Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Bad Back Gets You Thinking

I've been hampered by a bad back most of this past week.  Nothing serious, just every once in a while the muscles in my lower back spasm and I walk around looking twice my age.  It's kept me a bit from blogging, some work and, sadly, from the racetrack.  It's been an absolutely gorgeous weekend here in central Minnesota.  Virtually cloudless, mid-70's, light breeze.  No place I would rather be than Canterbury - especially on the backside giving Fizzy some peppermints and letting him know I appreciated the effort in the mud last weekend.  However none of that was meant to be this weekend and now that I can at least sit up a bit to write, there are a couple of musings in my head about local and national racing that I can get out of there now.

What in the world is it with the arcane regulation that if you live in Minnesota you can't bet on Canterbury or Running Aces on an ADW outlet?  I live about 45-minutes from Canterbury and get there once or twice a week to visit Fiz in the morning and maybe the races one afternoon.  I certainly can't get there for every evening, but I'd probably wager on a race or two if I had the capability.  Isn't a small piece of some handle better than zero piece of no handle?  I wouldn't come to the track any less, I just might wager a bit more.

How in the world do we keep the casual fan's interest over the summer?  I expounded on this a bit earlier in the week in a prescripted haze, but I think that this is a real issue.  Some of the best racing in the world takes place in July and August.  Saratoga and Del Mar are legendary.  Monmouth is a great setting for racing and they race all summer long.  What can we do to get the fans that tuned in to the Triple Crown races to tune in to the summer graded stakes?  In July and August only the Virginia Derby is scheduled to be shown on non-racing (HRTV or TVG) television.  Really?  No Travers, no Whitney, no Del Mar Oaks, no Molly Pitcher.  This are great races that may end up with some solid story lines featuring the horses that campaigned over the last six weeks.  What a great opportunity for ESPN to showcase some of these horses before they televise the Breeder's Cup.  September and October are equally as devoid of racing on television.  The Pacific Classic, the Louisiana Super Derby, The Ruffian, the Woodbine Mile - all races that can have an impact on what will happen in November will pass the public by.  What about October 3rd at Belmont?  No less than than five Grade I stakes races will be run: The Jockey Club Gold Cup, The Beldame, Flower Bowl, Joe Hirsch Turf Classic and the Vosburgh.  Only already committed fans will see who will punch the last tickets to Santa Anita on that day on TVG/HRTV.  I personally think that ESPN is doing itself a disservice by not showcasing the major races on the road to the Breeder's Cup.  Racing has already proven it can get decent ratings, now help it build a following - you can only earn more advertising revenue!

Many other TBA Blogs have trumpeted the solid TV numbers for the Triple Crown.  Let's take a look at what was on TV in the months preceding the Run for the Roses: the Lane's End, the Florida Derby, the Illinois, Santa Anita and Arkansas Derbies, the Toyota Blue Grass and the Lexington. Seven Derby preps on general television.  The number of graded stakes that will have a bearing on who goes to the Breeder's Cup between the Belmont Stakes and Breeder's Cup Day?  One.  The Virginia Derby on CBS.  Could there possibly be a correlation between airing the prep races and folks tuning in for the main events?  Try it for the Breeder's Cup, ESPN and see - do you really HAVE to show the 2007 World Series of Poker again?

Boy that felt good to let go...  

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