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Monday Notes

Here are a few things I caught up on and decided to share, if interested.

Jason Settlemoir is the GM of the Meadowlands, and he has been working tirelessly to bring the Meadowlands back to where it once was. A lot of the things he is doing are working. The handle has been good, and there is a renewed optimism at the swamp of late.

I first saw Jason at a wagering conference in Jersey in 2009 where I was presenting on a panel about the future of wagering. He was helping Gural at Tioga and Vernon at the time, fairly fresh in the business. I noticed him one day in the hotel lobby with a couple of other people chatting racing. The chat wasn't about legalities about a deal, managing the ticket sellers, working with horsemen groups, or the mundane things that every track manager has to go through each day. He was talking about things we all talk about as fans and bettors on twitter or chat boards - changing racing for the better, why don't we try this, and on and on. You could tell he loved racing, and this was infectious.

Racetrack managers can't change the world. They are hamstrung in so many ways. But people like Jason can change the world one customer at a time, and he practices what he preaches.

In HRU (pdf alert) this weekend Bill Finley wrote a snippet in a broad story about the M that is much more than actually just a snippet.
  • Settlemoir is so concerned that every on-track patron has a good experience that he took the time earlier this month to personally call a customer about the soup being served. It seems the person wanted more variety on the menu. The great soup fiasco has been fixed.
Everyone knows you can't fix everything; you can't call every customer. In fact, some customers are more trouble than they're worth.  But the simple fact that he would do what he did tells you about his passion to fix the joint. That passion filters right down to everyone in the business. That's leadership. If the Meadowlands roars back like it has, he will have a lot to do with it.

Well done Jason.

Also in HRU this weekend(pdf), Gural's policing ideas were looked at, paralleled with the moves made in cycling. I found it fascinating how the riders changed behavior when the EPO tests was introduced - they didn't stop cheating, they just moved onto other forms of cheating. "Where there's a will, there's a way" comes to mind.

Frequent commentor "Tinky" appears to have joined twitter. Not sure he'll say much, and I'm not sure you'll agree all the time, but he is a very smart horse racing person. I followed. You can here, if you so choose.

Do you ever have one of those "what the hell" betting sequences? I had one Saturday at Gulfstream, although in reality, it was probably all my fault. I disliked Orb in the Fountain of Youth because (although I expected a hot pace) he was (my exact words) "too slow". I liked the three in last (even tweeted it before the race), who was 20-1 morning line. I took two pick 4 tickets for the festivities. On one ticket I used Orb, and on one ticket I didn't. For some reason (I assume it was a mistake) on the ticket I used Orb, I did not use the horse I liked in the last. Strange.

Then to add insult to injury, I took supers with the 10 horse in the last as my swing and in a blanket finish, the ten came 4th. The super paid $61,000. I always use my swing horse in the two, three and four positions, but this time I did not; leaving him out of the four slot Why? I have no idea.  Anyway, long story short - after the race I expect to cash a super and a pick 4. Instead I don't (at least I made a win bet on the winner). Betting is frustrating, but never boring.

I did not watch the Oscars last night. I have not watched it in, oh, I don't know, since I was a kid maybe.  It's not that I don't like movies, or the people who make them: In fact, it's the opposite. I also don't for a second begrudge the billion or so people who watch the Awards. I think it's just that the whole rich and famous thing never really did much for me. I thought about the people I most admire, and they are not rich, nor famous, like the Catholic Priest in my hometown who the members of the Church bought a new truck to replace his old clunker, so he could have an easier time delivering food to those in need. He turned around, traded in the truck and bought more food.  In racing, you can follow a twitter account from a big name, and hope that he or she is what they appear to be on TV, but others are there who already are what they are. Caroline Betts who works all day at her paying job, but then works some more (and more, and more) for her horse rescue, asking for absolutely nothing in return, walks a red carpet on my feed. John Popovich who might never win a Triple Crown race, but treats his horses like each of them are Triple Crown winners, does too. They won't be on an awards show in a fancy dress or tux anytime soon, and they won't have tens of thousands of followers, but they make the sport go and I'm happy to chat with them on a daily basis.

For the record, while the Oscars was on I was playing the races, just like I usually do. All was right in my world.

Enjoy your day everyone.

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