JC / Railbird


Congratulations to Dana and Adam on the launch of Hello Race Fans, a new kind of fan education site for racing. I’m a contributor, but even if I weren’t, I’d recommend checking out the Letter to a New Horseplayer collection (featuring several top turf writers and bloggers) or the first edition of the HRF Index.


Eddie D warned me about when you scratch each others backs.

So I just stopped over at CVS and bought an ample supply of calamine lotion. :-D

Posted by The_Knight_Sky racing blog on March 30, 2010 @ 7:04 pm

Wow, thanks TKS (not)… but thanks Jessica, it should be fun, despite unnecessary snark!

Posted by dana on March 31, 2010 @ 10:06 am

Hmm. I knew I would be misinterpreted.
What happened to those good-natured emoticons
that were here before?

To clarify myself….

I’ve already sampled the fine work at Hello Race fans from earlier this week as mentioned at Ernie Munick.com. And a few weeks back someone named Green but Game also made mention of this new creation.

This is an an excellent idea with room for further growth. Now that the group has gotten the ball please don’t forget to run with it – mainstream. Not just pass a lateral amongst yourselves.

Fan education is an important and neglected aspect of the game, but I believe the creators of Hello Race Fans should do something like contact racetracks and have them link to their websites as a matter-of-course to educate newbies. Or perhaps take print out one page flyers and stick them on the windshields in the Belmont parking lot.

I’ve already linked the hompe page to my “Libary” section on the sidebar. From someone who has tried to teach people the basics (and advanced) nuances of the handicapping game online sine 1996, the core audience isn’t necessarily attuned to the blogging community, horse racing forums nor the websites of trade publications.

There is life outside of the solar system. I trust you to reach people beyond people like Sid and me. Thanks for hearing me out and wish you well with your respective projects.

~ your online (but sometimes misunderstood) friend TKS :-)

Posted by The_Knight_Sky racing blog on March 31, 2010 @ 10:31 am

Thanks for the clarification and I hear what you’re saying. I guess I find it a little bit of a bummer that’s there not even a “wait and see” before the sentiments like “don’t just pass the ball amongst yourself” start to come out… on day one! And who could have inferred that from your comment?

To me this is a mentality that keeps the game toxic, the setting up for and waiting for failure… like how people just can’t let go of the NTRA’s unfortunate webcast kick off even though 1) they’ve produced several flawless ones since and 2) they’re actually doing something people have asked them to do. I’m not picking you, or anyone else, TKS… just pointing out how all too often our collective need to snark, “yeah but” and/or use the increasing tired “full of fail” joke is unnecessarily negative. I’m all for scrutiny and calling out BS, misdeeds, what have you but find it sad when folks (HRF or anyone else) try to do something positive and are immediately fingered wagged.

We’re in this for the long haul, which means that we’ll be constantly finding ways to help folks engage with the game, fine tuning our approach, learning from our mistakes, etc… all while we also work at our day jobs AND hope to get funding via advertising. So, I would hope that anyone who thinks we’re not doing enough, or thinks our approach should be this or that will give us time… or start their own project! :)

Posted by dana on March 31, 2010 @ 12:03 pm

I understand that the contributors at Hello Race Fans have full-time jobs. Accentuating a clear “positive” about the project is that there are several familiar names from the online community putting forth what they do best. This in lieu of a single person bearing the weight of the entire project.

Funding from advertising is a start. But when I mentioned your niche audience I was specifically referring that shows up at Belmont Park on a glorious Saturday afternoon. He/she will be the one munching on a Sbarro’s with a pal or two, and it is that particular type of a racing fan that you are after. He may/may not have Twitter/Facebook/YouTube/Flickr accounts. He may not even be a horse racing forum member. In short, your target audience is accessible and I hope that Hello Race Fans will woo them in diverse ways – not simply online.

Over the years while racetrack attendance figures havedwindled, marketing departments have given out beach blankets yet never have I seen a simple inexpensive leaflet that lists sources of information about the game. Whether it is historical, handicapping, or wagering related, nothing really useful is found amidst the pages of the racing program for the novice. This is a shame because this is tantamount to a one-day marketing effort.

This is your calling card. Hello Race Fans are off to a great start and I certainly an not finger-wagging. It’s just my way of giving you “momentum”.
How’s that?

