Go the Extra Mile – It Will Payoff

by Ed Meyer

posted on July 31, 2022 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | Comments Off on Go the Extra Mile – It Will Payoff

It’s up to you how you spend your discretionary dollar. Some go to the movies, others enjoy shopping. But is there really anything that compares to the excitement of horse racing?

Some enjoy the whirling reels and random spins of a slot machine. That’s just fine. Some enjoy the action of rapid-fire pulls or button pushing while they await the jackpots. – Nothing wrong with that, and racing can learn a great deal from the “one-arm-bandits.”

Video poker is a game of skill. You have to know the nuisances of how to play and percentages of getting the desired outcome to fall your way. – Poker like horse racing is a game of skill wrapped in a blanket of chance. Both have a great deal in common.

So, have you learned anything about what racing is lacking in the sanitized world of gaming? You bet! – If we have a moment of introspection and are willing to go the extra five miles. There is plenty to learn about what is going on around us and how we can prepare for the future continuation of the sport.

Thoroughbred racing has been around since 1868 in the states. Since the publication of the American Stud Book which was the official guide for categorizing thoroughbred racehorses for breeders to categorize the horse’s origins and so racing began. – After the sport emerged, it became an activity enjoyed by people from all social and economic classes, from the wealthiest to the lowest classes. During the Civil War, the popularity of thoroughbred horse racing took a decline due to the economy and gambling activities. As a result, interest faded. But after the war, thoroughbred horse racing saw a rebirth and the popularity for horse racing grew as people took a more in-depth interest in the sport, investing in racehorses, construction of proper racetracks and jockey clubs. While New York was the first state to fully embrace the sport, it was when horse racing made its way down South those things took a definite turn for the best; according to the Deep South Magazine.

Racing is a cyclical sport that has ebbs and flows. Great beginnings followed by downward trends have been a part of the history of the Sport of Kings. – Right now, I would assume we are facing a time of a downward spiral facing social scrutiny and following the COVID pandemic where many owners disappeared from the game due to the cost of keeping a stable without the prospects of any racing. It is fair to say, this is a downward spiral and can work itself out of this trend. This isn’t your grandpa’s game anymore. We just can’t open the doors and fans will come anymore. We have to re-think and plan for the next generation of fans to come.

Racing can be too cumbersome and slow. We need to speed up the game a bit. – Have a group of horses come to the paddock and another group in waiting near the paddock. Taking a clue from harness racing where the next field of runners is waiting near the paddock, this would speed up the game and give players a quick-style sport to enjoy. Just like the rapid-fire games with a push of the button, we could have a next race waiting minutes behind the one on the track. It would take a larger staff to handle the paddock, starting gate, and ancillary workers. But the game would move quicker and the snail pace that is in place would be replaced with a quicker day at the races. – A typical eight race card runs in 3 hours. Now we’ve moved it up a notch and a feel of constant action has taken its place. How about catching a race card in two hours?

Gamblers love to chase jackpot style pots too. – Long before American tracks offered up the “Super-High-Five” wager; The Barbados Turf Club was offering this bet. It had huge carryovers, and the stands were packed. – They started this wager at the Keeneland meet, and it went immediately to the Breeder’s Cup. The rest is history. – I’m thinking of a wager that would have a base wager of a dime and cover the entire race card. You must select the winners of all eight races and if you had a scratch, you would receive the post time favorite. – Folks would be slow to wager at first until the first big carryover. From there, it would take off. Trust me, I would be interested in a wager that had the potential to grow into a big pot at a small price to play. This would appeal to new and seasoned players.

Racing is open air, and you can get close to the participants. That alone is worth the walk down to the paddock. – Now, have a hopper where guests can drop entries clipped out of the program for drawings for free programs, concession items, and track merchandise. Keep the action moving and give everyone a chance at winning something for free. Fans love winning for no cost, and they become the best advertising money can’t buy when you see them wearing your cap in public. – Trust me, invest in your guests and you’ll reap rewards of creating fans.

Have family fun days again, free pony rides, and drawings for $5 betting vouchers. Sound like fun? Energetic atmosphere? You bet! – Guests love it. Turn the day into an event and they’ll hang around and enjoy your property as an entertainment destination. That’s the idea. – By no means is it easy. It takes planning and some costs, but in the end, it will make a difference in the handle and the future.

Live streaming of the races on your website. – Many players love to make the trip and watch and wager on a race or two. Bet the card and head home. – Make it easy by being able to watch the live races on your phone or computer. I bet your on-track handle starts to grow.

During the season have a “Breakfast at the Track” for the early birds who would enjoy coffee, Danish and a free program. – Have a handicapping seminar and make it a great way to start the day. Reward them for coming out and supporting your races.

“Simulcast Saturdays” are a great time to get to know your players and grow interest in the facility. – Free breakfast one-week, handicapping guests from major racing publications, drawings for vouchers and free merchandise, free handicapping contests, and always have a large station that has free coffee and tea for guests for the first couple hours to say thanks for coming out. – There are a million ideas to engage players and not just hoping they’ll come out. Give them a reason and create a fun environment.

Most importantly. – Get out and be around the people who will grow this segment of gaming and enjoy the facility by taking part in a place they’ll call their own. – I had a rule when having these at a track long ago in a place far, far away. Have your brass on the floor being accessible. Guests do not care about generic signage, but if you let them bend your ear and have a person to reach out to communicate. You are on your way to being a fan friendly environment where guests feel appreciated.

Trust me this works. We’ve become a bit complacent and just hope things somehow get done. – Put in the time and reap the rewards of growing interest in your facility. This will work and is worth every penny and sweat making it happen. We’ll start planning for next year earlier and guests will wait with baited breath to make their next trip out.