Monday, March 11, 2013

Canterbury Works to Educate New Fans on Wagering

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to participate in a class at Canterbury Park that is offered each week they call Canterbury College.  Canterbury College is a program designed by Canterbury Park for novice handicappers to help teach them basics of handicapping and beyond.  The program has been in place for several years and is a great way to bring fans to the race track and give them the confidence to wager.  The program is held over 6 Sundays from February to April and is free to enroll and includes course materials (including Brad Free’s “Handicapping 101” book) and lunch.  Enrollment this off-season was about 170 students looking to take advantage of the opportunity.

I was there ostensibly to talk about horse ownership and the Canterbury Racing Club but hosts Track Announcer Paul Allen (Twitter: @PAKFANVikes) and Media Relations Manager Jeff Maday (Twitter: @CBYTrackFlack) graciously allowed me to share the podium with them for the three hour class.

We tackled 4 races, 3 at Tampa Bay Downs and 1 from Hawthorne and the three of us would handicap the race aloud, taking the group through the thought process of how we break down races trying to find winners answering questions as they came up.  We’d explain all the terminology with nothing being too basic.  As the race was run, Paul (the best kept secret in track announcing in America) would take the class through the race, pointing out horses that were being ridden hard, traveling easily or otherwise having trouble.  When the race was done, we’d spend a few minutes breaking down the winner and pointing out what we may have missed or what may have contributed to that particular horse winning the race.

I know that many tracks during the season have brief “welcome to the races” sessions, but I don’t know of any that go through as much effort during the off-season as Canterbury does to court new players and educate them on how to tackle the game.  As I was telling a few of the students as I left the track, this game is like a puzzle and once you can start figuring things out, there is a lot of beauty and satisfaction in figuring out a race correctly.

I can honestly say I don’t know when I have had that much fun.  The students were great and seeing that many people so interested in the learning the game I love so much was heartening.  The give and take with Jeff and Paul was also enjoyable.  We didn’t always agree, but that’s part of the fun: differing opinions make for a more lively exchange.

Thanks to Paul and Jeff for the invite and a big thank you to all the students that come out every few weeks to learn the racing game.

No comments: