Sunday, March 23, 2014

Interesting Reactions From Casual Fans

The 'video' is certainly causing a lot of consternation in horse racing the past several days. It's been quite interesting to read.

This episode has one key difference from the "24 horses a week" New York Times meme from a year ago, in my opinion. At that time the reaction was "ya, at quarterhorse tracks in New Mexico, so what?". Now that can't be said. Many things on that video happen each day - getting a horse healthy enough to run.

The seasoned handicapper, owner, or racing insider can lie in two camps with this: One, those who want change, or federal oversight saying "things need to change". Two, the backstretch insider who says "they did nothing wrong, they were just getting a horse ready to race and its how the business works."

To many casual fans, however, this stuff is very new. And it's making those people - the mushy middle - think.

Sid Fernando and his "gifs" on this tumblr blog often uses the fictional "Skip" to share opinion......

Years ago things were different. It was, "The horse has a little chip, Skip, and we gotta get that fixed up. We'll have him ready in eight months. He'll need to be kicked out in the field, but he'll be back better than ever and should have a long career"

Now is it, "Skip, I'll patch him up and drop him and get him claimed. I know the stable needs turnover or we're f***ed. Don't worry, we'll get rid of him."

The casual fan is asking themselves "Is this why horses make so few starts now?"

Years ago, we'd see horses claimed for $20,000 and race in purses under $20,000. Most common was "Want to claim a horse Skip? I've researched Bill's Boy and he is sound, he makes 14 starts a year and competes well in twenties. I think we can give him a month or two off, fix em up and he can make a little money in 30's and he can be a good moneymaker for us."

Now it sounds more apropos to hear, "We can claim this horse for $20,000 Skip, inject everything, drop him into a 12 and race for two times his purchase price. Who cares if he gets claimed?"

The casual fan is now asking, "is this the right way to do things? Aren't the vets making the slot money?"

The casual fan is asking themselves questions like,

"I see those men talk about how much they love the horses all the time, why are they laughing about buzzers?"

"Is this why so many horses never race the same after the Kentucky Derby?"

"I see smart people saying those guys are doing nothing wrong, so is everyone doing this?"

"A big trainer called us idiots, saying if we knew what goes on we would not make a bet. Was he right?"

The casual fan is getting an education; they're learning the modern culture of racing.

Regardless, it does strike me (I am not sure you agree or not, it's just my opinion) that I see some innocence with the casual fan base that's being lost.  And that is much different than what we saw after last year's New York Times study. This feels like more. It feels real.


Anonymous said...

Well done, PTP.

One can ask; "How many times do we allow DUI charges before we take away a person's license?" Essentially, we must ensure that these horses are fit and safe to race, and that they are not under any illegal influences or practices, otherwise, we are putting not only the horse's lives at risk, but the lives of jockeys and/or exercise riders every time these horses put hooves to track.

If it were I that went undercover in the harness racing industry and exposed vile and unacceptable practices against these horses, I can guarantee you that there would be people that would spend hours trying to dig up dirt from my past to discredit any abhorrent truths that I've exposed. Why? Because it's easier to deal with me and my "apparently misrepresented motives" rather than repair a broken industry.

If any hashtag should be used on Twitter, it should be #BlinkersOff-It's time to take action.

And yes, there are so many wonderful people in this industry "doing right by their horses". They should be commended and applauded for their extraordinary efforts to ensure a healthy, happy, and sound horse.


Sal Carcia said...

I agree. We are just broadening the base for the game to ignore. I use the word 'game' because it's safe to blame something that really doesn't exist. With that said, I'd like to focus on the trainers. Many of them were complaining about Fairgrounds this week. The message I got is it's Churchill's obligation to fund a loss-making entity. Maybe, if the trainers were a little more caring about the customers, the game might be more prosperous. Totally, ignoring the fans reaction to drugging is not good for business. Being defiant is worse. Nobody seems to be making the connection. Well, anyway don't get me started on the management of the game.

SaratogaSpa said...

one thing I was wondering about. How does this figure into the casual fans' ability or desire to gamble. I'm talking about the guy who bets maybe once a weekend and every big event, TC races, the Spa, BC , etc.

The betting angle is hard enough to figure out, will the casual fan now just say screw it, why should I spend hours examining a PP if I don't even know what really goes on in the barns?


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