “bells and whistles” employed for that day. This award is meant to recognize the track which day-in, day-out consistently produces the premier simulcast feed.

To enter, six copies in DVD format should be sent to TRA, 420 Fair Hill Drive, Suite 1, Elkton, MD 21921, along with a letter of entry detailing the contact name for the entry and the date the program aired. All entries must be received by Monday, August 15, 2011.

Last year, the Simulcast Award was presented to Woodbine, the fourth award for the Toronto track which previously won in 2004, 2006 and 2007. Other winners have been Keeneland (2003, 2008-9), Churchill Downs (1997), Turfway Park (1998), Penn National (1999), Santa Anita Park (2000-1), Hollywood Park (2002), Del Mar Thoroughbred Club (2005) and Los Alamitos (2007).
 


McErlean Elected TRA President

February 22, 2011 - Christopher McErlean, Vice President of Racing for Penn National Gaming, Inc. (PNG), was elected the 35th President of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations (TRA) at its annual Board of Directors’ meeting Tuesday at the Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans. McErlean, who succeeded Arlington Park President Roy A. Arnold as TRA President, has served on the TRA Board since 1998.

The TRA Board elected Craig R. Fravel and re-elected Randall D. Sampson as TRA Vice Presidents. Also elected was Scott Wells as TRA Secretary, and re-elected were William I. Fasy as Treasurer and Christopher N. Scherf as Executive Vice President.

McErlean stated: “I am a racing fan and the combination of racing and business has always been my passion. Helping lead the trade organization representing the finest racetracks in North America is indeed an honor. There is no doubt that the business of horse racing is extremely challenged and despite the many issues at our individual local levels, there are common goals and objectives that we all share in attempting to move our businesses forward.”

McErlean, whose office is at the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Grantville, Penn., directs the operations of the growing PNG family of racetracks, including Penn National, Charles Town Races, Beulah Park, Zia Park, Raceway Park, Bangor Raceway, and Sanford Orlando Kennel Club. Additionally, PNG is a partner in Laurel Park, Pimlico Racecourse, Freehold Raceway, and Sam Houston Race Park.

Penn National Gaming, trading as PENN on NASDAQ, currently operates 23 racing and gaming facilities in 16 jurisdictions. In aggregate, PNG-operated facilities feature more than 27,000 gaming machines, 500 table games, 2,000 hotel rooms and more than one million square feet of gaming floor space.

McErlean joined Penn National in 2007 following a 15-year stint with the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA). During that time, he held a number of positions in the operations, marketing and simulcasting departments and ultimately held the title of Vice President of Racing Operations for both Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands.
 

Prior to joining the NJSEA, McErlean was Executive Assistant at Harness Tracks of America under the tutelage of Stan Bergstein. While in college, interned at Brandywine Raceway. He began his racing career at the early age of 14 as the youngest published handicapper for the Delaware (PA) County Daily Times.

He is a Director of the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau, a Director of the U.S. Trotting Association, a member of the Equibase Management Committee, and is Treasurer and former President of Harness Tracks of America. McErlean holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics/Finance from the University of Scranton and an MBA in Marketing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. McErlean is a native of Aldan, Penn. and resides in Hummelstown with his wife Michele and their two daughters.

Sampson is President and Chief Executive Officer for Canterbury Park (NASDAQ:CPHC) in Shakopee, Minn., positions he has held with the company since its formation in 1994. He has been on the TRA Board of Directors since 1998 and is past President of the Minnesota Thoroughbred Association.

Fravel was named President and General Manager of Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Del Mar, Calif., in 2010 after serving as its Executive Vice President since joining DMTC in 1990. He has been on the TRA Board since 2001.

Wells is President and General Manager of Remington Park in Oklahoma City, Okla. He has been on the TRA Board since joining Remington Park 2005. He was previously instrumental in the rebuilding of the historic Maronas Racetrack in Uruguay.

Fasy is the President of Delaware Park and has more than 20 years experience in the hospitality and entertainment business. He has served as TRA Treasurer since 2001.

Scherf has been the TRA Executive Vice President since 1988. Prior to joining the TRA, Scherf was Director of Press Relations for the New York Racing Association.
 


TRPB Targets Enhanced Network Efficiency with
Comprehensive Tote Security System

January 4, 2011 -The Thoroughbred Racing Associations (TRA) Board of Directors has voted unanimously to support development by the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau (TRPB) of a tote security system to ensure the close of betting throughout the pari-mutuel network and eliminate dramatic shifts in final odds through the production and dissemination of real-time decimal odds to participating host racetracks for use in their video display.

The TRPB Tote Security System (TSS) is a parallel network communications infrastructure designed to transmit specific tote data independently from the current Inter-Tote System Protocol (ITSP) used for all data communication.

Upon implementation within 18-24 months, TSS will provide to participating racetracks and wagering outlets the following improvements and enhancements in the transmission of tote system data:

  • Real-time decimal odds, initially in the win pool, which will provide more timely and accurate information for bettors to calculate expected payouts.

  • An improved, standardized stop-betting device and process, which will ensure betting has ceased at every retail network on the TRPB Tote Security System at the start of every race upon the stop betting command being issued by the host.

  • The ability for a host racetrack association to identify and authenticate each simulcast retailer’s participation in the host’s races, ensuring only authorized access to its’ pools.

  • The ability for a host racetrack to verify essential control functions occurring within the host’s network, such as pool participation, ITSP information, cancel delay time, currency, and minimum bet values.

  • The ability for a host racetrack to audit wagering transaction detail on Pick-n pools on a leg-by-leg basis.

  • An increased capability for participating host racetracks to hasten development of new wagering opportunities and expand betting markets.

Important features of the TRPB Tote Security System can be accessed and viewed by the host track representatives and their authorized regulators through a secure web-based portal, which also will make available a variety of other wagering integrity tools currently utilized by TRPB in analyzing wagering data.

“The TRPB Tote Security System is a measured, reasoned, and realistic response to communication failures and late odds shifts which have fueled a lack of public confidence in the current tote system,” stated TRPB president Frank Fabian. “These measures vastly improve tote security by enabling host track managers far greater visibility to activity within their pools at the click of a keyboard. And, no less important, it will enable the pari-mutuel industry to better serve its wagering public.”

“This is an effective refinement of the distribution of data that would not be possible without significant redesign of the current tote system, which was not initially engineered for multiple sources of wagering,” TRA executive vice president Chris Scherf said. “The tote companies have been vital contributors to the concept and design of the TRPB Tote Security System.”

Vendors partnering with TRPB in the development of the Tote Security System include The Jockey Club Technology Services, Inc. and InCompass Solutions, Inc., (both wholly-owned subsidiaries of The Jockey Club), and Roberts Communications Network, Inc. Senior technical representatives of AmTote International, United Tote Company, Sportech, Inc., and Las Vegas Dissemination Company also have worked extensively with TRPB.

The TRPB, incorporated in 1946 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations of North America, provides security, investigative, and analytic services to its corporate owners and the horseracing industry. Its mandate is to expose and investigate all activity prejudicial to horseracing and to maintain public confidence in the sport of Thoroughbred racing.

Kuhlenschmidt & Martin Awarded 2010
Russell-Rice TRA Scholarship

August 11, 2010 - Jack Kuhlenschmidt and Jackson “Jake” Martin will enter the freshman class at Vanderbilt University as the 2010 co-recipients of the 52nd Fred Russell-Grantland Rice TRA Scholarship for sports writing.

Kuhlenschmidt, a graduate of Harvard-Westlake High School in Los Angeles, Calif., and Martin, a graduate of Henry W. Grady High School in Atlanta, Ga. were selected from 102 applicants for this year’s stipend, which covers full tuition at Vanderbilt for four years.

Named in honor of two legendary sports writing alumni of Vanderbilt, the scholarship has an extraordinary record of producing prominent and successful writers and television personalities, including Roy Blount, Jr., Bill Livingston, Skip Bayless, John (Joe Bob Briggs) Bloom, David Sheinin, Tyler Kepner, Lee Jenkins, and Daniel Wolken.

Kuhlenschmidt, extensively involved in sports journalism, served as the president of content for the calihighsports.com website for high school sports in California and was feature football columnist for scoutingthesports.com. He played lacrosse in high school and received the prestigious Eagle Scout Summit and Bronze Palm Awards.

He will be an Economics major at Vanderbilt and hopes to become either a journalist or an attorney.

Martin received the Coca-Cola Scholar Athlete Award as a high school senior, having played water polo, varsity baseball, soccer, football, lacrosse, and golf all while maintaining his academic standing in the top 10% of his class.

He was Georgia All-State in water polo and serves as an instructor at the Emory Baseball Camp.

He was voted All-Georgia (Best in State) Sports Columnist in 11th and 12th grades, was Producer of Grady High School’s sports television show, “Gametime,” and was Managing Editor of his high school newspaper, The Southerner. He will major in Communication Studies and intends to pursue a law degree after graduation. His goal is to work as a sports broadcaster, preferably announcing Major League Baseball or college football games for ESPN or a similar sports network.

The scholarship winners, selected by a panel chaired by Oaklawn Park President Charles J. Cella, have distinguished themselves not just in sports writing and broadcasting, but in other fields as well.

The four-year scholarship is co-sponsored by Vanderbilt University and the TRA and is awarded to an outstanding high school senior with special interest and potential in the field of sports writing. The TRA represents 48 member racing associations conducting Thoroughbred racing at 41 racetracks in North America.

The scholarship honors Vanderbilt alumni Grantland Rice and Fred Russell, two of the greatest sports writers of all time. Initially, the scholarship was created in 1956 to honor Grantland Rice, the dean of American sports writing, who died in 1954. The scholarship received a funding endowment from Mr. Cella on behalf of the TRA in 1986, and its name was amended to include the late Fred Russell, the famed Nashville Banner sports columnist for 69 years and a mentor to many of the scholarship winners.

Click HERE to view previous winners.


