Monday, March 10, 2008

Repeat Performance

This Post could/should have supplemented March 7 post, but was sent to another outlet for consideration.

Saturday gave us the most exciting racing of the year. Pyro burnt his way to top the list of Derby hopefuls. Circular Quay stamped himself a legitimate division contender while overcoming Grasshopper who continues to be one the most game horses running. Ariege, Commentator, Proud Spell, Visionaire, Proudinsky, and now we can support Autism Awareness! What a weekend! Oh, you weren’t able to watch the races? Too Bad! That’s what the ‘powers that be’ are saying to the fans. It’s a crime not only for the fan but for the game. How can it survive if new fans aren’t nurtured?
You could have organized your day to be at an off track facility but for most that isn't possible. And, we all have obligations that likely preclude such time consuming maneuvers. Many dyed in the wool fans do subscribe to TVG or HRTV, maybe some lucky ones get both; again the vast minority.
The very biggest races are seen on ESPN, ABC or NBC but other than fans who’s really interested? Curious maybe, but not interested. Why? Because no one can see a race to nurture interest; not even the fan. Those broadcasts force us to listen to pontification to the point of mummification. This frustrates the fan and is off putting to the would-be fan. Experts can be interesting and informative, in moderation. They are not the show. The races are! Be it Magna, Churchill or NYRA they would rather deny us the product than risk losing a dime to a competitor.
If a fan as passionate as I am has to jump hurdles to see the best races how can we attract new fans? Here’s my suggestions: 1) Make the races available! 2) Promote the sport. Not just in trade publications but where it can create new curiosity. 3) Stop chasing betting dollars because without fans there will be none. The shortsightedness of the industry makes this a real possibility. Coupled with government’s idea that VLT’s can produce as well with less investment and disaster looms!
If these suggestions are taken good things will happen. Racing fans will get to see the races! The product and fans will work as a lobby to baptize many new fans. Let’s elongate those two greatest minutes in sport. I see a promotion like this, "Watch the most exciting two hours in sports." Here’s how that may have changed last Saturday: Race fans everywhere host friends and family for a day of visiting, food and drink. At 3 o’clock they turn on RTV (racingTV). Our true passion ignites a spark in at least one friend or family member and then…the racing! 3:06 The New Orleans Handicap; 3:36 The Mervin Muniz; 4:21 The Tobaggan; 4:48 The Louisiana Derby and delayed a minute The Gotham. With cooperation times can work out much more smoothly. Likely we could also have seen the Richter Scale and Louisiana Oaks. If California started a little earlier and the East a bit later maybe The Santa Anita Oaks and El Camino as well! Wow! What a ride!
The powers that be are so worried that if a big race is carded early no one will stay to watch (or wager) on any other races. The excitement of championship racing is enough to ignite a spark. Have they no faith in the product? If the game is marketed solely to bettors what happens when they are gone? VLT’s?
I dream of the greatest two hours in sport once every month! Racing is more suited to put on this show than any other sport. What better promotion than great racing?
I’ve been tied on for a long time but I’m about to leave my mount at the gate.

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