Aqueduct February 28

Race 1.     5-3-1

The first race looks like a two horse affair at first glance, but I’m going to take a shot with Persuasive Devil. He’s got a few positives. He’s got a win and two seconds in three tries on the inner, and he was with better last year, although given they were statebreds, not quite the class drop it might seem. He’s won previously off the short layoff, Given the two top choices are underlays, he may represent the value. Point Hope and Hunter’s Strike both look capable. Given the odds on these two, it will be tough to get a value bet down on them. Point Hope  appears to be a horse with physical problems but is taking a significant drop. Neither a win nor a breakdown would be a surprise. Hunter’s Strike has a win on the inner and has been fairly consistent.

Race 2.     4-6-2

Saratoga Sight drops from MSW to this MCL race and that gives him the nod. Majority has been knocking – that is a plus and a minus. Pretty weak field may give him enough of an edge to break his maiden. Ezra was recently gelded and that’s as good a reason as any to give him the nod to finish the tri.

Race 3.     2-6-3

This race may only have six entrants, but they all have a shot at the top spot. Dad’z Laugh has the best recent figures and gets the top slot. Eskendulce is the only horse that has more closing tendencies, and given the presence of all the speed, he’ll either be left in the dust or motor by the field in the stretch. American Creed has a big win on the inner and a duplicate effort puts him right there.

Race 4.     5-1-4

Another small but competitive field. Everydoghashisday was claimed by Englehart for $10K, jumped to $25K statebred route where he flopped, and is back in a $10K sprint. Real Estate Rich looked great first two on the inner this meet, but has been a poor competitor since the claim by Terraciano. Has the talent and we’ll see if Terraciano has him turned around. Aleander doesn’t have a win on the inner but has beaten better.

Race 5.     4-5-6

Mahabodhi Tree ran well first out and was getting to the winner at the end. Anydayismyday has been close in four of five starts but hasn’t broken through. Good chances to be part of the top three. Liana Star ran well first time on the inner and has a figure equivalent to the top two.

Race 6.     1-8-2

Mister Popsicle has a couple of good races on the inner, but has a tendency to fold late. He’s got the top early speed in the field and may be enough in front to hang on. Not solid but hard to discount. Kowboy Boots doesn’t have a win in six starts on the inner but he has been improving and drops to a price where he has a better chance. Neverindicted makes a big drop today and has figures competitive with this group.

Race 7.     1-2-6-5

The entry of Ice Couture and Ice Palace looks tough here. Both horses have raced close to each other, and Ice Palace has a win at the distance. Sneaky Fair broke toward the back of the field but made a powerful close to decimate the group. Improvement seems likely today. Majesticconfection just broke her maiden for $30K and steps up for Pletcher/Ortiz. Will have to get the jump on the 2. Kentucky Road has two good races on the inner and has run at this level successfully. Can’t discount.

Race 8.     1-5-4

Monty Haul has been popular at the claim box lately and runs for Steve Klesaris today. No form on the inner, but he’s a win type that always seems to be around at the end. Eighty Three ran two good ones on the inner and then shipped to SA with DJ where he finished second as the favorite. Fits well in this group. Maleeh has been off 11 months for McLaughlin. Has been working well and off his best he is very dangerous.

Race 9.     9-3-10-7

Amulay was beaten by Just Catty and Bonita Luna last time but I’ll give him a good chance to turn the tables today. Is She Hot has the best speed in the field and could use it to her advantage. Just Catty and Bonita Luna finished next to each other last out and could have a big say in the outcome again.

Aqueduct February 27

Race 1.     2-6-5

I’m putting Liberty Fuze on top, but I’m not buying into the 3/5 morning line. She’s winning at near 30% lifetime, and is clearly the speed of the race. She fits the conditions. Da Wildcat Girl looks like the horse with the best chance of pulling the upset. She was taken last out by Richard Stoklosa, a fairly low profile trainer, and she looks to be in top condition. Enduring Touch finally broke through the NW2L condition last out and takes a healthy step up.

