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SuffolkDowns Fan
05-04-2009, 05:25 PM
I know every time I try to get friends to go to the track they have no interest (I am 35 years old) they all would prefer to drive an extra hour to the casino's near us. I would think that if the industry could advertise that for a $2 wager the Derby winner paid $103 or on a random day at the track an exacta or tri paid $200+ that would peak more interest in fans that know nothing about the sport. Granted it is tough to pick winners and there is more to it than that, but i think the generation of betters that have missed out on the track would see some of the payoffs for a $2 bet and give it a try. I would rather do that than play $25 minimum hands at one of the Indian casinos. For a $100 at the track I can last 10 races or more, for $100 at the casino i could be packing it in in about 5 minutes after 4 hands. I would think that some information about payoffs would be interesting to those people that know nothing about the sport. any thoughts?

Mike A
05-04-2009, 06:00 PM
I'm no advertising expert, but something along those lines would seem like a pretty good angle to play up.

(I also happen to live near Suffolk.)

Cangamble
05-04-2009, 06:10 PM
$100 lasts me two races, three races tops. At a casino, I've lasted 7 or 8 hours playing $10 black jack on a $250 bankroll.

SuffolkDowns Fan
05-04-2009, 08:17 PM
That is nice, but not the point of the post.

chickenhead
05-04-2009, 11:56 PM
the industry shouldn't really have to play it up -- the people that hit are the ones who tell all their friends. Then their friends go to the track and get efficiently cleaned out and decide the casino is maybe more fun in the first place.

One thing that's not talked about much, but I think to compete for the casino dwellers more effectively -- a big part of what racing does not offer very well is the gratification of many small wins. Most casino games, except for roulette (depending on what you;re doing I guess) give the players lots of small wins. They give you a little, then take a little more, then give a little back, etc. This works, lotteries have discovered that paying out small amounts on all the small stuff makes people play more. Gives 'em some hope, and some small wins to enjoy while they get fleeced.

A day at the track in comparison can often feel like you just got straight up mugged. Spending even just a few hours without cashing anything is relatively unfun, if the gratification of cashing is what someone is looking for.

Not that I have any ideas how to change that, but I do think that is part of why many people looking for entertainment and maybe a lucky score choose casino gambling over horseracing. It's not just the payouts, its the frequency of them.

Judge Gallivan
05-05-2009, 09:01 AM
People who like to win little and win often can bet favorites to place or show.

Cangamble
05-05-2009, 09:26 AM
People who like to win little and win often can bet favorites to place or show.
With slots, you can also make a big score as well. The house edge on slots is around 10% usually. If they increased the edge, they know it would turn off the players, as they wouldn't last as long, and they would have a tendency not to come back and play.
Racinos know this, yet they still insist on making the house take on betting horses around 21% on average.

miesque
05-05-2009, 09:59 AM
I know every time I try to get friends to go to the track they have no interest (I am 35 years old) they all would prefer to drive an extra hour to the casino's near us. I would think that if the industry could advertise that for a $2 wager the Derby winner paid $103 or on a random day at the track an exacta or tri paid $200+ that would peak more interest in fans that know nothing about the sport. Granted it is tough to pick winners and there is more to it than that, but i think the generation of betters that have missed out on the track would see some of the payoffs for a $2 bet and give it a try. I would rather do that than play $25 minimum hands at one of the Indian casinos. For a $100 at the track I can last 10 races or more, for $100 at the casino i could be packing it in in about 5 minutes after 4 hands. I would think that some information about payoffs would be interesting to those people that know nothing about the sport. any thoughts?

I have been thinking about your post because its interesting since its actually a multi-faceted issue, the advertising angle is just one component. I firmly believe that a lot hinges on the differentiating features of the customer experience at a casino versus your typical day at the racetrack. For the longest time I have thought that racetracks could pick up a few items regarding customer service and the customer experience from casinos. The number one rule is to create an environment that is pleasant, comfortable and put people in the proper mindset to spend their money. I will be blunt and state that sometimes I feel like I have to tolerate stuff at racetracks and I visit enough different tracks each year that I have a very good feel for exactly what items I am going to run into that I will be less then thrilled with, in other words what amount of crap am I going to have to put up with (in fact I am actually going through that right now trying to figure out whether I want to go up to Belmont Memorial Day Weekend for the Met Mile). The reason I spend two week in Vegas each year at casinos like Wynn, Bellagio, Venetian, TheHotel is because I always have an exceptional time with fabulous food, exquisite surroundings and am treated very well. If I didn't really enjoy horse racing and playing the races, I would rarely attend the races, let alone planning my vacation around various stakes and track meets. Now there are a few tracks which do understand customer service such as Arlington Park and Keeneland, but they are an exception rather then the rule.

The reason I went on my little customer service rant is that needs to be addressed in order to get the full value of any sort of advertising campaign, no matter what marketing angle you are using.

Another interesting side note is how the mood level of a casino versus a typical day at the track. The mood level of a casino is set to make it "busy" and try to give the impression of high energy. There are a lot of racetracks, especially the bigger, older ones, have a very tired feel to them, very little buzz, almost like its sucking the energy out. I am convinced that is one of the reasons why special events like Friday Night Racing with Concerts at places like Hollywood Park play so well compared to just a typical day. It gives the facility more of dynamic buzz instead of being so stagnant and its easier to attract people to be a part of that.

chickenhead
05-05-2009, 10:58 AM
People who like to win little and win often can bet favorites to place or show.

but this is really quite different than say playing slots. Slots pay off little bits often, while still allowing for some schmoe to get lucky and win a big jackpot, and get handed some big cardboard check.

Yes people can bet favorites to show, it's a little like a slot machine that had a maximum payoff of $1. I don't think it would get the same action as a progressive payoff machine.

The answer might be that there isn't a whole lot racing can do to get people like that.

miesque
05-05-2009, 11:03 AM
but this is really quite different than say playing slots. Slots pay off little bits often, while still allowing for some schmoe to get lucky and win a big jackpot, and get handed some big cardboard check.

Yes people can bet favorites to show, it's a little like a slot machine that had a maximum payoff of $1. I don't think it would get the same action as a progressive payoff machine.

The answer might be that there isn't a whole lot racing can do to get people like that.

Thats also why advertising the big payouts (such as the big Pick 6 and superfecta scores) have a downside because those are not wagers beginners should be playing. I think the angle that needs to be played is that its a game whereby you can gain an advantage if you are willing to do the work, which obviously is something absent in slot machines.

Also there is a Pavlovian element that is associated with slots and its harder to replicate that in racing.

miesque
05-05-2009, 11:12 AM
How about this for a concept? We all agree that there is a different mentality involved with playing the slots then playing the ponies. It would probably be best to target those who are more numerically oriented. I would bet that its a lot harder to hook someone who majored in basket weaving and has a non quantitative career, then someone who is a nerdy bean counter like myself.

chickenhead
05-05-2009, 11:21 AM
Also there is a Pavlovian element that is associated with slots and its harder to replicate that in racing.

ooh I like that, that's what I was trying to get at. Walking through a slots floor, it's like watching a bunch of fat dumb and happy zombie animals waiting to get their next food pellet from the nice machine.

Racing is more like a bunch of agitated, emaciated animals trying to outsmart an evil machine that refuses to let them eat.

DeanT
05-05-2009, 11:37 AM
Casual fan for a night out, versus a bettor that loves the mind-game is a 100% different market as we all know. Racing for years has tried to lump them together.

A few random opines on the casual fan, that might be right, might be way off base, but here goes:

* Dont teach them how to bet at the start, give them ten cent supers every race. a five or six horse box is a small bet for a group and they might be able to 20X their cash. If they hit three or four of them in a night I think you have a new fan that will come back.

