Social Media-Madness

by Ed Meyer

posted on January 30, 2014 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, | No Comments >>

This buzz word could bring horse racing back to the table. I wasn’t much of a fan early on, and thought who in the world would follow this? Well after further review, and coming to my senses. I have become quite a follower of what is happening in the moment. If you haven’t given it a try, give this a read and see what you think.

I was home watching races on the computer. It was minus 5 degrees, and there I was in the warmth of my man cave when a tweet came across the screen. It was Woodbine harness, and a trainer was detailing how well his runner was doing the week leading up to the race. Now, it doesn’t matter if you enjoy harness action, as I was killing time waiting for my race. But, this message was super. The “talking-heads” were giving out detailed handicapping explanations while we watched horses workout on the screen. At the bottom of the page were rolling tweets from other connections in the race. It was perfect, and it filled in the gaps for players. This was exactly what the doctor ordered, and it made playing away from the track as solid as being on site. Maybe even better if you take everything into consideration.

So where do we go from here? There are some tracks who have handicappers in the paddock, and some in the studio. But the majority of tracks have no such presence. I tried to bring in one of the biggest names in racing to tweet from the paddock, and when I was told what the day rate would cost. Well, lets just say management lost interest fast. Some folks can price themselves out of the game even before the horses get to the paddock. Looking back, maybe it wasn’t needed to have the industry best. But it sure was needed, as I learned the value of having instant information before wagering.

  • Keep the talking heads. It may be wise to have two, as you can get multiple ideas from a couple of on-track personalities. Maggie Wolfendale on the NYRA circuit is great with the paddock reports that go along with Andy Serling’s handicapping. This not only serves the on-track players, but it helps the off-track players who need additional info. Tracks use to generate 100% of handle on track in the old days. Then it swung to the 80-20 rule, where 80% came from off-track sources, and 20% from the track handle. Now, it rolls about 90-10. The 90% comes from simulcast and ADW’s. Do you see the value of communicating information to everyone that comes in contact with your product?
  • Your handicappers are the “betting advice voices.” They break down all aspects of the race, identify a track bias, or give info about the connections who are in the race.  Two of the best come from Mountaineer Park, with Mark Patterson and Nancy McMichael. They paint a picture of how the race is shaping up, and enjoy giving you the “insiders feel” of what’s going on. Time well spent…
  • Now, let’s talk the Twitter-sphere. If you have a person who knows horse flesh. They are worth their weight in gold. Their postings are sent to the media relations team, and from there they get put up on the video feed. They can also be posted on your website with “free” live racing feeds, and can be accessed by phone or tablet for the on-the-go player. You can have them in the paddock, or in the press box watching everything. This is starting to sound like a no-brainer. Give the people info, and they will have more confidence in your product. How many times have you been at the track and overheard someone say after the race that a horse had a troubled work, or a the trainer is great off the claim. – You’ll want to kick yourself. If only you had known this little nugget, you would not be walking to the car this soon.

In the new age of communication, it is the utmost importance that we don’t leave anyone behind. Your handicappers can be that trusted voice of wagering, and the tweets can keep you up-to-the-minute with everything. Pair them together, and the racing product is keeping your attention. This leads to more informed players and better handle for the track. Just when we thought there was no answer for problems that plague racing, we may have found an idea that keeps the cerebral sport of Thoroughbred racing alive and well.