- The new Meadowlands did attract some new faces, many of them younger ones. The problem, Gural found out, is that it is very hard to get those people to bet. "Even as we continue to work to get younger people in there I don't think they are going to bet," he said. "It's not their thing. To give you an idea, we probably sold one program for every three people that were there on Hambletonian Day. What does that tell you? Two-thirds of the people there didn't need a program, so they were either betting on names or not betting at all."
It's the culture of North American racetracks versus those overseas. In the UK, for example, when you attend a venue - and it has been this way for a hundred or more years - you are bombarded with betting. Bookmakers dot the landscape, offering odds to attract you to bet. It's what you are there for.
Alternatively in North America, we are not bombarded with betting in that way. It's "here's how you bet a pick 6" where you spend $24, are out in the first race and don't have very much fun. You might split a five horse box for a superfecta, lose and don't have much fun. You look up at the TV and don't have a foggiest where your horse even is, which is not much fun. You bet an exacta box, and with 20% taken out you feel it was hard to hit and you got back $12, which is not much fun.
How could visitors not say "hey, let's grab a falafel."
If a restaurant was spending a ton on marketing, getting piles of people filing in, and having them sit down and order water all day it would not be the best use of marketing dollars. They would pivot and try something new.
Horse racing, without control of betting, and betting systems, very little can be done by an individual track to attract entree orderers, not water drinkers.
Jeff Gural said he is spending more money on social media for the Meadowlands thoroughbred meet instead. I don't know how well that will do to increase handle. It's tough to see taking a selfie with a superfecta ticket helping it a whole lot.
No Stinkin' Positives
On SC today, we saw a story that 99.302043940203% (I might be too exact) tests in racing do not breed positives.
I am guessing these press releases are tailored to governments and government leaders, and that's fine. If they are speaking to insiders, oh my.
If you read books like The Secret Race, or others about cycling, you'd notice the same proclamations from the last ten years. In The Armstrong Lie (on Netflix), Lance Armstrong emphatically told a media member in an interview (paraphrasing) 'I've been tested more than any athlete and have no positives. Show me a positive or STFU'.
EPO was not able to be tested for much of this period. It has a half life of four hours. When the testing got better, doctors realized that injecting it under the skin would have a slow release, making it still undetectable. After that test was perfected, you could not test for a transfusion.
The sport was dirty despite, "we don't have no stinkin' positives"
When horse racing fans or participants and bettors see horses entering a barn and turning around in a week like Lance Armstrong on a mountain stage, they do not buy the 99.35% of the tests are clean narrative. What it does do is make them feel more and more that racing is out of touch with reality.
Have a nice weekend everyone.