* Tell them how to play betting games. A show parlay where everyone throws in five bucks and each pick a horse and decide on one to show can be a ton of fun if it rolls over for five or so races.

* Shrink the venues size wise. Harness racing up here was at Woodbine in the summer. It was a monolith where the horses are a long way away, and there is virtually no one in the grandstand since it seats about 35k. They moved it to Mohawk, a fan friendly track, renovated it and it is awesome in the summer. You can get a beer have some fun and touch the horses. The place is pretty packed on Saturdays. If anyone is ever in Toronto going to woodbine, do yourself a favor and go to Mohawk on Saturday night if the weather is nice. The best facility fan-wise I have seen in racing.

* Do stuff between races. Interview people, have contests and that sort of thing. If a new fan is taking a six horse box, 10 times, he/she has to be entertained as they are not handicapping much between races.

That's my three cents.

rrbauer
05-05-2009, 11:43 AM
People who like to win little and win often can bet favorites to place or show.

That's true, however it's waiting 25 to 30 minutes to "pull the handle" again that becomes boring, which brings into play some of the customer-service issues being explored here and which leads to what, for many, is an experience not worth repeating. We can talk all we want about the intellectual returns gained by horseplayers compared to other forms of gambling and there might be a small amount of truth therein. It will never make up for all of the time that I wasted on Tuesday-night trips to the liquor store and waiting around for Wednesdays' form's to come in so that I could begin another week of being treated like a 2nd-class citizen at my local racetracks.

DeanT
05-05-2009, 11:52 AM
It will never make up for all of the time that I wasted on Tuesday-night trips to the liquor store and waiting around for Wednesdays' form's to come in so that I could begin another week of being treated like a 2nd-class citizen at my local racetracks.

:D

I told an exec once about old Greenwood in downtown Toronto, when racing was the only legal game in town - "In those days when we walked up the steps to the clubhouse you could spray us with a fire hose filled with molasses and we would simply head up to the seats and open the program and start betting. Those days are over now"

We were treated as poor, or poorer than any customer of any business known to man. After twenty years this is beginning to change. Unfortunately many folks have left and can not see the changes because they were treated so poorly, and had their wallets picked with non-rebated high takeout for generations.

miesque
05-05-2009, 11:56 AM
We can talk all we want about the intellectual returns gained by horseplayers compared to other forms of gambling and there might be a small amount of truth therein. It will never make up for all of the time that I wasted on Tuesday-night trips to the liquor store and waiting around for Wednesdays' form's to come in so that I could begin another week of being treated like a 2nd-class citizen at my local racetracks.

That was very well said and when a track has a level of customer service which leads to the feeling of being treated like a second class citizen, it permeates through everything and impacts the experience of all customers from the most casual fan to the most diehard horseplayer. Attention to details and the little things (or lack thereof) starts at the top and trickles down through the institution.

BombsAway Bob
05-05-2009, 12:33 PM
Suffolk does a very good job getting "new" fans to the track via "The Hot Dog Safari" & The MassCap every year. I've been trying for a few years to convince Suffolk to have a few "Micro-Brew" Festivals with live music, connecting them with events that cater to the +21 crowd that isn't looking for $1 draft beers.
Another missed opportunity for Suffolk..the Mass. betting Age is 18; with all the Colleges in the area, Suffolk should aggressively be making the track a place for that "tweener crowd" between 18 & 21; adults legally unable to go to bars, hang out & see bands... With Subway service to the track, cheap admission, etc.. Suffolk could be a place to develop a younger fan base.

miesque
05-05-2009, 01:05 PM
Suffolk does a very good job getting "new" fans to the track via "The Hot Dog Safari" & The MassCap every year. I've been trying for a few years to convince Suffolk to have a few "Micro-Brew" Festivals with live music, connecting them with events that cater to the +21 crowd that isn't looking for $1 draft beers.
Another missed opportunity for Suffolk..the Mass. betting Age is 18; with all the Colleges in the area, Suffolk should aggressively be making the track a place for that "tweener crowd" between 18 & 21; adults legally unable to go to bars, hang out & see bands... With Subway service to the track, cheap admission, etc.. Suffolk could be a place to develop a younger fan base.

Colonial Downs has a Rhythm Bets & Brews fest with several local microbrews on Colonial Turf Cup Day that seems to work pretty well getting a younger crowd out. On Virginia Derby Day they have a PartyZone for the segment of the market. On both of those days attendance is pretty solid and its a nice, friendly environment.

DeanT
05-05-2009, 01:44 PM
Last year at the standardbred portion of the gaming summit a group was set up to do this for harness racing. They came up with Adrenaline. It is targeting the under 30 demo, pure fan demo of course as you or I would want to handicap the races, while these folks are not so inclined at first blush. I think they did a good job. Here is there promo on youtube; take a look at they made a good commercial. Looks like fun if I was ten years younger :)

<object width="480" height="295"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/hTMe97YIteQ&hl=en&fs=1&color1=0x006699&color2=0x54abd6"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/hTMe97YIteQ&hl=en&fs=1&color1=0x006699&color2=0x54abd6" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="480" height="295"></embed></object>

chickenhead
05-05-2009, 02:08 PM
they should have quarter horses or mules run drag race-like duels in between the real races, you could easily fit two of them in between the end of one race and the call to post of the next. Not for simulcast, but you could open up pools on track for it I guess, maybe with a few special machines to handle it. Get some rapid fire auctioneer-like guy with a booming voice to call each duel as if it was the most dramatic event that has ever occured.

That would make a day at the track a little livelier.

Bubba X
05-05-2009, 02:20 PM
If you want to get new bettors -- say, 25 to 30 year old males -- to come to the track, it is very simple to do.

Do whatever you need to do to get 20 to 30 year old women to go to the track.

Free admission for women
Music
Free betting voucher for women
2 for1 booze for women
Free / cheap food for women
Friday night racing

Arlington does some of this on Fridays in the summer.

Do this and people will come. People will most definitely come.

miesque
05-05-2009, 03:37 PM
If you want to get new bettors -- say, 25 to 30 year old males -- to come to the track, it is very simple to do.

Do whatever you need to do to get 20 to 30 year old women to go to the track.

Free admission for women
Music
Free betting voucher for women
2 for1 booze for women
Free / cheap food for women
Friday night racing

Arlington does some of this on Fridays in the summer.

Do this and people will come. People will most definitely
come.


As a single woman in her mid-thirties, I got a better idea, how about making it a more palatable place for women in general, starting with places like the bathrooms (and no I am not joking). How about not walking through a cloud of chain smokers some of whom look like they haven't showered and shaved in days? Attacting women to an establishment is a two way street, free booze alone ain't going to do it.

Bubba X
05-05-2009, 03:42 PM
As a 37 year old woman, I got a better idea, how about making it a more palatable place for women in general, starting with places like the bathrooms (and no I am not joking). How about not walking through a cloud of chain smokers some of whom look like they haven't showered and shaved in days?
Good points and all but sorry, you're not in the target demographic. And I shower once a week, whether I need to or not.

miesque
05-05-2009, 03:46 PM
Good points and all but sorry, you're not in the target demographic. And I shower once a week, whether I need to or not.

Thats ok, I may not be in your target demographic, but I am a single professional with disposal income and don't worry there isn't exactly an overabundance of my demographic at the track. :lol:

DeanT
05-05-2009, 04:02 PM
How about not walking through a cloud of chain smokers some of whom look like they haven't showered and shaved in days?

And at some tracks those are just the women!

miesque
05-05-2009, 04:14 PM
And at some tracks those are just the women!

