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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

ACRS: Who knew?

I was perusing a post on television coverage (or lack thereof) of the Woodward by Evan Hammonds of the Bloodhorse and came across a comment on his post discussing something called ACRS. Now us nerdy accountant types would first think of the Accelerated Cost Recovery System, a depreciation method made famous (note sarcasm) by the Tax Reform Act of 1986 (year two of my bean counting career...oh the memories). What the commenter was referring to was the American Championship Racing Series, a brainchild of Thoroughbred Daily News' Barry Weisbord that ran for three years in the early nineties. Now, please remember that I was building a business, makin' babies and absorbed by the Bills' wonder years during this time frame so I had no idea that this ACRS racing series even existed. After further review, I found an interesting post on ESPN by Mr. Paulick just this past July that included the following excerpts:

"Stop me if you've heard this one before: racing needs to put together a series of races that serves as a prelude to the year-end championship events, something that will increase interest in the sport among serious and casual fans, especially during the time between the Triple Crown in spring and Breeders' Cup in fall."

"Enter Barry Weisbord and the American Championship Racing Series. The ACRS was designed to showcase the Breeders' Cup Classic division horses, using point standings and bonuses to encourage the horses to run in a series of races that began at Gulfstream Park in winter and ended at Del Mar in August. Concessions from horsemen and tracks from simulcast revenue helped pay for the televised series and the marketing that accompanied it.

But the ACRS only lasted three years, from 1991-93, a victim of internal industry squabbling, the type that has plagued horse racing for years. Weisbord had hoped to expand the series into additional divisions but never had the chance."

Does it shock anyone that the words "internal industry squabbling" that sent this idea to its grave? Why can't all the groups get to the same table and hash out a plan that works for the common good, with each group making a sacrifice? Personally, I'd rather have a smaller piece of a larger pie, but most people can't see to understand that concept and our sport is threatening to go into a death spiral. Fellow TBA'er Pull the Pocket, in this post, talks about getting the horsemen, the tracks, the alphabet groups and the regulators together, if you add in the horseplayers and ADW's and you've got everyone who has a dog in this hunt represented. Lock 'em in a room for a week and tell them not to come out without a deal. It'll never happen, but really if one thinks about it, sitting down (without preconceived agendas) and coming up with a common themed plan where everyone wins, doesn't require a highly paid consultant to figure out.

What gets me is that it appears that the ACRS built some serious rivalries that kept some of the senior (4yo+) horses racing for some lucrative purses, and all on national televison. Some serious handicap division races like the Donn, the Hollywood Gold Cup, the Whitney, the Woodward and the Big Cap all were highlighted races as part of the ACRS. It surely doesn't surprise me that D. Wayne Lukas was a proponent, and a vocal one, at that. He gets it. But we're Plaxico Burress with a loose holster and a hole in our leg. Maybe Greg Avioli can get it done, he needs to come up with a plan by the end of the year. Here's hoping he comes through.

I have a post up over at, as I will be covering the BC Dirt Mile over the next six weeks, so be sure to stop over and check it out.


Ernie said...

No comment on the Bills? I actually felt bad for the guy - then he says he'd run it out the next 100 times, too

Congrats on the NTRA gig!

Handride said...

The reason i've been given for ACRS demise was that ACRS wanted to come in and take over the track for that race. They wanted handle, they wanted things, w/ not a lot of money to go around, and w/ the general feeling amongst track operators it was pretty dead in the water as soon as it started.

EquiSpace said...

Ernie: If you told me we'd be trailing by 1 with a minute to go on our own 40 yd line before the game, I'd have taken it in a minute. I'm immune to it by now....Hope to see you at OSA!!

Patrick: From what I read it did last 3 yrs and had some of the colts running well into their 4yo season due to the large purses...come on we can work your standings into this


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