Summertime Splendor

By Alex Waldrop, President and CEO of the NTRA


Earlier this month, I took advantage of the long Fourth of July holiday weekend to spend a few days with family and friends and get away from the constant barrage of phone, e-mail and  text messages which tend to dominate work life for so many of us these days.  Well, honestly, I did steal a few quick glances at my iPhone while no one was looking but, for the most part, I was able to disengage.   It seems that many in racing take a brief breather in early July-mainly to gather strength for the second half of the racing calendar.  And that second half gets going in a big way this weekend.

There are two highly significant opening days this week, with Del Mar near San Diego getting underway on Wednesday, the 21st, and Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York kicking off on Friday, the 23rd.  These very important "boutique" race meetings represent the best that racing has to offer - great racing in small communities that enthusiastically embrace the annual return of racing fans.   If you can, spend a day or two in Del Mar or Saratoga Springs; take in the races; visit a local restaurant; get up early and watch the morning workouts.  There are few places in racing as special as these.  They are guaranteed to renew your optimism for racing.

But don't think that splendid race meetings are only occurring at Saratoga and Del Mar this summer. 

Monmouth Park on the Jersey shore is creating quite a stir with its wildly successful "Elite Summer Meet" at which it is giving away an average of $1 million a day in purses and breaking virtually all of its handle and attendance records.  If last summer will be remembered for the debut of night racing at Churchill Downs, this summer will be the season when Monmouth reminded us all that quality racing still sells and sells well. 

Don't forget that Rachel Alexandra is racing this Saturday, July 24, at Monmouth in the $400,000 Lady's Secret Stakes.  If you aren't fortunate enough to view the race on TVG, log on to so that you can watch our NTRA Live! Webcast of the Lady's Secret and see whether Rachel is truly back to her 2009 form.  Participate in our live chat before, during and after the race and tell us what you are thinking.   It's your chance to engage other fans from across the country and around the world.  Don't miss it.

And I personally look forward to meeting many fans and horsemen at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minnesota at Saturday's 2010 Claiming Crown.  I am heading up to Canterbury for the big day and to attend the National HBPA executive committee meeting earlier in the day.  It promises to be another great day of racing at a special venue.  Canterbury President Randy Sampson has a great team, and they know how to put on a first-class show.  

Emerald Downs is another gem of a track located near Seattle, Washington.  Owner Ron Crockett is one of the good guys in racing who always goes the extra mile to take care of owners and players alike. With majestic Mount Rainier visible in the distance on many days, Emerald offers on-track patrons racing in a unique and breathtaking setting. 

And congrats to Ellis Park and owner Ron Geary for making something of a comeback in Western Kentucky this summer after announcing the probable end to racing in that market at the end of last year's meet.  Ellis Park is another place where the return of Thoroughbred racing is eagerly awaited each year by the locals in the "Tri-State" area. The same can be said for Suffolk Downs, the East Boston, Massachusetts track celebrating its 75th season of racing this summer.

Even in tough economic times, racing continues to hold its own relative to other entertainment options because we offer the American public something grand and unique - affordable entertainment that includes the chance to watch and wager on magnificent athletes competing for the love of the game in a family-friendly  environment.  Whether you watch live from the grandstand or remotely from a simulcast location or your computer screen, I hope you will be a part of the very exciting weekend ahead.

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