Troubled Times

by Ed Meyer

posted on April 21, 2010 in General Discussion | 2 Comments >>

I have the opportunity to work at an oval that holds small claiming races. We have Ohio stakes, and many allowance races as well…. It is a quaint little oval where beauty takes you back to the days of old.

As if not having any alternative gaming is enough, we have a dispute with horsemen. The track would like to cut back one day of operation, and offer that day’s purse structure into the overall coffers. Long story short, they run for more money.

The horsemen want to run more days. But, the drawback is that there are scant fields and people do not wager on small fields. The track loses, and the handle cannot fuel the purses. I know these men and women want to protect their dates, but we may live in a time when less is more. If we have 80 days versus 100, and the purse structure increases, what is the rub?

Now more than ever, the increased competition has squeezed tracks into scenarios like this. The Kentucky circuit would have thought to be untouched. But, after many years of losing, Turfway Park was forced into dropping two days per week. This increased field size, handle grew, and fans seemed to flock back. Maybe less is more, and in these days what do we have to lose?

2 Responses to “Troubled Times”

  1. Steve says:

    I’d love to add my two cents into some things that tracks can do to increase interest. I probably am present at Turfway Park, conservatively, 125 days a year. I’m at River Downs maybe an additional 50, and Keeneland a few more. I know a few of the restaurant staff at Turfway, and a couple of the clerks by name. The management? I know who they are by sight, but they don’t know me. And that is an issue. I think it would behoove them to look at the list of frequent betters (are you listening River Downs? Get a frequent bettor program!!), see who is there at the level that I am, and offer them some goodies. For example, how cool would it be to sit in the booth with Mike Battaglia, talk with him between races, and maybe listen to him call a couple of races? How about when Calvin Borel, Jon Court, etc. are on the premises, to have a meet and greet with the steady clientele?

    At River Downs, a meet and greet with Joe Woodard could work, or possibly Mike Maker. Expenses paid trips to Beulah or Thistledowns for days when they’re running cards in conjunction with River Downs? We are encouraged when we are at River Downs to place our hard earned money on races at those tracks, but have no idea what they are like. A guest spot on the on track show? Why not? And above all else, we’re looking for a great “inside” tip. Not sure how that would work.

    Think any of those would provide some juice to get me to come more often?

    I love River Downs. It’s a great facility. I’m concerned about its’ future, as I am with Turfway.

    I’ll remain a fixture at the above mentioned tracks for the foreseeable future. Just not sure, if my disposable income level drops, which of my vices I’m most likely to give up. Make it worth my while, give me some memories, and it’s not hard to figure out where I’ll end up.

    I agree with the premise that a day or two less per week, in exchange for bigger fields and better purses is a positive. The downside, at least to me, is – I love live racing. Simulcast action, although profitable, just doesn’t create the same buzz.

    You were at Keeneland this meet. The roar from the crowd when the horses round the turn to come into the home stretch cannot be duplicated on TV. You feel it in your bones as much as you hear it.

    And there is the rub. How do we create the same excitement at venues that hold small claiming races and allowance events?

  2. ed says:

    You are on… We will make the first of your suggestions come to reality as you will be a special guest on our Handicapping Show. I will work it out with you, and at your time. We would be happy to have you on-air.

    I like the idea of trips to other tracks, and this is a great idea… I used to arrange flights of out best players to go to Vegas at Harrah’s when I worked in Kentucky. I think they are very good, and in this economy. We need to focus on our greatest asset – the customer…. Thank you !!

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