Comfortably Dumb

by Ed Meyer

posted on August 16, 2010 in General Discussion | 1 Comment >>

We all have a few people we know that just make us scratch our head. At the races, there are some special characters. Some that make you smile, and some others who make you want to watch men’s ping pong……

First – I have to say that it is easy to criticize the management of tracks. I love to hear the remarks of so many that hit the blog or commentary section of your website. They bring up insane ideas, and I really think they have nothing better to do except say hurtful things.  If you have some suggestions, all tracks are willing to hear them out. Some of your ideas may be solid, and some may even make a difference. Instead of supporting your local oval, you find other ways to tear down their efforts. I guess that is fine if you like blatant ignorance. My favorite as of late was when a patron said that they hoped that Instant Racing in Kentucky dies….For five minutes, I heard how he is a horseplayer, and would never play one… He just hopes they fail so he can get down to coming out and playing the races.

It was at this time that I let him know if they failed, the track would close. He would not be able to come out and play the races anymore. He looked at me like a deer in headlights… I told him to try this instead. Take $1.00 in quarters with you to the track every day. Play a dollar, and who knows? It may even help… If others see you, they may give it a try as well… I said if 500 people a day played $5, it would yield $2,500 daily, or $15,000 per week addition for purses. The better the purses, the bigger the fields. The bigger the fields, the better the handle and the more the track can do for players.  Everybody wins, and all you have to do is support your track. He said his smartest answer yet. “I didn’t look at it like that. I guess it won’t hurt, and if it will save the track, I am all for it.”

Second – Horsemen at so many tracks want to run as many days as possible. This used to be the rule of thumb, but this summer the rules have changed. Monmouth Park has been the experiment. It has allowed tracks to increase purses instead of cutting. With fewer days, they have cutback costs and have given the patrons incredible promotional opportunities. For the trainers and barns that demand more racing days, the future may not look as bright as can be. If you just take a look at the few models that are working: New Jersey, Indiana, West Virginia, and many others – they have raised the bar, and things are working. For the outfits that are worried that if the purses are raised, there will be outside barns shipping in to win the races, they should examine what they are doing, and take a chance. I think they will be able to draw more owners as the purses will be better. I know many folks that would get in the game if the purses were better. The cheap horses eat the same as the good horses. I think if the tracks could cut back costs, everyone would do better. I say give it a try, and see what happens. Or, next year they can take another cut, and as things sink lower, there will be no racing someday soon.

Third – Are tracks doing enough to educate new players? We don’t live in the early 1900’s, and players are computer savvy and can learn at their own pace if they like. How about having online video presentations that allow players to learn as they want. This takes away the fear of not knowing how to play, and looking foolish. How many times have you passed the craps table in the casino and heard so many yelling and cheering? For those who don’t know how to play, I bet you wish you understood to be a part of the action.

I work in racing, and I am guilty as well. We need to have FREE contests at the tracks that allow players to win prizes and money. Keep it simple, and let people gain their confidence. Have online games for players to wager for fun money. We can reward those who do well, and help others that do not understand. I know it sounds like work, and it really is… The new times are here, and we better get ready to go the extra mile. I think folks would love to learn. Make it easy, and reward those who want to make the attempt. We have to grow our new players.

So, there are a few ideas. Just think about some and let me know what you think. We need to rethink our old ways, and plan for the future. Good luck, and give it a try….