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MacAdam on Saratoga: The Modern Enterprise, Old School Game

The Gazette's Mike MacAdam penned an article today about Saratoga Racecourse that should get its fair share of tweets and retweets. He writes what oh so many in the sport would like to say - or more appropriate scream - but don't have a forum to. It's about the monetization (Mike, not wrong in doing so, calls it gouging) of almost everything.

"It’s one thing to look under every pebble in the quest to turn a profit. That’s all that a corporation is about. And it isn’t NYRA president and CEO Chris Kay’s job to win a popularity contest.
But NYRA is playing with fire at Saratoga. People are — what is a “P” word I can use for angry? — perturbed. Perhaps there will come a point when that starts to reveal itself through the kind of metrics Kay prefers, like hotel tax revenue."

You should read the article. If you like the romanticism, the feel, the everything that makes a racetrack a racetrack in a community, I suspect you'll like it.

This is nothing new, quite honestly; managing to EPS, managing to today. What's going on is not subtle or some grand experiment.

In The Other Side of Innovation, Vijay Govindarajan, a professor at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business, talks about traps that old-school enterprises can fall into. One of them - the strategic trap - is when the 'performance division' of a company tends to steer the entire ship. This process is a trap because it focuses solely on the marketplace of today, with little regard to past branding, or future, long-term ROI. It appears some racing companies are hell-bent on being married to this strategy.

I will disagree with Mike in one of his points: "turning over every pebble for profit is all that a corporation is about." The best, most successful corporations have innovation divisions, and creative branding that's a large part of the overall strategy. That's what stops the Kodak's of the world from being the Kodak's of the world. On the surface, and looking at the continued monetization of the nation's most storied, most branded Thoroughbred racetrack, unfortunately, as Mike ably and passionately writes, it appears NYRA is not one of them.

Enjoy your Saturday everyone.

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