They may well because I am usually travelling through those areas at a good clip while trying not to knock anyone over accidentally as I come charging through, I am not there on a sightseeing expedition.

miesque
05-05-2009, 04:19 PM
By the way, I have to thanks Suffolk Downs Fan for starting this thread, it has turned out to be somewhat therapeutic for me. :D

Grits
05-05-2009, 07:09 PM
Bubba X, as you well know, the visionary, Frank Stronach tried this business model, complete with music, 2 for 1s, beaches, grass huts, and all. As you know too, Frank's belly up.

There is one thing, and one thing only in this life that is FREE--and considered by all--FUN. And of course, sweetheart, it ain't racing. It never will be. Its held its place, firmly, at the top of cheap entertainment for centuries.

Free at the track has no appeal. It will not create new horseracing fans, I don't believe.

If you want to get new bettors -- say, 25 to 30 year old males -- to come to the track, it is very simple to do.

Do whatever you need to do to get 20 to 30 year old women to go to the track.

Free admission for women
Music
Free betting voucher for women
2 for1 booze for women
Free / cheap food for women
Friday night racing

Arlington does some of this on Fridays in the summer.

Do this and people will come. People will most definitely come.

Bubba X
05-05-2009, 07:14 PM
Bubba X, as you well know, the visionary, Frank Stronach tried this business model, complete with music, 2 for 1s, beaches, grass huts, and all. As you know too, Frank's belly up.

There is one thing, and one thing only in this life that is FREE--and considered by all--FUN. And of course, sweetheart, it ain't racing. It never will be. Its held its place, firmly, at the top of cheap entertainment for centuries.

Free at the track has no appeal. It will not create new horseracing fans, I don't believe.You are holding out for the 3 for 1 drinks?

Cangamble
05-05-2009, 07:21 PM
Bubba X, as you well know, the visionary, Frank Stronach tried this business model, complete with music, 2 for 1s, beaches, grass huts, and all. As you know too, Frank's belly up.

There is one thing, and one thing only in this life that is FREE--and considered by all--FUN. And of course, sweetheart, it ain't racing. It never will be. Its held its place, firmly, at the top of cheap entertainment for centuries.

Free at the track has no appeal. It will not create new horseracing fans, I don't believe.
You are right. It has been free admission in Ontario for quite a while and the crowds get smaller and older every year.

SuffolkDowns Fan
05-05-2009, 10:23 PM
No problem for starting the thread. Some good ideas here. Here are a few more I have. I think the New England tracks could learn a few things from some of the minor league baseball teams. In between innings there is more going on than during the game. I would think some of those things would be fun in between races. I also think another way to get some 20-30 year people there would be to have sports bars that have been updated in the last few years. Most of these facilities are huge with plenty of parking. If they could be a place to watch an NFL game or other games in a nice bar while betting a simulcast on the side that would be great. I also am trying to see if i can host my fantasy football draft at one of the tracks. That would get 10+ guys there for 2-3 hours. We just need a couple tables and some space and can play the races in between selections. I would assume there are 100's of leagues that struggle to find places to host these things, it may be a good way to get some new blood to the track. New blood is the key to growth...

Grits
05-06-2009, 12:00 AM
You are right. It has been free admission in Ontario for quite a while and the crowds get smaller and older every year.

LOLOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL:lol:

CG, and I bet they're showing up with their AARP cards, which, no doubt, insures their senior discount--for whatever may NOT yet be FREE.

SuffolkDownsFan, horseracing, still today, is inexpensive, when compared to all major sports. And this is whether one is a spectator of football, baseball, basketball, hockey, NASCAR etc, etc, or a participant in tennis, golf, boating, etc. Club memberships included. Again, free is of no value. These sports are not, why should horseracing be?

The cultivating of new fans lies, not so much with those of us who already love the game, but instead, the greater concern is instant gratification, or what may be seen as a lack of such. One's attention span, and one's desire to learn this game has to be paramount. If you possess neither, you will not ever have any interest in the sport of horseracing.

Text messaging and tweeting will probably not garner a twentysomething too many winners.

At some point, hopefully, one puts their cellphones away. And it is then, that one begins to learn from those of us willing to teach and welcome new fans to the sport we care so much for.

SuffolkDowns Fan
05-06-2009, 07:31 AM
Unfortunately cell phones, texting, tweating, facebook, etc are here to stay and they are not going away so industries (not just horse racing) will need to find ways to adapt to that and work it into the experience somehow.

DeanT
05-06-2009, 11:15 AM
Unfortunately cell phones, texting, tweating, facebook, etc are here to stay and they are not going away so industries (not just horse racing) will need to find ways to adapt to that and work it into the experience somehow.
That's a good point, imo. At the wagering conference last week, we went over things for the future of playing racing, and those things are hear to stay, and I think will be a part of every web-interface with video and more in the future.

We have always been big on twitter and what it can do at HANA. I do not know if Treasurer Theresia could live without twitter when handicapping. :)

Grits
05-06-2009, 11:37 AM
Sorry SDF, we do not agree.

If you want a casino experience, one with plenty of females, comp drinks, etc, etc, there's always Vegas and the racebooks.

One doesn't take their cellphone on the tennis court, nor does one tweat and chat on the phone while teeing off on #9.

This is the one sport that you don't rush. It doesn't need Ostrich racing or sandy beach networking between races. It takes more dedication than any other. You're dealing with animals throughout the day, so, consequently, its not all about "us." You watch, you listen, you watch some more. But most of all, you learn to read past performance lines; or else, you fail at it, miserably.

Still, with all of this said, I cannot see how anyone, any age, could be on the grounds of Saratoga Racecourse on an August afternoon and not have a wonderful experience. Regardless, whether you're in the clubhouse or in the backyard under the trees.

The sport of horseracing is what it is--it doesn't need a great deal of change. Maybe, instead, the change is our responsibility.

I assure you, I'm not your demographic. Still, I don't complain about the surroundings, the trivial, that which may not be as user friendly as I would like. No one has to roll out the red carpet, etc, etc.

In other words, its more constructive, and in my best interest to adapt, whether its for one day at Big A, two weeks at Keeneland, or a month at Saratoga.

If I were to complain, in any way, it would include, only, takeout, and tax reporting. Not anything else. You're in my pocket then, and that irritates me. A LOT!

I love horseracing, horses and people, and all are more important to me than the welcome mat, the trappings, and the appreciation of my level of disposable income, which, truth be told is totally irrelevant to begin with because when I walk through the gate no one there will know what's in my handbag. My annual income, my net worth is not a point of concern. When it becomes one, I need to remain at home. I just don't care, and I assume others do not as well. But, of course, this is just my take on the sport I love.

I do hope, though, that young people will come to know there's a lot of fun to be had watching horses run.

Its a great game. The greatest, actually.

Unfortunately cell phones, texting, tweating, facebook, etc are here to stay and they are not going away so industries (not just horse racing) will need to find ways to adapt to that and work it into the experience somehow.

Maxspa
05-06-2009, 11:50 AM
Grits,
Pete Axelhelm could not have stated it better! I hope some racing officials take some of your excellent ideas seriously!
Maxspa

DeanT
05-06-2009, 11:52 AM
It is the greatest game Grits, but we have to remember new markets and what they want, not what we want - we are satisfied.

If Ebay asked existing flea market or garage sale people if they want to do it on the web the answer is "no, I like to touch what I am buying"

If Amazon asked what existing book buyers want, they would hear "I love to browse and have fun at the bookstore"

These businesses would have never been started if they listened only to existing customers.

The new market does not want to travel to a track, study a racing form for six hours, sit for 5 hours and then go home. You and I do that and we should always be looked after and respected (something that the business has done a poor job at), but to get new markets we must think new, and fresh. We can not make people be horse fans and bettors, they need to be targeted and the game needs to change to fit their needs, not the other way around (imo).

