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Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Spread the word


I’ve got to say, I was pretty psyched when I received my Maker’s Mark barrel dedication certificate. Barrel No. 804410. And get this: it already has a personality—Well-rounded with a distinct character. Sound like anyone you know? It all comes with the territory of being an ambassador for Maker’s Mark.

And in our endless plight to spread the bounty of a good horse race, the game we either love or indifferently follow, seeks ways to recruit new fans. Always. Night racing? Good idea. Kegasus? Awesome idea. Cameras on the ground? Terrible use of pixels.

The game tries to be its own ambassador and in its inability to empower its electorate it falls somewhere less-than-tall. The sport should consider it a victory if it loses zero fans over the course of a year. Breaking even is a win. So what if it reached out to its die-hards? Its gamblers? Its horse lovers, and give them a big hug? Even give them a sweet barrel dedication certificate and business cards.

I tell you, all I want to do is spread the gospel of good bourbon and all it took was a good buzz and a cool piece of paper I value more than my high school and both college diplomas (with none of the debt!).

I will happily pass out my Maker’s Mark business cards and tell party goers Maker’s uses walnut bungs. Many other distillers use a soft bung, but no, not Maker’s. Soft bungs can “swell up and when wet can only be removed by cutting them out, making any sampling of the bourbon difficult at best.” Enough about bung.

Horse racing needs to adopt a similar program that empowers its loyal followers. Make them happy and they will spread the word. My friend who got me into racing back in 2002 merely stumbled upon Saratoga. Where would we be had he not found this diamond in a haystack? Had he not we’d likely be successful business tycoons cut from the mold of Barney Stinson. But instead we traveled down less awesome paths … or did we? We’ll explore this in another column.

Ambassadors will get two dozen complimentary past performances and vouchers for each newbie they bring to the track. They will receive honorary diplomas for the preservation of the game they love. They will be honored with exclusive parties. They will be made to feel like the Kings and Queens they are because without ambassadors, without people waving the pride banner, where will the sport be?

The answer is painfully clear: it will continue to lose its base and a sport with its base cannot stand.

Now, where’s that red wax-dipped bottle? It’s about that time for some charred American white oak-colored brownest of the brown. To quote Homer Simpson from when the “Simpsons” was actually funny, “They looked deep within my soul and assigned me a number based on the order in which I joined.”

That’s all from Ambassador 762,589.

Brendan O'Meara is the author of Six Weeks in Saratoga and he totally gets his tweet on.

Written by Brendan O'Meara

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