The Idiots Guide to Fixing Horse Racing

Horse Racing BettingHello my name is Lenny and I bet on horses.

Sounds like an introduction at a 12 step program doesn’t it? I used to be embarassed to tell people what I did over the weekend but not anymore. I realized that there is no reason to hide the fact that I like to gamble because the majority of people in the United States approve of gambling according to a 2006 report done by John Benson, Tina Reigel and Melissa Hermann.

In the report they looked at a survey done by the Harvard School of Public Health and Pew which asked several questions, one of which was do you approve or disapprove of various forms of gambling? 72% of those that participated in the survey approved of lotteries, 62% approved of casino gambling and 50% approved of off track betting on horse races (although it is unclear if that meant only OTB betting or all betting).

Overall 67% of the participants said that they had gambled in at least one of the 13 forms of gambling that was part of the survey. More importantly the younger participants (under age 50) in the survey had a pro-gambling position that ranged from 15% to 26% higher than the older participants (over age 65).   Also 55% of those surveyed between the ages of 18 and 49 said they believed gambling helps states rather than hurts them.

The numbers back up those opinions as well. The National Conference for State Legislators (NCSL) reported that in 2006 lottery sales in the United States were more than $53 billion. The UNLV Center for Gaming Research reported that in 2010 Nevada took in $10.4 billion in slots and table game revenue, Atlantic City took in $3.6 billion in slots and table game revenue, Mississippi took in $2.4 billion in slots revenue and Pennsylvania took in $2.3 billion in slots revenue. The Jockey Club reported that in 2011 the total wagering handle on horse racing in the United States was $10.8 billion.

The stigma attached to gamblers doesn’t seem to be justified based on those statistics, does it?

Betting Horses

Come Out of the Closet

If your state sells Mega Millions or Powerball tickets you probably already know that lottery players have no problem getting in front of a television camera and announcing that they bought their tickets for the latest jackpot drawing. Here in Maryland the local news stations send reporters out to various local businesses that sell lottery tickets and interview people hoping to luck their way into early retirement.  They never have trouble finding willing participants.

You might be asking where I am going with this? Here is my question to you: if people are ready and willing to get on camera in front of the world and announce that they just spent their money on a form of gambling that takes no skill and is based solely on luck then why won’t you tell people that you bet on horses, a form of gambling that, while there is some luck involved, is based on a diverse skill set gained over years of experience?

It is time to come out of the closet and tell the world that you bet on horses.

A Dead Sport or Bad Reporting?

While the media reports that horse racing is dead the dollars say otherwise. As mentioned earlier wagering handle in the United States was $10.8 billion last year. The Jockey Club also reported that Auction Sales topped $728 million in 2011 and Total Gross Purses were nearly $1.1 billion. A 2004 American Horse Council study revealed that the horse racing industry contributed $101.5 billion towards the United States GDP and employed 1.4 million people.

If the horse racing industry is dead or dying what does a thriving industry look like? It appears that the mainstream media has ignored the facts once again and as usual the general public has failed to do the research which would have revealed the truth.

The truth is the horse racing industry has sufferred like most other industries during the recent economic downturn but to say it is dead is a lie. Further proof of this was provided this past weekend when 85,811 people attended the Belmont Stakes and bet $13.8 million. All sources handle for the Belmont Stakes card was nearly $96.5 million, the third highest of all time.

I think it is clear the horse racing industry is not dead but it could be better. The economic downturn has contributed to the decline in wagering handle, auction sales and purses but it is not the only factor.   Thefailure to attract new fans to replace those that have left is another major reason why the horse racing industry financials are trending downward.

Last year the Jockey Club funded an independent study that examined the state of horse racing and what could be done to reverse the negative trends. The study was completed by McKinsey and Company and the results and their recommendations were presented at the Jockey Club Round Table last summer.

After hearing their recommendations I was a little concerned that they did not mention the most important factor, in my opinion, that will lead to growth in the horse racing industry. While their recommendations included many that will generate interest in the sport none addressed the foundation of the horse racing industry.

