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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

NJ Thoroughbred Horsemen Understand It

New Jersey thoroughbred interests, through the Blood Horse, are responding to critics regarding the slashing of race dates in New Jersey which has been agreed upon for the 2010 racing season.  While John Forbes and Bob Kulina are addressing the thoroughbred world  regarding the decision, many of their comments apply to the standardbred world.  Make sure to read the article.   

Here are some comments from John Forbes, the President of the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association:

One of the things we recognize is that with or without slot revenue, racing has to change. We’ve heard from the customer, and we’ve gone recently from a local sport to a national sport with full card simulcasting. 

There is no such thing as a local market.  You can no longer put on a race meeet which appeals to the local market; you need to put on a product which is attractive to a national market.  In a market full of signals, mediocrity is no longer acceptable to the wagering public.

The customer has spoken—he wants quality racing, larger fields, and we think it’s time that someone stepped up and gave the customer in racing what he’s looking for. This isn’t a survival issue; it’s an issue of responding of what we all know is most important—quality racing—and that’s what we hope to provide.

Short fields and cheap horses is not an attractive proposition.  If you put on an inferior card the wagering public is going to ignore you.  Racetracks and horsemen need to provide full fields of quality horses; something which can happen in New Jersey or any other state.  If you race limited days; you can offer a product which people want to wager on and follow.  No slot revenue (or even with slot revenue)? Race fewer days and you can offer purses which attract the better horses.  Race more days, your purses will be lower, horsemen with quality horses will bypass your meet and you will offer a product no one wants to wager on.  This is what will determine the success or failure of raicng in a particular state. 

If this is the death for the small horsemen, it’s because he doesn’t have the kind of horse that America wants to bet on.  But I don’t think it’s the death…I think it’s an opportunity for our horsemen to recognize that not to upgrade, not to improve the product for the consumer is a prescription to eventually be eliminated from the mix here in the Midlantic. We’re very concerned about our small horsemen, but we also want them to step up to the plate. If they can’t recognize that poor racing with horses that aren’t competitive is itself a death then none of us are responding to what the industry wants.

How about that; the customer matters.  The lack of VLTs is not what is going to kill racing in any particular state.  It is the unwillingess to provide a quality product.  The public is what finances the industry and we need to give the public what they want.  If it means racing fewer days, so be it.  Continuing to race 180+ day race meets is a prescrption to become irrelevant.  The boutique meet is the future of racing. 

NJ thoroughbred horsemen understand it.  Do we?


Scott Jeffreys said...

Imagine getting back to the days of excitement as an opening day approaches and sorrow as closing day arrives. Imagine playing hooky from work like years back to attend a day at the races because there is no racing next week because of a shortened meet.

When it comes to boutique racing, there has been something oddly intriguing about the Atlantic City all-turf meeting. While the track is no where near as polished as Monmouth, that boutique meeting shows that the concept absolutely has a place on the east coast.

Pacingguy said...

I agree. It seems everyone but the horsemen understand boutique meets are the way to go.

Obviously boutique meets will mean less need for drivers and trainers. I understand everyone wants to stay employed. However, if that attitude prevailed in Detroit, there would be no American auto industry. Sometimes difficult choices need to be made.

If we had boutique meets, purses would be higher, even in the minor league tracks. It is the very low purses at tracks which helps allow race fixing scandals like the one in Michigan to occur. When an owner can make more money betting than winning a race, you run the risk for fraud.