Stuart S. Janney III:
Thank you, Barbara, for your passion, dedication to Thoroughbred breeding and racing and for your commitment to improving both.
I'm going to get this right before I start here. My sense is that we are at a crossroads. There are many signs of hope, progress, and accomplishment. This slide tries to capture many of them. Let's congratulate those who have been responsible for taking steps for making our horses safer as they run and train.
We're making good progress on aftercare, more to do, but much is in place. Our big race days are working, and TV coverage is more frequent, with better production values, and, finally, people are watching.
Creative thinking is producing events like the Pegasus Cup. NYRA is back in private control, and a new management team has produced great results on and off the track. Support for a uniform regulatory system is growing. We see great growth in the ADW networks.
But now let's look at a darker side, which is shown on the next slide. Sadly, the list is just as long, and the issues are no less important. We've talked about many of these issues either today or in previous conferences. The scope of some of these problems can be daunting, and their persistence is disheartening. We should be doing better because it's in our power to do better. Our problems are not going to be solved by lots of talk or by others. It will take those in this room and elsewhere to produce the results we need.
What has happened in Pennsylvania recently is disgraceful and sad, especially when you consider that the state is the sixth leading producer of foals and that it hosted approximately 4,000 races and distributed more than 100 million in purses in 2016. Let's start by focusing on the federal trial involving trainer Murray Rojas on charges of fraud, conspiracy, and misbranding of drugs. I think it illustrates what we have to fix and how our problems interconnect.
Uncontradicted testimony described widespread, in fact, nearly universal, cheating; regulators asleep on the job; a corrupted and ineffectual testing system.
Almost as embarrassing was the unprecedented decision two months ago by the Pennsylvania State Horseracing Commission to declare two winners of the 2016 Parx Oaks after one of the fillies had tested positive for clenbuterol. Try as you might, there were no heroes to be found. And to anyone sitting comfortably in this room thinking Pennsylvania's problems are not yours, I would say: Forget it. We own this problem.
It gives all of racing a black eye. It jeopardizes our share of slots revenue in all states. It arouses animal welfare groups nationally, as it should. It suggests strongly that similar problems lurk in many other jurisdictions. Ironically, the gaming money being shoveled into undeserving hands in Pennsylvania has made it very difficult to fill cards in other middle-Atlantic venues where one could argue that racing is being conducted properly.
Now, to the extent than any of us may be disheartened, let's focus on the response to these sad events. Mr. Tom Chuckas was the director of the Bureau of Horse Racing for the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission during the Rojas trial and for the adjudication of the Parx Oaks matter. He commended the U.S. Attorney's Office for its successful prosecution in the trial, but this condemnation offered little in the way of explanation about backdated invoices, fraudulent vet records, and missed test results.
Similarly, despite widespread industry outcry and concern about the residual effects of having two winners of a stakes race that did not involve a dead heat, there was no official public response from the commission.
These are just a few examples of the dysfunctional regulatory landscape that surrounds us today. It was not a pretty picture. What about the HBPA's role in all of this? Could we have expected them to marshal their resources to represent all the horsemen who have been wronged by cheaters? Well, we all know the HBPA's legal defense fund was used to help fund Murray Rojas' defense in the federal proceeding and that she was convicted on 14 different charges.
Further, their stated reason for doing so is a disgrace and will end up producing the exact result that they so wish to prevent, the intervention by the federal government to clean up racing.
We at The Jockey Club take a contrary view. We believe it is appropriate for the federal government to police racing. Those who cheat are corrupting the interstate wagering system -- the very definition of federal responsibility and a system made possible by the federal Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978.
Second, the states in so many ways have demonstrated their inability to get the job done.
So, as you cast your eyes to the list of problems we face, think of how many would be addressed to some degree by a uniform system of regulation, good testing, and penalties with teeth. It wouldn't address all of our sports issues, but it would be a great start and a meaningful foundation for growth. I hope you will all join with The Jockey Club to work toward that day.
Thank you ever so much for being here.