It’s the Gambling Stupid

The Jockey Club could have paid me a lot less money and I would have given them a better plan of action to help grow the sport. The horse racing industry is funded by wagering handle. The money you and I bet is what keeps the race tracks open, funds the purse accounts and gives people a reason to breed and sell race horses. Wagering handle is the foundation of the industry. Without it there would be no sport.

The horse racing industry has downplayed the role of betting in the sport by not promoting it and giving it little coverage during national telecasts. During the early years of the Breeders’ Cup the NBC broadcast included a decent amount of air time dedicated to betting. Remember “Pack’s Pool” where Harvey Pack was given a $100 bankroll to bet the races? Discussion of the Pick 7 took place and betting strategy was prominent before each race.

Now the betting side of the sport is an afterthought. Instead the time between races is filled with stories about the horses and their connections. While those should be included they should not be the focus. I enjoy hearing some of the stories but they are not the reason I am watching.

Let me put it to you bluntly: I follow horse racing because I can bet on it, take that away and I will find some other form of entertainment to occupy my free time.

I don’t think that I am alone on this. None of the people I have become friends with at the race track care much about the personal side of the sport. They are there for one reason, and one reason only, to make money. I hope that doesn’t sound cold but it is the truth.

Growing the fanbase should not begin by showing the beauty of the horse or appealling to their emotional side but rather by focusing on the money that can be made by betting the races. Think about it for a minute who is drawn to the sport by the non-betting angles? People who are not going to go to the race track the next week or open an account with an ADW. Why do we care about those people? How are they going to help grow the sport? If they watch the races but never bet a dime they are not worth courting.

It seems that there is some illusion that the horse racing industry has the same business model as the NFL. The NFL generates most of its revenue from television deals. Networks fork over billions of dollars to gain the rights to broadcasts football games. Ticket sales account for only a fraction of the annual revenue for the NFL so television is their focus. Furthermore during NFL games the focus is on the game not the side stories. The side stories are aired during the pregame show.

The business model for horse racing is unique. As previously mentioned its revenue is generated from wagering handle. There will probably not be a billion dollar offer to broadcast horse racing in the near future. Horse racing broadcasts should however copy the NFL model and focus on their money-maker. Rather then dedicate substantial time between races to side stories they should employ experienced handicappers to discuss handicapping and betting strategies for the races.

Show the viewers that horse racing is skill-based and not based entirely on luck. Show them the money that can be made. Spend more time discussing the race results, how the pace effected the outcome, how traffic trouble hurt horses and what the payouts were. Teach them something every time they tune in but don’t stop there.

Tell them where they can bet. Provide links on the network website to race tracks in the United States and to all of the available ADW’s. Twinspires, TVG and Xpressbet are available in most states. Make it easy for them to place their first bet. People want to be spoon fed, to have things handed to them or to have someone else do it for them. You can’t go to their houses and bet for them but the easier you make it for them the more likely they are to do it.

Change the old NTRA motto from “Go, baby, go” to “Bet, baby, bet.”

The first time they make a winning bet based on their handicapping they will be hooked. Combining great entertainment with making money is a winning combination. What other form of entertainment can result in having more money then you started with at the end of the day? None, of course.

Slot Machines

Bite the Hand that Feeds

Slots subsidize many racetracks around the country, including those in my home state of Maryland. While we don’t have slots at the two major racetracks, due to mismanagement by the racetracks owner, we benefit from a portion of the slots revenue nonetheless. While that money benefits purses and future capital improvements to the track it is generated through mindless gambling. You and I know that what separates horse racing from slots and many other forms of gambling such as lotteries, keno and roulette is that it is skill-based.

Unless you are betting random numbers or using the quick pick function on the self service terminal you are probably spending time handicapping the race and planning your betting strategy. The guy sitting in front of the slot machine, although he may think he has some control over the outcome, is simply pushing a button and waiting for money to come out. He has no control over whether or not he wins because the slot machine is programmed to randomly pay out. I have heard people say that a machine is “hot” or they have a “lucky” machine, they have either had a fortunate (random) winning streak or they are dilusional.

Maybe some people want to spend their money mindlessly for hours in front of the flashing lights of a machine or maybe, if they knew it was possible to win consistently, they would spend their money at the betting windows of the race track.

