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Author Topic: What Illinois Harness racing needs  (Read 2027 times)
Uncle Merf
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« on: January 25, 2010, 01:27:50 PM »

A few ideas IMHO:

1. I would do a live Handicapping contest every Wednesday at Balmoral.

2. The IHHA and the tracks need a John McDonough type pitchman who can organize and promote the sport.

3. Mystery vouchers bring people in in droves.  It's really no skin off of management because no just makes one bet.  All the money usaully comes back.

4. Less races with bigger fields.

5. Promote the possitives of what already there.  I personally go and watch Blackhawk and White Sox games.  The TV's are already there and it would cost nothing extra.  There's plenty of space at Balmoral to put Big screen TV's and broadcast other professional sports.  It's a much nicer place than most sports bars with bright open space.

6. Beer and food specials.  Most breweries are looking for ways to promote their products and will fund most of the promotion.


7. Promote the players.  Both drivers and horses could be promoted much better.  Now they aren't promoted at all.  People want to feel a connection to make the investment. It seems to me that harness racing is under a veil of secrecy.  In other sports people thrive on information.   

I think Balmoral Park is a gold mine waiting to be tapped.  there are numerous things that could be done to boost attendance.

Just my 2 cents
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balmoral buddy 2
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« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2010, 02:12:18 PM »

A few ideas IMHO:

1. I would do a live Handicapping contest every Wednesday at Balmoral.

2. The IHHA and the tracks need a John McDonough type pitchman who can organize and promote the sport.

3. Mystery vouchers bring people in in droves.  It's really no skin off of management because no just makes one bet.  All the money usaully comes back.

4. Less races with bigger fields.

5. Promote the possitives of what already there.  I personally go and watch Blackhawk and White Sox games.  The TV's are already there and it would cost nothing extra.  There's plenty of space at Balmoral to put Big screen TV's and broadcast other professional sports.  It's a much nicer place than most sports bars with bright open space.

6. Beer and food specials.  Most breweries are looking for ways to promote their products and will fund most of the promotion.


7. Promote the players.  Both drivers and horses could be promoted much better.  Now they aren't promoted at all.  People want to feel a connection to make the investment. It seems to me that harness racing is under a veil of secrecy.  In other sports people thrive on information.   

I think Balmoral Park is a gold mine waiting to be tapped.  there are numerous things that could be done to boost attendance.

Just my 2 cents

You are a very optimistic person - I bet you think the Cubs will win the World Series this year too?  bowing

You must also remember that attendance and handle are two different things. Just getting people to show up for the specials doesn't mean they are going to add very much to the handle, especially if they are spending their money on beer and food - NONE of that goes into the purse account.
Let's say you got 500 more people to show up on a Saturday night and they were $4 per race bettors - on a ten race card that only adds $20,000 to the handle and at 6% takeout only $1200 to the purse account. A step in the right direction, but a very, very small step.
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bpf
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« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2010, 03:04:31 PM »

hawthorne always had a big crowd in the summer, its real simple, dollar beer, dollar hot dogs , good bands on the apron , and actually hire people that give a shit about there jobs!!
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BattleGround
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« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2010, 03:08:21 PM »

Good Post Uncle
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Uncle Merf
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« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2010, 03:17:33 PM »

You are a very optimistic person - I bet you think the Cubs will win the World Series this year too?  bowing

You must also remember that attendance and handle are two different things. Just getting people to show up for the specials doesn't mean they are going to add very much to the handle, especially if they are spending their money on beer and food - NONE of that goes into the purse account.
Let's say you got 500 more people to show up on a Saturday night and they were $4 per race bettors - on a ten race card that only adds $20,000 to the handle and at 6% takeout only $1200 to the purse account. A step in the right direction, but a very, very small step.
LOL, Harness racing will become more popular than the NFL before the Cubs win a world series.  I'm just saying that perhaps you draw more off track bettors with promotions.  Don't on track wagers contribute more to the purse account than off?
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honesthorseman
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« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2010, 04:01:14 PM »

hawthorne always had a big crowd in the summer, its real simple, dollar beer, dollar hot dogs , good bands on the apron , and actually hire people that give a shit about there jobs!!

