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Author Topic: AP Looking Better  (Read 5670 times)
Ed
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« on: February 01, 2006, 01:15:21 PM »

I recently returned from Florida and 2 days at Gulfstream. It's certainly a marvelous simulcast facility and all ready for slots. As far as a race track goes, I was disappointed. Someone's already called it the Taj Mahal. That's exactly what it reminds me of. A Las Vegas casino with a racetrack out back. The paddock is out of public view  and open to connections only. The only free seating is 900 "stadium" seats surrounding the walking ring. There are only 900 outdoor grandstand seats facing the track with half reserved for horsemen/owners. The other 450 are available to the public for $10. There really is no where for someone to sit peacefully in the sun, have a beer and enjoy the races. Even if by TVs/monitors. Anyway, after this trip, I have a greater appreciation for AP with its paddock, grandstand, park and apron seating. The $6 to get in doesn't look so bad now.

When I return to Floridia next winter, I'll be visiting Tampa Bay Downs after going to GP for years.

Ed
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pjcleve
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« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2006, 11:59:48 PM »

Ed,
   I agree with your comments on the new Gulfstream - I was there the second week of January and the physical facility is much nicer, though much smaller. The expansive park-like grounds of the old track are gone - it's mostly concrete. Even with the significant interior upgrade, Gulfstream stilll falls far short of Arlington for overall ambiance. I did like the free seating surrounding the walking ring, but the saddling underneath the track out of the public's view sucks. (Helloooo Hawrthorne South). Anyone who goes to GP will certainly miss/appreciate Arlington's abundance of free seats. What is truly ironic and in some ways tragic, GP is steering its customers indoors in a location that begs to capitalize on the outdoors ie Florida in the winter (typical racetrack management illlogic). The GP flimsy track program is typical of most in that it's contains name, pg number and ML. Arlington's program which is included free with admission is far more comprehensive and still the best of any track that I've been to. Finally, I watched/wagered on an average of 4-5 maiden and bottom rung claimers every day at GP - so to all the AP bashers out there please don't tell me how much worse AP's racing is - it isn't. While I was at GP the "crowds were no more than 5K-8K, what a shame. Having said all that, it still was great being in South Florida in mid January under sunny skies and high 70's watching my favorite pasttime and I'll be returning in Feb over President's Day weekend. Hopefully the place will eventually become more popular with racegoers, before the influx of influx of slot players.
 
      I also spent the week after Christmas visiting my daughter in Valencia, CA and managed to attend Santa Anita several times. I've been there before and it hasn't changed - put that decaying facility in Illinois and it's Hawthorne West. The racing is clearly superior to anything our way though. Most of you who are familiar with my previous posts know that I think there is no finer racetrack facility-wise than Arlington. Havng just returned from two of the so-called best, my opinion is firmer and I can't wait for the first week in May for AP's opening to get here.     

Pete
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CLOCKERTERRY
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« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2006, 12:21:05 AM »

Geez ... I don't think anyone here complains about the Arlington facility itself, do they?

However, since you brought it up ...

When you're reduced to a position of saying how nice your racetrack is, it reminds me of those loser Cub fans who, in the face of another stinko losing year by the pathetic baseball team on the field (you know, baseball, the thing you buy the ticket to see), start telling you how much they love Wrigley Field.

"Think I'll go to Wrigley today. Mmmmm, yeah. The ivy, the bleachers, the history, the smell of the popcorn and stale Old Style. The Cubs? I really don't care. No really, I don't. If they win that's okay, and if they lose that's okay. I'm going to see Wrigley. Really! No, I'm not a liar!"

Right.
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Horse Voice
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« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2006, 12:51:51 AM »

Geez ... I don't think anyone here complains about the Arlington facility itself, do they?

However, since you brought it up ...

When you're reduced to a position of saying how nice your racetrack is, it reminds me of those loser Cub fans who, in the face of another stinko losing year by the pathetic baseball team on the field (you know, baseball, the thing you buy the ticket to see), start telling you how much they love Wrigley Field.

"Think I'll go to Wrigley today. Mmmmm, yeah. The ivy, the bleachers, the history, the smell of the popcorn and stale Old Style. The Cubs? I really don't care. No really, I don't. If they win that's okay, and if they lose that's okay. I'm going to see Wrigley. Really! No, I'm not a liar!"

