What a Horseplayer Wants

In advance of the Standardbred Wagering Conference (April 28 to April 30) at Caesars Windsor, I’ve summed up some of the things horseplayers, from my experience, want from racing and its stakeholders.

Camera crew – Allow us to watch our horse every step of the mile and see him in context with the rest of the field. Leave the close-ups, extreme shots and Hollywood ambitions at home. We won’t question your directorial talents if you respect the bland, purposeful way we like to watch a race.

Charters – From you we need perfection and consistency from track to track.

Program printers – We pay double for the Daily Racing Form not for the articles but for the information. In harness racing, give us extra and we’ll bet more.

Marketing executives – You may not consider us your target market but you’re missing out. Tell us about your carryovers, low takeout rates and big pool sizes. What we can bring you in revenue just by choosing to purchase your program may equal 50 newcomers who buy into your catchy new slogan.

Race secretaries - Three words: “Large, competitive fields.”

Starters – When it’s zero minutes to post, we expect 60 seconds before the race starts. Don’t start the gate or wait 10 minutes to get it rolling – both are frustrating.

The tellers – A smile and fast, reliable fingers.

Drivers – Drive to win and if in doubt, pull off the rail. It’s tough to swallow losing when your horse isn’t good enough. It’s unbearable when your 3-to-5 shot is blocked at the wire.

The horse – Change nothing. We sometimes get caught up in the game, but we sincerely appreciate everything about you.

Trainers – We can handicap a lot but our mind-reading skills need sharpening. If your horse is in-to-go, be in to GO.

Industry media and publicity – Give us the odd betting story or selection and don’t pretend everyone who attends the races is there to admire beautiful conformation. Betting is legal and we are adults.

The judges – Enforce the rules uniformly and explain to us what’s happening. We hold the same standards in you that you hold with your bank –- to safeguard our money, make responsible, fair decisions and to be honest and open with us. We’re very tough to please but can be quite reasonable.

Other horseplayers – Pretend to care about a fellow bettor’s hardluck defeat. You may not give a damn that he decided to save two bucks by not including the 9 for third. But that $5,000 tri he missed will haunt him for a month, so the least you can do is humour him.

Non-horseplayers – A $50 loss at the track is no less respectable than the “correction” that cost your portfolio $50,000 last week. As long as our gambling remains reasonable, don’t look down on it.

And the track operators – Would you invest in the stock market if your broker took $2,500 off the top from every $10,000 you invested? If not, then re-evaluate the takeout. Rather than explaining why rate cuts hurt your business, be creative. Start by offering one low-takeout bet a night and promote it aggressively. Advertising changed when Google began charging five cents a click. Music changed when Apple’s itunes began billing 99 cents a song. Classified sales changed when Ebay started charging a few dollars to reach the world. Horse racing will change when stakeholders appreciate why Google, Apple and Ebay are successful at what they do.

Remember, horseplayers also want racing to be ­successful.

Please feel free to add to my list or suggest changes by emailing us at [email protected].

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