Things That Make You Go Hmmm (4)

Kentucky horsemen, under difficult circumstances, have been largely supportive of shorter racing weeks to preserve purses and field size. However, there are growing concerns by some who say they can’t get their better stock into races. The situation is exacerbated by the slim pickings on the stakes calendar between the close of the Churchill spring meet and opening of the Keeneland fall meet. … Full fields of lower-level horses are fine, but we could live with a few smaller fields to accommodate the needs of those who have committed to stay in state to race rather than go elsewhere.

On the subject of racing, is there a reason 3-year-old-only races are almost impossible to find after the first four or five months of each year? Is it time for condition books to be revisited? Wouldn’t such opportunities for allowance, claiming, and stakes horses in late-summer and fall produce decent fields? I’m not a racing secretary, just curious.

A few months ago Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear called the bourbon industry the state’s signature industry. On Aug. 11, during a press conference announcing the first Sprint Cup at Kentucky Speedway, he said: “It will obviously be the biggest multiday sporting event that Kentucky has each year.” Well, we’d argue that title goes to the combined Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby days, as evidenced by the crowd counts and economic impact. … Enter Rodney Daingerfield.

Saw my first harness race in 1978 at Liberty Bell Park (now a strategically located shopping mall), learned how to handicap the races and have been a fan since. Living in Kentucky, however, one doesn’t see much live harness racing anymore. On Aug. 14-15, the United States Trotting Association is holding something called “Back to the Track,” whereby participating tracks offer various promotions and giveaways to entice people to attend, be they horsemen and their families or those who spend too much time in front of computer screens watching and wagering on races. … The Red Mile in Lexington is supposed to participate. Problem is, it hasn’t been advertised—nor has the actual opening of the meet this coming weekend. … A Thoroughbred guy asked me last year why promotion, or at least letting the public know you’re open, isn’t a required part of the regulatory licensing process. That’s a good question for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. ... Perhaps the bigger question is this: If you want to hide your core product under a rock, why do you deserve alternative gaming?

Don’t mean to pick on Kentucky, but haven’t heard a peep from KEEP in quite some time. The Kentucky Equine Education Project launched amid much fanfare early in the 2000s and did quite a bit to raise the profile of the state’s horse industry. … So what gives? Such efforts are needed as much now as they were then. … Early on KEEP officials called the organization transparent, but to this day it still doesn’t let the public know when it holds its board meetings. Not sure what that’s all about.

A recent visit to Monmouth Park was busy but a lot of fun, with only one complaint, which is pretty good as racetracks go. As a New Jersey native I know the state’s propensity to gouge, but $6.25 for a 12-ounce bottle of Yuengling? The alternative was a slightly larger bottle of Bud Light for $6. I took the Yuengling(s) and hoped to cash some tickets. … That same week a 14-ounce Yuengling draft cost me $3.75 at Delaware Park. Yeah, I know. Slots.

Sometimes you just can’t figure out racetracks. River Downs near Cincinnati has a really cool tiki bar adjacent the paddock; it’s open for live racing and into the early evening on Fridays. … Last Sunday, with a decent group hanging around for full-card simulcasts after the last live race, the bar shut down. The indoor clubhouse bar was still open, but geez, why not take advantage of such a nice spot for a few more hours? … I have the number of a downtown Cincinnati bar owner who would know exactly what to do with it, and make money doing it.

We’re still waiting for an upgrade to the Daily Racing Program used by tracks as their primary simulcast program. It must be really hard to get return winners italicized in the past performances and consistently run jockey and trainer stats for each track. … So don’t the tracks care about the product they’re selling to their patrons? Maybe track officials don’t know what they’re selling to their patrons? … I’ve complained for years about the way simulcasting is handled in Lexington but have to give credit where it’s due: Keeneland still sells a full past-performance program with up to 11 tracks for only $2.50.

Always remember this: The product—horses competing on the track—isn’t the problem. We are.


Recent Posts

More Blogs