We all have seen how our big races are promoted to potential on-track attendees (if at all). There is an advertisement in the newspaper and/or there is a radio/television spot telling people to come to Hoboken Downs to see the $300,000 Battle of Secaucus and get their free commemorative baseball cap. Yes, we may get people to come out but are we really promoting the sport or the freebie?
Take a look at an advertisement for yesterday's Prix de France at Vincennes-Paris.
There is drama, there is excitement. It is all about the race. Maybe if we started promoting the race, instead of the freebie, we would be better off in the long run.
As for the Prix de France, Prix d' Amerique favorite Meaulnes du Corta bounced back from his defeat to win the 2,100 meters (1.3 miles) $525,00 Prix de France for the second year in a row in a kilometer rate of 1:11.7 (mile rate 1:55.2). This ten year old joins an exclusive club of back to back Prix de France winners which includes the famous Ourasi. When you watch the replay of the race, notice the style of racing is very different from our single file approach to racing; it is a style which is more exciting for the spectator. Like a thoroughbred race, each horse appears to try to make things happen for them rather than waiting for things to go their way. I can't help but think if we raced this way, we would be able to attract more people to standardbred racing as we would be presenting a more exciting product.
Another thing to note is the winner is a ten year old racing on the European Grand Circuit. Not a gelding, but a fully intact horse. The French have the right idea when they have their horses race and breed in the same season. While you will not find a major North American breeder subscribe to this practice at this time, I do believe the time will come where breeders on this side of the Atlantic will be forced to adopt this approach. Once the VLT induced bubble bursts, breeding fees will be cut to the point where it will make economic sense for stallions to do double duty.
Racing is still big in France. They must be doing something right. I realize horsemen are resistant to change but if it is working for the French, maybe we can learn from them?