Some news, notes and opinion for Tuesday.
I see Andrew Cohen at his blog placed a link to the "Only in Racing" piece. It has some good comments, and was fun to read. I think many of us feel the same way. We simply do many things that do not make sense in this business. Andrew has been a big proponent, like many watchers, of a commissioner. Could you imagine what the PGA Tour would look like if golf had different rules for each tournament? Could you imagine what the NFL would look like without Pete Rozelle in the 1970's? This seems like such a basic thing, yet when it is mentioned it is met with laughter. When the powers that be think fans are nuts to even suggest it, as getting it passed in such a fractured industry is impossible, we are in trouble.
Harnessracingblog.com did an only in racing piece as well, asking for some reader feedback. They said I was "ranting". It is not ranting at all. I just care about the business and want to see many of these issues cleared up.
Did any Canadian viewers watch Race Night on the Score last night? I had heard anecdotally that shows like this have a tough time with the CRTC (the over the airways regulator in Canada) in promoting betting to the viewers. This is too bad, because promoting racing as a game is paramount to our success. Ross Gallo in horseplayer magazine mentioned in the last issue why racing keeps running so many human interest stories instead of focusing on the bettor; "how many stories on Bob Baffert's groom are we gonna see" he lamented. Well, Race Night did do something neat, taking a page perhaps out of the poker website dot net playbook. 123racing.com. They promoted and asked people to play along with them at the website and kept tally during the evening. They gave out a monetary prize to the winner. Mike, Greg, Ken and crew are not stupid; they know what they are doing. I would like it if some of these shackles are taken off and they can do more of this during the 2 hour commercial we run weekly for racing. It's a great, great game. But selling it with 10 minute segments on a feed man from Woodstock is not going to help us much, I think.
Racing does need to get together on the same page. I hope that one day the 7% tax is returned with lower takeout as a way to grow the game. We have a tough audience with the tracks and horseman groups for that (despite a negative 2.3 elasticity of demand for wagering, many still think raising their price brings in more money), so it is a huge struggle. However, we all watch casino commercials that "push gambling", we watch poker on TV all the time that "pushes gambling", why can't we as a group lobby the CRTC to allow us a level playing field with the Score show?
I know, I know, that is the job for a commissioner right?
In thoroughbred racing, the Eight Belles tragedy is dominating the headlines. PETA is out in full force. I like the anchors on Fox because they tend to ask tough questions. Softball's are few and far between. Neil Cavuto had a PETA rep on last week and asked (this is courtesy Equidaily.com): "You value the horse more than the Jockey?" to which the PETA rep replied: "I don't care about the future of the jockey, no."
That is why we in racing should never, ever, be scared of PETA and their rants. I am a huge animal lover like many, but I know, and you know animals are below us on the food chain; they are there for us. They are not equal with a human. PETA does not seem to get that fact, and I think the public realizes they are not in the mainstream.
Further, Randy Moss at ESPN has perhaps one of the best pieces I have ever read on racing, breeding and medication. It is bang on. Give it a read if you are interested.
The Harness Edge celebrated their 5 year anniversary with a new-look website. Very nice job by one of the best magazine's out there.