Good PR

Today the Meadowlands issued a press release on their opening weekend. Usually press releases from a track talk about driver wins, or trainer victories or a horse winning an Open pace, or junior stakes race. At times it mentions a handle number or two. It's the racing formula.

This one was different. 

Michael Antoniades at Balmoral Park sent out an email today about it and said "It puts the emphasis on gambling and never mentions a horse. It talks to me as a player and why I should be betting my money at the Big M. The gambling information is plentiful." Michael knows what he's talking about because his press releases do exactly the same thing and has for some time.  He's one of the rare ones.

Racing is conflicted in their message, unlike almost any other sport or business. On one hand we have the suppliers of the product and on the other we have the consumers of the product. Racing tries, in their press releases and message, to cater to both of them. In the end they cater to none of them. The PR's are a hodge-podge of everything to everyone. Not that telling people who won a big race is unimportant, but as a rule they should, in my opinion, be focused on the end user.

We saw this for years on the Score show in Canada, and we've written about it many times. They'd show a race, then do a feature story on a feed man from Guelph. Run another race and do a story on a dude shoeing a horse. How does that up handle from people watching at home?

Later on they changed to focus on newbie customers and it seemed to work well. Ratings were up, signups to the HPI internet platform were up, and away the show went.

This is not dissimilar to the way NYRA operates their on-air show. Serling and whomever his cohort is at the time don't talk about shoeing, or betting chalk all day. They don't talk down. They talk betting, gambling and racing in a heady way that customers appreciate.

Anyway, here is the Big M Release from the first weekend of action. Enjoy your day everyone.


Opening weekend of the winter live racing season at The Meadowlands was an unqualified success on all fronts.

On the racetrack, the new letter classification system provided the competitive racing promised upon implementation.

The strong response at the entry box resulted in full fields for very nearly all of the twenty five races, including an expanded twelve-horse field in one race per night. Business-wise, despite opening at the end of December on the heels of the post Christmas holiday shopping hangover, handle shot up 24% on Friday over last year's starting date. Saturday's handle, though hampered by a snowstorm that kept many indoors, was also increased.

The wagering offered remarkable value to the horseplayer, with the average win payoff over the twenty five races a whopping $26.80, buoyed by a pair of triple digit winners on Friday. Favorites won at a perfectly acceptable 31.25% and there were but three odds-on favorites over both days.

More prevalent were closing odds that reflected the competitiveness of the fields with many 2-1 and 3-1 favorites at post time. A Pick 5 carry-over from Friday to Saturday resulted in a $92,195 pool for that wager on Saturday. A few head-scratchers through that sequence left just a few happy customers rewarded with a payoff of over $32,000 for a $2 bet. Friday's second race exacta returned a near record $2 payoff of $4.451.20 and the co-featured ninth race trifecta paid nearly $5,000 for the same $2 wager.

New Meadowlands Director of Racing Operations, Darin Zoccali, had this to say, "Coming into this new racing season, we put in place a wagering format that put the bettors first. By giving the Meadowlands bettor more of what they want, they have responded by supporting our races with strong wagering. We had hoped the classified system of racing would produce more competitive racing, providing the bettors with more betting value and fewer short priced favorites. Through the first two days, I am extremely pleased with the early returns."

Free admission with a free program greets each customer on Thursday and Friday. All race nights offer a pair of Pick 4 wagers, along with the nightly Pick 5. These horizontal wagers were warmly received with substantial pools that could contain a sizable wager. "It was nice to get the racing underway this past weekend, there was a buzz here at the Meadowlands with the return of live racing from both our customers and employees. The race cards Pete Koch (Race Secretary) and the race office put together using the ABC classification system were outstanding. The customers responded on both nights wagering more money at the windows than the previous dates we were up against from earlier this year.

One of our initiatives at the NewMeadowlands Racetrack has been and continues to be to deliver the best harness racing in the world. I was extremely happy to hear all the positive feedback from our customers about the racing and the guest service they were greeted with throughout both nights. There is still room to improve as the most important aspect of our business will be to deliver unparalleled customer service to our guests and horsemen. Accordingly I would like to hear feedback and suggestions from our customers and horsemen .

I would also like to take this opportunity to wish each and every one of our customers, employees and horsemen a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year”, said Jason M. Settlemoir, CEO/General Manager of the New Meadowlands Racetrack.

Racing resumes on Thursday and continues with a Thursday - Friday - Saturday schedule each week with a post time of 7:15 until mid-March. Find all the information you may need at The Meadowlands'website.

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