It may sound like sacrilege but telling people the truth would benefit both them and the race tracks. Slots may be a quick fix, but they are not the long term solution. They provide an influx of money upfront but they don’t always lead to long term prosperity. Delaware Park has been on the decline financially for many years. Slots helped in the first few years after they were installed but now small fields and low wagering handle are the norm. Then there are tracks like Fort Erie, in Canada, that have been told that the slot money that they have used to stay afloat is being cutoff for government use. Fort Erie will be closing its doors next year unless the decision is reversed.

Final Thoughts

The aforementioned McKinsey and Company study found that horse racing is losing 4% of its fan base each year. Their recommendations for attracting new fans, especially younger fans, have some merit but they are flawed. It is not as simple as replacing them. The new fans cannot simply be casual or semi-serious viewers. They need to show their support at the betting windows. You can replace the people that leave the sport but if you don’t replace the dollars they bet the problem is not solved.

A perfect example of this flawed thinking occurred last weekend.  The Belmont Stakes was supposed to be a boon for the sport.  Thousands of new fans would flock to Belmont park and millions would watch the race on television.  The sport would be saved if I’ll Have Another won the Triple Crown.  As you all know I’ll Have Another scratched the day before the race and with that news the sport sunk back into irrelevancy for another year, or did it?

The scratch of I’ll Have Another was described as a terrible blow to horse racing but was it really? How many of those people that were going to tune into the race would have bet a dollar on the race? How many of the people that were going to attend the Belmont would be back the next week? Most of them would be temporary fans, caught up in the hype. Most of them would not become long term fans and more importantly long term bettors.

For those of us that are long time die-hard fans the scratch was devastating, not because we thought it would help the sport, but because we are true fans of the sport. We show our support with our wallets, we go to the race track or bet from home almost every week, we will be there next week, next month and next year with or without a Triple Crown winner. We need more of us, not more of them. The solution is right there in plain sight, to recap:

  • Focus television broadcasts on handicapping and betting
  • Educate viewers during every broadcast
  • Teach them where they can make a bet (race tracks and ADW’s)
  • Differentiate horse racing from mindless forms of gambling such as slots

It sounds easy but I know that its not that simple. I know it takes years to become a winning horseplayer and many people won’t stick around that long but if we can capture a fraction of those people we will help stop the erosion of the fan base. If we can teach people that winning is possible and that luck has little to do with it we will grow the sport.

That is why I am here, to educate and promote the sport. I cannot do it by myself so I ask that you spread the word. Teach a friend how to handicap and bet.  Share this article with your friends and family (the  buttons to do so are right there below, see I made it easy for you). Send your local race track operator an email or letter with a link to this article and tell them to rethink their strategy for attracting new fans.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. It is time for the horse racing industry to stop the insanity and take a different approach to solving its problems.

That’s the end of my rant.  After reading the negative press about the scratch of I’ll Have Another I had to say something. The question is do you agree with me or I am the one that is insane? Let me know in the comment section below and if you haven’t already done so join the Equinometry Community using the form that follows.

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Comments

  1. Brad Johnson says:

    Hello Lenny, Thank you for opening up this discussion. I, like you, am concerned about the direction of my favorite sport. As an aggressive gambler…gold card member of Twinspires Club..I spend a lot of time and wager significant amounts of dollars in pursuit of profitability. Handicapping is an art form, a passion, a developed skill, an obsession and increasingly more frustrating because of the recent dynamics. I think there are HUGE sums of money being bet past post by gamblers using remote locations… i.e remote ADW sites in Utah, or New Mexico, or Grand Cayman Islands… or where ever???
    The fact of ever decreasing odds on the “most likely” winner as the race unfolds really stinks. How does a favorite leave the gate as the 2/1 bettable play and turn for home in fromt a half length and watch the odds drop to 7/5 or 6/5…It’s silly and scary at the same time. Who has the authority to investigate? HANNA??? Congress??? Individual race tracks?? I just don’t know. Attracting new customers to the game is difficult. Young folks today have way too many distractions…their involvement in Social Media is the way!!