Right.


Thanks for the clarity, Terry. Six horse fields suck, no matter how nice the facility. This is something the AP-huggers like Pete and APCD Dan will never admit -- as long as it's at AP, they could be betting on three fat dancing girls and a one-legged *** playing a kazoo, and they wouldn't care a bit. Lost causes, both of 'em -- neither would know how to bet full fields like those offered at Hawthorne if they had tomorrow's newspaper today.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2006, 12:58:14 AM by Horse Voice » Report to moderator   Logged
APCD Dan
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« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2006, 03:14:34 PM »

Thanks for the clarity, Terry. Six horse fields suck, no matter how nice the facility. This is something the AP-huggers like Pete and APCD Dan will never admit -- as long as it's at AP, they could be betting on three fat dancing girls and a one-legged *** playing a kazoo, and they wouldn't care a bit. Lost causes, both of 'em -- neither would know how to bet full fields like those offered at Hawthorne if they had tomorrow's newspaper today.

That's true for me for Hawthorne.  In fact, January and the first half of February are a pleasant break for me from Hawthorne, especially January when AP was the simulcast host and there was no juice.  Strange though, I do OK at Tampa which has the same level of racing as Hawthorne, or just maybe they have better horses down there now.  Hawthorne Voice, you are a funny guy, keep the jokes coming!
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edwarren
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« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2006, 03:21:03 PM »

Not wanting to get in your face, but I thought you wrote you evened at tampa.

Me, I'm now CHOKING on chalk and looking forward to what's due once the table levels, I'm guessing.
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pjcleve
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« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2006, 05:18:23 PM »

HV and Terry,
   Hey here's a "radical" thought for you to digest and it comes from my 37 years as a fan of the sport and my witness to the significant change in the relative importance of three key ingredients of TB racing -handicapping, wagering, and following and identifying with its participants. It is this change I submit, that has significantly elevated the importance of the facility for on track attendees/fans. The quality of the facility will continue to grow in importance due to the advent of simulcasting, internet and home wagering. Frankly no one (ok you will, so make that few) will go to a dump to watch the races live anymore. On the other hand many more will go to an Arlington to watch "lower quality" racing because of the facility and overall ambiance. Believe me I don't defend the quality of racing at AP, it is what it is - pretty poor. But I don't want to get into another discussion as to why that is and who is to blame. I'm going to stick with addressing why AP has a much better chance of attracting newcomers to the sport and holding on to current fans than a track like Hawthorne.  

  When I first began following TB racing in college in 1968 through to the beginning of full scale simulcasting, the sport and the participants (specific horses/jockeys/trainers) contributed at least 3/4 to my interest, the betting aspects about a quarter. Sure the game was driven by wagering even then, and I was certainly highly attracted by that aspect, but the glamour of the sport wasn't confined to the BC, Triple Crown and the occasional really good Grade 1 event as it seems to be today. Many, many more of the horses were "special" whether they were claimers or stakes caliber and many more of the races and rivalries were significant. The track facility was not all that important to me - it did contribute to the enjoyment of the event, but certainly not that much. I regularly attended old Sportsman's Park and Hawthorne and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

   What has changed? Simulcasting and off track wagering have obviously become the primary drivers of the sport, our population highly prefers comfort and convenience, and it generally has a short attention span due to the multitude of entertainment options available. Horses are no longer names, they're numbers. The class/quality of the next race is almost meaningless to the simulcast bettor, it's more about wagering opportunity. That being the case, it really doesn't matter to many attendees whether AP has high quality races or large fields - they can play the on track races or bet simulcast. (I suspect most newcomers and non hard core fans don't even mind shorter fields because it's less complicated and easier to cash a bet). On track attendees are there to have a good time and whether you want to acknowledge it or not, they do. The facility and ambiance have thus become much more important in attracting new fans and holding on to current ones.

   Regrettably, we will never return to "the good old days" when the sport itself was more important than it is today. I truly wish it would, but it won't happen. That doesn't mean however one can't utilize it as a great entertainment option, and that's what I do. AP management has many faults and has made some very poor decisions over the years, but no more than most other tracks and track managements.
AP continues to be a great place to have a good time for core and non-core fans despite its "shortcomings" and that can't be said for the majority of racetracks. I'm willing to wager that in several years many tracks and racinos will either drop the sport or become vacant "studios" for broadcasting live racing, because of dwindling on track attendance and at-home betting. That includes Hawthorne. Others that attract fans to the track as an entertainment vehicle in addition to racing afficianados have a much better chance of surviving. I put AP in thar category.

Pete
 
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edwarren
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« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2006, 05:49:35 PM »

Well said. May i say this that the MEDIA is a strange self-promoting beast, constantly in search of revenue. They will extort, strong-arm, and blackmail in their search for advertising revenue, this is a fact.

If they feel a corporation, say, is not advertising enough, they send reporters out looking for a scandal and broadcast this on TV. Or they will, likewise, write an unfavorable article and send an exec over with a duplicate copy and with the threat they will print such story. The "client" usually gets the message, pretty quick.

I think local racing would benefit from more favorable exposure on television, highlighting the color of the sport, the personalities, etc., but it would take a commitment from racing. You know, this YUM thing is a perfect example, albeit not an exactly accurate one.

I guess you could call it "product placement." If you watch Broadcast TV, that c**p is ALL OVER every show now. I don't know about cable or satellite, I never watch it, but i watch Broadcast TV.

So, you pay for good press, and that's advertising revenue. They don't care if your sh*t smells like Chanel. The public doesn't need to know and they only want the money.




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mottoman
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« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2006, 07:06:59 PM »

Great post PJCLEVE, you are right on my friend!!
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robertv
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« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2006, 07:37:56 PM »

PJCLEVE,

Excellent points you make, you are absolutely correct.

Guys like ClockerTerry and his ilk can't seem to understand
modern day racetrack marketing. AP does this better than
almost any other track I can think of. "Racing for the masses"
if you will, Arlington understands the need to broadened it's
audience - Friday's "Party in the Park" and Sunday "Family Days"
are great innovations and always well attended by regular and
novice players alike.

Hawthorne on the other hand, well, if your idea of fun is spending
your day with overweight, disheveled hardened gamblers (which
describes ClockerTerry and 90% of the patrons at Hawthorne)
God bless you, enjoy the Hawthorne experience.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2006, 07:59:21 PM by robertv » Report to moderator   Logged
big wally
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« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2006, 07:44:03 PM »

I agree with most of PJCLEVE wrote.Eventhough Hawthorne's facility and location are not attractive, Hawthorne promotions and marketing are to people who already go to the track and in my opinion they gave up on attracting new customers.(Hawthorne) will last longer than AP. Hawthorne"s management (the Carey"s) are committed to the sport, they try promotions (they don't work though) , have a low maintenance facility (AP Water Bill is more than Hawthorne's repair and maintenance) and most importantly sit on land that is almost useless. They have no other option other than to race.

AP, is owned by a public corporation as with any other publically held Corporation purpose is to maximize shareholder value. AP is worth more to the shareholders if the land is sold to a developer. Churchill rid of Hollywood beacuse it was loser and  if AP does not get slots it will do the same. It a matter of when and not if. DD or no DD. Sad but true.
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Ed
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« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2006, 07:51:32 PM »

Pete - I agree. The only folks left at Hawthorne will be the same ones playing the free (comp'ed) contests in the handicapping center.

Ed
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laurajean
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« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2006, 08:01:59 PM »

"Hawthorne on the other hand, well, if your idea of fun is spending
your day with overweight, dishelved hardened gamblers (which describes
ClockerTerry and 90% of the patrons at Hawthorne) God bless you,
enjoy the Hawthorne experience."

why thank you I will.
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big wally
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« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2006, 08:16:05 PM »

Another point, on track attendance is a dying issue. Gulfstream had the atmosphere, sunshine and great racing and stronach made into Simo facility. The atmosphere is gone and unless you want to sit on a bench surrounded by asphalt there is no sunshine. It is no mistake you do not see grass as Gulfstream too much landscaping and maintenance. Tracks want slots and thats it.
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robertv
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« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2006, 08:19:36 PM »

laurajean,

Oops - I forgot, a few bag lady types also enjoy the Hawthorne
experience. Sorry for excluding you on my previous post Sad
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Stat
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« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2006, 08:30:38 PM »

Laura Jean: to clarify your thinking on "third world countries"  just think of the Hawthorne asphalt jungle grandstand.  It does put Trackside second floor to shame.
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laurajean
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« Reply #16 on: February 02, 2006, 08:52:34 PM »

Your very welcome Robertv. I am a lady and I do go through Hawthorne with my bag.  And I can say that Hawthorne, unlike AP, is red hat club free. And as I have a grave free of being forced to where ugly combinations of red and purple, I am happy when I don't see that group.
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APCD Dan
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« Reply #17 on: February 02, 2006, 08:57:41 PM »

"Not wanting to get in your face, but I thought you wrote you evened at tampa." 

