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Thursday, March 03, 2005

Make Them Watch, and They Will Come

- ABC will televise the Santa Catalina and the Fountain of Youth starting at 5PM Eastern US time on Saturday. It’s always good when the sport gets on national TV. But besides you and me, and the rest of the people who would already see the race via their local racetracks or HRTV, who will watch? There is no real effort by the industry that I can see, really, to try and attract new fans to these telecasts, but there should be. In a recent post, I tried to make the point that it wasn’t another eon ago that people attended races in large numbers, and that I think it’s just human nature that people like to watch races, like when kids race down the street and people stop, pick out a favorite, and root. If you want further proof, next time you’re at a professional baseball or hockey football game, check out, during a time out (they do this at all the NY sports events and I presume it’s done elsewhere) when they have some kind of race on the video screen. At Yankee games, it’s between the three subway lines that run up to the Bronx. The PA announcer tells everyone to pick a train and off they go, and look and listen to how much people get into this! When it’s over, the PA guy goes “Congratulations!” and the winners high five, and what did they win? Nothing!! It’s just fun, that’s all, and people enjoy it.

So I think there should be an effort to give people a reason to tune in. Get them to have some kind of stake in the outcome. Run some kind of game based on a series of televised races - with no entry fee - perhaps some kind of scratch card game, or anything in which people are rooting for a horse to win the race at least, as well as exotic combos, and accumulate points that could translate into cash or prizes or how about a day at the races? A series of races like the Triple Crown and its preps, or, hopefully, the Thoroughbred Championship Tour would be perfect, because if people started seeing the same horses competing against each other, they could become familiar with them and form their own allegiances. But the important thing is just to give them the experience of having some action on the race, and the next step would hopefully be that they’ll check out the racetrack and become hopelessly addicted like the rest of us, LOL!

Feel free to email comments or questions.