The Time to Build Tomorrow is Today

What better place than here what better time than now.” – Race Against the Machine

I’ve spent a great deal of my time watching Thoroughbred action and listening. Yes, that’s my escape from binge-watching, and wondering what to cook for dinner at 10 am in the morning. But, that’s OK. We’re all doing the same things right now. – As usual, I always start to think about what we can do to better our sport. How do we take a seat at the big table again and not be an afterthought to other forms of gaming? – I think the above quote says it all, and more than ever it applies to now.

Here are a few ideas that have popped into my noggin – We always talk about marketing and advertising. – That’s all good, but it doesn’t hold the panacea for what ails the game now. – It promotes racing, events, and future goings-on. – It serves a great purpose but there is no education. Yep, you heard it right. We’re not educating new players and answering questions. You can give a player a winner, or teach them to enjoy the handicapping process.

We need to do a video series of explaining the game. – They can be archived, and fans may view them at their leisure. College and high school students are still continuing education on-line. – How about horse racing?

Start with talking about when horses walk to the paddock and what goes on and why? Many have plenty of questions and I would even venture to say regulars would enjoy this as well. – Explain the process with a fun and light demeanor. It doesn’t take a blah-blah-blah attitude. More upbeat and fun. Just like the game itself.

How about what to look for in horse body language? – Ears pricked up? Lethargic motions while walking the paddock. What if they are on bouncing on their toes? – Break it down. – Have a couple of trainers talk about what they want to see from their runners.

Break down the betting. – Start with win, place, and show wagers and what they mean. We all started here, and so will many more. – You can have other segments that move from a 101 series to a 202 level learning. – Go as high as you want, and allow players to learn. – Just because you can count to 21 doesn’t mean you can play blackjack. – Take it slow and progress.

Talk about odds. – What does (2-1) pay for a $2 win wager and why? – Many players are intimidated by the process of handicapping and have that fear of raising their hands in the back of the classroom.  – Discuss the odds and how they are created. Most know it’s about money, but take the time to recognize what’s going on with the tote board prices. Taking about betting and the odds will get the game moving for new players.

What is happening on the track as they warm up? – Who determines the order of finish? – What is the job of the stewards? – Can we go down and watch the horses saddle? – What happens if my horse unseats his rider? – Who gets the purse money and how much? – All good questions that would apply to players from all levels. No such thing as a silly question and taking time to educate players is gold. You are investing in the future of the sport.

I’ve been watching the on-air talent do a great job of talking about details such as these. – There are new players out there who want to know, and they’ve been taking extra time. – This has really gained traction and I’ve noticed new players chiming in on social media about racing. The process has begun.

During these trying times, we need to examine what we’ve been doing and what needs to change. – When the fog lifts we’ll either be doing the exact same expecting new results, or we’ll approach the game from a fan education perspective. – I sure hope we see the amount of handle that comes from other locations and strive to give the players as much info as possible. How about the temperature in the upper left corner of the screen. Have the announcer or handicapper talk as the cameraman focuses on horses warming up. – How about running a previous package on a horse who had a bad trip, stumbled at the start, or was closed off from getting the rail? – We need to treat the video signal as an educational tool that may give handicappers an edge while they bet from home or OTB’s.

When horses are on the track give the gamblers any information that may help them in wagering. Giving players an on track view with incredible video and handicapping points will help the bottom line. Use social media (Twitter) to get out the word for players to engage and share viewpoints. – While we have no fans on-track we are speaking to the simulcast world. Let’s examine this as an opportunity to communicate more fully. – As horses are on the track fans will enjoy watching as they warm up. Tidbits on red-hot riders for the day, ship in trainers, and selections from the announcer or track handicapper can keep the players interested. – Let’s use this time wisely. We have the opportunity to educate, inform, and promote racing.