It has been just over six months since the inception of the Paulick Report, and in the year-end spirit of Top Ten Lists and Best Of proclamations; we have decided to put our own spin on a Year That Was wrap-up. Instead of showing our personal narcissistic tendencies by deciding which were the top stories of the year, we have decided to venture into our traffic numbers and determine the ten stories you read most. Enjoy this flashback into the recent past and let us know how this list strikes you in the comments section below.
10. Priority 1: Racing’s Business Model – We start our list with the most commented story of the year with 107 and still counting. Fred Pope’s speech from the University of Arizona’s Symposium on Racing sparked some serious controversy between horseplayers and horsemen as to how to deal with the issue of takeout from simulcasting and ADW wagering. At its core, this sort of back and forth is what the Paulick Report is all about.
9. Free Money: Past-Post Betting – Have you ever wished you could bet on a race after the results came in? Well that is precisely what happened for several horseplayers at Tampa Bay Downs betting on a race from Philadelphia Park. For ten minutes, players took advantage of the ultimate sure thing
The culprit? Most of the blame goes to the tote, a patchwork, less-than-state-of-the-art wagering network that handles $15 billion in bets each year. But most shockingly, this story didn’t see the light of day for several days afterwards. This made way for the Paulick Report’s first exclusive story and wrestling match with the mainstream media. More on that later.
Oh, and the big losers? Those who bet on the 8-1 winner Magical American. Because of the skewed betting results, those who legitimately bet on the winner only got paid $9.20 on a $2 win bet. It just goes to show that nothing in life is truly free, not even a sure thing.
8. Major Breeder Calls For Breeders’ Cup Resignations – Imagine you had thousands of dollars in the stock market and the NYSE sent out a press release announcing they are cancelling the market in 2009. When the Breeders’ Cup announced they were suspending the stakes program for 2009, a lot of breeders across the country felt they were getting a similar short end of the stick. But Liberation Farm’s Rob Whiteley was the only one so bold as to write an editorial about the subject, going as far as to call for the resignation of the Breeders’ Cup board members.
Again, much conversation ensued and all sides of the issue were heard. Interestingly enough, two days later the Breeders’ Cup made a complete turnaround and guaranteed the stakes program would continue in 2009. We would never be so bold as to claim victory, but the Paulick Report is proud to be a small part of the discussion that led to this appropriate outcome.
7. Minor Takes On Magna – In case you missed it, Halsey Minor is not a big fan of Magna Entertainment, Frank Stronach and John Brunetti. But perhaps his least favorite person in the Thoroughbred industry is unknown Magna CFO Blake Tohana. Or perhaps we should say previously unknown after our number seven story hit the pages of the Paulick Report.
Never one to mince words, Minor holds nothing back in his description of his conversation with Tohana. Not surprisingly, Tohana didn’t have a glowing opinion of Minor and let us know about it.
Since then, Minor has continued in his quest to buy a racetrack as he tries to help the sport he loves. As for Tohana? Well, we haven’t heard much from him recently and we imagine that’s the way he prefers it.
6. Bloodhorse President Hits Below The Belt – Sundays are usually slow news days in the world of the Paulick Report, especially in December. However, all of that changed when we received an email from an old friend. Stacy Bearse, President of the Blood-Horse and Ray’s former boss, expressed his “concerns” about the accuracy of his reporting when it came to recent Blood-Horse layoffs. While we encourage dissent on our pages, the language Mr. Bearse used was too colorful not to share and the consensus among our readers determined it language unbecoming the president of the largest trade publication in the business.
Regardless of his less than courteous tone with Ray, we have yet to receive a list of facts we got wrong in the stories at question. We are big enough to admit when we are wrong.
5. Thoroughbred Times Rip Off – So a funny thing happened on the way to breaking the past post betting scandal. The Thoroughbred Times just happened to write a piece on the same subject a few hours after we broke a story that had been in hiding for several days. Much to our dismay, the Paulick Report was not mentioned or given attribution credit. One thing Ray doesn’t like is when someone steals his scoop and he let Frank Angst and the Thoroughbred Times know all about it. And you let them know that you were interested in the behind the scenes aspect of Thoroughbred journalism by making this one of the most trafficked stories of 2008.