Race 2.     3-4-1

Just Afleet has shown good speed in three starts and has the look of a horse that could win with slight improvement. He adds blinkers in the hope that makes the improvement. Third Son stepped up from a sprint to a route off a brief layoff and looked like he was in the right spot. He would be no surprise in the winner’s circle and may be the value play. The coupling of R F Burton and Yummy Bear looks very tough, and the 6/5 ML is really a reflection that they both have a chance to win, but I’m not sure either is superior to the top two.

Race 3.     3-7-1

American Progress was claimed by Linda Rice two back and has run two decent if not outstanding races. The last was better than looked and he tops the field off his last figure. Rapid Rouge is 4/5 on the ML and looks in top condition for RuRod. He fits but at the price doesn’t excite me. Joe Mooch has the speed to get a tactical spot from the rail and has been consistent from a figure standpoint.

Race 4.     1-8-3

I like that Baronet went right to the front from the 12 post and ran gamely around the track. She should get a good spot from the rail and wins with some improvement. Little Bear Cat drops in price after a so-so turn on the inner, but did show some speed last out. Show Giant was four lengths behind Baronet in that maiden $25K, jumped up to $40K and was soundly beaten. She’s back at the lower level today and could be competitive.

Race 5.     2-7-4-8

Ima Wildcat finished a strong second at this level in December, jumped up and was overmatched. Drops back today and projects as the one to catch. Sourcesandmethods seems to be heading toward regular seconditis, but has been popular at the claim box with four claims in the his last five races. Abby Adsit does the saddling today and she is fair first off the claim. Touchdown was taken last out by RuRod and that makes him more attractive. Rich ‘n’ Tuck was taken by Linda Rice last out and is 5/2 on the ML based on back class and the fact that Rice is 25% first off the claim. He’s also been gelded since his last. Could merit his odds, but I may look elsewhere for value.

Race 6.     1-4-5

This looks like the most competitive race of the day.  Swell comes off a win in a $50K SA, and dops into a statebred NW1X. If he runs to his last he’s the likeliest winner. Organic Gemini took a while to break his maiden, but he seems to have taken very well to the inner.  Now that he’s figured it out, he may start stringing them together. Private Thrill is another that seems to have a liking for the inner. He fits the conditions well. If you are looking at the Pick-4, consider throwing in Uncharted Course.

Race 7.     6-2-1

Another tough to predict race. Son of a General either didn’t care for Mike Miceli’s training, or the inner last out, but before that was a winner for $32K. The drop to $25K should be in his favor. Worth a look at the odds. Conspiracy has done well on the inner and has done well with better quality animals. Should be the speed here and will have to be caught. Life’s Reward won last out and was taken by Gregory DiPrima who is a respectable 18% first off the claim. Should be one of the horses near the front.

Race 8.     7-2-1

Flora Dora has done well with graded horses and won the Busanda last out with statebreds. I’d be a little more confident if Marialice Coffy had a better training percentage. Still, this has been a good runner and she’s worth a long look. Katniss the Victor will be trying to win by running as opposed to using a bow and arrow. She’s made two starts, and is a nose away from being 2 for 2. Can’t discount the chances of an improving three year old. Lost Raven has been competitive with these sorts in the past and certainly has chances here.

Race 9.     2-3-5

Bluemoonofsaratoga drops out a MSW where she ran the top last out figure. Silly Face improved on her second start on the inner and looks right behind the top horse. Mlle. Chanteuse ran a much better than looked race first out at a route distance. She drops back to a sprint and at 12-1 ML should could make the day if she pulls the upset.

Aqueduct February 21

It looks like a very competitive day, but I’ve isolated a couple of potential longshots. Posting is pre-scratch.

Race 1.     5-6-1

While L X Sunrise has finished in the money 16 times in 24 races, only one of those was a win. Will likely be underlayed in the win pool, but can be used vertically. She’s All Even has a ton of speed and may have things her own way on the front. Dangerous. Barrier to Entry has been running well on the inner and drops to a friendlier level. Gabby’s Brown ran well in her first start for Nevin, comes off a short rest and certainly has chances if she doesn’t get lost on the rail.

