Well, another sleepless night. Woke up around 1AM realizing 'that's all she wrote'. So I turned on TVG to watch thoroughbred racing from Australia and Japan; not that I was betting it, but it was better than watching the latest infomercials.
Five things struck me while watching the programming.
1. Attendance at the Tokyo racetrack was disappointing - They were expecting anywhere between 90-100K people at the track that day but earlier rain kept the crowds down. Well, the crowds might have been down but the pan shots showed a full racetrack (what, only 80 thousand or so?). Wouldn't it be great to see attendance like that here? What are they doing right that all types of racing are not doing here in the Western Hemisphere?
2. Large fields in each race - Each race, before late scratches, had between 16 to 18 starters. That certainly makes for more interesting wagering and exciting races (see #3 below). Why can't we have more starters in each race? I know horsemen don't want to have trailers in our races (though they seem fine with it abroad), but can't we widen the racetrack so we can put 10 (1/2 mile) to 14 starters on the starting gate?
3. Exciting finishes - Each race had the horses tightly bunched turning for home and you had horses five or six wide down the stretch. Most races had tight photos or were competitive enough that the adrenaline of most bettors was flowing deep into the stretch. This is a problem we have both in t-bred and standardbred racing. Certainly our American and Canadian racing secretaries can put on races that are more competitive so we don't see a constant parade of open length winners? If not, maybe we need to change the way we put races together.
4. Exciting camera angles - This is something you will see in races in Europe as well. I noticed an inner track where a vehicle drives along with the field taking great camera shots. Not only that, during the race you see head on shots and all different angles, far different and superior to our traditional views. Why can't we do that and make the product more exciting to watch?
5. They still race standardbreds in Australia, don't they? - Since there was minimal racing action being shown during these late hours, why was there no harness racing being shown? There certainly is harness racing in New Zealand and Australia and if they are already bringing the signal for the thoroughbred racing from there, why not any harness racing? It is not like they will have to drop a U.S. signal to carry harness racing; there was plenty of free time available to bring in a signal from a harness track down under. Maybe we need to start a campaign with TVG to at least try an experiment with a major harness racing down under.
Am I missing something?