    Let’s say forming a site to attract and stimulate young individuals might offer an opportunity to “buy into” a gamble. Twinspires does their player members only pools…(Rarely successfully, I might add..Lost everything on Preakness and Belmont!!!) How can a site be set up allowing individuals to contribute say $10…or $20 to get into a large $1000++ pick six pool wager?? Or some similar wagering type opportunity?

    Also, every track should have a $20 Wager Ticket Giveaway to Students at local colleges who attend a specific “day at the local track” promotion. Show your college ID and get the ticket at the gate along with FREE admission…..Keeneland here in Lexington does have a college day but no free give away. Get them started and watch a few become regular players. BUT first how do we get rid of

    1. High Take out percentages
    2. ADW cheaters as mentioned above
    3. Better inter track cooperation with scheduling post times and promotions…i.e …handicapping ….contests and seminars…etc..

    • Twinspires player pools do win. They hit the Pick 6 Friday. I have played with them many times and won. Most times my winnings are only a few dollars because I play the minimum. The reason I play is to see what horses they are betting on. It helps me play the pick 3′s and pick 4′s. The downside is when they win a pick 6, the IRS is notified and you get a 1099. I got one for $1.69 and didn’t claim it on my taxes. The IRS came after me.

  2. Brad,

    Thanks for the comment. Takeout rates are too high and its up to the individual tracks or states to reduce them. With no central authority to make the decision it probably will take many years to implement a reduced takeout initiative across the country. Past posting should not be an issue, with the technology we have today there is no reason the betting pools should be allowed to stay open after the race begins. The tracks have a tool available for coordinating post times, but it doesn’t look like they are taking advantage of it. I think we can agree there are many problems but the biggest is getting younger people involved and not just once a year but on a regular basis. The sport needs new fans, particularly those that put money through the windows.

  3. Horse racing will never take off until takeout rates are drastically reduced so that we can have the odd visible winner that made his or her way out of mom’s basement and now gambles every day in a mansion bought by racetrack winnings.
    That is why poker took off. Horse racing has a huge and expensive learning curve (if you count time as an expense), so why would someone new other than the odd straggler get involved? Certainly it is impossible to lure in masses without the incentive of possibly winning long term.
    It isn’t like the old days (60′s and 70′s) when family members or friends exposed you to the track when you were a youngster gradually getting you hooked (and back then the game was actually beatable by a few that had developed their own track variants pre-Beyers and collective takeout was much smaller because there were fewer high takeout exotics…and you didn’t have 120 races a day to choose from or to take your winnings….many people left with money in their pockets to go the next day…and there was way less competition for the gambling dollar)….I can go on but you get my drift.

  4. Cangamble,

    Great points all around. I think we can all agree that takeout rates need to be lowered but they play second fiddle to the wagering dollars. If people don’t bet then there is no money to takeout. We have to start attracting new bettors, not new spectators. If people go to the track or watch from home but never become bettors then they are not really helping grow the sport. I’m tired of the wasted time spent on the connections of the horses. That isn’t paying the bills. I want to hear how the “experts” see the race unfolding, which horses will benefit and which will not and how they are betting the race. I would bet that many casual viewers have no idea they can bet from home. They wouldn’t know an Exacta from a Pick 6. That is what needs to change and hopefully at the same time tracks across the country (and in Canada) will lower takeout rates.

  5. I agree the sport needs to explain more about how you can make money. I am finding the superfecta is a good bet for the money. I often do a 10c box of 4 horses . They payout is better than an exacta if you win. Also in big races like the Derby there is so much money in the pool that you can win thousands of dollars. The Derby paid almost $800 on a 50c trifecta. The superfecta paid thousands I think $46,000 for $2. The public doesn’t always realize the money that can be won.

  6. One thing the McKinsey & Company report didn’t talk about was PPS.I wonder why?

    This is a very cheap item in the scheme of things.

    Lower takeout.
    Free PPs
    Advertise.

    The Industry owns the pps.Try using them to attract new fans.Educate them for free and they will spend money on you for the rest of their lives.

    I’ll say it again,Educate them for free and they will spend money on you for the rest of their lives.

