Tuesday, September 19, 2017
At the time the recession hit the country in full force in 2008, the North American thoroughbred handle was flourishing, surpassing $15 billion for seven straight years, from 2001 through 2007. It dropped to $14 billion-plus in '08, then under $13 billion in 2010, and has been stagnant in the $11 billion-plus range since. Those who didn't comprehend that there was a segment of the population that could no longer afford to go to their favorite racetrack blamed the drop on the sport itself, stressing that track managements weren't innovative enough to keep the younger set interested in the sport.
That premise was completely bogus, but the notion that the sport's leaders were living in the 19th century in many other respects was right on the mark. Track after track did help the handle by adding more exotic possibilities and bettors were bombarded with pick 3s, pick 4s, pick 5s, pick 6s, Superfectas, Super High 5s, Pick 6 Jackpots, rolling doubles and much more.
Betfair bought Hollywood Park and closed it soon after, and now owns TVG (or part of it, I'm not sure) and that European company is still trying to convince the public that exchange wagering can help the game. But Monmouth Park's exchange wagering program hasn't caught on, and never will. There's a reason why New Jersey execs mention the gimmick often but never offer any wagering statistics to prove the point.
One concrete area that highlights the futility of too many of the publicity departments at the tracks and industry organizations comes with the four words most utilized by those groups when making announcements about new appointments, new ideas, or new anything. Those words are delighted . . . proud . . . excited . . . thrilled. Have you ever noticed that all the announcements contain at least one of those words? Can't anybody come up with something else?
A few days ago, it was announced that Keeneland and Churchill Downs are partnering on two new state-of-the-art facilities in Kentucky, one in the Knox County city of Corbin and the other in the Christian County city of Oak Grove. So, of course, the principals felt it necessary not only to report the facts, but to embellish them with the age-old ho-hum comments.
Keeneland president and CEO Bill Thomason told us: "Keeneland is excited to partner with Churchill Downs on this initiative . . . "
Corbin Mayor Willard McBurney said: "Corbin is thrilled to be part of this historic venture . . . "
"We are proud of the significant investment Churchill Downs and Keeneland are committed to . . . " was Oak Grove Mayor Bea Burt's take on the issue.
HBPA executive director Marty Maline chipped in with: "The Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association is excited for what this announcement means for our sport . . . "
All that was missing was one person who was "delighted."
Congratulations to all the principals and the PR people involved. We are all delighted, excited and proud to digest your thrilling remarks. Can't wait for the next one.
WHAT'S GOING ON HERE? - When is someone at the Blood-Horse going to make the change at the top of all the leading sire lists pertaining to the closing date of the information? For instance, today is Sept. 19 yet today's lists say: "Listed below are all available Northern Hemisphere statistics through Sept. 19, 2017." Not a chance!
One of the many definitions of "through" is: "to and INCLUDING." That very specifically means you include the date in question. You can't include Sept. 19 if the races haven't been run yet. Today's lists are up to date through yesterday and should read "through Sept. 18." It's years past the time that somebody at the Blood-Horse realizes it.
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