Monthly Archives: August 2008

Stay Classy

Channing Hill gets his first G1 win aboard the classy First Defence in the Forego (~ RAYMOND)

I didn’t do too much handicapping for today but it turned out to be exacta day at GbG manor! I did the 8th & 9th with a 5 minute look at the Woodward.

The 8th was fantastic, a classy baby race featuring Hello Broadway, a half to GbG fav Nobiz Like Showbiz owned by Elizabeth Valando, trained by Tagg with Coa up. In addition to liking Hello Broadway I also really liked Imperial Council and Fast Draw.

If I did any super noticing this weekend (and I really don’t think I did), it was that Mushka & Country Star, both Empire Makers, were fantastic as 2yos. I thought Imperial Council, by Empire Maker, was training well but it was the Empire Maker thought + looking good in the parade that sold me. Fast Draw had also been training well since his last start and I was hoping he would improve on his 3rd try.

I think the 8th could have been the most exciting race of the ones I watched. Hello Broadway & Imperial Council looked professional dueling in the lane. Just when it looked like Imperial Council, at 20-1, might power on by, Hello Broadway dug in and put his neck in front for the well earned win. The show horse, Ruler’s Vision, is a half to War Pass. Have they officially retired War Pass yet? My exacta would have been oh so much more fulfilling if Imperial Council would have held off Hello Broadway but I’ll be keeping an eye out for both of these classy babies nonetheless.

In the Forego, I really liked First Defence but thought Lucky Island looked pretty hard to beat. I also liked Eternal Star and Ferocious Fires and played all of them in varying priced exacta boxes. I couldn’t believe it when Lucky Island broke so horribly, but he did pour it on and manage to get himself in the race. Annoyingly Greeley’s Conquest blew what would have been an excellent paying exacta by edging Ferocious Fires… damn!! But I was happy to see the classy First Defence really strut his stuff by setting some impressive fractions and winning by 6+ lengths. Also, congrats to Channing Hill for his first G1 win!

In the Woodward I threw out Divine Park, more for the distance than coming off a break, and Out of Control for the surface. I’ve always really liked Wanderin’ Boy and A.P. Arrow but Past The Point was more intriguing to me coming off a win at the distance and having a nice looking prep work. Loose Leaf was also coming off a win at the distance but I didn’t think his works were as nice even though his last race a touch classier.

I put Curlin over all of the above, boxed them all sans Curlin in case the HOY had a (un)Lucky Island like scenario. I also put them all over Curlin (and wouldn’t I have felt pretty darn smart if Past The Point would have held on to win!).

Was it just me or did it look like Garcia and Johnny V. did a bit of race riding in the first turn? It looked like a Divine Park, Curlin, Out of Control ice cream sandwich! Curlin was able to get himself in a good position and like always he came on when asked. Robby looked a little panicky when Curlin wasn’t easily taking over Pass The Point but the Horse of the Year got the job done like the classy pro he is. I’d love to see him back at Belmont for the JCGC next month!

Speaking of Nobiz, Adriano finally came back to form winning the Kent Stakes, a race Nobiz won last year. I was annoyed when Adriano’s connections caught Derby fever after his win in the Lane’s End. It took him until now get back to his best form on the turf, but he came back with classy style winning with an exciting late run get up just in time. Welcome back Adriano, stay classy!

Beaten To The Punch

Friend and colleague Railbird has beaten me to the punch with her current post about NYRA’s Curlin’s Corner.

It’s great to see them trying! Actual marketing coming from NYRA is definitely forward motion of the welcome variety. However, the implementation leaves a lot to be desired. Perhaps this is like their 2yo campaign, they’re all heart but they’re not switching leads and they need a lot more schooling the in the gate.

If I had NYRA in my imaginary internet training barn, here’s what we’d work on…

1. PDFs Are Not Interactive.

The only thing PDFs are really good for are take aways, got something you want someone to print out? That’s when you use a PDF, but things like the nice image of Curlin with the riff on a map (Fan’s Guide to Curlin) would be better suited as a little flash thingie where the user can roll over each area to be shown the the info (you know, interactive).