I used two slides at a presentation recently on changing demo's

This was the first one:

http://www.murraytuckerwriter.com/dave%20lawrence%20handicapper.jpg

The second one was this:

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/127/361110370_f331e47aff.jpg?v=0

He is a 20 year old kid that grew up playing Dungeons and Dragons, is extremely smart and now plays poker. He is tailor-made for games, and gambling. He has $1.3M in earnings. He would be perfect for the mind game of horse racing, with stats, probabilities and so on (he says that is what interested him to poker). However, we have not brought that to him. He bought a poker book and started playing. In racing he would have to buy data, study with a pencil and paper, test, and if he lived in a state without ADW coverage like so many, he could not even play online - and even if he survived all that, then we would proceed to kick his ass with 22% takeouts. This is a huge problem, and a completely underserved market that we are losing. We have to start building plans to get at them and serve them if we want a shot to grow the game (imo).

miesque
05-06-2009, 12:24 PM
It is the greatest game Grits, but we have to remember new markets and what they want, not what we want - we are satisfied.

If Ebay asked existing flea market or garage sale people if they want to do it on the web the answer is "no, I like to touch what I am buying"

If Amazon asked what existing book buyers want, they would hear "I love to browse and have fun at the bookstore"

These businesses would have never been started if they listened only to existing customers.

The new market does not want to travel to a track, study a racing form for six hours, sit for 5 hours and then go home. You and I do that and we should always be looked after and respected (something that the business has done a poor job at), but to get new markets we must think new, and fresh. We can not make people be horse fans and bettors, they need to be targeted and the game needs to change to fit their needs, not the other way around (imo).

I used two slides at a presentation recently on changing demo's

This was the first one:

http://www.murraytuckerwriter.com/dave%20lawrence%20handicapper.jpg

The second one was this:

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/127/361110370_f331e47aff.jpg?v=0

He is a 20 year old kid that grew up playing Dungeons and Dragons, is extremely smart and now plays poker. He is tailor-made for games, and gambling. He has $1.3M in earnings. He would be perfect for the mind game of horse racing, with stats, probabilities and so on (he says that is what interested him to poker). However, we have not brought that to him. He bought a poker book and started playing. In racing he would have to buy data, study with a pencil and paper, test, and if he lived in a state without ADW coverage like so many, he could not even play online - and even if he survived all that, then we would proceed to kick his ass with 22% takeouts. This is a huge problem, and a completely underserved market that we are losing. We have to start building plans to get at them and serve them if we want a shot to grow the game (imo).

That is a very good post, Dean. The biggest point is that in order for racing to grow it needs to change and reach out from its existing boundaries, as well as improving its product and customer satisfaction in that product. If there are no changes to the status quo, then the industry will continue to decline because any industry who looses customers faster then new customers are added is destined to shrink. The current cold, hard demographics of the modern horseplayer shows a significant skew towards the older end of the population with little growth in other segments of the population. Racing is soon going to reach the point where its customer is dying off faster then it can convert new customers. I realize this is a pretty blunt way to look at it, but its pretty important from a long term perspective to keep in mind.

DeanT
05-06-2009, 12:37 PM
As you know T, we have the article up on the website about what racing can/might be in 2050. For a link to the interesting article its here at a standardbred trade magazine. http://previewsc.ca/trot/may-2009/your-choice.html

Some of that seems way out there, but watching racing on my phone twenty years ago seemed the same. In fact, if you said that in 1980, you probably would have been committed.

A few facts about changing technology and in return changing markets? I'll take a stab:

In 2009 you can hold in your hand about 10-20,000 songs on an IPOD. In 2015 with data storage growing at an exponential current rate you will be able to hold, in the palm of your hand every song ever recorded in the history of music. In 2019 it is estimated that in the palm of your hand you will be able to hold every piece of video ever recorded in history - every movie, every youtube clip, everything.

Currently $500-$700B of bets are placed on skill games online a year, only to grow. Racings current handle is $13 billion dollars in NA, at all tracks and online. And on track betting is shrinking each day.

In south Korea they are instituting super-broadband via a gvt initiative. 55% of South Koreans surf the web in the palm of their hand over 10 hours a week. In a startling stat, 33% of South Korean 3 year old children are considered "web surfers". In 15 years those children will be legal aged bettors. Are we ready for them and that market? Will they come to the track for 6 hours and bet?

I think we have a lot of work to do in looking outside our market by preparing for tomorrow, today.

miesque
05-06-2009, 01:04 PM
As you know T, we have the article up on the website about what racing can/might be in 2050. For a link to the interesting article its here at a standardbred trade magazine. http://previewsc.ca/trot/may-2009/your-choice.html

Some of that seems way out there, but watching racing on my phone twenty years ago seemed the same. In fact, if you said that in 1980, you probably would have been committed.

A few facts about changing technology and in return changing markets? I'll take a stab:

In 2009 you can hold in your hand about 10-20,000 songs on an IPOD. In 2015 with data storage growing at an exponential current rate you will be able to hold, in the palm of your hand every song ever recorded in the history of music. In 2019 it is estimated that in the palm of your hand you will be able to hold every piece of video ever recorded in history - every movie, every youtube clip, everything.

Currently $500-$700B of bets are placed on skill games online a year, only to grow. Racings current handle is $13 billion dollars in NA, at all tracks and online. And on track betting is shrinking each day.

In south Korea they are instituting super-broadband via a gvt initiative. 55% of South Koreans surf the web in the palm of their hand over 10 hours a week. In a startling stat, 33% of South Korean 3 year old children are considered "web surfers". In 15 years those children will be legal aged bettors. Are we ready for them and that market? Will they come to the track for 6 hours and bet?

I think we have a lot of work to do in looking outside our market by preparing for tomorrow, today.

Your examples of technology improvements illustrates that in some ways racing is facing a tremendous opportunity with the potential for substantial handle growth, which is absolutely crucial to the future of the sport. The key is properly incorporating new technology while at the same time allowing racing to retain some of the core attributes of racing which make it special and differentiate it from other forms of gambling.

Now I have made no secret of the fact that I am not into Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, etc. But if it helps bring some new blood into the sport and new money into the pools, then I am all in favor of it. In fact, its nice to see a more pro-active approach by different race tracks using those new mediums. just don't expect me to me to be doing it, I will be with all the "not cool" old fogies. :D

DeanT
05-06-2009, 01:13 PM
Let's hope we never lose traditional racing. One way to ensure it stays is to grow it, so I am all for this stuff.

I am planning to go to a harness race in PEI this August for the very first time. It is called the Gold Cup and Saucer. It is a throwback race to old times, in a rural setting and a harness racing hotbed. There are no superstars, it is not a big stakes race, but it is history. 40,000 people come out for the fair and race and it is a marvelous experience that I hope we never lose.

We can chat more about this on Twitter later. :)

Grits
05-06-2009, 02:39 PM
http://farm1.static.flickr.com/127/361110370_f331e47aff.jpg?v=0

He is a 20 year old kid that grew up playing Dungeons and Dragons, is extremely smart and now plays poker. He is tailor-made for games, and gambling. He has $1.3M in earnings. He would be perfect for the mind game of horse racing, with stats, probabilities and so on (he says that is what interested him to poker). However, we have not brought that to him. He bought a poker book and started playing. In racing he would have to buy data, study with a pencil and paper, test, and if he lived in a state without ADW coverage like so many, he could not even play online - and even if he survived all that, then we would proceed to kick his ass with 22% takeouts. This is a huge problem, and a completely underserved market that we are losing. We have to start building plans to get at them and serve them if we want a shot to grow the game (imo).

Dean, in all fairness, racing is not dead, not at this point. And not all of us are old degenerates, and old fogies because we don't tweat, or keep earphones in our ears jamming to an Ipod 18 hours a day. We both know this. I think one of our biggest problems is one of far too many racetracks--but that's for another day and will likely be worked out in the future by way of attrition. The article at the trotting site is a good one, but, like you said, a bit out there from a few standpoints. I hope others will read it, but due to attention span that may be a little dicey. Worth it, still, for sure.

