If you review the press coverage of this past week's racing, you will notice the overwhelming amount of coverage was concerning the Hambletonian eliminations and the Adios final. There was a minimal coverage regarding the Hambletonian Oaks eliminations and virtually nothing concerning the Adioo Volvo. How much pre-race publicity was there for last night's Golden Girls at the Meadowlands? Even less, despite the fact the race went for $214,000.
This morning, I went on Youtube to look for the replays of last night's big races at the Meadowlands and I was able to find the eliminations for the Hambletonian. The Oaks, and the Golden Girls? No video. Look at Standardbred Canada's website, and in their articles for the Hambletonian/Oaks eliminations and the Adios/Adioo Volvo, there is video for the colts but nothing for the fillies.
Why do the colts get more publicity than their female counterparts? Breeding. A champion stallion can cover 120 mares a year. A champion mare can have one registered foal a year. There is more money to be made by owning a male horse, hence we give them virtually all the coverage. Unless a super mare like Moni Maker comes along, our filly and mare stars race in obscurity. We are not alone in this problem. If not for Rachel Alexandra, how many female runners would we be hearing about? How many people can name the filly companion races to the thoroughbred triple crown?
Sure the breeders and those hoping to have the next super stallion are focused on the colts and it is reflected in the purses as owners are willing to pay more to enter a stakes races in hope of getting that syndication pot of gold at the end; there is no such pot of gold available to the fillies and mares. Regarding purses we can't do anything about it; it's a matter of economics. However, do we need to have our press/marketing focused on the boys? Our breeders and horse owners are already hooked on harness racing, we need to gain the interest of everyone else.
Let's take a look at the Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks as an example.
With regards to the Hambletonian we have focused on Muscle Hill, who certainly deserves press as he is living up to the hype. The Hambo story line before Federal Flex's performance last night was going to be a long awaited hook up between the two titans. Now, it appears to be Muscle Hill at 2-5 going possibly for a record mile. Unless you are a hardcore fan, not quite an appealing story. With regards to the 3yo trotting fillies, this division has been racing under the radar all season. Now, with the Oaks eliminations completed, we have a slew of possible story lines. Will Elusive Desire win the Oaks? Will the Swedish invader Moonlight Kronos take the trophy back to Sweden? What about Raising Rachel and Honorable Daughter; will they renew their battle? Can early season phenom Margarita Momma regain her form in time for the big race?
Between the two trotting races, the most competitive race on Saturday's card will be the Oaks and the amount of pre-race publicity it will get on the web, print, radio, or television will be negligible. Shame on us for allowing this to happen. Write for the breeders in the trade magazines. For other media outlets, let's tell the stories which will entice them.