Just like in almost every state, a portion of casino revenue generated at horse racing tracks is distributed back in to the pockets of the horse men that help draw audiences and crowds to the track. In Massachusetts, an established 75-25 split between standardbred and thoroughbred parties exists, and the former is pushing hard to change that.
Standardbred horses include harness racers, who are making the argument that they should receive a larger piece of a substantial pie since they run more dates. Attorney Peter Goldberg has been making their case for them in proceedings that are ongoing.
He is going head to head with Frank Assoli, who represents the thoroughbred side of the table.
“The meeting on June 7 may or may not revisit the vote on the splits,” stated Assoli. “From my end, there is some statistical analysis that needs to be done before we revisit the issue, but I don’t know that this committee is going to agree to do that.
“Before the last vote I had done an analysis of how the purse structure at Plainridge is geared to the purse structure at other harness tracks across the country based upon the relative value of the horses that race there. That report indicated that Plainridge, with a small infusion of capital, would be competitive with any other track.
“So my expectation is that Plainridge, with the Race Horse Development Fund money it is already getting, now offers purses far in excess of purses at other harness tracks across the country for the level of competition. If that’s the case, why are they (potentially) taking money away from the Thoroughbred horsemen, who are striving to fund the development of a new track where they can race? Why take the money away from them to give more to a sport that is thriving in this state?”
There’s significant money at stake here. The fund redistributes money to the thoroughbred and standardbred channels, and in one month alone that money can top over $1.1 million. Whether those hearing the appeals of either side believe that standardbred horse men are entitled to more of the incoming action generated by on-site casinos remains to be seen.