i have been saying this for years...they put out a better product and want people to bet on track
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kingofpain
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« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2010, 06:26:36 PM »

What Illinois Harness Racing really needs is track mgmt. to give a damn about the sport, but they DON'T!
Every time something gets suggested it goes in one ear and out the other! Rich People making money who do not want to share!
The IHHA suggested expanded drug testing were the Tracks would pay 1/2 and the horsemen would pay 1/2. What did track mgmt. say - NO if you want drug testing you pay it all! There is NO advertising. Why should they spend any money on advertising, they are happy the way things are!
Since track mgmt could care less about keeping the sport alive in Chicago, it is only a matter of time.
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Double Joker
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« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2010, 08:11:29 PM »

Such a sad state Illinois racing is in right now. Soon we might want to think about barn to unemployment line? flag clover
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Charlie Harper
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« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2010, 08:18:07 PM »

Get rid of 'Recapture" that alone would be a big shot in the arm.
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eggiewon
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« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2010, 09:10:35 PM »

i talked to Duke and Tom Kelly last year about a way to bring a fan closer to the sport > never heared a word else about it .

   My idea was to have a raffle for spend a day with a race horse.
    Kim and i offered to open up our stable evry sat. to a lucky fan to come in the morning and spend the day taking care of a horse that was racing that night  They could do as much as they wanted with that horse from feeding it treats brushing it feed lunch even maybe take it for a walk .  Go home for a few hours come back have diner at bal then come to the paddock and hang out with the horse .

              Most people once they touch a horse they r hooked and think about all the friends they would tell and maybe we would kill 2 birds with one stone more people at the track and amybe some new owners for thebizz .

  and if any one is reading this the offer still stands

  Rick
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Uncle Merf
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« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2010, 09:24:49 PM »

i talked to Duke and Tom Kelly last year about a way to bring a fan closer to the sport > never heared a word else about it .

   My idea was to have a raffle for spend a day with a race horse.
    Kim and i offered to open up our stable evry sat. to a lucky fan to come in the morning and spend the day taking care of a horse that was racing that night  They could do as much as they wanted with that horse from feeding it treats brushing it feed lunch even maybe take it for a walk .  Go home for a few hours come back have diner at bal then come to the paddock and hang out with the horse .

              Most people once they touch a horse they r hooked and think about all the friends they would tell and maybe we would kill 2 birds with one stone more people at the track and amybe some new owners for thebizz .

  and if any one is reading this the offer still stands

  Rick
great idea Rick. Here's another idea.  There are many neighborhood and village festivals in and around Chicago.  What if the IHHA worked a deal to bring a horse and a bike to display at the festivals.  Kids Kids could pet the horse, give it treats, sit on the bike etc..  Similar to what Korine Pendergast does at Balmoral on race nights.
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Lockjaw
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« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2010, 10:50:17 PM »


Today's technology has brought the sights and sounds of professional sports closer and closer to the fan.  Closeup, slow motion replays, from different angles, shown in high definition, moments after a play is completed has conditioned modern sports fans to expect a "video game" kind of presentation of their sport.  When a newcomer brings that kind of expectation to the racetrack, he's going to be disappointed. 
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ZENYATTA
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« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2010, 11:06:18 PM »

IMO the only thing that will bring people back is the lure of some large jackpot being available everyday tied to the racing produict.Cheap vouchers don;t get it anymore.

Have a few races a night with full maxed out fields and offer a $2 bet so  someone can win $50K if they can pick the exact race finish for a $2 bet.Guarantee  the $50K and roll it over to the next race and sooner or later you have a big jackpot and a feeding frenzy.It is a fact that large guaranteed wagers bring in cash.Imagine the press on mutiple 50K winners one night at the track.You must be on track to win it so weekends would be huge.
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bpf
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« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2010, 07:16:27 AM »

I would pay to do what Rick offered,  would love to spend a Sat. doing that!!
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Old and Slow
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« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2010, 09:37:16 AM »

Good idea, Rick.  Let’s take it a step further.

