Since their inception they have always had the vision to say that less is more. The pint is the largest unit they serve. How often have you wished for there to be half-gallons of Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream or Hannah Teter’s Maple Blondie? Yet when you want more, they give you less, and you keep coming back having never reached your saturation point.
This is the mantra I’ve adopted and proposed for horse racing in pieces at both Carryover 2.0 and Carryover Classic (the original recipe). Why is it necessary to race five days a week especially when the racing product smells worse than a pre-mucked stall?
Now a leaner meet is stronger, richer, and dammit, a whole lot sexier. Honestly, I’d call Monmouth for a second date. Hell, I’ll pick up the tab. That’s the quality person I am. Coffee upstairs? Please excuse my place, it’s a tad messy.
With $50 million in 50 days, just look at who is in the Top 11 of the trainer standings through June 10.
1. Todd Pletcher
2. Richard Dutrow, Jr.
4. Nicholas P. Zito
11. Steve Asmussen
Wasn’t it Deep Throat who said, “Follow the money.”?
Monmouth Vice President Bob Kulina, contributing a column for The Blood-Horse, writes, “The experiment being carried out now at the Monmouth Park spring/summer meet is exceeding our best expectations. Very conservatively, we had hoped by racing only three days a week and boosting the purses, we could increase everything—handle and attendance—by 20 percent. After the first five days of the meet, ontrack handle is up 51.8 percent ... Total handle on our races sent to other tracks is up 137 percent to $36.4 million, and attendance is up 26 percent to 64,946.”
Monmouth is like the hot and strangely sexy exchange student. By any normal stretch this exchange student isn’t very attractive, yet the mystery, the accent, the newness of her allows you to look past the stained teeth and strange shoes. Maybe Monmouth can teach us some new swear words.
But if the shimmer doesn’t fade, they may have smashed a drive 325 yards right down the middle of racing’s fairway. When the New York Racing Association decided to add four days of racing to its seemingly perfect 36 days, I squirmed. It’s like light beer, the product is watered down.
Take it further: Why not race just two days? Create anticipation throughout the week and increase the purses even more. In essence, you can have a mini-Breeders’ Cup every weekend.
People clamor for the NFL to add games to its schedule. Stop! A guy I work with said he can’t wait for football season and he wishes the season were longer. It’s when that wish is realized that we get Bud Light instead of Boston Lager.
When demand is high, if anything, show restraint. When people want more, give them less. What makes anything special if everyone can have it? Keep the velvet rope locked. Don’t you want what you can’t have?
With 64,946 people clicking through the turnstiles at Monmouth, the exclusivity and the quality product on the dirt makes it special to go the track again. Why else are the Washington Nationals having a hard time filling seats, but when Steven Strasburg starts they sell out? The product on the field matters.
The everyday gambler will argue this into the ground, that the times of the $10,000 claimer aren’t that much slower than a stakes race run at the same distance with supposedly better horses. They will say it doesn’t matter how good the athlete is and that racing, at its root, is a gambling sport better left to the OTB caverns tucked into seedy districts all over the country.
Nickle-claimers are like the Pittsburgh Pirates and the stakes horses are the Red Sox. Both teams have pitchers that throw 90 miles per hour, both have big-league hitters, but, ultimately, one puts on a better show.
Even when we eat, our tongues are most sensitive at the start of a meal. The first bite is the best, the rest is largely empty.
Keep horse racing in pints, and, while you’re at it, serve me up a Guinness, I’m going to Monmouth.
Brendan O’Meara blogs about horse racing here at HRI and at The Carryover. He also blogs about narrative nonfiction and his book project “Six Weeks in Saratoga” at The Blog Itself. His Web site is http://www.brendanomeara.com.