Some may be wondering why I have not talked about North American Cup night yet. That’s because it is just a horse race. Of course I am being facetious about it. The $1.5 million Pepsi North American Cup features the top three year old pacers seeking to stake their claim as a leading candidate for end of the year awards both in Canada and the United States. But North American Cup Night is more than that; arguably it may be the single most exciting day of racing in Canada. The race card features major stakes for all the three year old divisions. On top of the North American Cup, the card features the $387,000 Goodtimes Trot for three year old trotters, a key race on the road to the Hambletonian, the $666,000 Fan Hanover for three year old pacing fillies, and the $557,000 Elegantimage Stakes for three year old trotting fillies; all key races for three year olds. Odds are if you are a leading three year old, you will be at Mohawk on Saturday night.
As much as industry insiders and hard core racing fans recognize the significance of North American Cup Night, we fail to meet the needs of the bettor. For all the hype we give the evening with its own website, we don’t promote the event to the gambler. As of noon on Wednesday, three days before the event, you can’t get a copy of the program for the evening. Gamblers are not overly interested in the stories; they want to see the program pages so they can begin handicapping the evening. Whet their appetite, build interest amongst the bettors so they can analyze, analyze, and analyze once again the race card so they will be ready to pump their money with confidence through the betting windows or their ADWs.
The thoroughbred industry understands this. When it comes to events like the Breeders Cup they have special editions of the Daily Racing Form and other publications so bettors can begin looking at the races and get excited about it, sometimes weeks ahead of time. There is no reason why the post position draw/press conference for the NA Cup final couldn’t have been held on Monday with the overnight races being drawn Monday morning with driver changes made by Monday evening so gamblers could already be handicapping the North American Cup program Tuesday morning (you could always list also eligibles in the program with alternate betting numbers in the event a horse scratched after the fact). Lest it be said I am singling out WEG, the Meadowlands fails to do this for Hambletonian Day and it has not been done for the Breeders Crown.
Then again, why should we be surprised? Having the program available early is something gamblers and serious fans would want; not something stakeholders of the industry would want. Stories about the races are nice. They certainly have their place in marketing and gaining interest for these events. However, if you don’t give the bettors and serious gamblers the information they really want; it is all for naught.