There are hundreds of riding/boarding stables within a couple hours of the city.  Go to one any day and it’s probably 70% women with their horse. Women, God love ‘em, have a natural affinity for horses. Many just ride for fun, but they love their horse.  Some don’t even have a horse, they just like hanging around them. Most of these women are eager to learn as much as they can about horses.  We’ve had a lot of friends come to our farm or that we’ve brought to the track, and they are just amazed at how much equipment we wear and how well the horse takes it.  Think about putting a headpole on an Arab or a murphy on a mustang and you’ll see what I mean.

We have  friends who rope, they have 11 or 12 horses, very good horsemen, both of them, and they were amazed when they came to the track and saw our horse lift his feet for the hobbles without even touching the leg. 

You get the idea.

Say we put sign up sheets at these stables to do as Rick suggested. Come to the barn. Come as often as you’d like. Learn the equipment,  Ask questions. Hell, clean the stall if you want. Develop a relationship with one horse.  Then on race night, bring your husband to the track, and friends from your barn. Have a knowledgeable handicapper give a little lesson on reading a program. (are you reading this, noc?), and basic handicapping

What guy would resist getting dragged to the track by his wife?

We‘ve brought a lot of friends to the track over the years. A few have become fans and bettors. A couple have adopted retired horses.  One’s thinking about buying a horse if we ever get the boat money.


              Most people once they touch a horse they r hooked and think about all the friends they would tell and maybe we would kill 2 birds with one stone more people at the track and amybe some new owners for thebizz .

    Rick

Spot on, Rick.
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hottotrott
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« Reply #15 on: January 26, 2010, 09:52:57 AM »

hawthorne always had a big crowd in the summer, its real simple, dollar beer, dollar hot dogs , good bands on the apron , and actually hire people that give a shit about there jobs!!
Hawthorne always has a bigger crowd, Not just because of the specials they offer, but because it is easier to get to for most people. How many people really want to drive an hour to and hour and a half each way to balmoral? Not many. but when its only 20 minutes each way, they don't mind.


i talked to Duke and Tom Kelly last year about a way to bring a fan closer to the sport > never heared a word else about it .

   My idea was to have a raffle for spend a day with a race horse.
    Kim and i offered to open up our stable evry sat. to a lucky fan to come in the morning and spend the day taking care of a horse that was racing that night  They could do as much as they wanted with that horse from feeding it treats brushing it feed lunch even maybe take it for a walk .  Go home for a few hours come back have diner at bal then come to the paddock and hang out with the horse .

              Most people once they touch a horse they r hooked and think about all the friends they would tell and maybe we would kill 2 birds with one stone more people at the track and amybe some new owners for thebizz .

  and if any one is reading this the offer still stands

  Rick
I for one, would pay to do this. What a great idea!  thumbs up
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Suicide_Mare
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« Reply #16 on: January 26, 2010, 10:01:50 AM »

These are great ideas -- where there is a will there is a way.  There really should be a Track representative dedicated to Fan Appreciation that works out the details of some of these ideas with horsemen.  Its a shame that owners and trainers have the ideas and are willing to offer up their time and stable access with little help or support.  Did someone mention winner circle photos with a "Featured Fan" or a "Fan Family"? 
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FILLYNATION
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« Reply #17 on: January 26, 2010, 10:04:42 AM »

The track needs to attract whales along with everyday gamblers in order to up the live handle . Why not have a silver, gold , platinum card program like Hawthorne has at maywood park and balmoral park . Have a designated area where silver/gold players gamble and an area for platinum players . Have live sports good food and drink specials and much better service in the areas attended by regulars . A program where you might have a second chance drawing on losing tickets over $10 with a cash prize everynight after the feature race or later . Until recapture is gone the track owes it too the horsemen to attract a live crowd
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Uncle Merf
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« Reply #18 on: January 26, 2010, 11:49:57 AM »

can the IHHA pursue some promotional activities without Balmoral/Maywood management?  I think if you wait for them nothing will happen.  Almost everyone loves horses.  Standardbreds are great!  My two retiries are gentle and fun to ride.  Bus in kids from a childrens hospital and give them a walk around.  Call the news stations, they'll eat it up and it would cost very little. 
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balmoral buddy 2
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« Reply #19 on: January 26, 2010, 11:55:14 AM »

All Great ideas, however as I stated before you have to get bettors in - meaning not $2 bettors. The casual $2 bettor helps the track by purchasing program, drinks, and food. This does not help the purse account. But this would be a great start. Even hire Elaneour Flavin as publicity director - her tv shows with Paradise were sometimes hilarious, if not entertaining.