Race 2.     2-6-7

I’ve got no great insight here. The low price horses look good. The Great Whiteway is trained by Klesaris who has been hot lately so he gets the nod.

Race 3.     4-3-5

Another race where one of the public choices is likely to win. Awesome News is likely the best of the speed horses and Rachel’s Temper looks the best poised to take advantage if the race breaks down.

Race 4.     6-5-8

Albertrani is not known for success with first timers but he does better once they’ve had a start. Second start and she gets first Lasix. Good Laugh goes for the red hot Linda Rice barn. Firestar is the type of horse I won’t put on top despite the top figures. Backholer for me.

Race 5.     4-1-2

The Broadway is a competitive affair with good speed in Court Dancer and Tricky Zippy along with the hard-trying Willet. I’ll stick with those three although Blithely certainly can be thrown into the mix.

Race 6.     9-8-10-2

Another tough race. I’m going with a couple of price horses. Curious Cal is at the right level and comes off a fairly long layoff for Charlton Baker. His big positive – two wins in three tries on the inner. American Creed is coming off a win and a claim by Michelle Nevin at this level. Two in a row not out of the question. The Big Deluxe is the likely favorite and as such may be overbet, but he’s got plenty of speed and threat to wire the field. Comandante is a good prospect to outrun his odds. Lots of speed and will benefit from the price drop.

Race 7.     5-6-9

Kibble is 10/1 on the ML for Anthony Dutrow who has been a little hard luck at the AQU inner meet, but I like his chances here. JCs American Dream will likely go favorite but looks like he will be doing it from off the pace. Not so much speed in the field that I can feel confident about him running by the leaders in the stretch. Regia Marina took a while to break her maiden but perhaps not that she has it figured out she’ll get two in a row.

Race 8.     8-4-1

The Haynesfield is another competitive stakes. Royal Posse is the odds on ML favorite and should be in a good position. Likely to be underlayed but with good chances. Perhaps Full of Mine is as bad as the ML suggests, but I’m going to use him in the verticals. Saratoga Snacks is coming in off a series of good finishes in statebred stakes and looks solid in this spot. If you’re looking at horizontals, you might want to give some consideration to Good Luck Gus and Eye Luv Lulu.

Race 9.     3-6-7

The final is a pretty open affair. Nick’s Funnybone looks best of the starters. J K’s Girl goes first time for Klesaris and he’s hit with 3 of 5 firsters at the inner meet. Gonna Find Her goes for Michael Dilger who is 21% with second start maidens.

Aqueduct February 20

Excellent card at the Big A today and a number of very tough races.

Race 1.    9-7-6

Stella Who showed good speed in a straight maiden last out and returns at the $40K level today. She should be the one to catch. Goldies Luckycharm never got into the last race she ran, but she should have learned some lessons in that race. In this field she’s not as outless as the ML odds suggest. Grace’s Joy has been at the level for a couple of months but her last race showed enough improvement to make her a contender here.

Race 2.    4-5-1-7

City Steel passed a race yesterday for this spot. Trainer Pino moved him up after a claim and brings him back down to the level at which he was taken. If he regains his old condition he’s got big chances. Now We Are Free steps up slightly after a win. Has been in good form  and figures to be coming in the stretch. Hurry Up Alan ran right behind Now We Are Free and could turn the tables this time. Real Estate Rich was obviously at the wrong distance last out and returns to the sprint distance where he won two in a row on the inner.

Race 3.     6-1-4-3

The Franklin Square is competitive stakes for statebred fillies. Frosty Margarita gets the nod off a nose victory when stretched out to a mile-seventy. She hasn’t finished worse than second in seven starts and is proven at the distance and the inner. Clipthcouponannie  has been brought to this race carefully by Pletcher and her figures are a match for the top choice. Will be a stern test today. Wonderment is not without chances today. She comes off a long layoff, but was dominating in her two summer starts at Belmont and her two year old figure was the highest in the field. Could be the value bet.

Race 4.     5-4-1

Feets of Strength had the lead in the stretch last out before folding. Adds blinkers today and he may not get caught this time. Littlebitadominic comes off a three month layoff for Linda Rice and she is a reasonable 20% off the layoff. Just missed in her last and tries a step back to straight maidens today. Will have to run his best to top this field. Brooklyn Major gets first Lasix today. Main difficulty has been getting out of the gate  but if he breaks he’s got a good chance to be a factor at the end.

Race 5.     7-1-3-6

Zambian Dream has been knocking on the door since arriving from Chile. Clearly is at the right level today and while his figures are not the highest in the field I like the running style and potential improvement. Integrity was taken for $40K last out and is moved up today. Should be up toward the front and is a contender off his best. Towering Moon comes off a win in his try with ALW NW1X horses for the hot Rudy Rodriguez. Can’t discount any horse he’s putting on the track. Cerro is a speedster coming off a win at $40K last out and should be setting the fractions. Will need to show some courage in the stretch.

Race 6.     7-9-4

Caderyn is Triple Crown nominated but so far has performed disappointingly. He adds blinkers today in the hope of carrying his speed to the end. Looks strong in this spot. You Had Me At Halo goes first time for Violette. I like the workout pattern and has enough works over the inner to be encouraging. Stevie Q has just one turf race but it was better than looked. He’s been gelded since that race and has been working steadily for the return. Irad takes the ride and Chad Brown is always dangerous with layoff runners.

Race 7.     1-2-7

Perfect Disco stumbled last our but before that beat a $10K field in good time. Should be in a good spot early. Buckleberry Grey ran well in his inner track debut and figures as a major contender. Nevada Kid continues his drop down the class ladder in search of a win. Not without possibilities.

Race 8.     1-7-6-5

Longfor the City has to go from the one post but has shown he can finish at this distance. RuRod doesn’t hurt. Lucky Lotto has shown an affinity for the inner and looks strong off a third place finish in the Jazil. Mills has adapted well to the dirt and should be a stretch factor. Pass the Dice is the other RuRod horse and he gets a jockey upgrade to Irad.

Race 9.     7-6-9

May Be a Diamond is one of a couple that have only been with winners once. Like the figures and the flexible running style. Dannie’s Deceiver is the other looking for a first win with winners. He showed good speed at the mile and is back today at the sprint distance. Major contender for the win. Possilicious rarely runs a bad one and should be a factor early. Second off a layoff and should improve.

Race 10.   4-2-6

Tough closing race. I’m going with first timer Croke Park. Like the workout pattern and Irad takes the mount for the competent Michael Maker. Could be a nice price. Fleeting Gold jumps up from the MCL ranks and gets first Lasix. Better than looked last race puts him in the mix. Gaming should be be the favorite, and he has some nice races, but in his sixth start I’m inclined to be skeptical about the win.

Gary Contessa

So Gary Contessa is doing seven days for having one of his horses test positive for 2.3 nanograms/mL of cocaine. For those not flashing on the measurement, that is 2.3 billionths of a gram of coke. To give you some perspective on a billion:

  • A billion seconds ago it was 1984.
  • A billion minutes ago the Roman Empire was at its greatest extent.
  • A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.
  • And my favorite, if you sat down to count from one to one billion, you would be counting for 95 years.

If it sounds like not much cocaine to have in a 1,400 pound racehorse, that’s right. Of course, given the current standards and the absolute insurer’s rule, the amount of cocaine measured is irrelevant. It is a zero tolerance substance in Florida and Contessa is presumptively guilty for its presence since he was the trainer of record at the time.

You can argue that however harsh the system may seem, trainers know the rules going in and it is their responsibility to make sure they aren’t broken, whether by them or their employees, and for the most part you would be right. Unfortunately, trainers are not able to control for everything that could result in an environmental positive. Everyone from the person who transports the horse, to the state vet, to the person who checks the horse’s identifying tattoo, to the owners in the paddock could potentially contaminate the horse. Should the trainer be held responsible for them as well? A system that cannot discern between guilt by commission and guilt by proxy is broken. I suggest nothing more than putting yourself in Contessa’s position. If you knew yourself to be innocent, do you simply accept the punishment as the cost of doing business?

I went through the pertinent issues in the case of Kellyn Gorder and methamphetamine, and I’m not going to do the same thing here. Instead I’ll focus on three issues that continually come up in these instances.

First is the amount of time it took to resolve the case. The positive was for Jeremy’s Song, a horse that finished second in a maiden race on March 8, 2014. It took close to two years to close the case and that is simply too long. The system is clearly broken if it takes that long to adjudicate a case, especially when the excess time was not related to digging for the truth.

Second, the issue of environmental contamination has to be resolved once and for all. The test used to determine a cocaine positive is for a metabolite of cocaine called benzoylecgonine. In the real world (say professional sports), a human urine test that shows less than 300 nanograms/mL for that metabolite (or 150 nanograms on a retest) is not considered a positive, although that number is an arbitrary result of discussion by scientists. That’s an eye-opener.  A level orders of magitude higher than what was found in Contessa’s horse doesn’t get you busted by football or baseball, or even in some racing jurisdictions. 2.3 nanograms is only indicative of cocaine exposure at some point in the recent past and certainly does not represent a level at which it could influence performance.

The stewards and the racing commission are in over their heads when it comes to something like environmental contamination. Other than the medical directors, who are often not expert in pharmacology, stewards and commissions are forced to look outside for expertise on environmental contamination, and even when they receive the testimony they cannot bring themselves to excuse the trainer. The fear is that the first trainer who gets excused for a Class 1 violation sets a precedent for all future cases. It is racing’s version of Pandora’s box.

In the case of Contessa, the commission resolved nothing. A $500 fine and seven days for a Class 1 substance was essentially a concession that Contessa was not likely guilty of purposely drugging his horse. They emphasized this fact by not changing the result or redistributing the purse. Why would a trainer feed a horse something like cocaine not less than four or five days BEFORE a race, when it could do no good at all for the horse’s performance on race day? It isn’t like an anabolic steroid, where the muscle built is still there weeks after the steroid has been withdrawn. It makes no more sense than taking two ibuprofen on Wednesday to deal with a headache on Saturday. Why would a commission issue such a light punishment for a Class 1 substance if they truly believed Contessa knowingly drugged the horse?

Finally, I’ve argued in favor of doing in depth investigation. Does the commission understand the mechanism by which cocaine can be transferred from human to horse and did they rule this out? Were all the stable personnel tested? Did all the people who had contact with the horse get tested? Racing commissions are among the few places in America where due process only means a trainer gets a hearing before the inevitable hanging, and nothing has to be proven beyond any reasonable doubt. At the very least, a fact-finding mission gives some credibility to the assignment of punishment.

At the end Contessa still has his record stained with a Class 1 violation. The fact that he accepted the punishment was surely indicative that the commission was never interested in letting Contessa off the hook completely. His only real option was to negotiate for the mildest punishment possible.

There is a great cry by many horseplayers to rid the sport of the drug cheats. As laudable a goal as that may be, how do you accomplish it without metaphorically throwing out the baby with the bathwater? Contessa’s case is nothing similar to Kirk Ziadie, but in the minds of those looking to denigrate racing, they both may be equally symptomatic of the problem. If Contessa was not guilty beyond the language of the absolute insurers rule, then racing did itself no favors by insisting he must be punished. Despite consistent statistics to the contrary, racing is still marked with the stain that a great number of trainers are cheaters and that illegal drug use is rampant.

I’ve pointed out a need to do proactive testing and enforcement because obviously once the race is run, all the damage is done. The goal should not be to wait and catch violations after the fact, but to prevent them from ever happening. Don’t the tracks get it that horseplayers are screwed every time a result is posted official and one of the horses in the money tests positive? Don’t they realize the only win for all of us is a clean result? An ounce of prevention, is worth….you know the rest.

Perhaps if Contessa stays clean, in time people will forget the positive for cocaine. Perhaps owners will see it as the environmental contamination Contessa argues for. But as I’ve learned from the trainers I have previously written about, there are owners that will simply not be associated with a trainer with a Class 1 conviction. There is every reason for Contessa to be concerned about the rest of his career, about whether he will miss out on a potential champion because of the stain of the cocaine positive.

Who actually won here? Not the horseplayers, not Contessa, and not horse racing. It’s one more unsatisfying moment in a history of unsatisfying moments.


National Handicapping Championship

First, congratulations to Paul Matties for winning the 2016 NHC. Given the odds against the players, it is a spectacular accomplishment. I also believe it takes a special kind of horseplayer to thrive in that environment. 53 races over four days, and multiple tracks. While I’ve learned to make money by staying in my element – primarily win and exacta betting at the NYRA tracks – doing well at the NHC would be highly unlikely for me, or anyone, without an incredible amount of preparation. The discipline and commitment it takes to break into the top tier makes the winners more than deserving of the recognition they get.

I was thinking about the NHC during the Super Bowl this weekend. 100 million people were distracted with what can be alternatively called the National Football Championship, or if you are concerned about the NFL suing you for some sort of copyright infringement, The Big Game. On the other hand, other than horseplayers nobody knows or cares about the NHC. I did a “man on the street” survey where I asked random people on the street if they knew who won the National Handicapping Championship. The answers were unsurprising.

Most people thought it had something to do with handicapped people, at least those who didn’t think it was some “goddamn gummint” attempt to raise taxes. The most common response – “Is that like the wheelchair Olympics?”

Obviously expecting anyone outside the community to pay attention to horseplayers would be a massive longshot, but it does point out how horseracing has become a niche sport. It also points out that the common meaning of the word we use to describe the selection process – handicapping – has a generally lame connotation, excuse the pun.

It also is the description of only half the equation. When horseplayers talk about handicapping, they are talking about the process of coming up with selections. The other half is betting. Of course, changing the name of the contest to the “National Horseplayer Selection and Betting Championship” would be even more lame than the current incarnation.

National Handicapping Championship doesn’t have the same brand identity as Super Bowl or World Series or March Madness. If you’re going to come up with a brand name, alliteration is always a good way to go. Horseracing Hootenany is still available.

I know history is on the side of the word “handicapping.” In the old days, like the 70’s – that’s the 1970’s – racing secretaries regularly used weight to even out the ability between horses, essentially giving them a “handicap.” In one of the greatest races of all time, the 1976 Marlboro Handicap, the mighty Forego slipped by Honest Pleasure in the last stride under 137 pounds. Today, if a racing secretary wanted to give a horse 128, the trainer would threaten to pull out. There are no real handicap races anymore. Most races for the best animals are stakes races with fixed weights based on age and sex.

The term handicap is an anachronism. Tracks rarely handicap horses enough to really make a difference, and whatever it is that we do to find horses to bet, it has nothing to do with handicapping a horse. We analyze, we select, and we bet, and we use an archaic term to describe it. It’s a term that came into vogue in horseracing when there were other descriptive words for people with disabilities, and now that there is an entire federal act to cover the disabled, maybe it’s time we came up with our own special word.

What do you think? Are you happy being a handicapper or do we need to come up with a new word for what we do and a new name for the Championship?

Aqueduct February 6

Race 1      3-8-4

Race 2      9-3-1

Race 3      5-2-3

Race 4      8-5-1

Race 5      6-9-8

Race 6      2-10-9

Race 7      10-8-4-2

Race 8      2-6-10

Race 9      8-2-5-10

Race 10   8-9-11

Stop Playing Games with Gaming

The latest state to parlay with Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) is Florida, and this time the mighty mavens of DFS are looking for a deal instead of a fight.  Rather than going to court again, they are uniting to do what all good Americans with and ax to grind  and money to spare do – buy themselves some legislators.

