April 18, 2012
I recently returned from a short trip to Kentucky, where friends and I were able to attend the races at Keeneland on Friday. Keeneland, like Saratoga, is open only for a limited time each year (there, for two three-week meets, once in the spring and once in the fall). Despite the lack of VLT revenues, the purses were high, the quality of the racing was good, the facility was beautiful and — most important — the stands were full.
Good quality racing at a meet of limited duration seems to work at Keeneland, Saratoga, Del Mar, Monmouth, Gulfstream and other venues. I think it’s a lesson NYRA should take to heart.
April 18, 2012
In this TU blog post, members of the Franchise Board expressed doubt and displeasure at the way NYRA has been using (or not using) the VLT money. This could increase the pressure on the Legislature to redirect this money to other uses. If it does, NYRA will have no one to blame but itself.
How about some real outreach to new, younger customers? How about cutting the takeout, which has crept up over the years? How about free admission, like the casinos offer? In other words, how about doing something for the fans, rather than just increasing purses for the horsemen, which in large part means subsidizing further already over inflated purses for lousy horses?
Whether racing can survive in the face of overwhelming competition from other sporting events and gambling opportunities is an open question; whether it needs to do more than it has been doing to have even a chance is not.