A $75 ticket would register nicely on the gouge-o-meter. But why stop there? Just round off the cheapest ticket in the joint to a not-so-cheap $100. That way, fans wouldn't have the nuisance of making change.
Sherwood Chillingworth, executive vice president of the Oak Tree Racing Assn., which as Santa Anita's tenant is the host for the event, talked about his discussions with the Breeders' Cup regarding ticket pricing.
I suppose the Breeders' Cup could then bray about having cut the price in half for the $2 bettor. Remember the line spoken by the newspaper reporter played by Sally Field in the movie "Absence of Malice"? "It's not the truth, but it's accurate," she said.
Pointing out that a $25 general admission for the 25th Breeders' Cup might be a hard sell despite its symmetry, Chillingworth said that this is what he said to the Breeders' Cup: "If this were the 100th running, would you be charging them $100?"
I asked Chillingworth what the public paid for general admission the last time the Breeders' Cup was held at Santa Anita.
"Five dollars," he said.
That was only five years ago.
"What I proposed," Chillingworth said, "was that we charge $10 on the Friday, and $15 on Saturday. That would give them the magic number 25 that they seem to be looking for. It would cost a guy $25 for both days."
The three Breeders' Cups at Santa Anita--1986, 1993 and 2003--have averaged 58,644 in attendance. The 69,155 who turned out in 1986 is still the biggest crowd, but for the six runnings at Churchill Downs, in Breeders' Cup history. Other than Churchill, Santa Anita has the highest average among tracks who have hosted more than one cup.
"The whole idea, as far as I'm concerned, is still to get as many people into the place as possible," Chillingworth said.
A novel concept. Somewhere along the line, distracted by slot machines, off-track betting, off-shore betting, telephone betting, Internet betting, inter-track betting, intra-track betting and early-bird betting, racing forgot that filling the pews used to be everybody's goal.