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Monday, September 19, 2016

On Drivers Challenges

Over the past few days there has been criticism regarding Drivers Challenges; in particular the one contested yesterday day at Harrah's Philadelphia.  One of the main arguments is all these contest do is enrich those who are already living comfortably; at least as any driver can be.  To put it in political terms, it was a way to enrich the 1% at the expense of the masses.

Could the prize money have been spent more wisely?  Absolutely, especially since as of this writing, there was no press release from Harrah's, the PHHA or anyone regarding who won the contest.  As far as I am concerned, the event was a waste of money.  A better use of the money would have been to walk up to the fifty people who were on track actually wagering on Harrah's and hand each of them a $1,000 and saying to them "Thank you for supporting Harrah's racing".  At least then, you would have sent people home happy with a positive image of racing, all for a lot less money than what was wasted yesterday.

By the way, if you watched the races in the contest, did you notice no one was giving courtesy tucks?  This was overall the most competitive racing I have seen in ages, people actually moving with their horses.  Why aren't we seeing this all the time?  I will leave it to you to answer this one.

That said, I am not one who feels Driver Challenges are a waste of time and money.  Under the right circumstances, there is a time and place for such competitions.  For example, international driving challenges where you bring the best drivers from various countries together provides not only a marketing opportunity but rewards your loyal followers by allowing them to see drivers they ordinarily wouldn't be able to see.  Wouldn't an international driving challenge the night before the Yonkers International be an ideal day for such a competition?

Same thing with bringing the leading drivers from different markets together; an opportunity to see drivers who normally don't have the opportunity to compete against each other.  Not only does it provide the local fans something different, but also provides something of interest to the hometown fans, where the drivers come from and introduces them to your racing product.

A drivers challenge featuring the drivers your fan base can see day after day?  A waste of money.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Everyone should understand the slot rich purse funds at Harrah's and The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono are controlled by the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association. The PHHA served its membership, or at least the drivers, by putting up $100,000 for the Drivers Challenge.

The track managers should have realized giving extra money to drivers who already make a good living wasn't good public relations with customers, but leadership at both tracks tend to go along with the PHHA if it doesn't cost the tracks anything.

At the very least, the tracks and the PHHA could have used some of the money to involve fans. Perhaps draw names and assign a driver in each race to a lucky fan who was on track. Cash or other prizes for the fan based on the driver's finish. The reason the challenge received negative attention is it was all for regular drivers with nothing for the dwindling customer base.

Let's hope some good comes from this for the betting public. Judges at Harrah's and The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono should call all drivers to a meeting. Let them know the Driver Challenge showed everyone how racing can be. Enough "buddy buddy" on the track and lack of effort some times. Let the drivers know all rules will be enforced all the time and racing like was seen Sunday should happen every race.

PHHA, track operators, judges and drivers, we fans will be watching!