THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 23 October 2013, Wednesday
Congress Notes Low Racing Sales
The Games and Amusements (G and A) Committee of the Lower House expressed its disappointment to the Philippine Racing Commission last Monday over declining racing industry sales over the past couple of years.
Philracom, along with two other agencies (the Games and Amusements Board and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office) were summoned by House of Representatives G and A Committee Chairman Rep. Elpidio Barzaga to a hearing last Monday to present their agency overview.
Rep. Edgar Erice pointed out that the racing industry’s sales declined in 2011 and 2012 after a gentle recovery in 2010, following dips in 2008 and 2009 due to the global recession.
According to Philracom Commissioner Jesus B. Cantos, the Philippine thoroughbred industry faces many challenges, including the “static sales performance due to threat of competition” (meaning, other forms of entertainment?), the decreasing field size in race meets, “benefit issues and protection of turfs between organizations of owners and trainers,” high attrition in the horse population, and the “limited circle of players and investors.”
He also said that in the region, Philippine racing generates the lowest sales but is the highest taxed – 35.2 percent where the average is 20 percent.
Cantos added that other industry constraints are the adjustments being made to insert the operation of the third racetrack (Metro Turf), increasing input costs against decreasing prize money, “relentless bookie operation,” the stigma of a gambling image “negating the sports aspect”, “resistance of other cities to open off-track betting stations”, and the fact that ownership of horses “requires big investment” but the return via prize money is low.
Philracom Chairman Angel L. Castaño Jr. pointed to conflict within the industry as a major problem, saying that the horseowners’ groups (MARHO, Philtobo, and Klub Don Juan de Manila), among other things, had been clamoring for the abolition of the trainers’ fund, something that Castaño says the Philracom opposed, citing a legal basis for their decision.
Erice also asked questions pertaining to the plunging horseowners’ prizes and the unclaimed dividends fund, but acknowledged that there was not enough time during the meeting to satisfactorily explore all the topics.
Barzaga said that he would summon all industry stakeholders – Philracom, the three racing clubs (Manila Jockey Club, Metro Turf Club, and Philippine Racing Club), horseowners, trainers, and jockeys – to a special meeting to discuss industry concerns at length.
This is a welcome development that will finally bring to a head all the simmering issues that need resolution. I’ve always advocated for an industry summit for everyone to bring their concerns to the table. If it needs Congress to get that done, then all the better. Sometimes the intervention of a third party is what it takes to make a difference.
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The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office will be staging a 1,400-meter Special Maiden Race for 2YO on October 26 at the Manila Jockey Club’s San Lazaro Leisure Park.
Low Profile clocked 1:29 last October 11 to win the race trial a head over Kid Molave. The other placers were Dixie Gold and Kasilawan.
Another PCSO Special Maiden Race will be held on November 23, the nomination for which is on October 22 and the declaration on October 24.