I think, though, you should make some big adjustments in your photo presentation. Seriously. Maybe gather what we have today in 2009--Beyer, Serling, Litfin, Dan Illman, Mike Watchmaker, Steve Crist, Jon White, Rich Perloff, and that guy from www.pacefigures.com (http://www.pacefigures.com/). Put them all on a bench, side by side, instead of a group of guys from 5 or 6 decades ago. Include yourself and Jeff in the photo as well. With these gentleman, alone, you have a wide age range, not to mention, collectively, a more physically fit, far healthier group than your target demographic whose photo you've also posted.

I'm going to be honest with you now. I don't think this young man is a good candidate for your target demographic. He is obese, he is beyond pale. Dean, he is the hallmark that exists today for the darkside of computers and gaming. Why am I not surprised he spent his childhood, his adolescence in front of a computer or XBox playing Dungeons and Dragons and eating one meal a day--all day, around the clock? I'm not maligning him, I'm stating the obvious. This young man has probably never spent an afternoon on a soccer field or a baseball diamond in his life. What would lead me to believe he would want to do anything beyond continuing his habit of sitting--indoors, in a different room? But this time, at a card table?

What I'm stating here--its EASY, Dean. And because of this--what could be better for him? There's no transition here. He was able to read A/one book. Good.

It would have taken more effort on his part to walk across a parking lot to enter a grandstand five days a week, and to walk back and forth to betting windows, unless he's Maloney with his office on the 3rd floor at Keeneland. Granted, of course, he could've sat to learn pps, but still this young man moved forward with what came naturally to him and by way of the path of least resistance.

Sweetheart, this young man will die long, long before the sport of horseracing. I promise you. His heart will give out.

There's much to be done to direct growth. But the fact remains, McDonald's has been about hamburgers, fries and a coke for a long, long, time. And they are the pinnacle of the fast food industry still. They HAVE NOT changed their product. They have added breakfast, chicken nuggets, and salads. But you can bank on the fact their product remains the same.

This is the only sport in the country, with the exception of dog racing, that showcases animals and involves interactive participation to fuel it. It cannot be compared or held up against poker, slots, or other forms of mindless gambling, lotto, etc, etc. To do so, of course, is apples and oranges.

Enhance the racing experience, yes, but you can't remove it very far from what it is today, and always has been. And to wager, at home, in front of a computer is a complete drag when compared to being at Belmont Park, Churchill Downs, and many other racetracks. But this is my opinion, its what works for me, and its certainly not the answer for many, I know.

The industry will continue to work to realize beneficial directions for growth.

Forgive my honesty, but I don't know any other way to be regarding your choice of horseplayers and would be horseplayers.;) Though your would be players may thrive on the freebies and the two for ones.

DeanT
05-06-2009, 03:01 PM
I don't think this young man is a good candidate for your target demographic. He is obese, he is beyond pale. Dean, he is the hallmark that exists today for the darkside of computers and gaming. Why am I not surprised he spent his childhood, his adolescence in front of a computer or XBox playing Dungeons and Dragons and eating one meal a day--all day, around the clock? I'm not maligning him, I'm stating the obvious.

Forgive my honesty, but I don't know any other way to be regarding your choice of horseplayers and would be horseplayers.;)

You didn't like Jimmy Fricke? Sheesh, don't tell him :D

How about this young man?

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_EmNMGa10fIc/SSyUpVsEYcI/AAAAAAAAACM/FXdC6lG8g7k/S1600-R/adam6.jpg

He is 23 years old, fit (he speaks of daily workouts on his blog to keep him sharp), he's a well adjusted fella, a computer science graduate, and he had never been to a horse race ever. But last year he saw an ad for a seminar called "Learn to play racing at Betfair". He took it, and three months later learned enough with his software to stop looking for a job. He now plays for a living, after not knowing a fetlock from a hammerlock and contributes thousands a year to purses.

He documents his play on his blog with screen shot and video updates. He has made $225,000 so far this year. In terms of new fans not only is this excellent marketing, he also has become an on track fan on his days off. He brought ten of his young friends to the Cheltanham festival this year, on track, and none of them had ever been to a race.

We brought the track to him, not the other way around with low pricing and an interesting interface, not unlike etrade brought the stock market into a soccer mom's kitchen. Is this a better example than Jimmy Fricke perhaps?

Grits
05-06-2009, 03:38 PM
Excellent example, Dean, excellent!!! Continued success for this young man, and any and all friends who he takes to the track and introduces to the game. Now, get to work on upgrading your other long time players--the one's who are going to the track today, still. The ones, alive, in the 21st century like your guy here. LOLOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL

By the way, last week I went to New York for the week. I have friends there that I spend time with throughout the year. Several of us gathered at Belmont on Wednesday for Opening Day, and again, on Thursday. I could have gone upstairs in the clubhouse--went in through the clubhouse, and could've remained there both days, but instead, even though the late afternoons got quite chilly I wanted to spend time with all my buds, outside on the rail. That's where they love to be. All of us range in age from 61 to 24. A couple having been at that rail for more than 40 years. Track days are always fun!!!

Oaks and Derby day dawned chilly and rainy, we stayed in, home all day, both days, wagering online, watching on my friend's 46 inch tv. The Oaks and the Derby in high definition on a big, wide screen is one of the absolute finest bits of technology on this planet. No doubt. There wasn't a better seat to be had; I could see the tears of joy rolling down Calvin's face and Donna Brothers' gorgeous smile along beside him. And I didn't have to endure a rainy day at Churchill or at Belmont to see either.

So, yep--technology is fine, fine, thing.

Watcher
05-06-2009, 05:58 PM
* Do stuff between races. Interview people, have contests and that sort of thing. If a new fan is taking a six horse box, 10 times, he/she has to be entertained as they are not handicapping much between races.
This is something I think about whenever I take friends to the track. Unless you're in a large group and they can entertain themselves, it's hard to handicap AND play entertainment host.

Watcher
05-06-2009, 06:06 PM
Suffolk does a very good job getting "new" fans to the track via "The Hot Dog Safari" & The MassCap every year. I've been trying for a few years to convince Suffolk to have a few "Micro-Brew" Festivals with live music, connecting them with events that cater to the +21 crowd that isn't looking for $1 draft beers.
Another missed opportunity for Suffolk..the Mass. betting Age is 18; with all the Colleges in the area, Suffolk should aggressively be making the track a place for that "tweener crowd" between 18 & 21; adults legally unable to go to bars, hang out & see bands... With Subway service to the track, cheap admission, etc.. Suffolk could be a place to develop a younger fan base.
We sent over a rather detailed e-mail to Hollywood Park regarding something similar. Many promotions that would appeal to college kids are not advertised to college kids.

Watcher
05-06-2009, 06:26 PM
It is the greatest game Grits, but we have to remember new markets and what they want, not what we want - we are satisfied.

If Ebay asked existing flea market or garage sale people if they want to do it on the web the answer is "no, I like to touch what I am buying"

If Amazon asked what existing book buyers want, they would hear "I love to browse and have fun at the bookstore"

These businesses would have never been started if they listened only to existing customers.

The new market does not want to travel to a track, study a racing form for six hours, sit for 5 hours and then go home. You and I do that and we should always be looked after and respected (something that the business has done a poor job at), but to get new markets we must think new, and fresh. We can not make people be horse fans and bettors, they need to be targeted and the game needs to change to fit their needs, not the other way around (imo).