    Every track should show the viewer,at the bottom of the screen,where to go on their website to download free pps.Basic pps with 10 lines.
    Something like this BELMONTPARK/FreePastporfomances.com.

    Draw them to the game.They want to learn,but they don’t want spend the money,and they shouldn’t have to.The information is there.don’t hide It from them,give it to them.

  7. I agree with you but I do not call “us” fans. In horse racing there are 3 kinds of people. 1. People in the industry. 2. Bettors. 3. Everybody else(who don’t care about horse racing). I am an NFL “fan”. I watch all the games I can and I have never bet on a game in my life.( I am 69 years old). There is only a tiny bit of horse racing fan in me. I care little about all the stakes races that are hyped on TVG and HRTV. I am a bettor. I don’t bet on stakes races so I don’t care about them. I have long lamented the stupid way TVG and HRTV present horse racing. They seem to be trying to develope “fans”. Basically I believe there is no such thing as a horse racing fan. Only people as enumerated above. One result of the useless ways of TVG and HRTV is that I watch them on mute 99% of the time. In fact, I am planning to get rid of my dish and watch the races on my computer. I agree that the horse racing industry needs to develope and cater to BETTORS. No one in the industry, including ADW’s seems to care about bettors. To their credit, Twinspires did initiate conditional wagering. However, they do not seem interested in improving that product. I have suggested to them that conditional wagers should have both minimum and MAXIMUM odds. Also that the odds of the horse I bet, at the specified time of the wager, should automatically be included in the information under “recall todays bets”. As far as I know, there is no interest in improving their product for the benefit of bettors.

    Keep up the good work, Lenny. Eventually someone in the industry will listen to something and maybe one little step of improvement will be made.

  8. righthind says:

    Excellent piece and I agree with you 99%. Harness racing has distilled this situation down even further, and is arguably far easier to handicap than thoroughbred racing. By failing to create, educate and court new bettors and failing to service and accomodate existing bettors over the last 25 years, and hanging on to usurious takeout rates, the handle slide has been drastic. Once it begins it drives away existing bettors looking for large pools and “dumb” money. The only tragedy associated with scratching IHA was that horseplayers everywhere mourned the loss of the price they would get on the rest of the field with an extreme favorite. The 1% I disagree with you is because even Vegas began to develop a revenue stream from food, drink, seating and entertainment that eventually drew even with the casino revenue. Attracting 80K fans over a 6-hour span when you sell water for $3 and beer for $5 does contribute to the bottom line. That’s the only way the casual or non-bettor has worth to a racetrack or racino.

  9. Melanie says:

    I disagree that the broadcasting focus should be mostly on betting. There is so much info about betting that you will never be able to learn everything you need in a few minute segment on NBC. Anybody who wants to learn about betting can go online and read anything they want. If somebody is depending on a TV commentator to teach them how to bet, then they probably shouldn’t be doing it until they figure out what they are doing first! (And you aren’t going to get any “expert” commentary on NBC either.)

    Many states STILL don’t allow their residents to bet horse racing online. When I called TwinSpires, they said I could register since I live in TN but the guy told me, “You are right in the middle of states that don’t allow it – NC, SC, MS, and AL don’t allow it.” From what I read online, there are many others that still don’t such as Utah, HI, Alaska, etc.

    So focusing the TV broadcast solely on betting is useless for the many people watching who aren’t at the track and are not even legally able to bet online. Maybe your time would be better spent lobbying politicians to legalize all forms of gambling in all 50 states.

    I for one LIKE all the backstories about jockeys, trainers, horses bought for only 5 figures that go on to win the Derby, etc. Calvin Borel winning the Derby with a 50-1 longshot and a trainer with a broken leg who drove the horse in a trailer halfway across the country was probably what got me interested in horse racing to begin with. People love stuff like that. The heartwarming sap that guys probably don’t care about is exactly what WILL draw in the average viewer who will watch it on TV, even if they aren’t able to bet.

