Power Cap

Power cap- existential handicapping

03 June 2009

Racing Gaining Appeal As Breeding Game Loses Its Allure

Frank from California brings up an excellent point in his comments under the Commish post from earlier this week.

The whole problem revolves around the good horses being retired to soon. In other sports you have the same headliners year after year. Fans can't wait to see the favorite in action,
Racing, it has to re-invent itself every yesr. You remember John Henry, had a big following, was a household name. Why, how long did he race, and win. You seen the following Curlin was attracting -- then gone!
The high powers of racing are to stupid to realize, or, understand what the fan wants. Their only thought is money in their own pocket. There has been blame put in every area but the right one. Synthetic tracks, medications, standardization, they all miss the mark. Actually they have been created to take the focus off the real problem, early retirement. The people at the top are the one's killing racing through their own greed, and stupidity. You start out with a wrong premise -- synthetic tracks, medications, standardization --- you wind up with wrong answers and conclusions.
Frank Lancelotti

Frank is unquestionably on the money when he says that fast tracking stakes to the breeding shed have diminished the appeal of horse racing. Smarty Jones was an absolute powerhouse for the game but his time was too short to make a lasting impact. Where some people divert from reality is blaming selfish owners or thinking that some mighty commissioner type could do something about this. A commissioner would be impotent in the realm of dictating horse retirement in an economic climate of a highly lucrative breeding game.

This is not a micro-control issue, it is a macro-economic self interest issue. There is no commissioner or league office that could dictate terms to an owner. What kind of society would allow a commissioner or tyrannical government to force owners to act against their own self interest for the collective good of the game? Hopefully not the United States. While the major ball sport leagues are dealing with a few dozen owners racing is made up of thousands if not tens of thousands of owners. These owners have a right to their self interest and are free to do what is best for their personal self interest. It is a testament to the game that it has survived two decades of owners self interest being in direct opposition to what is in the games collective best interest. Colt after colt retired early, robbing the game of stars and story lines. You may not realize it yet but the era of the breeding tail wagging the racing tail is over.

Now that the economic bubble has burst and the dollar is actively being debased the breeding game has lost much of its economic appeal. Marginal stakes winners that could have had a successful niche at stud will no longer find success. Stud fees are dropping and foal totals are down. A change that would taken a racing commissioner decades to accomplish has now quickly become reality on the winds of changing times. It is time for racing to carpe diem. A strengthened position will yield dividends.

Everyone should be bullish on the racing game as it is now more attractive to keep that top colt racing through the four year old season than in any other time in the last twenty years. Stakes racing on TV is trouncing ball sport playoff games. The market for stud horses is saturated and is in retreat. Racing is one brilliant colt or filly away from capturing the imagination of the masses. If that colt, filly or gelding remains in training for more than one season we could find the game on the S.I. cover frequently and discussed at the water cooler. Ball sports have peaked. There is a growing backlash against high ticket prices. Racing is an attractive economic option is these times. With relatively inexpensive admission cost and potential for gambling fun racing can look forward to growth in the next few years while ball sports and their tired formulas fail. A perfect storm of favorable economic conditions combined with a little bit of luck is all racing needs to cycle back to the mainstream.


Anonymous said...


We have just added your latest post "Racing Gaining Appeal As Breeding Game Loses Its Allure" to our Directory of Sports . You can check the inclusion of the post here . We are delighted to invite you to submit all your future posts to the directory and get a huge base of visitors to your website.

Warm Regards

Sportstrove.info Team


hoist the flag said...

I agree with your fundemental premise that early retirement to the breeding shed is a huge detriment. I am hopeful that you turn out to be right that the economic downturn will reverse the trend, but I don't see that happening.
As you describe it, "Marginal stakes winners that could have had a successful niche at stud will no longer find success." The marginal stakes winners are not the horses that fire the public's imagination. There will always be top dollar for the Smarty Joneses, Curlins, etc. While the top may not be as astronomical as it had been in the past, it will still be more than enough to lure the best performers away from risking injury to compete for relatively small (by comparison) purses. (By the way, purses are not immune from the downtown either.)
I strongly disagree with your views concerning a league office. Yes, the ownershave a right to their personal self interest, but so do the other elements of the industry. To transform their investments in horseflesh into multi-million dollar studs, the owners can't just run their horses on their own farms, they need to enter them in major stakes races run at tracks. If the tracks determine that it is in the tracks' personal financial interest not just to have a horse around for a single major stake, but impose a rule that if you enter a horse in the Derby, for example, you must run that horse back at Churchill as a 4 year old (barring legitimate health issues). The owner can then decide whether his own self interest is best served by running his horse around his driveway, or entering it in the top races pursuant to whatever economic conditions the offerors of those races impose.
A league office does not keep owners from pursuing their own self interest. It simply may change the nature of the activities that will ultimately best serve their own interests.

SaratogaSpa said...

If racing is smart they will also take this time to deliver better service, such as more online streaming and better service at the tracks. NYRA can start by really pushing the customer service this weekend at The Belmont Stakes

G. C. said...

Good point Spa. It seems like NYRA had their backs against the wall and have been pushed to give their customers more of everything. The NYRA of 2009 is much better customer service provider than the NYRA of 2002 before all of the political persecutions.

Last years Belmont was a near a disaster with logistical issues. According to NYRA they have invested in the property and fixed the plumbing and electrical issues that ruined the Belmont experience for so many.

hoist the flag said...

Sorry for running off so much at the mouth, but I just had to chime in to agree with SaratogaSpa. Racing really needs to convert those folks who show up only to big events into return customers. NYRA is a big offender in this category with its customer service that is second to all.
Leaving aside having no bathrooms during last year's Belmont, how hard is it to convince tellers to stop the conversations between themselves and just take care of the customer standing at the window? Once they get into a good conversation with each other, the tellers couldn't care less that customers are waiting. How hard is it to find waitstaff that doesn't disappear once you are seated at a table (not to mention food that isn't as godawful as what is served in all of NYRA's restaurants)? The racing is great. If fans come and have a good time, they will come back. Unless they already have a burning desire to participate in the sport, though, NYRA's customer "service" will keep them away.