Skip to main content

Rock Bottom

I thought, with the turning of the calendar, I would jot down some thoughts for harness racing in 2008. I'm optimistic. I have entitled it "rock bottom."

Huh? An optimistic piece entitled rock bottom?

Yes.

Flip on an entertainment show and we might see a star du jour speaking of his trials with whatever it may be, and he will say "I had to hit rock bottom before I could change." I think 2008 in harness racing is the year we will hit rock bottom, change will occur, and the sport will place the wheels in motion to grow again.

I see a post on harnessdriver.com detailing that the Boxing Day handle for Woodbine hit an all time low. I see on the entry page for standardbredcanada.ca that handle for Canadian racing is down over $100M in 2007. I see tracks cutting some dates. I see tracks cutting stakes. All bad news and it does not seem to be getting any better.

When we hit rock bottom in 2008 a few things will occur. Policies will finally be put in place that will encourage growth. These policies will not be piece-meal, nor pay lip service, like we seem to see all too often. They will be real, tough and they will change the sport as we know it.

Customers will be appreciated. They will be able to bet harness racing from anywhere in the World at an affordable price. New 5% takeout bets will be the norm, promoted with vigor and thoroughbred players will cross over to our sport for the value. Pools will be bigger. Excitement will reign.

New bets will be introduced. Legislation will be lobbied for to get these new bets into convenience stores, just like lotteries. The bets, and racing will be promoted on the Internet, on TV and in print. Someone will hit a $5M win in 2008 with these new bets, and the word-of-mouth will be deafening. Gambling chat boards on the Internet will talk about harness racing. They won't be talking about a boring sport whose days are numbered. They will be talking about a new harness bet that has the gambling world buzzing. And they will want to be a part of it.

New money from new owners will be attracted by promoting clean racing, and these new owners will be introduced to a sport that is not filled with infighting, or 2 year appeals from suspect trainers that make them scratch their heads and want to buy a stock instead - they will be attracted to the joy and exhilaration of owning a harness horse. These new owners will bring in a new culture of racing - racing for the sport of it - and it will be the main focus for this new breed of owner. It will catch fire.

Horseman's groups and tracks will negotiate new deals. When sitting down across each other at a table, they will both not concern themselves with protecting their dwindling slices and fighting. They will concentrate on one thing and one thing only: growing the sport by increasing handles.

A new breed of racetrack executive will be hired. He or she will focus on handles first and foremost. Live handles to be exact. Distribution channels will be turned on their head. The internet will be embraced. Costs will be cut, the game will change from a low volume high margin one with few bettors, to a high volume low margin one with many bettors. Any savings will be passed on to customers to achieve more growth through reinvestment, not put into profits and purses. The sport will change from one who looks for protection as a monopoly, to one who competes, fights, scratches and claws for every betting dollar out there. We will grow into a perfectly competitive business and start growing on our own two feet.

In the end, we will grow. And grow, and grow.

So yes, we will hit rock bottom in 2008. And when we do, we should all do one thing and one thing only: Smile. Smile because we know our sport can grow again.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Are you selling ice to the Eskimo's too. :) PP
Pull the Pocket said…
:)

One day we will put a man on the moon, so I would hope that next year we can grow harness racing!

Oops, just checked Wikipedia. I forgot.

Neil Armstrong for harness racing commissioner! :)

Popular posts from this blog

Sword Dancer Shenanigans Proves the Public's Point

Ask any random person who has not watched a horse race, or maybe have seen one or three : "Is horse racing fixed?"

They'll probably say, sure it is; common knowledge.

At that point, racing folks get excited to defend their sport. 99% of the races are clean, there is too much money involved to fix races, etc etc. 

Then we have yesterday's Sword Dancer, where not one of us can blame anyone for thinking like they do about the sport.

It's probably bad enough that a "rabbit" was entered for an old-time form of race fixing, but that the horse was ridden like a quarterhorse made the optics look terrible. That another horse - Roman Approval - had to be physically restrained due to the cowboy style race riding of the horse sent to destroy him, is probably just as bad optically.

But that was just the beginning. The real story had just begun.

At the head of the lane, this rank, spent, heart-ripped out rabbit, needed to do even more work for the 1-9 shot. He had t…

If #harnessracing is Afraid of the Answer......

There's a saying, apparently, from the legal community - never ask a question if you don't know the answer.

Today at the USTA meeting Jason Settlemoir put forth a motion that the USTA ask its membership the feelings on a question regarding slots and marketing. In a nutshell, it asked if a percentage of slot money should go into a slush fund to be spent on marketing and ancillary items to promote and grow the sport.

When the 54 director votes were tallied, the score was 47 to 7..... against.

Yes, the leadership of an organization voted down, in a landslide, asking the grassroots membership a question. 

Sure this seems super-silly, but why they did it, I think, is an easy one. They knew that if they asked the question the answer would be a resounding "yes". Then all hell would break loose. They'd have to try and get that done.

If harness racing is afraid of the answers to questions, they don't ask them. That seems to be the mantra of the sport. And it's p…

PTP's Bathing Index ® Derby Handicapping Angles - This is Much Better than Dosage

Good day racing fans!

It's one week until the Derby, where drunk people, rich people, sororities at almost every University, and others get together to watch, wager, take molly, drink juleps, wear hats, have parking issues, and partake in the annual Kentucky horse racing tradition.

I have scanned the big websites, read almost all social media and was very surprised that there are not a lot of people giving their thoughts on this year's Run for the Roses. It's like no one has an opinion! So in my never ending search for traffic, I decided to pop up a handicapping post. I think this post will help both new fans and old salty handicappers land on a winner.

As most know, physicality is important for handicapping (Leadbetter, et al). A lesser known angle is watching how a horse reacts while getting soapy water thrown on him. As long time handicapper Jessica notes, it can be a key to unlocking Derby betting fortune.


Preach.

Let's begin with our control group, Kentucky Derby …