2. Pop Ups Are Bad.

There’s a reason why every browser comes with pop-up blockers… to block them. People block them because they usually contain annoying, ugly unwanted ads. Content belongs in parent window of the browser… it’s ok to make a mini site with individual sections for pictures, race replays, etc. Not everything has to fit in one page.

3. Embedding Videos – all the kids are doing it.

It’s easier for a user to view all the videos on one page. When you have a list that points to another site, the user has to toggle back and forth between the list and the window with the videos. Make it easy on them, give them one page with all of the videos embedded, it’s not like he’s raced THAT much.

4. Check Your Work!

Not all people viewing your site are using the same browser as you. They don’t all have the same screen resolution either. In an ideal world your site should look roughly the same in every browser/platform combo but at the very least the images shouldn’t be broken in any combination!

If they’re serious about training we think they can improve next out. They act like they wanna run so we’re keeping an eye on them!

Update: NYRA is training forwardly as they’ve addressed their issues in Firefox. Keep up the good work!

Ask and You Shall be Given

Chantal Sutherland at the Big A in 2007 (lensjockey)

Greetings my new Canadian friends in search of Chantal Sutherland photos!

Was there an all points bulletin released today alerting Canadians that the internet has hot pictures of Chantal Sutherland? Did the national morning news compel all Canadians to scour the internet for pictures of the lovely lady jock?

I’ve had quite the traffic spike today… not Equidaily or Paulick picking up on my new poll, but Canadians in search of Chantal Sutherland imagery.

If you have arrived here via yahoo, google and/or your favorite internet search mechanism and haven’t made it over to Flickr yet, seek and ye shall find.

New Poll, Who Should the NTRA Market To?

Who do you think makes a good potential racing fan? (mike fischer)

In keeping with the theme of the last poll, I want to probe the inner depths of your thoughts on marketing further. Just who do you think horse racing should be marketed to?

Considering that the majority of you answered the last poll, how should the NTRA attract new fans, with “Marketing would help”, who do you think would be the best market segment to go after? Sports fans, thrill seekers, puzzle solvers, day trippers, known gamblers, millennials… all of them? Anyone I’m forgetting?

Here’s how the votes broke out in the last poll:

Marketing – 16

Early retirement – 14

Customer service at tracks – 10

TV coverage – 10

Lower take out – 9

Access to watch/wager – 6

Mainstream fantasy racing – 4

Better communication with fans – 3

Standings – 2

Redesign – 1

Thanks to all who contributed in the last poll both by voting and commenting! I got several hits on the previous poll’s post from the NTRA today, so it appears as though they are reading & listening!

I also encourage you to go to Self Appointed Fan Committee to submit your ideas, rants and praise for the industry. We’ll deliver the message for you + by compiling all of the ideas and rants in one place, anyone can use the data for research, to help with their own projects or even just pleasure reading!

What a Day!

Colonel John after winning the Santa Anita Derby (Charles Pravata)

Congrats to Colonel John, Visionaire, Shakis, Porte Bonheur and Alan Garcia on great days! I’d like to particularly thank Visionaire and Desert Key as I had the win and exacta tickets in the King’s Bishop (and almost the tri!).

I’m a sure a few of my west coast pals (you know who are you) are celebrating Colonel John finally showing the rest of us that he’s not a one trick pony. But perhaps they’re not celebrating as much as trainer Eion Harty plans on celebrating tonight!

And how about Visioniare emerging from the fog, so to speak, as a classy sprinter? The best thing about the day was having 4 exciting stakes races packed with well matched horses fighting right down to the wire, unless of course you one of the lucky folks who hit some of the crazy payouts earlier in the day. For the rest of us only moderately folks, that was one damn fine day of racing!

1.5 Million Dollar Super Payout!!!

Start Handicapping for tomorrow’s carryover! The first leg of Saratoga’s pick 6 is off to a rockin’ start with Slambino ($179) winning at 88-1! Blazing Dynamo placed at 20-1 and Key Event showed at 37-1!

