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Author Topic: BC/Hawthorne Comment  (Read 1742 times)
APCD Dan
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« on: October 31, 2005, 05:56:50 PM »

It was mentioned in another thread that nothing much was said in this forum about the BC.  I will try to change that.  The BC day is not as important of an event in racing as it used to be.  A big reason for that is that it is now run in between regular races at the various tracks.  When the BC got started, the local track would run a few races before the BC and a few after it, but the track would only run the BC once it got started.  This has changed, even at Hawthorne.  The BC just becomes featured simulcast races like tracks used to run.  This works financially as I see Hawthorne had their highest handle ever.  The BC is only a bunch of good stakes races now and not a racing "event" like it was meant to be.  You can see this through the low BC TV ratings.  I guess it is all betting and not the Feature of the Fall that is important these days.
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edwardwilliam
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« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2005, 05:59:12 PM »

It was mentioned in another thread that nothing much was said in this forum about the BC.  I will try to change that.  The BC day is not as important of an event in racing as it used to be.  A big reason for that is that it is now run in between regular races at the various tracks.  When the BC got started, the local track would run a few races before the BC and a few after it, but the track would only run the BC once it got started.  This has changed, even at Hawthorne.  The BC just becomes featured simulcast races like tracks used to run.  This works financially as I see Hawthorne had their highest handle ever.  The BC is only a bunch of good stakes races now and not a racing "event" like it was meant to be.  You can see this through the low BC TV ratings.  I guess it is all betting and not the Feature of the Fall that is important these days.

Handled a record, but still good insight.

Realistically though, people don't have the patience these days to wait 45 minutes between races -- this reality, and the financial benefits, have probably changed the circumstances.

Best,
EW
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TommyCh
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« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2005, 06:18:10 PM »

All points well taken. My Breeders Cup experience is only in the last number of years. A big part of the problem is the inability to get all of the top horses to the races. Also, while I don't watch NBC much, I sure didn't see any promotion of the days events. but while it may not be as good as it used to be, or as it was intended, it's still the best we've got. I did notice Santa Anita did pause its races and ran as bookends to the Breeders Cup, much easier to do in California. I think the Breeders Cup is another victim of the deeper problems of the game as a whole. If you think about it, the most general publicity it has gotten in the past few years was on the Pick Six Fix. A shame.
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Horse Voice
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« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2005, 08:51:07 AM »

The BC day is not as important of an event in racing as it used to be.  A big reason for that is that it is now run in between regular races at the various tracks. When the BC got started, the local track would run a few races before the BC and a few after it, but the track would only run the BC once it got started.  This has changed, even at Hawthorne.  The BC just becomes featured simulcast races like tracks used to run.  This works financially as I see Hawthorne had their highest handle ever.  The BC is only a bunch of good stakes races now and not a racing "event" like it was meant to be.  You can see this through the low BC TV ratings.  I guess it is all betting and not the Feature of the Fall that is important these days.

I agree with the sentiment, Dan, but not your conclusions.

First: this is the same thing that I told my Dad (he was the "guest" I brought with), that they used to only run the BC races and the other tracks (respectfully, IMO) stood by. I liked it better that way too.

What I told my Dad was that I had learned my lessons well from previous BC days, and decided to ignore all of the other tracks running, except to cherry-pick races at Hawthorne. This, BTW, worked to perfection as I was more relaxed and focused, rather than trying to hit the P4 at some other track between the Sprint and the Mile. It helped that Keeneland only had 5 races, and the Santa Anita card was crud -- I didn't feel like I was missing anything anyway.

(I will also point out that if you review Illinois simulcasting statutes, nowhere does it say that we are *required* to bet every race, or even any race.)

Where I disagree with you, Dan, is the sentiment that the low TV ratings indicate that the BC must not be much of an "event" anymore: there was record handle at Hawthorne, record handle at Belmont, and total record BC handle -- wouldn't this indicate that there are possibly more people attending the races live or at a betting facility, instead of sitting on their butts at home watching TV...and betting zero? These big days are racing's best opportunity to create new fans, IMO.

