- Too busy to blog much today, so I'd like to promote a couple of interesting discussions in the comments section to the front page. Steve in NC suggests that track operators could save some money by cutting back on the purses for graded stakes races. Seems counterintuitive on first glance, but it does make some sense:
When big purses ballooned years ago, it didn't produce any greater public attention for the sport or motivation for horsemen to run their nags more often -- it is just a hugely inflated jackpot for the most successful. Since most of the value to be gained in racing is to boost sire value, a cut in top stakes purses could save tracks $$ without hurting the sport.And another, anonymous commenter adds:
Since it is so highly taxed, on gross reciepts like utilities, [the industry] should operate as one, setting all graded stakes purses the same, say 250000 for a G1, 200 G2, 100 G3 etc. No other purses would be allowed above 75k.He/she also adds that the tracks need to get together and set higher rates for their simulcast signals. I'm not sure how anti-trust regulators would react to plans such as that.
The money saved would be divided between the operators and the overnight purse account, rewarding the parties that put on the day to day operations.
Against everything I believe in, but the major league tracks simply can not survive while competing against each other. The profit margin is too small.
But I must say that the purse amounts for stakes races is completely meaningless to me. I don't get the least bit juiced about a particular race because it's being run for $750,000 instead of $250,000. Personally, I wouldn't care less if the Derby was run for $24; and I don't think many other fans or horsemen would either.
But in general, an initiative of this sort would be contingent on the industry-wide cooperation and "commissioner of racing" we often talk about, but never see. It wouldn't work if there were holdouts still seeking to attract particular horses with high purses or outsized bonuses. It is, I suppose, a surrender to the notion that the big money is made in the breeding shed, and an opposing view to those who feel that purses should be raised in order to detract from that prevailing trend. But I don't see any signs that bigger purses could halt the march to the breeding shed, and it's clear that many if not most tracks couldn't afford the kinds of purses that would be needed to make it happen.
And, while tracks are busy cooperating, they could also work on coordinating stakes schedules to avoid overlap. That would also involve reducing the number of stakes races, as Kennedy discussed in his Corridor last week.
Also some interesting discussion following up on my post about Bellamy Road in this discussion thread, and I'll try and get to that in more detail soon. But for now, back to work..