Repole: `It’s Time Now That the Owners Take Back This Game’
In an interview with Nick Luck on Sunday’s Spinster broadcast on NBC, Mike Repole called for the creation of a national owners’ association that would “take back this game,” from the entities that now control it.
Repole indicated that he had started discussions with other interested owners and trainers, and expressed his discontent with the current state of the sport and how it is run, stressing that every other major sport is controlled at the ownership level.
“The frustration level…” he said. “I mean, this year, even though our success has been amazing, there isn’t anything in this sport that is good right now. We need to make this sport better, so I want to start an association with the biggest owners and the biggest trainers. I think it’s our responsibility. People say, `whose fault is it? Why is racing this bad?’ I blame myself. I blame the owners. In other sports, like the NFL or the NBA, the owners are very involved. They run the sport. and here, we let everyone else run it for us, so I think owners and trainers taking care of the horses, the jockeys, the fans, the bettors, the tracks, working with the tracks, working with the other groups–it’s time now that the owners take back this game.”
Luck pointed out that Repole had spent millions on yearlings at the Keeneland September sale just a few weeks prior.
“You just said there’s nothing good about this sport, but a couple of weeks ago, just down the hill, you spent $14 million,” Luck said.
“Because I’m a big idiot, just like every owner in this game,” said Repole. “We take this. We take this from Churchill. We take this from other tracks. We take this from other associations. It can’t happen any more.”
Last week, in a TDN survey about the Kentucky purse, Is The Derby Purse Fair? Repole expressed a strong opinion that the $3 million Derby purse, largely funded by nomination, entry and starting fees, was not fair.
“It’s beyond embarrassing,” he said. “But not only do we put up a third of the purse with fees, but the way the owners get treated is an embarrassment. And the more I reflect, the more I’m starting to really realize that the blame of this lies with the owners and the trainers. As long as we keep letting tracks make the rules…and be ruled by the ineffective associations that represent owners, trainers, and jockeys in the sport without really having done them justice, the more we have to look ourselves in the mirror.”
He expressed a similar sentiment to Luck on the telecast.
“If we want to move forward, the only way is that the owners take over the control,” he said.” I spoke to a lot of owners. I spoke to a lot of trainers. We’re going to work with the tracks, we’re going to work with the other associations, we’re going to work with HISA. We’re going to work with horse rescue. We’re going to work with vets. We’re going to work with track surfaces. We’re the ones that are putting money in this game. I spent $14 million dollars in this game (at Keeneland September) because I want (daughter) Gioia to be in it for a long, long time, and I care about this sport.”