by Al Cimaglia
November 9, 2017
Let's starts with the premise of growing the fan base helps to increase the harness racing handle. Then logically one weekend of big stakes racing should make inroads to attract new fans. It takes more than a 2-day event, but without a doubt Breeders Crown weekend needs to make a big impression.
One thing that jumped out as a point of concern is the guarantees on horizontal bets like the Pick 4 at Hoosier Park were not sufficiently increased. A Pick 4 with only a $40,000 guaranteed pool isn't a wow. Especially, when on the same night a major track (Woodbine) is offering $50,000 guarantees for both the Pick 4 and Pick 5. Somehow there needs to be a bigger splash for those bets on Breeders Crown weekend.
In my view it would be better to have only one Pick 4 and increase the guarantee to $100,000. A Pick 5 should have at least a $75,000 guaranteed pool. Maybe the bet size could be set at 0.20 instead of 0.50 for at least one of those bets. Another idea to draw attention to the event as a whole, so more interest is created, would be to tie the days together. Maybe a 2-year-old race and a 3-year old race, one from each day could be used as a Friday-Saturday Breeders Crown double.
There needs to be more national focus put on the entire weekend. Hoosier had on-track contests, and the winner could then place a large bet on a race. That was a great idea but the scope was narrow. What if there was a national contest, whereby folks betting and watching the simulcast at tracks around the country could participate? Why not try to get off-track betting parlors involved as well?
If Breeders Crown weekend is the showcase event of harness racing, then everything should be on the table. Different promotions shouldn't be shunned but rather attempted. It's not like the same old, same old has produced sparkling results.
Finally, we come around to the biggest issue.
Who's in charge?
Is it the host track, a certain jurisdiction or is it the USTA? Who sets the marketing plan for Breeders Crown weekend? Is there a specific national marketing plan for the premier event of the harness racing season?
There are so many questions.
Why wouldn't everyone with access to the USTA website be able to download for free the entire program for each night?
Why wouldn't more corporate sponsorships be involved to bolster marketing? Why couldn't corporate sponsorship money be used for large contest prizes? Why isn't a tiny share from each purse account at every track in North America accumulated throughout the year for marketing purposes, including the Breeders Crown?
This sounds monotonous, with questions without real answers and that happens when no one knows who's in charge. But better to focus on the issues than to accept the same old. Because the only thing we know for sure, is same old hasn't worked very well.
You can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia