The Gural, Bettors and Fans on a Sunday Smackdown

There has been a lot of commentary of the business in Thoroughbred racing of late. People have been complaining that handle is poor, PETA is mad, signal fee taxes and hikes are deleterious to betting handle and the Churchill Downs team has shown about as much vision as a bat who lost his sonar.

But this Easter Sunday, the sport of harness racing has one-upped everyone.

There was a story in Harness Racing Update on Saturday morning where Bill Finley reported that the USTA voted 13-1 to not fund a $75,000 Jeff Gural initiative to get a major race on television. This brought the letters to the editor to new levels.

Today in HRU (give it a read it truly is interesting), here's a sample of the reaction:
  • Since the late 1990's it's been estimated that over $7 billion dollars has been realized by harness racing from slot machines. Sometimes we lose sight of what a billion dollars is nowadays (it's 7,000 million dollars). In terms we might be learn something from, 7 billion seconds ago it was the year 1648. If you are stacking $100 bills and you did until you reached 7 billion dollars, your stack would be 1,437 miles high. That truly illustrates the theater of the absurd: With all that money, harness racing can't even raise $75,000 to televise the Little Brown Jug. 
  • Clearly my vision is almost polar opposite to the vision that Joe Faraldo and his friends on the USTA board have. All one has to do is go to the Meadowlands tonight where you will see a track with energy and young people along with quite a few old people and everything in between. Go to the two tracks that Joe controls and you will see a very different picture.
  •  In short I have personally invested over $50 million dollars of my own money in 3 racetracks, two breeding farms and probably 100 or so broodmares, yearlings, two and three year olds etc. When I spoke to Ron Battoni about televising their night of major races I pointed out it would require them to take $50 from the purse of every race up there to pay for it, but I guess that was too much. 
  • After seeing the USTA vote was 13-1, I mean, really?? Out of 14 voting members there was only one member who has the foresight to see that this would be a pretty darn good idea at a very reasonable cost?? 
and a comment from a bettor (remember those, customers?) 
  • You could put harness racing on TV seven nights a week, 52 weeks a year and it wouldn’t matter one bit. The American public is just not going to invest it’s time and money in a horrible betting game where the takeout at some tracks is 30 percent.
Enjoy your Sunday everyone.


Anonymous said...

Doing something just for the sake of saying "I did something!" is usually not a good idea. My guess is that spending $75,000 in this manner would fall right into that category. On the other hand, the USTA actually has invested some advertising dollars wisely by contributing to the strategic wagering program, which benefits players directly, and therefore benefits the harness industry, on the whole. This type of investment is "trackable", and therefore accountable, unlike the type of expenditure they wisely rejected.

Pull the Pocket said...

Just a note: Chris Schick on twitter was the lone positive vote. Thought it was a "good pilot program".

He's likely right. For a relatively minor investment, the test case can move forward for 2014. No need to table this for a year. That's where things go to die.




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