Pari-Mutuels as a Source For Purses Trending Down

May 27, 2010 - A review of United States purses by the Thoroughbred Racing Associations indicates an increasing reliance upon alternative gaming as a source of purse funding as 29 percent of the total U.S. purses in 2009 were derived from non-pari-mutuel sources such as video lottery terminals, video poker, slot machines, card rooms, and direct casino or state subsidies.

According to annual handle and purse statistics assembled by Equibase Company, LLC and CHRIMS (California Horse Racing Information Management Systems) and published by The Jockey Club, U.S. pari-mutuel handle on Thoroughbred racing in 2009 was $12.315 billion, a 9.8% decrease of $1.333 billion from 2008. Total U.S. Thoroughbred purses, however, only declined by 5.7% or $66.8 million in 2009 as alternative gaming revenue or subsidies for purses increased $21.3 million. Non-pari-mutuel revenue money directed to purses in 2009 was $318,580,638.

The TRA report of non-pari-mutuel sources of purses is broken down on a state-by-state basis and encompasses 1993-2009. (Click here for spreadsheet report and graph.)

Although pari-mutuel Thoroughbred handle has declined almost $3 billion since the record high of $15.18 billion in 2003, purses since then have risen slightly from $1,055,500,000 to $1,098,200,000. The record high for purses was $1,180,600,000 in 2007, but even with the addition of another $63 million in purse subsidies from non-pari-mutuel sources during the past two years, total purses have declined seven percent in that time period.

“What is disturbing about this trend is the real or potential downstream effect,” TRA President Roy Arnold said. “American racing depends upon a national distribution network of track and retail wagering locations to sustain and grow an essential base of customers.

“Tracks without other gaming revenue are finding it necessary to consolidate their live racing dates, which impacts not only their handle but also reduces the amount of wagering produced by their fans on imported simulcasts.

 If we settle for gaming subsidies ‘replacing’ pari-mutuel wagering revenue, rather than ‘enhancing’ it, pari-mutuel wagering simply will continue to decline.”

West Virginia was the first state to authorize expanded gaming options in 1993, but since then Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania have passed and implemented alternative forms of gambling as a source of industry funding. In addition, New Jersey racing has received legislatively-mandated funding for purses from the casino industry eight of the nine years during 2001-2009. The state of Maryland also supplemented purses with money from the state’s general fund from 1999-2009 to help its racetracks compete with the VLT-supplemented purses in Delaware and West Virginia.

Purses derived from pari-mutuel wagering were 6.33% of the total U.S. handle in 2009. That percentage has varied since 1993 from a high of 7.26% in 1995 to a low of 5.97% in 2003, but has remained around 6.3% during the past three years. Variations in simulcast takeouts and fees are responsible for the fluctuation in return from year to year.

“Returns to the industry are higher for each dollar wagered at a racetrack, so understandably the rate of return was higher before simulcasting, particularly with the expansion of account wagering, became the principal source of revenue to the industry,” TRA Executive Vice President Chris Scherf said. “Despite the growth of third-party account wagering companies and their retention of some of the takeout, the racetrack industry has recovered some revenue through higher simulcast fees to those outlets.”

The percentage of U.S. handle directed to purses still exceeds other major racing countries as Australia and Japan are next with a less than four percent return.


TRPB Proposes Tote Security Initiative

December 17, 2009 - The Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau, the investigative and analytic arm of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations of North America (TRA), unveiled to the boards of directors of both organizations a technically-innovative and effective strategy to facilitate stop-betting across the entire pari-mutuel network at the start of every race and end the unfounded perception of untoward betting activity currently caused by late-odds shifts.

The TRA and TRPB boards enthusiastically endorsed the development of a comprehensive business plan to launch a tote-enhancing initiative designed to address fan concerns with pari-mutuel wagering and improve efficiency and security in the future.

TRPB President Frank Fabian said, “As TRPB’s Wagering Integrity Unit has been increasingly called upon to review wagering associated with races involving some type of tote protocol communication failure, the need to proactively address these matters through the development of enhanced tote security measures is apparent. TRPB has the unique experience, expertise, and vendor relationships to fashion these advancements.”

Although details of TRPB’s technical plan remain confidential, Fabian noted that ongoing discussions with prominent industry service providers and all four U.S.-based tote companies have been productive.

The technical solution proposed by TRPB would operate on a parallel path but outside of the current inter-tote system protocol, enabling TRPB to provide independent redundancy to certain race day control functions. Additionally, wagering data collected by TRPB’s tote security devices will enable TRPB to produce and distribute real-time decimal win-odds to host tracks for video display.

According to Fabian, “Not only will TRPB’s proposed solution address current concerns, it will provide tracks and bettors with valuable real-time wagering information and a technical infrastructure capable of implementing timely changes and research and development in the future.”

The TRPB Wagering Analysis Unit already reviews the daily wagering for races at every TRA member track through autonomous algorithmic processing designed to identify anomalies in payoff prices, volume variance, and odds fluctuations. Any wagering activity falling outside defined parameters is scrutinized further and, if warranted, investigated by the TRPB.

The TRA and TRPB boards of directors unanimously approved and funded TRPB’s proposal to develop the TRPB Tote Security Initiative business plan for presentation during a special session at the boards’ annual meeting in March 2010.