I used two slides at a presentation recently on changing demo's

This was the first one:

http://www.murraytuckerwriter.com/dave%20lawrence%20handicapper.jpg

The second one was this:

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/127/361110370_f331e47aff.jpg?v=0

He is a 20 year old kid that grew up playing Dungeons and Dragons, is extremely smart and now plays poker. He is tailor-made for games, and gambling. He has $1.3M in earnings. He would be perfect for the mind game of horse racing, with stats, probabilities and so on (he says that is what interested him to poker). However, we have not brought that to him. He bought a poker book and started playing. In racing he would have to buy data, study with a pencil and paper, test, and if he lived in a state without ADW coverage like so many, he could not even play online - and even if he survived all that, then we would proceed to kick his ass with 22% takeouts. This is a huge problem, and a completely underserved market that we are losing. We have to start building plans to get at them and serve them if we want a shot to grow the game (imo).
As someone who's young, mid-20s, and comes from a poker background, you're spot on with this.

The complexities of the games aren't dissimilar. Poker is extremely hard to master, takes time and studying, similar to horse racing. What poker did successfully is harness the power of traditional and non-traditional media.

If, for example, poker rooms were placing advertisements on the radio and in newspapers, saying "Come play with us, we'll give you $1 beers", it would have likely not attracted large amounts of new players that it did.

However, with the help of ESPN and WPT, poker was suddenly on television. All over television. Kids were watching it, seeing the potential for earning money, and starting to pick up books / play $5 buy-in games with their friends. The players communicated with each other online, talking strategies, hand histories, learning from their and their peers mistakes.

That progressed into a craze, with millions of poker players jumping online. Kids that were playing $5 buy-in games in 2004 were playing $5,000 buy-in games only years later... if not sooner.

My generation is attracted to risk and making money, whether it's gambling on poker or sports, or trying to build a company, sell it, and build another. If racing can tap into this ideal, they will see an increase in handle from a younger demographic via online avenues. And from there, will begin seeing an increase in younger demographics live at the tracks.

chickenhead
05-06-2009, 08:52 PM
racing needs to cordon off a few of the marquee tracks -- and have those be the sporting side of things. Have all the graded races at those tracks, concentrating all the better horses, package it up into something that can be televised, that has some semblance of a season to it. That is where they should focus their efforts to get attention, and people on track -- at the nice tracks, and the nice races.

There is almost nothing on at most tracks that makes for a fun day at the track, or something compelling to watch on TV, or to pay attention to in any way shape or form -- unless you are betting, and very interested in betting.

They should market and package things to who they fit to -- but to me it makes little sense to try and market a tier 3 track as a sight where compelling sports activity occurs. They need to be marketed to gamblers.

chickenhead
05-06-2009, 10:17 PM
SuffolkDownsFan, horseracing, still today, is inexpensive, when compared to all major sports. And this is whether one is a spectator of football, baseball, basketball, hockey, NASCAR etc, etc, or a participant in tennis, golf, boating, etc. Club memberships included. Again, free is of no value. These sports are not, why should horseracing be?


As a sporting event, the average day of racing stacks up very, very, very poorly against an average professional sporting event. Let's take baseball.

I can get tickets to a baseball game for just about the same cost as a going to the track. Not good seats, but I can go to the ballpark for the same price. I can buy those tickets, and plan my trip, months in advance, to see whatever team I want to see. I know what I'm going to get. I can invite friends, plan a day around it. While I'm there, I know I am going to watch several hours of professional level competition.

If the average day of baseball operated as the average day of horseracing does, here is what I would get instead:

I would have no idea who was playing until a day or two ahead of time. It wouldn't really matter, as I'd have no idea who most of the players were anyway. If I wanted to find out anything about them, I'd have to pay extra.

I decide to go anyway.

I sit down, and they bring a bunch of toddlers out to play tee ball. Most of these toddlers have never played tee ball before, and the ones that have, have absolutely no skill at it. They appear to be the worst group of tee ballers they could find.

They play for around 2 minutes, and then they go back into the dugout.

The field is empty for 30 minutes. We sit there.

Then, they bring out another group of tee ballers, these ones are little girls. They play tee ball for 2 minutes. They are worse than the previous group. Then they go back into the dugout.

The field is empty for 30 minutes. We sit there.

A bunch of old men come onto the field, and play slow pitch softball for 2 minutes. One of them falls and breaks his hip -- he rolls around near home plate in pain, and then they cart him off in an ambulance.

The field is empty for 30 minutes. We sit there.

The "Feature" finally comes around, after several hours of this. It seems like it took an agonizingly long time to get here.

A bunch of Babe Ruth league teenager boys come onto the field. They are ok, but not great. They play for 2 minutes, then they go back into the dugout.

Then we all go home. The End

Grits
05-06-2009, 10:53 PM
CH, friends bought seats for the Mets at their new home--Citifield, at a package price. I can watch a whole lot of racing for what was paid for these seats.

I can also watch a lot of racing for what it cost to play golf at Pinehurst, or any other fine golf and country club for a 3 day weekend a couple of times a year.

As far as boats go, the maintenance, the fuel, the marina cost per foot of mooring them is staggering. Comparatively, I could go to the races for a good number of years on what this particular toy/entertainment cost.

I find all the complaints about the cost of a day at the races foolish. I honestly do. And I'm of the belief that if it is all that costly, all that poorly presented--by all means, find other interests.

You guys carry on. I'm sorry I typed a word to this thread. I really am.

chickenhead
05-06-2009, 11:09 PM
CH, friends bought seats for the Mets at their new home--Citifield, at a package price. I can watch a whole lot of racing for what was paid for these seats.

I can also watch a lot of racing for what it cost to play golf at Pinehurst, or any other fine golf and country club for a 3 day weekend a couple of times a year.

As far as boats go, the maintenance, the fuel, the marina cost per foot of mooring them is staggering. Comparatively, I could go to the races for a good number of years on what this particular toy/entertainment cost.

I find all the complaints about the cost of a day at the races foolish. I honestly do. And I'm of the belief that if it is all that costly, all that poorly presented--by all means, find other interests.

You guys carry on. I'm sorry I typed a word to this thread. I really am.

I don't understand your response, but ok. Of course owning a nice package of season tickets, or a boat, or joining a country club is more expensive than the admission for a day at Charles Town or Golden Gate Fields.

Racing doesn't compete primarily with professional sporting events, because 99.9% of the races run in North America aren't compelling as sporting events. If they were, people would go to the track to watch them.

Racings competition, for 99.9% of it's product, is other forms of gambling, not other professional sports. This is just my opinion of course, I'm not sure why that would offend you.

Grits
05-06-2009, 11:43 PM
I'm not offended. All of this involves interests that we may, or may not choose. In other words, how we spend our recreational time and our recreational funds is of our own choosing. And there's myriad ways of doing so.

I tire of the complaining about the cost of running the game of horseracing, regardless, whether one believes it to be a sporting event, or a gambling opportunity.

I'm sure, though, I've not ever heard a day of horseracing likened to little league, or t-ball.

Again, you guys carry on; obviously, I'm out of touch--somewhere.

chickenhead
05-06-2009, 11:57 PM
I'm sure, though, I've not ever heard a day of horseracing likened to little league, or t-ball.

Do you think it's a poor analogy for a maiden claimer?

DeanT
05-07-2009, 12:40 AM
As someone who's young, mid-20s, and comes from a poker background, you're spot on with this.

The complexities of the games aren't dissimilar. Poker is extremely hard to master, takes time and studying, similar to horse racing. What poker did successfully is harness the power of traditional and non-traditional media.

If, for example, poker rooms were placing advertisements on the radio and in newspapers, saying "Come play with us, we'll give you $1 beers", it would have likely not attracted large amounts of new players that it did.