I did, that is defined as OK for me.  I do not usually come close to that at Hawthorne.
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edwarren
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« Reply #18 on: February 02, 2006, 09:06:04 PM »

Yeah, that is good.
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Horse Voice
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« Reply #19 on: February 02, 2006, 10:16:36 PM »

I don't know that I follow your logic, Pete.
 
How will AP succeed and Hawthorne fail when all AP seems to do right is get an slight increase in live attendance (and very slight at that), while Hawthorne now outhandles AP (total average daily handle), and pays more in daily purses than AP?
 
Everybody else with the denigrating comments about Hawthorne's clientele: you're full of it. There are plenty of unseemly and otherwise fat-assed loser-types at AP; take off your rose-colored glasses and you might see them. Yeah, there are tons of young folks and moms with strollers, and pretty girls for old goats to ogle, too, but how much do they add to handle, really?

My money says AP shuts down long before Hawthorne ever will, if for no other reason than what another posted (or at least hinted at): the land that AP is built on is *way* more attractive as development parcel than as a racetrack; Hawthorne, obviously not. By all means, enjoy AP while it is still around, if that is your cup of tea. I'll see you at Hawthorne when AP shuts down.
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CLOCKERTERRY
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« Reply #20 on: February 02, 2006, 11:24:41 PM »

The quality of the facility will continue to grow in importance due to the advent of simulcasting, internet and home wagering. Frankly no one (ok you will, so make that few) will go to a dump to watch the races live anymore. On the other hand many more will go to an Arlington to watch "lower quality" racing because of the facility and overall ambiance.
...
I'm willing to wager that in several years many tracks and racinos will either drop the sport or become vacant "studios" for broadcasting live racing, because of dwindling on track attendance and at-home betting. That includes Hawthorne. Others that attract fans to the track as an entertainment vehicle in addition to racing afficianados have a much better chance of surviving. I put AP in thar category.

I agree with you that tracks are becoming simulcast studios. But I think big fancy tracks like AP are a thing of the past, nice day out for Biff and Buff or not. A few "destinations" like Saratoga, Keeneland, Del Mar, and Oaklawn will continue to do okay for some years, because they have good racing. As far as AP, you can already see evidence of dwindling crowds. When did you ever see half the grandstand floor closed off like it has been weekdays the past few years. The racing isn't good enough to attract big crowds like those other tracks get.

I don't like it but Frank's self-proclaimed taj mahal in Florida is probably the wave of the future for the run of the mill "live" racetrack. Nice little place for the 2,000 or so that come out, but mostly a curiosity for the casino patrons, and not a lot of space wasted on racing crowds. I think the ones that survive longest may well be the simulcast studios with very low racing overhead and a casino. Ever been to Delta Downs? There's maybe 20 people besides horsemen watching the live racing. Not even anything in the line of seats for you to watch from. But out in the racing world that craphole is all the rage. Big success story. Big purses for horsemen running the same old crappy horses. A few more people play their signal from the simulcast centers.
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pjcleve
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« Reply #21 on: February 02, 2006, 11:28:57 PM »

HV said - "My money says AP shuts down long before Hawthorne ever will, ........... By all means, enjoy AP while it is still around, if that is your cup of tea. I'll see you at Hawthorne when AP shuts down."

HV,
   Thank you. I do and will continue to enjoy AP, and if it ever shuts down (I doubt it) you certainly won't find me at Hawthorne. Why on earth would I subject myself to that crappy experience. Let's just agree to disagree on what floats our respective boats - you and Terry to name a few prefer Haw, and AP is my favorite track. I know I'm not going to get you to publicly admit to anything different, and rest assured I will never change my mind. Some people are satidfied with macaroni and diet Pepsi (you), and I prefer a good steak and a nice Merlot. Hey there's nothing wrong with either preference, just don't expect me to order up your macaroni - it will never happen. Life is too short to waste my time on that. I look forward to spending between 70 and 90 wonderful afternoons at AP this summer and there is nothing you or Terry can say that will detract from that joy.  