To get "the whales" you need to clean up the drug problem, get better horses, AND lower the takeouts. Look at the takeouts for horse racing compared to the odds on other gambling - sports bets have 10% and lower commissions, slots pay out 95% and more, craps depends on what you bet but lower than horse racing, and blackjack can get as low as 3% if you use proven systems related to odds.
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Uncle Merf
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« Reply #20 on: January 26, 2010, 12:23:37 PM »

All Great ideas, however as I stated before you have to get bettors in - meaning not $2 bettors. The casual $2 bettor helps the track by purchasing program, drinks, and food. This does not help the purse account. But this would be a great start. Even hire Elaneour Flavin as publicity director - her tv shows with Paradise were sometimes hilarious, if not entertaining.

To get "the whales" you need to clean up the drug problem, get better horses, AND lower the takeouts. Look at the takeouts for horse racing compared to the odds on other gambling - sports bets have 10% and lower commissions, slots pay out 95% and more, craps depends on what you bet but lower than horse racing, and blackjack can get as low as 3% if you use proven systems related to odds.

All very true BB but I think at this point a lot of the whales are getting old.  New people is what the sport needs.  It needs younger people to come in and grow into whales.  You need to get a lot of little fish before a few of them grow into whales.
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FILLYNATION
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« Reply #21 on: January 26, 2010, 12:30:27 PM »

Where do people get the idea that slots pay off 95% and if they really did why don't more people win at casinos . I do agree putting in four dollars fifty (must play to win jackpot) into a Pennie machine can get you a nice payoff . How misleading those casino are when you play a quote Pennie 1cent slot . If you spend 4 dollars in 10cent supers at a track with a good handle you could win lots of money . As for horses the need for the public to be entertained is a must so have fan friendly promotions ....
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balmoral buddy 2
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« Reply #22 on: January 26, 2010, 01:57:50 PM »

I don't know if this has ever been proposed, but Illinois (Balmoral) and Indiana (Hoosier Park) should get together - race 6 months at one track and then 6 months at the other track. The purse account would go up when the live racing was dark. Let the best horses race at these two tracks and the rest at the fairs. This would also tend to "purge" out the worst horses, trainers, and drivers as this sport currently does not support all of them.
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Brush and Crush
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« Reply #23 on: January 26, 2010, 02:52:15 PM »

I think a neat idea for a promotion would be to have a handicapping contest on track, lets say a $25 entry fee, but instead of cash, the winner of the contest would receive a 10% share of a racehorse donated by a trainer for 1 year, proceeds only, no expenses to be paid.  The trainer who donated this months horse would receive that entry fee monies, so if you had 100 people enter the contest, the trainer would receive $2,500.  The winner of the contest would receive 10% proceeds from all the horses races.  It could only be a $4000 claimer and it would work.  The trainer would have to win 3 races to make $2500, so there is incentive on that side of it.  If the horse only earns $8000 in 35 or 40 starts, the winnner of the contest still would receive $800....or possibly more.  You could have a contest every month.

A) you would draw more players who would normally wager at home, or not wager at all, to be on track.
B) it may be a great way to get younger people involved in the sport.
C)most people would come and watch live when there horse was racing

So if you had 12 contests a year (assuming 100 entrants per contest) thats 1200 butts in the seats, and you have 12 winners who horses race 30 times each, that may be another 360 trips to the track, possibly with friends and family.

Bottom line is giving people a reason to come to the track rather than staying at home, and watching & wagering on their computer.  Hell it doesn't even have to be a handicapping contest, it could be a texas hold-em tournament.
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kingofpain
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« Reply #24 on: January 26, 2010, 04:13:20 PM »

These are ALL great Ideas the problem is that track mgmt is content on leaving things the way they are. You could email these ideas to Johnnie Johnston or Duke at either track. Good Luck in getting any kind of response. I emailed Johnnie a few times about different things, I have never received a reply! The bottom line is they are making money, they don't want to change things.
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