Thoroughbred Racing Fan Association, Inc.




Liking Mike Repole’s public style maybe hard to do. His passion for racing cannot be countered. Suggesting he may be always “all in” in business, life and racing may be an understatement. He recently appeared on Jonathon Kinchen’s Podcast to explain in detail his National Thoroughbred Alliance. He pulled no punches about his opinion that the current state of racing and especially its leadership. His “get it done business style” bruises racing insiders and he admits he doesn’t’ care. In “Queen’s” street language Repole articulates what is wrong with racing and what needs to be done to save it. ThoroFan hears his point and thinks there are points we can join him on.

Repole believes if you surveyed racing fans and industry people asking them to rate on a scale from 1-to-10 with 10 being excellent health of racing right now they would solidly give racing a “5”. He says he believes there is “ nothing right with racing right now.” Racing for Repole is “not fun” like it used to be when he first began going to races. He believes the major problem with racing is lack of leadership. They have been guiding racing along the same path for the past 30-40 years as the rest of the entertainment and gaming world has been changing. Racing is locked into catch-up game like a horse player trying to get even on the last race after losing ten consecutive races.

He uses the metaphor of other sports. Imagine he asks if every football team played by their own local rules like tracks do now. First down for one team would be 3 yards while for another team it would be 12 yards. Football would be a chaos. He eludes racing needing a commissioner without proposing it. He believes all the current leaders in racing know the trouble and think things should change but no one wants to take the first step. He calls out all aspects of racing and media for not being vocal about racing’s problems and pushing for change. He calls for racing to be more vocal about the problems. Until we recognize and publicly articulate the problem racing will stay the course because it’s comfortable and safe. He assigns the reason for much of the silence to the retribution that would come from being critical of the way things are being done. He boldly said if you do speak up and retribution follows that hurts your livelihood, he will help you find a new job. Now that’s putting money which he has plenty where his mouth is.

After his passion for finding fault subsided, he said everyone in the industry knows what the problem is, they just don’t know how to fix it. So, it is not about “What,” it’s about “How” (to fix it). His initial goal with the National Thoroughbred Alliance is to find supporters for meaningful change. Find people that want to get behind the movement and finally identify the obstacle setters and push then out of the sport. His main target for change in the industry is The Jockey Club which he sees as useless and not in tune with the changing society. The sport needs to move on without them—another bold move expected from Mike Repole. This is so important that he said racing has one to three years to survive if we don’t start now to fix it.

Practicality must lead the way. Although there are many things that need to be done to fix racing, we need to start with one which is accepted and show success with it. He offers aftercare of our Thoroughbred racehorses. There are across the country grassroots efforts to care for horses after their racing careers end but none of them are correctly funded. One report he mentioned showed that aftercare receives about $9 million dollars from industry. That is ludicrous, he says. It should be $15-$25 million. Everyone knows that “so let’s do it.” Rather make support for aftercare optional, make it mandatory---a mandator investment in our sport. He argues every transaction in racing should be taxed with 100% of the funds going to aftercare. There can be no logic against. He says if you are willing to spend $100,000,000 to buy a horse why shouldn’t you be willing to donate $500 or more to aftercare? Here is where his change strategy blossoms. “Anyone who opposed such a tax to improve racing should be shown the door to our sport” he says. They are in the wrong business or for the wrong reason. We will end up with a critical mass of racing folks who are committed to fixing our sport. Start there and see what happens.

If the support is strong, take on the second issue on his list which he is not willing to articulate until he see support coalescing for aftercare. Good strategy. If he gets a headwind, it will only show the selfish critics trying to stop a good idea. This is the pattern we saw with the establishment of HISA.


Below on the ThoroFan website is a link to his 90-minute interview with Jonathan Kinchen. Let us know what you think by emailing us at: