So this year's spokesman for the Preakness' Infieldfest is Kegasus. If you remember what they did last year at the Preakness, Infieldfest is an effort to make the Preakness a huge party to get the young people to attend the biggest day in Maryland racing. While I think Kegasus is a name that could be done without (not sure if it is a play on Pegasus or Seinfeld's Festivus; perhaps both), the basic premise is good.
Which makes me wonder why harness racing doesn't have its own version of Kegasus (with a different name please and not just because it is likely copyrighted). It is time to make harness racing more of a festival event. Let's get the party going at every racetrack possible. Offer inexpensive beer, music and give them the infield to make it their domain.
Well, maybe not every track. I could see a lot of people skinny dipping from one end of New Jersey to the other in the NJ-shaped lake in the Meadowlands infield or as they attempt to swim the infield lake at Freehold, but most racetracks have landlocked infields which are sitting empty with the exception of light stanchions and tote boards; all areas which could be used to offer a 'festival' view of racing; after all it's not like there are too many people watching the races from grandstand aprons, who would get their view obstructed.
Set up beer tents and concessions, a concert stage for after the races but most importantly, set up temporary betting windows and hire some younger people to stroll the crowds with portable betting machines to print out tickets (they'll love the technology) and let them have a blast and who knows? A Friday or Saturday at your track may become a destination for a younger demographic as you offer more than 'just' racing for them to have a good time. Try it a couple of times and see how it works and if it takes off, offer "Party in the Infield" more often.
What is there to lose? And who knows, maybe twenty years from now, we may have some new customers named "Lucky Jim" or "See You at Peelers" showing up to the track?
VFTRG Survey Results: In our latest survey, 65% of the respondents said the Meadowlands will reopen on May 7 or a little later this year. 35% of the respondents indicated it is all over; perhaps with a swan song at this year's Hambletonian. By April 15, we will see who is right.