Did [Go, Baby, Go] make a difference in handle or attendance?
That’s a hard question, Ray. I’d like to think so as U.S. handle increased significantly from 1998 to 2004 when I was living large. There was definitely more racing on national TV and more coordinated national marketing and promotion. But it might have just been good timing. The game had a nice run of almost-Triple Crown winners from ’98-’04 with Real Quiet, Charismatic, War Emblem, Funny Cide and Smarty Jones and the Seabiscuit book and movie definitely helped put us back in front of American public …
“Good timing” is an understatement: 1998-2004 was the rise of the Internet as we now know it. The industry’s various factions simultaneously managed to catch the moment, via ADWs, and squander it.
No, not for frog juice. (I’ll leave the negatives for another day.)
Grantland published a terrific interview with musician-chartcaller-reporter Bob Nastanovich that includes this great quote about why he’s working in racing:
So I started working thinking that I could make a positive impact on the sport at different levels, just because I love it so much.
Love the attitude, Bob.
Also praiseworthy: The Breeders’ Cup and Hello Race Fans, two organizations I believe are working in horse racing’s best interests (and not just because they both pay me), are partnering up on fan education. Nice work, all.
I would love to see the industry create a venture capital fund to nurture new technologies directed at racing and gaming and in so doing utilize the expertise of the many talented people with experience in those areas who own and love horses.
Capital isn’t the only obstacle to innovation in the industry, though. Social gaming bonus points for all involved if unfettered access to Equibase data for the purpose of development were part of any incubator or fund.
Almost 10 months after NYC OTB closed its doors for good, the New York Times visits the defunct betting parlors, finding most remain empty and unmourned by neighbors. (“Thank God they’re gone,” says one.) There’s a slideshow, unlikely to induce nostalgia (even in me, quoted as an occasional former patron, pro-OTB community), except possibly for retro signage.
Violette said there has been discussion about dedicating one-tenth of one percent of New York’s handle to retirement programs, which would need legislative approval. This would generate about $2.2-million per year.
“That way everybody that participates in racing — handicappers, tracks, jockeys, trainers, owners — would be giving something,” he said. “Yes, it means an increase in takeout. But I can’t think of a better reason for a takeout increase than the protection of our race horses.”
Raise takeout? An unfortunate necessity. Mandate that everyone who registers a foal pay $25 toward racehorse retirement? An impossible dream.
I’ve given money to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and other retirement groups in the past; I’ll surely do so in the future, because horses deserve a decent quality of life after the racetrack. But like most horseplayers, I don’t breed horses. I don’t own horses. And until those who do breed and own horses levy a similar burden on themselves to help cover thoroughbred retirement costs through registration, sales, or earnings — all possible sources of funds — then I’m not going to see a takeout increase, for the horses, as anything other than what it is — a politically palatable passing of the buck.
3/25/11 Note: There’s an excellent conversation going on in the comments about takeout and funding racehorse retirement, to which Violette thoughtfully replied this afternoon. “I will go even further; let’s not raise the takeout and take the same .001 from the existing levels,” he writes. “NO INCREASE. A solution must be found, this is for the greater good.”