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WinStar Constellation Spring 2019

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C O N S T E L L A T I O N C O N S T E L L A T I O N Thoroughbred Idea Foundation 10 All the players in the horse racing business need to stop asking the question 'what's best for me?' And start asking 'what's best for racing?' Craig Bernick " " For too long in horse racing, stakeholders have spent too much time f ighting over their piece of the pie instead of thinking of ways to make the pie bigger. That's the central tenet of the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation. "Because we had a monopoly on wagering, horse racing was able to get away with not innovating for a very long time, but those days are long gone," said Bernick. "All the players in the horse racing business need to stop asking the question 'what's best for me?' And start asking 'what's best for racing?'" Bernick has been involved in racing as an owner, breeder, high-stakes bettor, entrepreneur and Breeders' Cup Board member. He hired Pat Cummings, a former executive of Hong Kong Jockey Club, to be the Executive Director of TIF, and a diverse board has been formed that represents important players from all corners of the Thoroughbred business, from breeders and owners to former jockeys, as well as a financial officer and a former racetrack operator. "They don't come from just one area," Bernick said. "They're participants in the business who understand all the different elements." The goal of the organization is to affect positive change throughout the industry by educating current stakeholders. The starting points for that change will be six or seven data-driven white papers released each year, detailing proposed changes in key areas. The first three papers were on the issue of breakage; a proposed change to stewarding; and a look at the impact of legal sports gambling on racing. The latest topic is recommending that horse racing's data be free, used as a marketing tool to enhance the gambling investment of current customers and to increase racing's appeal to 21st Century customers and beyond. Jack Wolf, founder of Starlight Racing and the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, serves on the board and was immediately attracted to the mission. He thinks Bernick is in a good position to head the organization because of his experience in different facets of the business as well as his passion for racing. "He's not just interested in running a stable, he spends at least half his time trying to make the industry better and I admire that," Wolf said. "The most important part of the mission to me is to get the owner and gambler to be represented in a better fashion throughout the industry, that's the bottom line." That idea is really at the heart of the TIF's mission, and, according to Bernick, is what separates them from many other industry bodies. It should come as no surprise that pretty much from the minute the TIF was announced, Bernick heard the cynical question, "Is this just another alphabet soup organization that will make noise but accomplish nothing?" Bernick understands the concern. "All the other organizations, they have missions that are very worthwhile but they're either breeder-focused or organization-focused, they're not customer-focused," he said. "I think we're different because we try to be customer-focused. We want to figure out ways to serve horse owners—people who don't need a horse—and horseplayers—people that love racing and spend their money through the windows. If racing were outlawed tomorrow, owners and horseplayers would find other places to spend their money. People have a choice. Let's look for ways to improve the business for them." There are a lot of complicated issues in play that resists easy answers, but Bernick's basic ideas are quite simple. "There are three things we could do to fix the horse business tomorrow," he said. "The first is to make sure owners pay their bills on time, the second thing is to take care of horses when they're retired, and the third thing is to lower takeout. If we can do those three things, I think 95 percent of our problems would go away. But those three things have been issues in our business for a long time." What's Best For Racing? Board member Jack Wolf

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