4. Guest Editorial Ed Whitfield – A companion piece to Fred Pope’s aforementioned speech, Congressman Ed Whitfield of Kentucky contacted the Paulick Report to help get its message out to our industry. Much like Pope, Congressman Whitfield wants to amend the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978. Unlike Pope, he proposes using the IHA to impose ethical standards on each state racing body or else revoke their simulcast rights. Whether you agree with him or not, it is clear that Congressman Whitfield understands that solving any problem starts by hitting people where it really hurts…in the pocketbook.
3. Banned Trainer "Suffolk Done Me Dirty" – The closest our pages have come to the Jerry Springer Show, this crazy web of he said/she said ended in the lives of five horses being saved by the Thoroughbred Retirement Fund which is all that really matters. However, we aren’t sure that’s why you enjoyed this story so much.
To give a synopsis of the twists and turns and very questionable explanations in a few sentences would be an impossible task. Instead, we just quote the title again. When trainer in question Pam Pompell was asked how she felt about Suffolk Downs, she said in an interview to the Paulick Report “Suffolk done me dirty.” Do you really need anything more?
2. Sadler Mullins Take Leave From Trainers Board – With drug use being the top issue of 2008, John Sadler and Jeff Mullins’ voluntary leaves of absence from the California Thoroughbred Trainers board raised more than a few eyebrows.
The CHRB phased in a new steroids testing program in July. For the first month, positive tests would not be treated as violations and for the second month, positives would be reported as violations but not penalized. It was during these two months that according to the Thoroughbred Times, Sadler had accounted for 18 of the 38 positive tests and Mullins’ hands were sullied as well. They became poster boys for an industry trying to change its ways when it comes to drug use. Only time will tell if the sins of the past will be washed away.
1. Ray Paulick Live From Capitol HIll – In only our second week of existence, the Paulick Report flew Ray economy class to Washington DC and put him up in a fancy Motel 6 so he would be rested and ready to report on what was likely the biggest non-racing event of the year.
While there were other journalists reporting on the daily happenings, the Paulick Report was the only platform giving up to the second updates on the hearings. It was the beginning of what has become a regular feature here as we have live blogged several events since. Unfortunately, we are unable to refund the productivity lost by companies all across the country whose employees were following the hearing online instead of working. Fortunately, all of racing’s problems were solved in those two sessions and 2009 will be the best year ever in racing. (We can hope, can’t we?)
Finally, tomorrow is Christmas and whether you celebrate that holiday or you have other plans, it is definitely a universal time for reflection. The last six months have been quite a ride for the Paulick Report. We have more than doubled our daily audience, anonymous donors have stepped up to fill the gaps and advertisers have jumped onboard even in the first few months when the traffic wasn’t near what it is today.
To our advertisers, we would like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for stepping out and lending the Paulick Report your good name as well as trusting that your investment would pay off. Please be sure to frequent Liberation Farm, North American Trainer Magazine, Team Valor, M & M Thoroughbreds, TVG, Stonestreet Farms, Lost In The Fog, BetFastNow, That’s Racing and BetAmerica. They have stepped up by publicly supporting us and for that they deserve your support.
To our donors, your generous support has also helped us fill in the gaps and make it possible to bring the consistent quality you have come to expect on the pages of the Paulick Report. We would not be here today without you. (Plus, our families would not have received any Christmas presents this year!)
And finally, we would like to give a big thank you to those of you who check in on a daily or weekly basis to see what is going on in the industry. We hope you have found the Paulick Report to offer a brand of reporting not very often seen in the Thoroughbred industry. Please continue to tell your friends about the breaking news and hard journalism found on our pages each and every week.
I would also like to thank Ray for his unrelenting pursuit for truth and his thirst for strong, ethical journalism. Whether you agree with his viewpoints or not, he is relentless in his passion to help the sport he loves through this difficult time. His work ethic is unmatched and we are all fortunate to have a person of his integrity and skill willing to take a chance with the Paulick Report.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,