I thought the 4th race payouts were high but these were sick!

$2 Exacta – $2,565

$2 Tri – $105,914

$2 Super – $1,523,188

$.10 Super – $76, 165

Midnight Rambler

Macho Again after winning the Jim Dandy (superterrific)

According to Raceday360, Macho Again had a bit of a late night last night, however it sounds low key compared to some of his previous antics. Perhaps his name should be Rowdy Again, or he should swap names with Wanderin’ Boy!

Yours truly has only taken the most cursory of glances at the Travers (and no glances at the other races) but it looks to be a real honest to god horse race… how exciting!

Best of luck to everyone today, and here’s the only hot tip I have to offer this weekend… go to Twitter, sign up (if you’re not already) and follow Raceday360. You can follow by RSS or even get it sent to your phone… Jessica will be dispatching reports all weekend via Twitter (otherwise known as tweets), just like this Macho Again tidbit. If you can be there yourself, why not feel like it?

Ginger Punch By a Nose

Ginger Punch & Rafael Bejarano crushing the field in 2008 Go For Wand (Sarah K. Andrew)

Ginger Punch just head bobbed an impressive Lemon Drop Mom out of an upset (and the crowd went wild, natch!).

Congrats and thanks to the champ & Lemon Drop Mom for a super exciting race. And hear, hear for connections challenging their horses!

New Poll, Marketing to New Fans

How does one go about creating new fans anyway? (E-BAD)

The rumor is true, I’m 42… oh, and I’m on the “newly created marketing task force” empaneled by Social Sphere and NTRA.

In addition to the folks mentioned by name and age in the press release, fellow TBA-ers Superfecta and Alan are involved as well as Alex Brown with an occasional guest appearance by Derek Simon. I’m not entirely sure if the other folks who don’t have web presences want their names out there so I will just say that there are few other bright and passionate folks on the team (and add their names if they mention it’s ok).

We’ve been asked to “Develop a plan to market the sport to a new generation of fans”.

Over the course of about six weeks, the group will be spending dozens of hours meeting, debating, and challenging each other’s assumptions — the results of which they will present to the industry at the NTRA Marketing Summit.

The emphasis is mine. Debating? Check. Challenging each other’s assumptions? Check. You can’t get a bunch of bloggers in a virtual room without there being some disagreement, although it seems by the press release that this is by design. The good news is (not that there’s any bad news) that there’s no shortage of ideas!

One would think it’s easy to answer that question the way we all hold forth on our blogs, taking about how the industry should do this and the industry should do that. Putting it all together in a cohesive plan (as a group) is another story.

So, dear readers, if the NTRA called you up and said “Hey, tell me how you would create new fans… and guess what, you can’t spend any money on it”, what would you recommend?

Should tracks focus on getting their customer service act together? Should there just generally be better communication with fans? Would the ability to watch and wager on all tracks woo new folks to the siren song of horse racing? Would better TV coverage do the trick? How about stopping early retirement or redesigning… or having more mainstream fantasy horse racing? Would having standing save us? Hey, there’s always marketing (but to who? We’ll try to answer that in our next poll!).

Feel free to pontificate, share, hold forth, share photos of burned muffins and/or spout off in the comments (you know, the usual).

In our last poll it was a dead heat, 15/15 for Music Note in Travers vs. The Alabama… ultimately I’m glad she ran in the Alabama but am bummed there will be no rematch with Proud Spell (should this sort of thing be in the poll too?).

As always, thanks for sharing!

Update: many thanks to everyone for sharing your thoughts and ideas! Thanks to Equidaily and Paulick for the links as well!

I highly encourage you to go to Self Appointed Fan Committee and submit your ideas and rants there as well. We compile monthly reports and send them directly to the places most appropriate for the idea or rant (NTRA, various tracks, AGSC, TVG, Jockey Club, etc). Who knows what we’ll end up with as a presentation, but by submitting to SAFC you’re ideas are being sent directly to the folks who could do something about it!