Sure, statistics can be interpreted anyway you want to fit your premise -- but for the sake of racing, I hope mine is the correct one. We need more people betting the BC, and all other races -- not sitting at home watching it on the tube.
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« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2005, 10:05:40 AM »

I don't think that NBC promoted the event as much this year as in past years, I know some very casual fans and they said it snuck up on them and they didn't realize it was last weekend. Obviously the lack of promotion of the telecast by NBC would be due to this being the last year of the event before it moves over to ESPN - no sense building up something that you are about to lose.
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CLOCKERbiggestal
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« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2005, 12:22:50 PM »

I disagree. BC still a tremendous event. 54,000+ on track.
all the good hosses left standing. on track handle sets record.
Lots og good to great races. Plenty of value for the bettors.
(and a all-euro turf tri) **LOL**

Looking forward to Churchill next year. Grin
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APCD Dan
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« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2005, 03:04:25 PM »


Sure, statistics can be interpreted anyway you want to fit your premise -- but for the sake of racing, I hope mine is the correct one. We need more people betting the BC, and all other races -- not sitting at home watching it on the tube.

First, it is good to argue with you on something other than Hawthorne vs Arlington.  Yes, the handles were great but they came from dedicated horse racing fans and not newbies.  If our goal is to reenergize the fan base at this time of the year, then the BC was a success.  If the goal of the BC is to produce a Fall equilvalent to the TC which draws general coverage, then I think the BC is failing in that respect.  The BC is bascially designed now for the hard core fans and the switch to ESPN recognizes that theory.
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Thomas Graham
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« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2005, 11:33:35 PM »

Dan:

I disagree with you on two points.  First, when the BC first started back in '84, Illinois was one of the few places to simulcast most of the races (5 in '84, 6 in '85 and then all 7 starting in '86).  Most tracks took one or two races (usually the Turf and Classic) and ran their own card as a whole.

Late 80s early 90s tracks began to take the whole BC card and bookend it with live races.  Problem with that was that it became a very long day, lots of overtime and most of the revenue went to the fine folks with names like Chip, Skip, and D. G.

Late in the 90s, LaD decided to slot their races between BC races and then I think Hawthorne followed suit in '98 or '99 and saw an immediate spike in business.  Others followed.  The only tracks that don't do it now are tracks in the BC rotation and a couple of other tracks hoping to get into the rotation, which from what I understand the BC more or less mandates.

Tracks like HAW, LaD, etc., that have no chance of having a BC have decided to do what's best for their bottom line, and who can blame them in this competitive market.  Hawthorne did $6.5 million on their Saturday card with no stakes race.

As far as the ESPN angle, this is 2005 and 90% or more of the country has basic cable,  Being on ESPN is not all that different from being on the network as far as potential number of homes reached.  For goodness sake baseball playoffs, basketball playoffs, MNF starting next year are on ESPN --- it's not exactly like being on the Outdoor Life Network (sorry NHL).

Regards,
Thomas Graham
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Jim C
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« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2005, 12:36:52 AM »

The move to ESPN will help a lot in MHO. First the broadcast wont have to be wedged in between other sporting events like it has in past years due to commitments network TV often has. Second ESPN will do far more promotion of the BC then NBC as done in the past as they actively went after the event, its not like NBS wanted to drop it and the only one who wanted it was ESPN. Third since ESPN is owned by ABC there will be network cross promotion of the BC as well. All of these points will help increase awareness of the day and the event. Now the NTRA and racing in general needs to inform the general public just what the BC is, how hard it is to get there and what it means to win one of the BC races. I think the plans they are working on now, a number of races leading up to the BC day will help a lot in this regard.

I think all in all the BC series has been a success and will continue to grow in handle attendance and awareness.
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