The big hitters – Draft Kings and Fan Duel – as well as some of the upstarts have banded together to push $220,000 in the direction of some key legislators. All the DFS operators ask in return is the ability to run their games without the interference of government regulation.

Remember the famous words spoken by Abraham Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address?

Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation,  conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Inspiring words, but when Lincoln talked about equality, he must have known it to be a celestrial ideal, an abstraction, because it can never be an absolute that applies without limits to all. If everyone and everything was equal, we would have never developed the Bell Curve and the Supreme Court would have come down on the other side of Citizens United. No constitution can change the immutable law of politics: money talks, and bullshit walks.

This isn’t about whether DFS is a game of skill versus gambling. Anyone who decides it is or isn’t a game of skill is right. Anyone who decides it is or isn’t gambling is right. DFS is whatever you want or need it to be.

There is no aspect of life that comes completely risk free. And there is no betting game that doesn’t have an element of chance. The best poker players, horseplayers, or DFS players will always rise to the top in the long run, but that makes no difference to those who want to equate betting and gambling. Skill becomes irrelevant if it is your mission to make sure everyone “pays to play.”

In the case of DFS, the going rate in Florida would be an initial license fee of $500,000 and an annual renewal fee of $100,000. The best part would be no government interference in the activites of DFS. Are you kidding me? Horseracing is supposed to compete with that?

It gets even better. The Seminoles, who would like a gambling monopoly in Florida, sent $500,000 to Gov. Rick Scott’s political action committee called Let’s Get to Work. It should be more fully titled, Let’s Get to Work Getting Rick Scott More PAC Funding. According to a column by well known Florida writer Carl Hiaasen, Scott recently signed a new gambling compact that would give the tribe’s seven casinos exclusive rights to roulette, craps and blackjack. In return, the state would be guaranteed at least $3 billion from profit-sharing over seven years, beginning in 2017. Of course, the deal is contingent on the legislature approving it, but another few hundred thousand should take care of that.

The best part for Florida legislators looking to fill their campaign war chests is that the Seminoles oppose DFS. This means both sides will spend freely to support or oppose the tribal compact. In the meantime, horseracing gets no help, no equity.

Equality means all the gambling groups – Indian casinos, DFS, horseracing tracks – should all be regulated and taxed so that one doesn’t get the competitive advantage over the other. Let the market decide who succeeds and fails the old fashioned way. As long as horseracing has to pay up front to do business, they will always be at a competitive disadvantage against the other groups. And if DFS and the Seminoles get their deals, the uphill climb for horseracing just got a little bit steeper. What we need is fairness for all, but as long as we are reliant on having to line the pockets of governmental executives and legislators before they decide which laws and compacts they’ll support, horseracing is at a clear disadvantage. Horseracing cast its lot decades ago when the sport was king and profit was plentiful. It’s time to revisit the deal in light of the broad expansion of gambling markets. Forty years ago if you wanted to play table games your option was Vegas, and betting football in the rest country was limited to coded phone calls and conversations with local bookmakers. The times, they have a’changed.

Horseracing will not survive in its current incarnation without some relief, and I don’t mean slot machines or instant racing. I mean internal and external structural relief. Some companies, like CDI, have decided to join the casino business, and other tracks, like the Pennsylvania tracks, Delaware, and Charles Town, have simply become casinos with a side of horseracing. They will all tolerate the horseracing only as long as they have to. Starting with Florida would be fine, especially considering they are apparently wide-open for business, and someone like Frank Stronach may just have the clout to pull it off.

Horseracing simply cannot survive if it is forced to compete on an uneven playing field. If the industry doesn’t get smart and play the game that creates wins for all the stakeholders, then it will continue to deteriorate while DFS and Indian casinos prosper.