Whoever Crosses the Line First Wins

Jackson Bend Forego Stakes Remote
Jackson Bend crosses the line first, is that so difficult to understand? (budmeister)

Like a good Friday night news dump, I thought I’d quietly start blogging again. When one doesn’t blog for awhile, the blog comeback starts to feel insurmountable. I’ve certainly made copious notes for multiple posts on “big issues” that have come up, but usually ended up ventilating some of those thoughts on Twitter. After a bout with Twitter crabbiness I’ve decided to bring my chat capital back here, to the land paragraphs. I haven’t abandoned Twitter, I’m just adjusting my outputs to more appropriate channels (or something like that… I miss blogging, OK?).

But back to that insurmountable return, one of the not-published posts was about the McKinsey report (pdf). Well, not so much about the report as some of the reaction, or potential reaction by industry executives. Watching a few minutes of US Open last night reminded me of a point I wanted to make. Page 25 in the McKinsey presentation deck is entitled “Existing fans feel racing is inaccessible to new fans due to its complexity” which included the factoid “19% of fans say they don’t bet because the types of bets you can make are too complicated.”

One of my pet peeves about racing is what I like to call the “can’t do attitude”, everything is a detractor or liability versus a selling point. “Racing is too hard to understand” is one of those fallacies. Whichever horse crosses the line first wins. Could it be more simple? An alien could land and figure out what’s going on. Making a win bet really doesn’t have a learning curve much beyond saying “$2 to win on [insert horse number].” Compare that to figuring out what’s going on in football, baseball or tennis. Those of us who grew up in the U.S. are indoctrinated into football and baseball but let’s talk about tennis. 40-love? Aces? And which lines are actually out of bounds? I have no clue, and it hasn’t hampered my ability to enjoy a little tennis every once and while. What’s more, it doesn’t seem like tennis is scrambling to dumb itself down in order attract more fans (although they do seem to be scrambling to create more players).

So what about racing? Just because a potential fan isn’t going to understand a trifecta part-wheel doesn’t mean all is lost, or worse, that we have to dumb everything down. Focus newbies on simple strategies, and make it easy for them to learn as the go (disclosure: I run a company trying to do just that! You probably knew that). Stop renaming races (I love you Distaff!) and start embracing and building on our strengths, not assuming what we have is “too hard.” Whoever crosses the line first wins. Try and make that more simple. You can’t.