For those of you who have been racing in the USA…

Home Forums Horse Racing For those of you who have been racing in the USA…

This topic contains 15 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by Craig Braddick Craig Braddick 9 years, 5 months ago.

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  • #11252
    Craig Braddick
    Craig Braddick
    Member
    • Total Posts 388

    I am sometimes asked what can be done to get more people out to the track in the USA. Clearly racing is not the social occasion it is in the UK at most tracks and many are not well attended.

    I think there is always a risk to say: "Well if they did it like they do in the UK, all their problems will be over." when you are a foreigner in a strange land, so I try not to go down that route when asked this question.

    So, here are some of my ideas to improve the customer experience of racing in the USA, I invite all of you to contribute your thoughts and ideas.

    1. Racing Program which is easy to understand. I love the Equibase program for giving me the stats but unless I had a vested interest in racing, I could never make heads or tails of it, so a basic British style program with a shrot form summary for each horse would be a good start.

    2. At tracks that have slots, a program in the hand of every slots player as they enter through the door.

    3. Guided tours of the backstretch area before racing and on weekends a chance to breakfast in the grandstand as the horses work out with a presenter to explain what is going on.

    4. Weekly handicapping seminars for beginners,intermediate and experienced handicappers, adjust the format for the audience.

    5. Free to enter handicapping competitions.

    6. Clean areas for people to watch the racing and bet in comfort.

    7. All marketing should be aimed at making the horses the stars of the show!

    8. A Pick Eight or Pick Nine Rollover Placepot bet.

    9. Some days should be marketed as family days, other days as "Date days" "After Work Party days" and so on.

    Craig.

    #226423

    Neil Watson
    Participant
    • Total Posts 1421

    The main problem with the USA atitude to Horse Racing is that it is always seen from the Gambling side and not that of an actual Sport.

    The good thing about USA racing compared to the UK is the admission, for example Belmont Park in New York is $5.00 in the Clubhouse apart from Belmont Stakes day which is $20 and it costs £15 and £20 into the Club at Wolverhampton and Brighton.

    Family days are always a good thing but also linking up with other sports is a bonus to help get new customers coming in, so with Belmont as an example they have the big Basketball,Baseball,American Football and Ice Hockey with which to avertize and hand out flyers.

    Transport to racetracks is essential for those who do not own a car.

    School trips on non racing days to see behind the scenes could be used aswell as having ex Jockeys going into Schools to give a talk of how to get into the industry.

    The big races are always pivotal in the promotion of the sport and these do sell themselves for example the Grand National,Derby,Cheltenham Festival,Melbourne Cup,Breeders Cup,Arc are massive events and will get the crowds in and that goes without saying.

    One more good idea Craig is to take the Sport out to the nearest City and get it promoted with again for example Top of the Range Clothes stores to advertize a Ladies Day with free tickets given to anyone who spends over $100 on an outfit or the same in Mens Clothing Stores.

    Live music which as helped Newmarket get House Full signs in the summer aswell as Comedy which Newbury and Sandown have used this year has also got the crowds in.

    #226425
    Burroughhill
    Burroughhill
    Participant
    • Total Posts 1735

    When you watch British racing, there’s always people lined up along the rails, standing by the fences or the start, gathered around the parade ring and the winner’s enclosure. When I see US racing, there’s not a single spectator in sight, how can you really get into the thrill of the horseflesh if you’re having to watch it all through binoculars? You may as well be at home. Do the public get a chance to see the horses parade up close before the race? It seems to be much more relaxed and laid back here somehow. I know that’s all no real help, but it always strikes me as a big difference between the two. People want to feel involved IMO.

    #226542

    pengamon
    Member
    • Total Posts 244

    American racing is completely up against the wall. Barely a week goes by without another piece of bad news that will make it harder for the sport to compete against the established major sports and the ones on the up.

    The sport in the US needs a commissioner. They need at the very least to lobby and get on-course bookmakers back to the tracks. Too many people are too far away from their nearest racetracks-either for political or geographical reasons. Someone from Atlanta GA an Olympics host with teams in 4 major league sports has to travel nearly 400 miles to go their nearest racetrack. Fans in the North of the country have to travel similar or longer distances to get to tracks in the winter. The result is that these people don’t to go the races and the newspapers in these areas cover racing only during the Triple Crown and possibly Breeders’ Cup.
    Racing TV coverage is disturbed and interupted because the College Tiddlywinks game has gone into overtime….

    #226564

    Venusian
    Participant
    • Total Posts 1714

    Racing in America has been on a downward spiral for around 30 years, and those involved in administering the sport have made little effort to respond to the social, legal and technological changes which have taken place during that time.

    It used to be the case that, outside Nevada, racing was just about the only game in town if you wanted to have a bet, so the rather unimaginative business model of those days worked pretty well, with nothing up against it.

    Now that you’ve got casinos seemingly everywhere, as well as much more competition around for the leisure dollar (and not just in betting and gambling), racing actually has to go out and sell itself, and make sure it’s trying to sell an up-to-date and vibrant quality product.

