Where Have They Gone?

by Ed Meyer

posted on April 30, 2022 in General Discussion, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | Comments Off on Where Have They Gone?

Once upon a time racing used to have overnight sheets with fields to the brim and also-eligible runners. But something has happened to big fields and horsemen trying to get their horses in a race. Where did they go in a matter of years?

Mountaineer has cancelled a few days already, Keeneland and Churchill have gone slim in a few areas. Who would have thought we’d have a tough time with a solid daily purse structure to fill races? – It doesn’t have to be a big money purse structure as mentioned above with two behemoth tracks that offer up swelled purses. It is the small track with cheaper claiming horses who have historically been good for the small trainer staying in the sport. But not the way anymore.

Covid hit the game hard, casinos had a smackdown on the sport, and marginalizing racing in support of the gaming side of operations is seen everywhere. – When the pandemic hit hard, it really took a toll on horses. Who wants to pay day rates to keep horses in training? Train without the prospect of running is a short wish list. Owners will only pay $75 per day not to run for so long. – The pandemic drove this home quickly. Each horse is like a double house payment with no chance to run to recoup expenses.

The attention of the business is turning to the gaming side of the new sport. Racing has become the ugly cousin of the gaming world for now. It is so easy to plunk down a buck or two and watch the reels spin quickly. – Racing has twenty minutes in between post times, study a bit, make a bet, grab a libation, and enjoy the action. I guess bettors or guests want it fast and easy. No studying, and just push a button on the slot machine and a waitress brings your drink. Fast and easy, and your car payment is gone in a blip. Horse Racing was beauty and pageantry. Watching the equine and human athletes do battle in a driving stretch run. That was your grandpa’s game and still can be yours.

When people just turn their head and ignore the issue. Their venue could be promoted as an entertainment venue. One where there are different forms of gaming. I like that idea. A day at the races, grab a bite at the sports bar, and hit my favorite slot machine. Now, that’s a full day when you add in the band playing right about the time the races conclude. You have given me the “full measure of pure pleasure” as my old friend used to say.

Racing everywhere is facing smaller fields, and these are not just the smaller tracks. They are the marquee venues open for 100 years or more. – Don’t discount the value of having various forms of gambling. It is a plus, and your venue becomes the place to be. Give it a good think and look to the future. Something for everyone and keep it going to support both sides of gaming.

Get involved, make a couple trips a year to your local track, and for the real fans who always wanted to own a horse now is the time to get the folks from the office involved with small investments to have your own Thoroughbred on the track in your silks. – Nothing like having your own team in your colors. Try it, I think you’ll like the experience.