Chad Brown and I studied the two possibilities for Normandy Invasion’s next race. We reluctantly decided on the Alysheba over the Westchester. There were several reasons that we thought the Alysheba would benefit Normandy.
This morning I asked Victoria, my able assistant, to call the lady she knows at Churchill that distributes the tickets for owners of horses in the stakes on Friday and Saturday. She told Victoria that I was entitled to no seats as an owner of a horse in a $300k G2 race on Friday. I was also informed that I did not even get a ticket to get in the track. We were offered several seats for $200 but the lady that knew Victoria said that we would not be happy with the seats.
Furthermore, Chad had a horse in another G2 undercard race and the owner wanted to bring 9 guests. This owner was from South America and a great guy. Chad was informed that he also would be given NOTHING!! He was offered a table in a room with many other tables for a mere fee of $42,000.00 plus food, drinks and gratuity.
I was so upset over the matter that I called the president of Churchill Downs, Kevin Flanery. He called me back after I left a message and informed me that the information that was given to us was true. No seats were available and you had to pay your own way in. He said they were the facts. The facts, he made the facts. He is the president. I said, “Kevin, do you think that is fair?” He said that they were the facts. I said I didn’t give a damn about the “facts” I just wanted to know if he, the president, thought it was FAIR. He would not answer my question so I asked him three more times with the same answer. He said he would verify the facts and call me in the morning. I again said I don’t care about tomorrow. I want to know if the president of Churchill Downs thought the facts were FAIR. He said he would call me tomorrow.
Ladies and gentlemen there are no more than a hundred horses in the undercard graded stakes this coming weekend. If Churchill gave each owner two tickets that would be 200 seats in a stadium that holds at least 52,000. I can’t imagine that it is too much to ask of the president of Churchill Downs, Kevin Flanery, to forego the income on that small number of seats.
Last year I brought 4 90 year old veterans that had stormed the beaches at Normandy at Omaha Beach. I called Flanery’s office for tickets for them and a table where they could watch tv. They had aides with them and could not move around very easily. The answer from his office was a flat out NO. That is even worse. I couldn’t take it so I called the chairman of the board, Dick Duchossois, who I know casually from racing. He could not believe it and called me back in less than 3 minutes and said you have a table for 8 in one of the nicest rooms at Churchill.
What is wrong with this management group? No wonder racing is on the decline. They don’t have any regard for the owners, in my opinion. They are for themselves and the race track as I see it.
Not only do I feel that owners are treated like second class citizens by Churchill Downs, so too are the handicappers and everyday bettors. Their takeout increase has so angered horse players that they have called for a boycott of betting at Churchill Downs.
Without these two components(owners and bettors) racing would be over.
THERE WILL COME A DAY WHEN A LARGE GROUP OF OWNERS WILL TAKE ON THE CHALLENGE OF FIXING THE SPORT OF RACING. WE WILL HAVE A LEAGUE JUST THE THE NFL AND MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL WITH A COMMISSIONER AND RULES FOR EVERYONE. I WILL BE PART OF IT AND IT IS GOING TO HAPPEN.