Everyone Wants to be Appreciated

(Jason Moran)

NYRA announced a generous fan appreciation / boost attendance on a slow day giveaway called Thousand Dollar Thursday. On Thousand Dollar Thursdays there will be 15 $1,000 betting vouchers up for grabs to anyone who shows up to say “thank you” for making Saratoga such a smashing success.

“Thousand Dollar Thursday is our way of extending our appreciation to the finest horseracing fans in the world,” said NYRA Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Hal Handel. “Saratoga’s fans have helped to make this year a phenomenal success, despite a challenging economy, and we would like to take this opportunity to reward them with $15,000 worth of wagering on us.”

Beginning at 11 a.m. on the final Thursday of the meet, tickets will be distributed at the admissions booths of Saratoga Race Course and will be available to the public; track admission is not required.

While this makes a great press release and is certainly is an excellent gesture, it just seems to miss the mark on appreciating the folks who actually made the meet a success.

Sure, NYRA is going to make 15% off live handle compared to only 5% (if that) on simulcast/ADW, but that backyard is full of picnickers who might not wager much & bring their own food, yet they can win a $1k voucher & those of us who play remotely can’t? One of the things that makes Saratoga great AND an attraction are the giant payouts and EVERYONE who wagers contributes to that not just anyone who shows up.

Midway through the meet on the on-track handle was up a whopping 12.3% compared to the all sources handle “only” up 4.8% (how many tracks would kill for a 4.8% increase?). As of last week the numbers were still up with on-track being up 3.2% to all sources up 1% but according to a press release sent out today but not yet posted at on their site, the numbers are finally down a little after a horribly rainy week.

Attendance and handle turned fractionally down for the first time during the 2009 Saratoga Race Course meet after two inches of rain Friday night and Saturday lowered attendance on Shadwell Travers Day and forced seven of the weekend’s 11 carded turf races off the turf. Attendance is down 1.6 percent, on-track handle down 1.6 percent, and all-sources handle down 2.8 percent from 2008 totals through Week Five.

While the on-track handle has contributed more to the success of the meet, it’s not like all sources wasn’t up too. Why not make a couple of vouchers available to folks who wager with NYRA Rewards remotely?

I would even argue that the way to make sure people who contributed to the success reap the benefit is to make it only available to NYRA Rewards wagerers regardless of where they’re wagering from. Sure this makes the whole thing more complicated but it keeps John & Jane Layabout who came out once for a hat (and left promptly) from turning up Thursday without even paying admission and getting a big fat voucher. I don’t have a NYRA Rewards account but I might be inclined to open one for a shot at winning a $1k voucher every now and again.

And now for the bigger question, how many of those vouchers are gonna be used on $1000 to win tickets on Rachel come Saturday?