Now, before you get any wild ideas about Hollywood parties or chocolate fountains just hold on there partner… Oh, it is nice and has all of the comforts that a horse player needs. A couple of computers, a big screen TV, and a stocked fridge with your favorite drinks. But this past week gets me thinking about what have I been watching.
For years I was watching one racing channel exclusively, TVG. Then when HRTV hit the market, I could pick up the tracks that TVG was unable to carry contractually. Yep, my over-stuffed couch was a seat on the finish line for every track.
This went on for quite sometime as I watched TVG do silly antics and lose real handicappers over the years. I could not believe the frat house crap that was allowed to go on. The analysts would talk about five to six horses in a race, and then go off and talk about where they had dinner, what type of wine they liked, and where they stop for morning coffee. It started sounding like a re-run of “Friends.” Then came the effort of putting together a ticket of sorts. This was interesting for awhile, but soon I gravitated more to HRTV. TVG had turned the corner right into the wall. They do a wonderful job at Keeneland each year, and for good reason. They are major sponsors, and some like the jibber-jabber that takes place for 14-days each spring and fall. Just wait until you get to see two analysts run a foot race down the safe poly track oval. Now that will bring viewers by the thousands. From where, I do not know. But I am assuming any station that programs cartoons.
Tony Allevato was “dismissed” from his duties at TVG. He was the vice president of television for TVG, and his resume was complete after shipping in from Hollywood Park. It looked like a perfect fit as he selected who would drive the talent side of the business. But no matter who you picked, it was going to be a tall order for the talent to reach out into the darkness and promote, educate, and entertain players. When it kicked off, it was a slam dunk being the only major network to carry the load. They looked great, and nobody could touch them. That is, until HRTV started growing slowly. They started picking up more tracks, began in-depth handicapping coverage, and doing major plan-ahead handicapping for marquee events. There was a new kid on the block, and TVG was starting to pay attention. Sorry, Tony. My money is on “that you will be out of work only as long as you wish.”
In the file of “whatever happened to” where are the analysts that really made the content strong at TVG?
Frank Lyons – The square jawed Irishman who had the look of a racetracker. He had the complete backround of trainer, horseman, and gambler. His resume spoke of work for Dermot Weld, Frank Dunne, and Jonabell Farm in Kentucky. He could turn a phrase, and never get off subject while the others had water ballon fights. Where is he now, and why isn’t he on? How many Breeders’ Cup winning trainers do they have? As he used to say: “they are armed with a fork in the land of soup.”
Tom Amoss – The New Orleans born trainer brings more to the table than anyone. He has worked for Jack Van Berg, Frank Brothers, and has been a veterinary assistant. He has a feel for the game, and offers up unique perspective, especially during Fair Grounds and Keeenland. Amoss is at the top of my list of guys to watch. Just don’t talk LSU, or you could get a full sports update from his alma mater in addition to the races, and ESPN may start calling him!
Frank Mirahmadi - Now, he gets a pass right now as he doing an excellent job calling races at Oaklawn Park. I watched him grow from being the butt of jokes, to a polished professional who knows more about gambling than the others combined. I love to hear from gamblers, as they know what it is like to have a bad beat, or they don’t have to allow an intern to make their selections. He is very good, and he wants to handicap. Google his race calls in the many voices he has. Kinda’ like Rich Little meets Pittsburgh Phil. Very talented…
Bob Baedeker / Chris Kotulak – “Mr. B” to all of his loyal friends. In 2011, he was let go with Chris Kotulak in a restructuring move. “Mr. B” brought a smooth voice of reason to the table, and never stood up to dance or brag to the camera about a victory. If he is not at the North Pole, you might want to bring him back. Kotulak was good. He had the handsome look, and his smooth pipes have been heard in Nebraska, Louisiana, and California calling races. I thought I heard him calling races the other night. He didn’t play the “silly boy,” and had the info to make it interesting. If things got out of hand, he would quietly re-direct the attention to the races. A great recovery guy for the high school foolery. Both are missed by this gambler.
Enough of my rants from the man cave. I love racing, and more than ever I enjoy spending a Saturday in my lair watching and wagering. Easier than fighting the lines at the track, and entertaining to hear the analysts. TVG, you were the undisputed heavy-weight champ once upon a time. I don’t know if firing a professional such as Tony Allevato is going to make the difference, but I would have a long meeting with the talent. Keep the locker room jokes, and talk more about the races. Oh, and for the times they have spoke about making a bet. How about keeping a deatiled ROI graphic to pop up every time they speak. I bet they will try a little harder, and leave the comedy out of the show. A million comics out of work, and these guys are getting laughed at not they way they intended.