Pete    
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pjcleve
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« Reply #22 on: February 03, 2006, 12:07:12 AM »

Terry you said - "But I think big fancy tracks like AP are a thing of the past, nice day out for Biff and Buff or not."

Do you object to fancy tracks? And are you saying Hawthorne is the future?

Terry - "A few destinations like Saratoga, Keeneland, Del Mar, and Oaklawn will continue to do okay for some years, because they have good racing."

Get serious Terry and get your facts straight. With the exception of the Festival of racing, Oaklawn is nothing special. It's currently averaging less than 8K daily on weekdays running 4 days a week. Keenland and Saratoga do very well in part because there is no other viable entertainment options and their respective states support the product much better than Illinois does. By the way AP's attendance sure looks pretty good compared to those classy tracks AQU, SA and GP - all averaging less than 5K daily on weekdays. Check the charts. I don't know if they close off sections of their grandstand too - if they don't they must be empty caverns.

Terry - "As far as AP, you can already see evidence of dwindling crowds. When did you ever see half the grandstand floor closed off like it has been weekdays the past few years. The racing isn't good enough to attract big crowds like those other tracks get."

See above. Besides the four tracks you name, how many others of the 50 or so remaining outdraws AP? Very few. You know what really bugs me about you Terry is that you try to pass yourself off as a factual expert, and you either skew the facts to suit your argument or you're just a flat out bullshitter. It may work for some on this forum but not me.

Pete



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« Reply #23 on: February 03, 2006, 12:56:39 AM »

Terry you said - "But I think big fancy tracks like AP are a thing of the past, nice day out for Biff and Buff or not."

Do you object to fancy tracks? And are you saying Hawthorne is the future?

I don't object to fancy tracks at all. I'm just saying most "big" tracks, which would include both our local emporiums, with the exception of a few destinations, are obsolete, and will become more obsolete.

Quote
Get serious Terry and get your facts straight. With the exception of the Festival of racing, Oaklawn is nothing special. It's currently averaging less than 8K daily on weekdays running 4 days a week.

8K daily beats what Arlington averaged, and that's a much MUCH smaller market than Chicagoland. People travel there on purpose. It's jammed every weekend. It's a seasonal destination for racing fans from all over the country. Arlington is mostly what local people do when they can't think of anything better. Except for Million weekend, when people travel.

Quote
By the way AP's attendance sure looks pretty good compared to those classy tracks AQU, SA and GP

I didn't say anything about those tracks on purpose. You could throw Belmont and Hollywood in as well. I said Saratoga, Del Mar, Keeneland, and Oaklawn. Gulfstream I'm not sure about. I think they screwed that place up so bad no one wants to go or can go. No way could it physically handle 8K per day.

Quote
I don't know if they close off sections of their grandstand too - if they don't they must be empty caverns.

Aqueduct, Belmont, and Santa Anita are very empty week days. Just like Arlington. I don't remember sections closed but it's been awhile since I visted them all.

Quote
Besides the four tracks you name, how many others of the 50 or so remaining outdraws AP?

Don't know and don't care, that's why I didn't name any others, they're all on my "obsolete" list. My post wasn't about "who has highest average daily attendance" today, it was about "which tracks will still be attracting large live crowds in coming years'.

Quote
You know really bugs me about you Terry is that you try to pass yourself off as a factual expert, and you either skew the facts to suit your argument or you're just a flat out bullshitter. It may work for some on this forum but not me.

What bothers me about you is you're such a Arlington homer you don't read. Go back and read what I wrote. You're arguing a bunch of things I didn't write. There was nothing in there at all about current daily attendance. It was about what tracks I thought would still be in business, and how, down the road.

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« Reply #24 on: February 03, 2006, 01:55:04 AM »

From my view point, Hawthorn has treated me better.  I have lost less money at Hawthorn and have had more fun playing the races.  My wife and I have eaten at the good restraunt at Arlington and my wife prefers the chicken strips and fries at Hawthorn.  She tipped one of the food workes 50 cents and now they give her a double order whenever she is there.  ahahahaI prefer watching the races when it is cold so Hawthorn just feels right to me. horse mm
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