Diversity of opinion is what makes horse racing possible. Everybody has one and, parimutuelly speaking, unpopular opinions can even make one rich.

But horseplayer advocacy deals with issues that can’t be settled with a finish line and a camera, and consensus among its practitioners is rare.

So I was surprised when two of HRI's tested, trusted, thoughtful, and talented turf writers, Tom Jicha and John Pricci, respectively, told recreational bettors in tandem that the Keeneland boycott should be considered a success, albeit a small one.

"Victory! Vindication!

Keeneland has caved to the horse player’s boycott many said was an exercise in futility with no chance to succeed. (You know who you are.)

… This is the first time in memory a concerted action by horseplayers, with leadership from HANA (Horse Players Association of North America), has succeeded in getting a major racetrack to back off an increase in takeout.”

Several players I know and respect online and on social media categorized the recently announced takeout reduction for the upcoming Keeneland spring meet as a Pyrrhic victory.

While the notion has some validity given the sliding scale reductions, the assessment above is unfair.

… In the final analysis, horseplayers made progress on a policy and price disagreement with track management. How often does that happen? We’re nowhere close to being sick of winning yet, but walking before running is a good start on the road to relationships.”

If I weren’t already familiar with other efforts by these two self-admitted politically diverse gentlemen, I might have interpreted the preceding as deployment of the current White House occupant's technique of using hyperbolic oversimplification, resulting in questionable issue resolution at best. So consider this an “opposition party response.”

The only “victorious” aspect for rank and file players that I could see was a partial acceptance of former NYRA and HKJC executive Bill Nader's recommendation that all tracks reduce takeout on high churn wagers to stimulate handle, resulting in customer satisfaction and proving a useful recruitment tool.

Keeneland's application of Nader’s suggestion would have been more laudable had it been done before it raised takeout, not after, and leaving the higher rates intact on popular exotic wagers for players who bet their money without the benefit of rebates.

And, so, the grand experiment could now begin. But will it? Should targeted minnows now be expected to simply shrug off Keeneland’s shenanigans while whales continue to hold their advantage?

I suspect that this battle is hardly over and, in the immortal words of John Paul Jones, the horse-playing majority has “not yet begun to fight.”

Jumping at any opportunity to characterize Keeneland's behavior as horseplayer friendly -- and thereby worthy of reconciliation following their spectacular betrayal -- would be at best, disturbing, and at worst, destructive.

Rather than back off our resistance to high takeout, I believe this newly-exposed crack in Keeneland’s not-so-protective armor should be exploited, encouraging the betting majority to redouble its efforts!

If Mr. Pricci is correct that horseplayers “won” something through their collective “inaction” with respect to Keeneland, then why wouldn't more of the same produce even better results?

Not only might Keeneland truly “cave” after consecutive challenges to its weaseling, other tracks might finally start to worry that they could be next should the horse-playing majority sustain its resolve. I think this could be the most desirable final outcome.

Indeed, it might take several of Keeneland's boutique meets to expose its vulnerability to relenting pressure by the attention-challenged masses before conclusive results on high-churn wagers can be known with a level of certainty.

Three consecutive HANA-led boycotts at different venues; Santa Anita in 2010, Churchill Downs in 2014, and Keeneland last year have all failed to reduce revenue generated by higher takeout rates. The reason for this is clear and incontrovertible: REBATES.

Rebated players are virtually immune to takeout increases because their “effective rates” don't actually increase as they do for the majority of rank and file bettors. Indeed, because there’s more money to dole out, higher rates can result in even larger rebates.

As long as rebate-subsidized professionals keep pumping money into its pools, any track will be profitable to some degree providing, of course, that a good number of minnows are devoured in the process.

It’s absolutely fair to posit that the exodus of Keeneland handle went to other major venues that grew their handle. Of course, the new tax laws helped but its contribution has been overstated by industry organizations that helped justify their own existence.

So, again and again, it’s time to ask: Why wouldn't nationwide handle grow if all players bet into lower takeout rates? Why shouldn't the average player have the same opportunity to grow its bankroll, regardless of size?

And why haven't we stood up for ourselves before instead of allowing wealthy interests to tilt the playing field against the majority of fans?

For this, we will need leaders from among the non-rebated to establish and advocate for specific objectives worthy of financial AND ideological support from the rest of the underappreciated and underfunded source of handle.

The boycott of Santa Anita revealed the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC) and the members the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) as the real threat to the wallets of recreational bettors; not the racetracks.

However, the losers were not only those horseplayers whose payoffs were reduced but also horsemen who seldom received any benefit from the purse increases that went to the handful that bred, owned or trained higher-priced well-bred stock.

But horseplayers didn’t keep the pressure on, and look what happened: Foal crops, racing dates, field sizes and jobs in racing all declined severely. On the contrary, TOC leaders still seem to be making money.

Although a different situation exists in Kentucky, Keeneland’s management has failed to justify its targeting non-rebated players to fund its overstated albeit underwhelming “mission.”

If horseplayers don’t keep applying the same pressure tactics, we will surely lose any perceived advantage that we may have actually achieved.

If we did it before we can do it again. And again. Until our message is finally received: “Equal, effective takeout rates for ALL.”