Tuesday, January 30, 2007

ANOTHER Blogger Opinion on Recent Events

There's clearly not that much to say here about Barbaro. The world has covered the story about as thoroughly as possible.

If you click on this link, you can see the 500+ YouTube "projects" there are on the popular equine - some better than others. I watched the Derby win and the Preakness breakdown. I'm actually not sure which one elicited more emotion for me. The sheer beauty and sport of a HUGE Derby win, or the drama and confusion surrounding the events of the Preakness. Either way it is sad and for me, of all the stories, hyperbole and mourning that's gone on over the past 36 hours, this line, penned by Andy Beyer, highlighted at Equidaily.com sums up the situation perfectly for me:
But even for the most hardened racetrackers, the death of Barbaro yesterday was a painful and depressing loss.
One final note here. It was great to see Jane Smiley's take, originally published in the Washington Post get front page action over at HuffingtonPost. I appreciate the mainstream placement and attention Arianna and her staff gave the story.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Gulfstream Park: A little Super Bowl PR piggy-back

From ESPN.com's special travel section:

For entertainment, it's tough to beat a beautiful afternoon at the races, and nearby Gulfstream Park (901 S. Federal Highway, Hallandale, Web site) is open and ready to take your hard-earned gambling cash.

Gulfstream is offering four stakes on Feb. 3, including the Grade I $500,000 Donn Handicap, plus the Swale and Holy Bull Stakes — each of which are stepping stones toward the Kentucky Derby.

So come to the track and say you saw the Derby winner way back in February.
Unfortunately, I won't be down in South Beach for the "Super Big Game", the Donn, the Swale or the Holy Bull. I will however be making my maiden voyage to the gem of MEC's track empire sometime (and more than likely multiple times) between Feb. 14th-18th.

Stakes races for Saturday the 17th are the Grade III Hurricane Bertie (for Fillies And Mares Four Year Olds and Upward going Six And One Half Furlongs) and the Grade III Sabin (for Fillies And Mares Four Year Olds and Upward going One Mile)
Reason #48 why I love calling myself an "Oregonian":

Reason #48

Reason #4 why I'm glad not to call myself "Georgian":

Reason #4

Monday, January 15, 2007

Why I love the new Breeders' Cup races.

It was brought to my attention by reader Octave the Rave , that I had not really put any meat behind my stance that, "I loved the new BC races". Thank you sir for bringing me to task. Here is why I "love" the idea(r).

In the past, I think I've been a harsh, but fair critic of the NTRA, Breeders' Cup Unlimited and some of the others in the industry for their old school, blue-blood, slow to react mentality regarding innovation and marketing.

In this instance, however, those that currently control the thoroughbred racing "product" (i.e. brand) have taken a great leap of faith that should be noted as positive. Implementing something fresh and unique; something that only helps the sport expand and grow, will always ring true for me and should be applauded by fans at large.

The fact is, these added races were not created with the "avid fan" in mind. If you are debating whether or not these races are a good or a bad thing removes you from the targeted market. The end result of adding a second day will be an increase in particpation by non-horse racing fans, only adding to what is already a widely popular event. What's wrong with that?

I attended my first BC this past year, and was able to see first hand how amazing the day can be as a live sporting event. Why NOT add a second day? Why can't we create more excitement and rooting possibilities? Why shouldn't we create more opporunities for great days?

I'd love to know of any current racing fan who is going to be disappointed with another day of championship races, huge fields and an increased national TV audience.

Perhaps some of the technical aspects of the new race formats and distance choices is a subject for debate. However, I know how excited I'll be for Friday's races and that won't even compare to the anticipation I'll have Friday afternoon come 5pm.

I may not get much sleep Friday October 6th!!

The fact remains, our sport needs a boost in popularity, energy, excitement and promotion- and FYI....that's NOT A BAD THING!

The Breeders' Cup is the biggest day in racing on the US racing calendar. But ask a casual sports fan what the difference between the Kentucky Derby and the BC is and see what you get. Look at the handle numbers over the past few years: F-L-A-T.

As I said in my presentation in Arizona last month, the fan base is literally dying off. We're losing the marketing game BADLY and action needs to be taken. I don't think my friend, Joe Vineman, who spends hundreds of dollars a year on sports betting, but may not be the biggest horse fan, cares if the BC sprint is 6 or 7 furlongs. He also could care less if one or two foreign horses don't show up for any of Friday's races. All he cares about is having a great day.

All we can do as an industry is continue to come up with ways to get sports fans and sports bettors to the racetrack and interested in our sport.

In my opinion, one of the best ways to get people interested is to have them hit the infamous BC 4-digit $1 exacta box.

Ask yourself, "do Friday's races increase or diminish those opportunities"? Will there be 10, 12, 14 horse fields on Friday? Does this provide an extra opportunity to attract new faces to the track?

These are the most important questions that we should be analyzing.

We are not the NFL, MLB, NBA or even.... Poker!! We can't afford to continue to shut out potential new players and fans by shortsighted, confined thought processes.

Let's enjoy and help promote this latest creative strategy, and worry about minor technical glitches and fixes later on. I think we can have our fair share of debates over the details of these new races, but from a marketing and fan perspective, we need MORE creative ideas like this.

The industry should be applauded and we should be the first to stand up and cheer.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

I love the new BC setup....

-I think it's a great little twist to an already amazing day. I def. see parallels to the Oaks/Derby thing that Churchill has in place. More, quality racing on a national stage can only be good for the game. Let's continue to move away from some of the older traditions and thought processes that only seem to hamper the sports progression forward.

-I finally got back out to live racing today and man does/did it feel good. Once again, thanks to Patrick for taking the time to show me some sites and sounds that I've never seen or heard before at the ol' Portland Meadows It was also great to finally meet this guy and check out his view for the race meet just off of I-5 here in Portland.

-Although I didn't cash any winners, I did have the winner in this race in the opening leg of a pick-3 that I ended up missing by about 2 lengths in the final race. It would have paid about $100 which would have certainly put me up on the day. Congrats to the breeders of the winner in the 4th, Cascade Express. I know the Loudon's check in often over at this site, and we all know Jolene who keeps us up to date over here.

-Another perk (or curse, depending on your point of view) of attending my first live races in some time, was being able to get re-jazzed to get back to blogging. It really is amazing how certain interaction and life events can really inspire. I've been stuck away from greater society for some time (don't ask!) and it is so great to feel refreshed about being active and live on this blog.

-Tomorrow caps off an amazing six-day AvgHorsePlayer run that included birthday dinners, birthday drinks, a trip to Seattle for an EPIC playoff game against the much hated Dallas Cowboys, a night to recover (8 pm to bed last night ;-) ) and finally, I get to see my favorite band play once again. I m so pumped for Tuesday evening at the Crystal Ballroom!!

I'm glad to be back. It feels great to be contributing once again. I think a semi-hiatus like this is always a positive thing once you get through it....