The Winds of Change

by Ed Meyer

posted on April 4, 2010 in General Discussion | No Comments >>

Nothing ever remains the same. This is the call of the bold, that stands directly to face the wind. Some take the easy path, and call it tradition. Some choose to shed the old skin, and become that beautiful butterfly. Every spring, she spreads her wings for 15 days in Lexington, Kentucky.

Keeneland Race Course is a wonder. It is a boutique track that shines above many. It is a place that was referred to as: “racing as it was meant to be.” That is true then, and it holds more truth today.

There used to be 8 live races, one daily double, and no other gimmicks. The chalk ruled the day, and the golden rail was home to speed on the lead. It is many things, and holds history in every brick. There was no announcer, and you had to pay attention to Buckee Sallee blowing that bugle as they took the track, and when they had reached the gate. This was Keeneland…

Now, let’s move a few years ahead…

The big “K” has an announcer with Kurt Becker these last ten years or so. He came from NASCAR, and calls a great race.  This was one of the biggest changes, and most welcome. To have a voice that calls one of the most exciting events, was like the advent of playing baseball under the lights…

They extended the races to nine, or ten on a card. The wagers changed a little bit…like going from zero to a thousand in a flash. They offer the same wagers from all around the world. They have tried “The Omni” from South Africa, and have ventured into the “Super Hi-Five.” This meet, they have reduced the multi-race wagers to fifty cents. You can always bet more, but they saw the advantage of allowing you to beat the taxman. They took it big time. Keeneland became cool overnight……

They have joined the revolution. They have: Facebook, Twitter and open blogs. You can go to the site and see one of the best handicappers in the nation with Jeremy Plonk, and get his on-site Twitter. You will read some of the best observations that will help you at the windows, no matter where you wager…. They know the value of getting you the information, and it is hard not to see and hear the changes they have made. They advertise to the new and the young, and serve every demo under the sun. This is major league, and that must be the reason that H.A.N.A  has voted them the #1 Track in the nation to wager two years in a row. This speaks volumes, as you consider there are some heavy competitors out there.

They have a president with Nick Nicholson who sees the future. He talks about the need for VLT’s or slot machines, but does not feel in any form that they are the long term answer for the sport. They are a fix that will allow us to fight again in the future. We need to market better, and prepare by addressing the needs of the many. Not just the well-heeled, but the everyday player. By focusing on the future, you can bet they will give you the track of today. Who would have ever thought that the old guard would have not only joined the game, but moved to the front as the innovators.

Put them on your racetrack “bucket list.” Make this a place to see as soon as you can. Before you know it, you will be a regular at the world’s most beautiful track. It is in the heart of the bluegrass, and will give you an idea of why Kentucky is the capitol of the Thoroughbred.

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