Across the blog-street at PaulickReport, there is an outstanding Q&A with owner-breeder Mike Pegram. In addition to the interesting comments from Pegram, there are some reader responses of significance following the Q&A.
One in particular seems useful, as it inadvertently relates to yesterday’s post here about racing in France. In the context of Pegram’s background in business as a McDonald’s entrepreneur and would-be improver of racing in California, Fred Pope comments on how French racing controls its sport and better rewards all its participants:
France is the McDonald’s of racing. Total control of everything top to bottom. They know how to produce a good product and how to control the distribution and pricing of it, which is the only way a business can survive and prosper. What makes France different from England, Ireland and North America — no off-site bet takers allowed. They just passed a national law banning BetFair. No, it will not hurt racing there. France enjoys a growing $6 billion in handle with just 4,500 races, versus our declining $12 billion with 54,000 races.
I thought that was highly interesting in light of the way cards bloated with races are diluting the sport and diminishing interest. And the differences in the proportion of handle to the number of races is staggering.
A later comment from another reader elaborated on how France manages its racing:
Of course, one advantage that the French have is that the country is not composed of 50 States, just one central government. Horse racing is organized on a country-wide basis, with different tracks operating at different levels: some at the national level and some at the local level. There are usually only three or four national tracks running on any given day. They have also organized their betting: one race a day serves the quinte (high 5) for the whole country where the payouts can be in the hundreds of thousands of euros. Aside from the governmental issues, we could learn a lot from the French.
I’m not a big fan of governmental control, but the French really seem to have some improvements over our system of racing management (which is better than the catastrophe that is British racing governance). When done well, central control can have significant virtues. Shouldn’t we consider this?