Good morning everyone.
I saw the September handle figures released yesterday, and down double digits is not a good metric. There was one fewer Sunday in September this year.
As we've talked about before: Giving us worse gambles at higher prices is not a recipe for growth. It's not about days or number of races (yes, there is a correlation), because when fewer races are carded on a card, the races should be better gambles, bringing in similar handle. This is not happening.
In 2014, racing has put forth three major changes:
1) Signal Fee Hikes and ADW taxes
2) A Churchill Downs takeout hike
3) Changing a surface at a track which achieved record handle after record handle on the old surface
Maybe the people who fear change are right. With change like that we can't stand anymore of it.
Yesterday, Keeneland showed its new colors with an assortment of Primed Pricy Pletcher Speedballs ® (PPPS, or for the digitally inclined hashtag PPPS) and other such sameness. It's looking more and more like the new Keeneland will be Gulfstream North. And yes, that is a bad thing. People love tradition - "I want to see good dirt horse show what they can do on dirt" - and that's fine, but there are 74 racetracks to see that (flip over to Santa Anita if you want). Old Keeneland, a very unique Kentucky Downs and meets like that attack malaise by being different; by attracting entries who don't want to play Pletcher-ball, by providing deep competitive fields which are tough to handicap. This sport, as a gambling game, cannot survive with sameness. It cannot survive with gate to wire 7-5 shots. It cannot survive by "making handicapping easier". It needs more meets which create a better gamble, not fewer of them.
In twenty years time this sport will have wished it had Nick Nicholson running it, because he was one of the few in this business who believed in Einstein's definition of insanity.
At the Red Mile yesterday (see HRU today for ideas on changing that meet to drive handle), Always B Miki won his Tattersalls "division" in a semi-rout over He's Watching who looked to have his issues (the same one he had at Yonkers in start one?). Miki went a 53.3 middle half, 27 flat of it into the wind, so he was a little soft at the end (for thoroughbred players, energy distribution is important in harness racing, too), but he showed his chops. And he showed his greenness (he's hard to stop when he wants to go, and gets on a line).
JK Endofanera won the other split and seems to be sharp once again. Newsflash: Lateral driver changes - which in any simo center or in the turf press seem to be tantamount to a three drop class drop - make little difference. Despite being googoo about Tyler Smith to Sears on Let's Drink on It, Brian did not carry the horse home on his back to victory. This happens like 99% of the time when good drivers with fast bikes sub for other good drivers with fast bikes.
Today is a good spectating day at the Red Mile with Sebastian K and Father Patrick in. The weather should likely be better.
Enjoy your day folks!
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