ALMOST TIME TO ROCK N ROLL
The advent of daylight savings time suggests that spring isn’t all that far away and with it the start of a new season. Despite the uneasiness of the current economic climate, we’ve heard nothing but positive vibrations concerning the first crop of Rocknroll Hanover.
For the most part, they tend to be good gaited and willing-music to the ears at this point in time.
They’ll be racing soon enough.
JIM GOT AWAY
Never fails, sell a mare and her very next foal is a world champion. Lucky Jim, the newest trotting sensation at 1:51.3 is from Hawaiian Sierra who spent most of her broodmare life at Perretti Farms. She left here carrying Sierras Dream 1:55.3 a Dream Vacation winner of over $150,000 and then got bred to S.J.’s Photo resulting in Lucky Jim.
Oh well wasn’t that long ago when we sold a colt named VERSACHE for $7,500 at the New Jersey Classic prior to offering his dam Fashion Setter in the same venue as Hawaiian Sierra. Somewhere along the line, Versache got his name changed to Enough Talk…
How can you follow the money if most tracks don’t publish attendance and handle figures? What’s the reason for this? It’s not like there’s something to hide? During the course of the day a certain number of individuals-be they fans, guests, bettors etc-inhabit the premises and money flows through the betting windows. That’s a given. But how much and where?
The most elementary business principle is to identify the whereabouts of the existing and potential market and service it accordingly. That said how do we do this in harness racing if we’re not sure where the customers are?
For instance, it was reported that on a recent Saturday, The Meadowlands harness product handled $4.1 million total including $678,000 bet on track. There was an additional $1.3 million handled on site the overwhelming majority of which was probably on incoming thoroughbred simulcast. Deducting the on track harness from the total harness take suggests that some $3.4 million was handled off premises on the Big M’s signal. O.K. where? Lets have a breakdown.
Is this excess handle from other harness tracks or siphoned handle from those tracks that might have gone to the live product-which may or may not be as attractive as the Big M product?
How much of this is coming from thoroughbred plants and/or wagering forums like TVG and YOUBET? How much from that dreaded word OFFSHORE?
In the old days (good or otherwise) the overwhelming majority of handle could be attributed to the onsite-attendees. Theoretically, the overwhelming majority of those in attendance could be considered eligible target audience for any marketing campaigns the industry might seek to devise. Nowadays, this target audience is virtually invisible shrouded amongst the myriad of simulcast signals spanning the globe. Thus the problem is not only the lack of coherent marketing, but also an inability to pinpoint potential targets via handle demographics.
Courtesy of The Newark Star Ledger’s long time harness maven Ray Brienza, we NOW have the following breakdown for that fateful $4 million evening. In addition to the $678,000 bet on track, some $80,000 came through account wagering; $74,000 was handled at the Woodbridge OTB favorites; the OTBs in Toms River and Vineland contributed $38,000 and the Atlantic City casinos kicked in $49,000.
Thus a total of $915,000 was handled in New Jersey.
Breaking it down further, $365,000 came in from Canada; $222,000 from Illinois, $162,000 from California; $144,000 from Florida; $196,000 from New York OTB and $95,000 from the Philadelphia Park outlets. There was also $542,000 from other account wagering operations.
Based on these figures it would seem that some $2.7 million (give or take) was bet on the harness product which when added to the approximate $1.3 million handled on incoming signals provides the listed $4 million total for the day.
It’s a start now can we reach these people?
When you think about it, it is indeed surprising- this utter lack of curiosity on the part of the media surrounding the abrupt departure of a racetrack executive given the stature of the parties involved.
Were this to occur in any other sport, the print and/or the talk show guys would be all over it and sooner or later some semblance of the real story would surface.
Perhaps as Bob Carson eloquently implied in his February 16th edition of “Outside The Box” it is time to join the rest of the world and report the news as it is not as we’d simply like it to be in terms of political correctness.
After all, trade journals DO service the industry and as such have a fiduciary responsibility to INFORM rather just rehash what so often tends to be self serving publicity jargon.
Incredible, to think perhaps among the most credible voices in America these days might be that belonging to Jose Canseco, none other than the flamboyant whistle blower dismissed as an opportunistic rat and rumor monger for daring to broadcast that some sacred cows (himself included) just might be cheaters and steroid users.
That said, we’ve all heard the scuttlebutt surrounding some of our suddenly successful conditioners some of whom are probably steps ahead of the testers just as other athletes were-or thought they were.
And should a credible insider amongst our fraternity dare to surface and name names, what would we do? Hopefully not merely drown this voice with tsunamis of defensive rhetoric.