View From the Cheap Seats

“There is something moving down there. Never mind, it’s the mascot.” – The cheap seats are what they are, and sometimes they suck. But then again, being so far removed from the hub-bub of activity you get a clear view at times. – Each year I look forward to reading about the Symposium of Racing in Tucson, Arizona. The articles get me going, and some of the ideas are pure gold. – A week or so later, the “golden ideas”  disappear into long lines of newbie players looking for cheap beer.

There is no secret that will breathe new life into the game. Gold ideas are wonderful, and the folks they have on deck are some of the best minds our sport has to offer. No complaints, bitching, or I have better ideas brewing here.  – Racing is magical. This year we had a Triple Crown winner, and it won’t be long until the marquee races appear for the next shot. It is up to track owners to listen to these folks and come together. Thoroughbred racing is divided into so many factions it’s starting to look like pro wrestling. You don’t know who is who, Are they good for racing, or just conduct dates to keep slot machines ?

I’ve had the pleasure of working for some real sharp racing folks, and also been smacked down by some who would be better asking you if you wanted fries. But that’s the way it goes. – The racing world needs a few things. They won’t cost millions, and if you read the on-line articles covering the event, you might even see one getting tossed around. – There was a very well written article in the about “45 Ideas in 45 Minutes” being presented, and it seems to be a pretty popular forum. I loved it, and I only have one question. Do we really need 45 ? – How about just a few to get tracks to agree and move on from there ? – I don’t have 45, but here are a few that will move the fans a little closer to the track.


1. – Less is more. Fewer racing dates could lead to fuller fields, better handle, and purses going up. – We don’t need 365 days of any track. There is a need for some down time to allow other tracks to showcase their product.


2. – Tracks need to adopt a smaller takeout rate, and use it for all tracks – Why is it 20% in one state, and only 17% in another ? – New players will not hang around long enough to learn why.


3. – We love to watch the “flex” games in the NFL. – The best teams can be “bumped” to prime time. If you get up in the morning or watch late at night. You hardly ever see tracks in Europe or Australia run at the same time, on top of each other. – This kills handle and nobody wins. Here is a suggestion for “A” league dates, and “B” league dates.

“A” league tracks: Aqueduct, Belmont, Saratoga, Gulfstream, Tampa Bay Downs, Churchill Downs, Keeneland, Kentucky Downs, Arlington, Woodbine, Santa Anita, Del Mar, and Golden Gate. – They will run live racing dates on Thursday – Sundays.

“B” league tracks: – Will conduct live racing on Monday – Wednesday. ** If there are graded races, they have the option of showcasing a special race card on a Saturday if they choose.

“C” – Harness racing, and Quarter Horse racing may fill-in the time slots of early evening or night racing any day of the week.

This keeps tracks from running on top of each other, and for the TV channels that cover racing. They will have plenty of time for interviews, call-in questions, and time to educate and inform the public. No more racing entertainment about what wine they enjoy, or what they did last night. – I love to watch the football talk shows leading up to the games. They talk about injuries, who is not playing, suspensions, coaching changes, field conditions, weather, and even a little “Vegas” talk about who the betting public likes. – Long story short, I think you’ll get used to having a better product televised. There won’t be 900 races, and you’ll be able to get your racing fix in a good way. – 90% of the handle comes from off-track locations and each year more and more of that handle comes from ADW’s. – I would love to see the talent talking with the track handicappers about conditions and connections. We don’t have to fly to Santa Anita. We’ll have quality info right on screen.


4. – Have a fan education program, loyalty program, or wall-of-fame. Have every echelon of management on the floor during the night. – There is not one department who handles patron issues. All hands on deck goes a long way. – Acknowledge patrons / questions as if your job depends on it.


There are not 45, but it’s not a one size fits all world. Keep up on the progress and see what’s on the horizon. Symposium time is exciting as I listen to the movers and shakers planning for the future. I love the game as you, and I want to be the old guy enjoying the races in the back row. – I just want racing to thrive and continue. Let’s take the game to better place than where we first met it, and pass the torch on to the next generation.