    This it has singularly failed to do, or even tried to do, as far as I can make out. The widespread doping of horses (enthusiastically sanctioned by the authorities), and shortsighted breeding policies have led to a sport without the durable, easily recognisable and "followable" equine heroes of the past, heroes which helped so much to foster interest in both the sporting and betting aspects of racing. No more Kelsos, Round Tables or Carry Backs. Career starts per horse have about halved in the last 30 or 40 years as you can see here: http://www.equineonline.com/factbook.asp?section=10

    As for "racinos", seen by so many as saviours of the sport in America, it’s now clear that slots are, in effect, subsidising the racing that takes place the other side of the casino walls. This means that the state rake-off, which is used for local good works like road improvements etc (and which is the sole reason slots licences are granted in the first place) is reduced, something which is becoming increasingly noticed by taxpayers in these troubled economic times. This subsidising of racing must have a limited future, and then whither racing?

    I don’t see where the leaders are who can extract American racing from the appalling mess in which it now finds itself.

    #226569

    Irish Stamp
    Member
    • Total Posts 3327

    The main problem with the USA atitude to Horse Racing is that it is always seen from the Gambling side and not that of an actual Sport.

    The good thing about USA racing compared to the UK is the admission, for example Belmont Park in New York is $5.00 in the Clubhouse apart from Belmont Stakes day which is $20 and it costs £15 and £20 into the Club at Wolverhampton and Brighton.

    Family days are always a good thing but also linking up with other sports is a bonus to help get new customers coming in, so with Belmont as an example they have the big Basketball,Baseball,American Football and Ice Hockey with which to avertize and hand out flyers.

    Transport to racetracks is essential for those who do not own a car.

    School trips on non racing days to see behind the scenes could be used aswell as having ex Jockeys going into Schools to give a talk of how to get into the industry.

    The big races are always pivotal in the promotion of the sport and these do sell themselves for example the Grand National,Derby,Cheltenham Festival,Melbourne Cup,Breeders Cup,Arc are massive events and will get the crowds in and that goes without saying.

    One more good idea Craig is to take the Sport out to the nearest City and get it promoted with again for example Top of the Range Clothes stores to advertize a Ladies Day with free tickets given to anyone who spends over $100 on an outfit or the same in Mens Clothing Stores.

    Live music which as helped Newmarket get House Full signs in the summer aswell as Comedy which Newbury and Sandown have used this year has also got the crowds in.

    I have this discussion with others on a US based forum Neil. The only way that US racing survives is through gambling – people watching the Derby on TV and then wanting to go and see Mine That Bird canter or breeze at Pimlico isn’t going to put money in the race purses.

    The slot machines, simulcasts, punters at the tracks – they nearly 100% finance US racing.

    The teenage girl buying a Friesan Fire cap or t-shirt with Calvin Borel on is only putting money into the independent retailer, since the NTRA etc. don’t sell these kind of products.

    If the governing bodies in the US clubbed together and sold replica t-shirts of the jockeys silks on Derby day, "meet and greet" behind the scenes passes on a regular day at Churchill Downs, caps with the horses names on, signed photographs from Talamo, Leparoux, Borel, Smith, Gomez, Sutherland etc. they’d make a packet. Not enough to get rid of the slot machines but it would all help.

    #226618
    robnorth
    robnorth
    Participant
    • Total Posts 4115

    When you watch British racing, there’s always people lined up along the rails, standing by the fences or the start, gathered around the parade ring and the winner’s enclosure. When I see US racing, there’s not a single spectator in sight, how can you really get into the thrill of the horseflesh if you’re having to watch it all through binoculars? You may as well be at home. Do the public get a chance to see the horses parade up close before the race? It seems to be much more relaxed and laid back here somehow. I know that’s all no real help, but it always strikes me as a big difference between the two. People want to feel involved IMO.

    BH

    I’ve only been to Laurel Park in the US, but from my experience you have it in a nutshell. There’s very little direct contact with the horses. There were very few seats outside the glazed-in stands and the ‘parade ring’ was a small roofed ring at the end of the stand where observation was very difficult. Most of the ‘racegoers’ were inside all afternoon.

    Rob

    #226648

    pengamon
    Member
    • Total Posts 244

    When you watch British racing, there’s always people lined up along the rails, standing by the fences or the start, gathered around the parade ring and the winner’s enclosure. When I see US racing, there’s not a single spectator in sight, how can you really get into the thrill of the horseflesh if you’re having to watch it all through binoculars? You may as well be at home. Do the public get a chance to see the horses parade up close before the race? It seems to be much more relaxed and laid back here somehow. I know that’s all no real help, but it always strikes me as a big difference between the two. People want to feel involved IMO.

    BH

    I’ve only been to Laurel Park in the US, but from my experience you have it in a nutshell. There’s very little direct contact with the horses. There were very few seats outside the glazed-in stands and the ‘parade ring’ was a small roofed ring at the end of the stand where observation was very difficult. Most of the ‘racegoers’ were inside all afternoon.

    Rob

    I have been to Laurel and concur it is as you say it is. But that certainly isn’t the case, as an example, at Saratoga or Keeneland. The area by the rail even on weekdays is packed at Saratoga and there’s normally not a spot by the paddock rail at any time.

    One of the problems with a number of these tracks in the US-which have these glazed-in stands is that they are in areas where they get extreme variations in temparature every year. Often well below freezing during the winter and always pushing towards 100 in the Summer.

    #226765
    Burroughhill
    Burroughhill
    Participant
    • Total Posts 1735

    I would have thought half the problem, if not most of it is geography. Look at us on here, if we want to meet up we pick a course and half of us at least could probably get there. We can pick and choose on a daily basis which course we fancy visiting, we know that there’s a fair chance that at least some of the country’s top jockeys and trainers will probably be there at shoulder rubbing distance, yet for most Americans they’ve presumably got only one local course to choose from and God knows what obscure jcokeys/horses they’re going to see.
    And of course we’ve got National Hunt where all the old favourites are wheeledd out year after year so the sentimentality builds up. YOu don’t get that so much with the flat. Plus from a horrific show I saw about trotting races the other night, a horse’s welfare was very low down on the list of priorities. :evil:

    #226774
    Craig Braddick
    Craig Braddick
    Member
    • Total Posts 388

    I would have thought half the problem, if not most of it is geography. Look at us on here, if we want to meet up we pick a course and half of us at least could probably get there. We can pick and choose on a daily basis which course we fancy visiting, we know that there’s a fair chance that at least some of the country’s top jockeys and trainers will probably be there at shoulder rubbing distance, yet for most Americans they’ve presumably got only one local course to choose from and God knows what obscure jcokeys/horses they’re going to see.
    And of course we’ve got National Hunt where all the old favourites are wheeledd out year after year so the sentimentality builds up. YOu don’t get that so much with the flat. Plus from a horrific show I saw about trotting races the other night, a horse’s welfare was very low down on the list of priorities. :evil:

    What was thsi show called? I spent last summer announcing Trotting and was a regular in the barn and never saw a horse mistreated.

    Craig

    #226884

    davidbrady
    Member
    • Total Posts 4104

    I see from an article in the RP today that connections of some of the fancied horses in the Preakness are going to declare no-hoper second strings to ensure that Rachel Alexandra won’t get in the race.

    http://www.racingpost.com/news/horse-ra … 85467/top/

    #226886

    davidbrady
    Member
    • Total Posts 4104

    And just as quickly the plan is thwarted – just call me Reuters! :lol:

    http://www.racingpost.com/news/horse-ra … 85520/top/

    #226890
    MDeering
    MDeering
    Member
    • Total Posts 1735

    Neil summed it up precisely in his opening par.

    The local industry needs to do-over their image as a prestigious sport and not a gambling avenue, but since these racetracks thrive on the gambling aspect to such an elaborate point (IE. the slots on course), how do you create a happy medium?

    Don’t know. This ain’t as easy as a fresh coat of paint.

    #227022
    Burroughhill
    Burroughhill
    Participant
    • Total Posts 1735

    I would have thought half the problem, if not most of it is geography. Look at us on here, if we want to meet up we pick a course and half of us at least could probably get there. We can pick and choose on a daily basis which course we fancy visiting, we know that there’s a fair chance that at least some of the country’s top jockeys and trainers will probably be there at shoulder rubbing distance, yet for most Americans they’ve presumably got only one local course to choose from and God knows what obscure jcokeys/horses they’re going to see.
    And of course we’ve got National Hunt where all the old favourites are wheeledd out year after year so the sentimentality builds up. YOu don’t get that so much with the flat. Plus from a horrific show I saw about trotting races the other night, a horse’s welfare was very low down on the list of priorities. :evil:

    What was thsi show called? I spent last summer announcing Trotting and was a regular in the barn and never saw a horse mistreated.

    Craig

    I’m not sure if I mean trotting: it’s the one where the horse trots in front of a little cart with the jockey riding in the cart. That the one? Anyway it was a US clips show "Greatest Sporting Disasters" or some such tripe and there were a few horrific clips (with jolly accompanying music) of accidents where wheels clipped etc. and the horses and jockeys were flung far and wide across the track. That would be bad enough, but they interviewed a couple of the jocks and they were full of glee about how they narrowly escaped death, and one said he never tired of showing the video to his friends, because they’re always amazed he lived to fight another day. It was quite clear in every clip that the horses involved were either badly injured or stone dead, you could see them lying in the background littered across the track yet neither the programme presenter, nor any of the jockeys gave one single mention to the horses. Not one. There were smiles and "phew"s all round. The only thing you could see was that in one clip, the girl who presumably looked after one of the horses could be seen running hell for leather across the track to see to her stricken friend. Presumably it’s the jockeys that behave like such *********. I was outraged that in America they could be so barbaric. I thought they cared for their horses like we do.

    #227222

    Sean Rua
    Member
    • Total Posts 514

    Personally, I don’t find trotting ( harness racing) any more cruel than thoroughbred racing, though, it is every bit as corrupt.

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