If I could, I’d put the TKS “thumbs up” emoticon right here for: Dana, Dean, Ernie, Jessica, and the rest of the contributors involved in this project. Enjoy and don’t forget to have fun along the way. ;-)

Posted by The_Knight_Sky racing blog on March 31, 2010 @ 12:46 pm

Well, I know that you feel social media is a “waste of time” (based on your comments over at GbG and that’s fine, but without any kind of budget for more expansive offline efforts, our audience for the foreseeable future will be those who have access to a computer and at the very least do a google search (where one of our ads will display). We do have literal “calling cards” to hand out when any of us goes to a track to point people to our site but beyond that our current approach is online.

I’ve seen some good “how to” stuff for newbies at the track. DRF has a handy “pocket guide” that I’ve seen freely available at various tracks to help newbies understand the wagers, quickie handicapping approaches, etc (also available at their site), my guess is that they’ve given it to tracks to make available to their visitors. Instead of trying to do one of our own, we point to it on our site (and applaud DRF & tracks for the excellent effort).

My point? While I agree with your concern, without any kind of reasonable budget, doing a well executed multi-track offline marketing effort for HRF is not only unattainable, it isn’t anywhere to close to efficient, especially for an effort that’s just starting! As I said before, give us time, we’ll make the proper connections, come up with the right approach, etc.

And thanks for TKS “thumbs up”, even if I don’t always speak TKS.

Posted by dana on March 31, 2010 @ 1:28 pm

Just a note that I forgot to give kudos to Adam also.
If you met me you’d know I’m a swell guy. Really. LOL :D

Regarding Twitter, I have yet to see the proponents of Social Media put together a comprehensive plan on how to use it to market horse racing. Until that time, I see it of little use unless the person requires “must know” news as it happens, or to make racetrack website content more accessible.

One of the uses of Twitter currently in action is from the Santa Anita paddock where Horseplayer Magazine publisher Tom Quiqley who gives occasional paddock reports. His reports consists of typical one or two liners on the feed from Santa Anita. That “broadcast” does not quite captivate a veteran horse player like myself when I try to incorporate this “new info” into an established handicapping procedure.

Not too long ago we had the much bally-hooed Bridge-jumper Twitter Alert that was supposed to “revolutionize” if not make it profitable for horse racing fans to spot overloaded show pools. That did not pan out because in a parimutuel game like we are involved in, it does not pay to give away solid information to the masses. It cuts your own (or your group’s) profit margin.

As for Hello Race Fans, it is my wish that all new fans understand that they are competing in a parimutuel environment. His/her information, decision making and wagering skills against everyone else’s; fighting for whatever is left over after the takeouts have reduced the pools.

If any new horse racing customer is to survive in the future as a regular patron, along with basic knowledge; experience, mathematics, decision-making and record-keeping skills should also be covered. And I’m sure your staff will do just that in due course.

Good luck, God Bless and Happy Easter to all of you. :-)

Posted by The_Knight_Sky racing blog on March 31, 2010 @ 2:50 pm

Wow, from such a short post, such deep discussion.

I agree, TKS — “If I could, I’d put the TKS ‘thumbs up’ emoticon right here for [ALL] the contributors involved in this project.”

As for the audience, and marketing, let’s see where things go …

While doing some research for something else, I came across a 1993 piece by New York Times’ sports analyst William Grimes on his first visit to Belmont Park:

“Knowledge is power. I was determined to do research before placing my first bet, enough to make the afternoon something more than an exercise in picking horses with funny names. Two books seemed essential …”

I like to think of Hello Race Fans as where Grimes would have gone to study up before he ventured out to the racetrack 17 years ago.

Posted by Jessica on March 31, 2010 @ 4:03 pm

HRF is a great idea, and it’s a concept best suited for the computer literate. How else to read the content? The number of people trackside w/out computer access is dwindling—so why pander to them?

TKS, we cannot explain to you why we like garlic, and you don’t need to convince us why you don’t; suffice to say, there are a lot of great recipes that require it, and we are enjoying the benefits of it–heartburn and all. That’s why we tweet–and you don’t.

Posted by Sid Fernando on April 3, 2010 @ 6:44 pm

Hey there Sid – I like bit of garlic myself. Better yet red crushed pepper or diced jalapenos adds ample zest.

As for William Grimes. Now there is an exception to the rule. Most newcomers do what comes naturally to them, play someone else’s selections from the newspaper or elsewhere.

I remember going 0-for-9 on Labor Day 1985 when I switched from Harness to T-breds. Not many newcomers recover from such an initial sting amidst the chaos at the racetrack. Too many newcomers throw in the towel right there. Those are the potential fans HRF must woo to succeed.

As for Tweeting, never say never. Maybe one day. But it has to have a purpose. What works for you.

In the words of Sheryl Crow…
“if it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad”. ;-)

Posted by The_Knight_Sky racing blog on April 5, 2010 @ 12:34 pm