Thoroughbred innovator John Gaines was part of a panel discussion named "Legends of the Turf" at the Thoroughbred International Exposition & Conference in Lexington. A leading breeder who founded Gainesway Farm, Gaines was the originator and founding chairman of the Breeders' Cup Ltd. and also was instrumental in the formation of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.
Never one to shy away from his opinion, Gaines offered up the following adages Saturday afternoon while sharing the podium with Hall of Fame trainer Mack Miller and Hall of Fame jockeys Steve Cauthen and Jorge Velazquez.On the Breeders' Cup:
"One thing that I am disappointed about is that is no recognition whatsoever in the racing Hall of Fame for all of the great breeders and owners. Horses that have run some of the most important and exhilarating races in the history of the sport -- there's not even a mention in the racing Hall of Fame about the Breeders' Cup. That's something that should be resolved."
"The Breeders' Cup is a rather unwieldy organization. There are 50 directors and about an eight-man executive committee and it's not a very good structure for getting something done. I think that we need to streamline the enterprise and we have to find better ways of marketing the sport than we have up to this point and time."On slots and racing:
"The simple truth of the situation is that in order to compete in today's world which is very competitive for the entertainment dollar, the sporting dollar, racing without a subsidy such as the video lottery terminal will have a very hard time of maintaining it's position in pursuit of the gambling dollar.
"Where VLTs have been implemented, there has been a miraculous turnaround, bringing a benefit to the horsemen and the industry that couldn't be achieved any other way. At the NYRA (New York Racing Association), when they put the video lottery terminals, it will be the only place that has a subway station where eight million people will go directly to the front door. I think the New York experience can move this concept to a higher level.
"If we can't compete, like the Commonwealth of Kentucky, if we don't get VLTs at the tracks, the whole breeding industry will move from out of here to the states that do have the foresight, intelligence, and the political will to establish VLTs.On the proposed Thoroughbred Championship Tour:
"It really isn't a new concept, it's something that was organized several years ago in an older horse, championship series. It's a very interesting and worthwhile idea. The people at TOBA (Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association) have worked really hard putting together a comprehensive and a very detailed analysis of how this would work.
"It would require the cooperation of the racetracks, the breeders, and the owners and how just exactly this is going to be financed is something that remains to be accomplished. But it is a worthwhile concept out on the table and it needs to be thoroughly massaged and discussed. Hopefully something will come to pass to make this a reality."