I was having dinner with a friend of mine. She is a TV producer, and we were talking about the talking heads that bring us information. Our conversation turned into a battle of the sexes. She stood her ground wanting the bold and beautiful, and I was leaning toward true life players who offer info we could all use. Either way, we agreed to disagree…
I have been a huge fan of TVG since day one. They have some of the best commentators in the business, and they blend in the eye-candy to make it that much sweeter. The management has seen the future, and it involves good looking men for the growing demo of women, and the informative ladies always catch my eye. So, I do agree to a certain point but I still want to hear the behind-the-scenes handicappers. Analysts who have lived the life. They know what it was like to go tap before the feature race. This is where you find real money stories, and how to overcome the hurdles of finding winners. Now, I am not saying you can’t have both. But it seems that I relate to the advice and direction to some of the older gunslingers. It takes a horse player to know one. They may not have the lingo of the day, or even look the best in a sport coat. But they bring the heat with stories of what mistakes they made and why. For me, it really rings home.
John McCririck always had the fashion look of Heywood Hale Broun, and the animated style of street performer. For every big race day I waited to see the colorful gent in his finery of yester-year. When he would talk about the Euro runners he would be signaling with hand gestures that hearken back to the on-track bookmakers. He could be insulting to the Americans, and best of all he would bring unique perspective to the discussion. McCririck always thought that Europe would rule the day, and if you listened closely. He would give an up close account of why they should be examined. I always loved hearing what old “muttonchops” would bring into view while chomping on big stogies. He tried the big stage, and was a player on Celebrity Big Brother in 2005. He was evicted after 12 days. And for those that have been watching him for years they would have thought the odds would have much higher for him to get to stay that long. He has been “sacked” by Channel 4, and will no longer be a part of the race reporting that players always want to hear. He is claiming “ageism,” and we will leave that decision to others. I will miss seeing the large racing pundit, and will recall the day when I met him in the Churchill Downs press-box. I was doing a radio show,and introduced myself. He immediately answered, “I didn’t know they had people in America who knew what horse racing was about.” We had a hearty laugh together, and talked about the under card. I enjoyed meeting this colorful character, and I sure will miss hearing from him on big race days.
So, what is the verdict? I see the value of having TV quality race analysts, and sometimes you get folks who not only look good, but do a damn good job of bringing the information. But for this horse player I would like to keep the mix the way it has been. Keep the beautiful and clever folks surrounded by real handicappers, and I think you’ll never go wrong. What could be more interesting than eye-candy and a crew of race track characters? After further review, I think my friend and I both bring up solid points. If we are careful, and do this just right, it may appeal to a whole new audience that we never knew existed.