    I have a TwinSpires account but actually prefer watching the horse stories on HRTV, because they are interesting. Sometimes it gets boring just watching racing over and over on TS with no other commentary, esp when you aren’t making money anyhow! (I just saw a race at Churchill Downs yesterday and the commentators didn’t even mention that 1 of the horses in the race was a half sibling to I’ll Have Another and another was a half sibling to Bodemeister. I figured it out after I looked up their breeding in my Equibase app. They finished 3rd and 1st.)

    I didn’t sign up for HRTV until right before this year’s Derby, but after the Belmont was over, HRTV did a show where they compiled moments (video clips) from this year’s Triple Crown run, and I couldn’t believe how many of the guys on that network picked I’ll Have Another to win the Derby. They’ve also been totally right in their analysis and predictions for the Preakness and Belmont as well. Whereas the idiot commentators on NBC don’t know what the hell they are talking about anyway, so I certainly would not take betting advice from THEM!

    The truth is most people probably aren’t going to make a whole lot of money betting on horse racing anyway. I know I haven’t so far. Yeah, you might get lucky and be the one person who wins the $1 million Arlington super hi 5 jackpot, but chances are you won’t.

    • Melanie,

      Wagering handle funds the sport, without it there is no sport. The networks gloss over handicapping and betting strategies. They spend a minute or two on the payouts after each race. If people watching at home don’t bet then they aren’t helping the sport. The networks should spend more time on those areas. I agree it is hard to make money betting on horses but I have done so. It took me several years to have a profitable year but I did it. The reason I created this site was to help new and existing horseplayers to overcome the long learning process. Instead of struggling for years like me I hope to educate them and teach them how to win in a much shorter time. The only way this sport will grow is by replacing those that leave with new fans that will not only watch the races on TV but also show their support with their wallets.

      • Melanie says:

        I agree it would be interesting to see a TV segment where they discuss betting and handicapping the races, but your article seemed to imply that it should be the main focus of most of the broadcast, but I definitely don’t think it should be the main focus.

        There are still too many states where stupid politicians don’t even allow their residents to do online betting. In a city near me, the police arrested a group of middle aged men (one was an orthopedic surgeon!) for playing high stakes poker. I just read online today that TN used to have tons of horse racing back in the 1800s, it used to be bigger than KY for racing and breeding and TN even had its own Derby, until the idiot TN politicians passed an anti-betting law in 1907, effectively shutting down horse racing in TN.

        I noticed your article said that a lower percentage of people approve of horse race betting than other foms of gambling. It must not be the gambling angle they disapprove of then, but something else. I think the problem is horse racing needs to get its act together on drugs and injuries. In Europe they don’t allow such drugs, and horses have a lower breakdown rate.

        I saw the Churchill Downs race on June 16 when J. Velazquez broke his collarbone. I saw at least 2 horses & jockeys fall off, but then the commentator said 3 horses lost their riders. At first all I thought was “Oh thank God Calvin Borel made it back okay!” Then I started looking at the list of which jockeys were still out and saw that one of them could have been JV and I was like oh my god. No! Now just imagine if the Belmont winning jockey had ended up paralyzed or something!

        That, in addition to the horribly designed handicapping sheets they give you at the track, probably does more to hurt racing than the fact that TV doesn’t discuss the betting angle enough! I saw an online comment from somebody who said they were once at a race track, but couldn’t make any sense of the racing sheet, didn’t know what the heck they were looking at, so didn’t even bother to bet.