However, with the help of ESPN and WPT, poker was suddenly on television. All over television. Kids were watching it, seeing the potential for earning money, and starting to pick up books / play $5 buy-in games with their friends. The players communicated with each other online, talking strategies, hand histories, learning from their and their peers mistakes.

That progressed into a craze, with millions of poker players jumping online. Kids that were playing $5 buy-in games in 2004 were playing $5,000 buy-in games only years later... if not sooner.

My generation is attracted to risk and making money, whether it's gambling on poker or sports, or trying to build a company, sell it, and build another. If racing can tap into this ideal, they will see an increase in handle from a younger demographic via online avenues. And from there, will begin seeing an increase in younger demographics live at the tracks.

:ThmbUp: Fantastic work with your poker site and group, so I take it you know what you are talkin about!

Chick,

I must say, I had a chuckle!!! Thanks for that post.

Warren Henry
05-07-2009, 02:12 AM
I don't know about anyone else, but what first attracted me to horse racing was the possibility that I could turn a small wager into a big score.

When I was a young Marine stationed in Arlington, VA, a civilian worker in our office came in early, read the FORM for a while and sent a bet out to Charlestown. I was curious, so he showed me what he was doing. There was some kind of gimmick wager (maybe a twin quinella) involving two races. If one could hit it, he could win a nice sum for a small bet. He taught me to read the FORM, and let me participate in the bet. We came close often, but never hit it before I got transferred to another place. But I was hooked.

I didn't really learn to enjoy the pagentry, tradition, excitement of the race itself, local characters, etc. until later when I was forced to go to the track if I wanted to bet. In those days, I didn't notice that I was a second class citizen. I just wanted to play the game, and the track was where the game was played.

Later, I drifted into the handicapping software business. I became a more successful player and was able to bet much more money. I also began to spend significant sums advertising in the FORM and began to have business dealings with others in the horse industry. During this period, I realized that amost everyone in the industry was in denial about the kind of business they were in. The folks at the FORM charged me more to advertise than they did "legitimate businesses". They also refused to allow any form of the word gambling in my ads. The name of my company had "Gambler's" as part of the name, and for the first year, they wouldn't even allow that.

"Improvement of the breed" my butt. Horse racing would die in an instant if there were no way to gamble on it.

Perhaps the disrespect that is shown the players is an outgrowth of the stigma that may be attached to gambling. The track owners, breeders, horse owners, trainers, publishers, etc still think that they are not in the gambling business, therefore, they are more pure than those of us who bet.

We will not see any significant growth of the industry until all of the participants acknowledge that they are in the gambling business. People who are in the industry and the current players must teach the prospective players how to play the game. Show them what is possible and provide them with the tools to do their own analysis. Develop tools that are consistent with new technology. If a palm sized device can hold a bazillion songs, why couldn't it hold a large database of past performance data. However, the data must be reasonably priced.

It is my personal opinion that the steep price of historical racing data is one of the bottlenecks to expansion of interest in the game.

Sorry, I seem to have gone on a disjointed rant.

chickenhead
05-07-2009, 02:18 AM
not disjointed at all, an excellent post :ThmbUp:

Cubbymac26
05-07-2009, 05:25 AM
Suffolk fan I'm new to the area I'm 28 and love horse racing but sinse I moved to ct from nj there's no live racing anywhere so your going to have to tell me a good spot at suf to to catch simulcast and see the race when it goes off


As for horse racing treating there fans as second class citizens I couldn't agree more they have no consideration for the bettors make no attempt to improve anything and with slots and vlt's they could care less about the racing everytrack is dead now with nobody there all it is now is otb and online going to the races isn't what it used to be and young kids like myself will never get into racing I go to foxwoods play poker bet some pik 3s these kids ask me what I'm betting they look at me like I'm a old degenerate it's to bad but the only way for racing to survive is to cater to the bettors they have now cuz there's no way for any new people to come on board good ideas include .10 cent supers 50 cent tri pk 3 and 4s a good start

miesque
05-07-2009, 09:33 AM
I don't understand your response, but ok. Of course owning a nice package of season tickets, or a boat, or joining a country club is more expensive than the admission for a day at Charles Town or Golden Gate Fields.

Racing doesn't compete primarily with professional sporting events, because 99.9% of the races run in North America aren't compelling as sporting events. If they were, people would go to the track to watch them.

Racings competition, for 99.9% of it's product, is other forms of gambling, not other professional sports. This is just my opinion of course, I'm not sure why that would offend you.

Chick - you have raised some really good points on this thread. The way I break down the sports analogy is that at the very, very top of the sport, its what I consider to be Professional Sports worthy but that is only really a few days a year, the Triple Crown races and the Breeders Cup. The graded stakes leading up to those races is kinda a grey zone between Minor League and Major League depending on the race and when you think about it, that is how it is reflected on a National TV scale (aka ESPN and Network Coverage). Everything under that is in the range from low league minor league to amateur and there are plenty of people who show up to watch amateur sports. What is different in racing which Chick pointed out is on a given Saturday at a track, you can have a Grade I, but also Maiden Claiming on the same card which is pretty much the same as watching a major league followed by a local amateur team, so you have a very wide range at a single venue whereas in other sports you don't see amateurs playing at Camden Yard. Now there is nothing wrong with watching amateur sports, people do it all the time. People showed up at our Friday & Saturday night polo matches and happily paid admission and tailgated and I can guarantee you that I was not going to be mistaken for a paid professional polo player. People showed up for a combination of ambience and entertainment and that element is what is getting sold for a typical day at a track that isn't a major league day and the price is pretty much the same now that I think of it (we charged $3-5 bucks per person). I don't think you will ever see all the "nice" races end up at just a few tracks because if anything you will probably see more of a dilution with "nice" races are popping up at the track with the "new" money (just take a look at that Million Dollar Stake at Charles Town and the Million Dollar Pennsylvania Derby, etc). Now the above conversation solely regards the "sport" aspect of horse racing. The other side is the business side which is fueled by handle and horseplayers which funds purses and that does not require a massive facility/grandstand, what it does require is competitive races with full fields and a good betting race can occur on any level of competition.

miesque
05-07-2009, 09:52 AM
This is something I think about whenever I take friends to the track. Unless you're in a large group and they can entertain themselves, it's hard to handicap AND play entertainment host.

This is a very good point and its actually why I tend to not reach out and bring as many newbies/novices to the track with me as I should. It almost feels like you are a babysitter at times so as a result a lot of times I would rather go by myself and relax playing the card on my schedule and my terms.

Grits
05-07-2009, 12:01 PM
CH, your analogy is an explanation of how you see a day at the races, this was no stretch for me to understand.

The reason I say its a poor one is because you are stating only the obvious--that which anyone who has ever picked up a set of pps knows. You're preaching to the choir, so to speak.

Still, in doing so, you and I, both, know everyday at the races will not ever look like Breeders Cup Day with all showcase events. Nor will it look like Kentucky Derby or Belmont Day with outstanding undercards. This will not happen because, again, you are dealing with animals and they all compete at different levels, dependent upon their ability. Maybe that's seen as a problem for the sport--but as humans, we do the same each day.

CH, in your analogy, you are looking more at a day at the track, I think I may be looking and thinking more about the entire industry that is providing your day at the track. An industry, much of which, some of these ideas could, readily, put out of a job . . . . but it happens. We know.

You guys, hopefully, can come up with something concrete on how we determine which particular tracks to shutter. Which ones have too many 6 year old maiden claimers, yet again, plodding towards the wire for win number 1. And equally important for my comfort--which ones have too many fools who're still smoking and too much low life for me to wade through.

Do away with the plants (now there's a word that dates a horseplayer) all together. Who needs a horseracing experience like Saratoga, DelMar, or Keeneland when you can gamble it on your Blackberry? Let each track provide their FREE pps to all online players, then DRF and BRIS go down the sewer. Get rid of any animal that can't get an 1/8th in .10 flat. That'll solve a lot of our problems right there won't it? Though the slaughterhouse thing could garner us some bad ink once again.

