PRESS RELEASE (Nov 26, 2019)
The Horseplayers Association of North America, a group that has tackled issues affecting bettors such as takeout rates and signal availability, is in a “fluid situation” as far as its future, says HANA President Jeff Platt.
The group, which had annually released horseplayer-centric track ratings since 2009, never updated for 2018 with the numbers based on everything from field and pool size to wager types. But Platt says HANA will be returning under a new iteration.
“We’re still active,” he said. “Even though we haven’t published anything there are still projects we are working on that we are going to release in 2020. We are going to be making some changes. You probably will see some new board member names on the HANA site. I don’t blame anybody for dropping out. I understand. You get tired of banging your head against the wall all the time and not getting anywhere.”
Membership to HANA remains free, with signups available at horseplayerassociation.org.
“We are going to have a membership drive in 2020,” Platt said. “We‘ve taken a look at things that we were doing that have been successful. One of the things we’ve done in the past is we polled HANA membership, and we asked them, ‘How do you feel about odds that change after the bell, drugs, the current penalty system related to those that get caught cheating through the use of drugs, how do you feel about breakdowns?’”
Notably, HANA initiated a horseplayer boycott of Keeneland in 2017 in response to a takeout increase. In that instance, there was a response, with Keeneland partially rolling back those changes in 2018.
But Platt says that HANA has in the past addressed many issues at the forefront of racing’s current safety and public perception issues to no avail.
“We lag the rules changes that have taken place in every racing jurisdiction in the world except ours when it comes to race day meds,” he said. “I just shake my head because everything we’ve ever said or advocated for has fallen on deaf ears. To actually get the message across, if we had 50,000 members, it would be so totally different. Tracks, big tracks, would be listening to us about (raceday medications), takeout, safety or horse retirement.”
The newly formed Thoroughbred Safety Coalition, which includes representatives from organizations fielding 85% of U.S. graded stakes, does not address horseplayers. Platt said an organized HANA could be an asset for the coalition.
While Platt is accustomed to dealing with inaction from leadership at racetracks and in entire racing jurisdictions, he believes those entities can no longer brush racing’s problems aside.
“I am deathly afraid that maybe PETA will get the upper hand with California racing and put a ballot initiative out there and California racing will be made to go away,” Platt said. “And my real question is if that happens, will that wake up the rest of racing in North America to where maybe it will occur to them that adopting international medication standards might be in their best interest?”
Saying that “ it’s time for everybody to wake the hell up and actually make changes instead of just talking about them,” Platt promised that in addition to renewed activity in 2020, a new HANA project will be published soon.
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