By Alex Waldrop, President and CEO of the NTRA
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.
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.
don't think that splendid race meetings are only occurring at Saratoga and Del
Mar this summer.
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.
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 NTRA.com 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
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.
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.
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.