  10. Lenny…I just got around to reading this and it’s an excellent, thought-provoking piece that states, what should be, the obvious. I think you hit the nail on the head when you wrote, “People want to be spoon fed, to have things handed to them or to have someone else do it for them.” From my perspective, and maybe this is a bit cynical but, we have an ingrained culture of entitlement in this country to the point where people have come to expect something for nothing. Most people would rather sit at a slot machine or buy lottery tickets than learn how to read a racing form and spend hours handicapping races. You said that you are from Maryland so I’m sure that you are familiar with the new “casino” (no table games) that just opened at Arrundel Mills. I was watching the news the night that it opened and it was stunning to see the madhouse that erupted just to get to the exit from the interstate let alone to actually get into the building. After hearing the news interviews of the people waiting to get in it wasn’t hard to understand the rush; every single person was sure that they were going to leave a winner. You wouldn’t hear that same reaction if you interviewed people going into the grandstand at a track. They are more realistic and sensible because they know that, despite the efforts put into handicapping the day’s card, there are going to be days or even weeks where you just don’t win. The majority of horse players understand that, I think, because they have educated themselves not only on how to read a racing form but also on understanding odds and probability. People who sit at a slot machine have a wish, people who bet on a horse race have an idea. Big difference and one that I think speaks more to the inherent character traits of individuals rather than lack of promotion on the part of the horse racing industry (though it could, obviously, be much better). You stated that you are from Maryland…I am originally from Hagerstown now living in Northern Virginia and I have been going to Charles Town since I was about 12 years old (back when it was a dump and they were running 2500k claimers). That, I think, is the key…getting more young people out to the track who develop not only an appreciation of the sport but also the knowledge needed to pick a winner and there are a few tracks that seem to encourage bringing the kids. From what I have read, it sounds like Arlington Park does a good job at trying to create a family-type atmosphere. I think others could learn from their example.

    • Alan,

      Thanks and I saw the madness that was Arundel Mills a few weeks ago. I live about 10 minutes from it and drive past it every day on my way to and from work. It sickens me because those people should be going to Laurel Park. If the deal to get slots there wasn’t blown a few years ago the track would be overrun by those people. Of course that does no good for the horse racing end of it if none of them bet a dollar on the races but getting them in the building is the first step. I think tracks need to target young to middle aged people that have disposable income to spend. Hear in Central Maryland there are plenty of these people. The defense industry pays very well and many of the jobs are only minutes from Laurel Park. If we could get a few of them to the track, teach them how to handicap and bet and then have them bring their friends it would be a start.

      • Melanie says:

        Re: “People want to be spoon fed, to have things handed to them or to have someone else do it for them.” I don’t look at it that way myself, but you have to admit that even from a graphic design perspective, the racing sheets are poorly designed. Too much info and tiny numbers crammed into one line. All those figures and fractions are just too much to go through for every single horse in a short period of time. And how do the workout figures even help that much when the other horses in a race had workouts at different distances, so how can you really compare that unless everybody runs the same distance?

        I’ve found it more useful to look up a horse’s profile at the Horse Racing Nation website, scroll down to the bottom to see the list of races they have ran, their finish, the distance of the race, and the top 3 finishers. If somebody would design a sheet with such a simple design, then add in things like speed/pace/power figures etc. that would be the best basic info that most people could understand. If nothing else, it would at least tell you whether a horse has ever raced over 1 mile, whether or not it has won any graded stakes races or if the best thing it won so far was a MSW or Allowance, etc.

        • Melanie,

          If you haven’t already done so check out DRF Easy Form which has the summary data you mentioned. You can find a sample here: http://www1.drf.com/data/samples/easyformsample.pdf

          • Melanie says:

            Thanks, this is a lot better. Except that it doesn’t look like I can access those in my Twin Spires account, they only offer the more complicated DRF form which I don’t like. They also mostly offer a bunch of Brisnet stuff, which looks awful. So how do I get the DRF Easy Form, do I have to sign up at DRF and does it cost anything to sign up?

  11. Melanie,

    You have to purchase them from DRF.com. It is free to join but you have to pay for the Easy Form PP’s. Let me know how you like them as I have never tried them.

  12. Good stuff everyone we are far from being lost as an industry it’s just starting to get interesting again it comes and goes in cycles but I for one see a much more sustainable future for this beautiful sporting event.

    the introduction of exotic wagering and the sheer size of today’s pool’s thank’s to massive carryover’s is intriguing and attract’s a lot of bright player’s and albeit slow the quality of the facilities are getting better thanks in part to mixed gaming this is a point of contention to track purist on one hand and state regulator’s on the other, and the Native American Tribal Families are finally able to get back something from which much was taken, sounds ridiculous but it is true.

    god bless america
    NewsJet Magazine

    Smitty

  13. Past posting has destroyed racing and sent many people packing. Its a titanic problem that is not addressed. Simulcasting wrecked the game

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