Again, this game cannot be well equated to poker. It takes a helluva lot more money to put on THIS gambling show, than it takes to put on THAT gambling show. And it always will. This will not change. Poker is cheap, friends. Dirt cheap. AND THIS IS THE REASON THAT IT THRIVES, along with slot machines, and lotto. A person buys in to play poker. Great, this works well. This person is not paying a day rate to a trainer, entry fees, vet bills, transport, etc, etc. This person is responsible only for--and to--him or her self. No other obligation. So, let's forget poker, and the comparison. TV picked up poker, too, because it didn't have the price tag horseracing has.

Virtual's the way of the future, indeed, I assure you I AM aware of this. But a bit, sadly, aware. Bring on all the upgrades, all the technology necessary. All the young with new and great ideas. In the meantime, though, take it all to the folks that work in the industry and most of all, to those who work with the horse, the foundation of it all. Sure, we fuel it, but so do they. You can't have Part A of this game without the daily work of Part B. We'd all go down the sewer guys, and in short order.

This sport may die due to expense, due to cost of providing the gambling product. Only in management, and in boardrooms and in our own questioning of policies and probabilities can it survive.

Warren Henry, I appreciate your thoughts, greatly. What a fine post you've written. Wisdom, good morning. I'd like you to meet Vision.:)

Do you think it's a poor analogy for a maiden claimer?

chickenhead
05-07-2009, 12:29 PM
Do away with the plants (now there's a word that dates a horseplayer) all together. Who needs a horseracing experience like Saratoga, DelMar, or Keeneland when you can gamble it on your Blackberry? Let each track provide their FREE pps to all online players, then DRF and BRIS go down the sewer. Get rid of any animal that can't get an 1/8th in .10 flat. That'll solve a lot of our problems right there won't it? Though the slaughterhouse thing could garner us some bad ink once again.

No no no Grits, you are not really understanding my point of view at all.

My point is to seperate the idea of a sporting event from a gambling event. A rock bottom Maiden Claimer can provide an outstanding gambling event. There is no reason for it to go away -- but it's a gambling event.

Miesque summed it up maybe better, but lets look at it like this. When people talk about baseball, people only think about MLB. They don't consider the hundreds of thousands of baseball games, at every level from tee ball on up, that occur every year, and that no one in particular cares about watching.

That doesn't mean that they should be eliminated. They need to be there, to find talent. And anyone that wants to see them, can go see them. But they aren't what is marketed to people as the face of the sport. MLB is what is market to people, the top 1/10th of 1% of all the baseball players. They hide the entire bottom of the pyramid. They just show you the good stuff.

Horseracing bemoans, and gnashes their teeth, and really is terribly concerned -- that no one shows up to watch the bad stuff. And they also insist that when someone might try to watch the good stuff -- they insist on making them watch the bad stuff -- usually 8 parts bad stuff to one parts good stuff.

I'm just suggesting they package it a bit differently. That doesn't mean we need to kill 20,000 horses, or close Saratoga (huh?) -- you are being overly dramatic -- that really doesn't serve any purpose.

I'm saying that some events will only ever be gambling events -- so focus on making them the best gambling events they can possibly be. Quit being upset people don't show up to watch them. Others can have a draw and are compelling as sporting events, which can draw in a whole different demographic -- so focus on building an understandable series of events around that.

miesque
05-07-2009, 01:33 PM
Actually there already are free PPs available online in many locations and BRIS is not in danger of going anywhere now that it is part of Twinspires.com since that gives them a significant competitive advantage, and Equibase isn't going anywhere either, in fact both past performance providers in all likelihood will get bigger. Now DRF is another story and I would not want to own equity in that company as the latest venture capital firm to pick them up has found out and I am sure is trying their darndest squeeze every cent of potential profitability from the operation.

Grits
05-07-2009, 01:52 PM
CH, on some points, yes, I was dramatizing. And I promise you, I do see what you are saying in regard to separation.

Here's an example. And I may need some help on recalling it. Still....let's go with it. Or what little I can recall.

Bob and Janice McNair, of course, who owned Stonerside Farm and raced many fine horses have removed themselves from this game. They've gone back home to Texas for the most part.

The reason being, if I recall, they, along with some other TOBA members wanted to create a series, annually, showcasing the upper tier of horses competing. And, if I recall, they wanted to do this all over, throughout the country, at various racetracks.

McNair felt that adding some more prevue days to the calendar throughout the year, aside from the Triple Crown and the Breeders' Cup, would garner new fans and grow new interest for the sport. He cared that much, and wanted, badly, to change conditions of the game as it stands today in regard to stagnant growth, and poor visability.

He encountered one unsurmountable problem in his vision, in his plan. It came in the form of--one--BREEDERS' CUP LIMITED.

This Texan has as much, or more, means than any of the "old guard" running the show from Kentucky to New York. Breeders' Cup and the Jockey Club included. He can buy 'em and sell 'em all day.

Business man that he is--he knew when to walk because he recognized close minded, self serving, non forward thinking. Sold his 2000 acre Stonerside Farm in Lexington, his Stonerside Farm in Saratoga, his training center in Aiken, SC, and at least a hundred + broodmares. Most of this to Sheik Mo. He still owns a few fine runners, Cowboy Cal comes to mind, but no where near the involvement he once enjoyed.

Today, he runs all of his business from his Houston homebase, one of which is his NFL franchise. Granted he's retirement age and can do what he wants, and focus his time and energy where he chooses, and his football team is very important to him. Still, this man's idea was stonewalled. And I'd call this a pretty damn big loss for the sport of horseracing, and for the boys running it today.

This is the kind of visability the sport badly needed; this would have gone far in reaching new fans nationwide. I don't care where one's technology interests or wagering platform may be--Bob McNair was good for horseracing.

Grits
05-07-2009, 03:15 PM
Read a little deeper you'll find--none will ever get bigger than Equibase who's the owner of every one of the Bris pps you or I get for free through Twinspires every day. Same goes for every program printed at racetracks. Same goes for DRF, every running line they print comes from Equibase charts, which is owned--lock, stock, and barrel by the Jockey Club.

So, maybe we can both agree on the fact: Equibase owns all past performances, regardless who is offering them under whatever name--they're safe as long as horses are still stepping onto the tracks.

Happy Broadbent, in Lexington, who created and owned BRIS and TSN; he made a killing when CDI came calling.

Actually there already are free PPs available online in many locations and BRIS is not in danger of going anywhere now that it is part of Twinspires.com since that gives them a significant competitive advantage, and Equibase isn't going anywhere either, in fact both past performance providers in all likelihood will get bigger. Now DRF is another story and I would not want to own equity in that company as the latest venture capital firm to pick them up has found out and I am sure is trying their darndest squeeze every cent of potential profitability from the operation.

miesque
05-07-2009, 03:22 PM
Actually Equibase is owned by the Jockey Club and the TRA with an equal 50%/50% split. I do agree that the ownership of BRIS made out nicely when Churchill Downs came calling, but it was also a pretty astute acquisition on Churchill's part.

DeanT
05-07-2009, 09:02 PM
Here are three website deomographics in terms of age. It is pretty clear that we have a great deal of work to do (imo).

http://pullthepocket.blogspot.com/2009/05/racing-demographics-ouch.html

Grits
05-08-2009, 10:25 AM
Dean, when you have some time, read posts in the new threads, "A Thin Veil of Ignorance" and "Looking at the Racing Form." More food for thought in regard to what you're working on. Both are in the handicapping folder with posts from new players and longtime players as well . . . . discussions along the same lines as this thread.