By Michael Antoniades — If you are a fan of horse racing, the earth moved on Saturday. There are no sports to watch or wager on, and a growing spotlight is on horse racing, especially on the weekends where we have been getting expanded television coverage. Last Saturday, the cooperation between two tracks on Arkansas Derby Day took horse racing as a business and a viewing experience to another level.
On Saturday May 2, Oaklawn Park and Gulfstream Park worked together and coordinated their actual off times. The two tracks found a way to work on the fly and schedule their races apart from each other.
This was a vast improvement from the past,where to the dismay of television networks and the wagering public, some tracks were notorious for running their races on top of each other, which decreased revenues from money that was wagered, and made a coordinated telecast a nightmare.
By finally working together, the two tracks created a better viewing and wagering model which maximized handle at each track, which maximized revenue at all simulcast outlets.
This cooperation creates a more perfect viewing experience for a national television audience. If they want to grow their viewing and wagering audience, horse racing finally must learn the importance of off time cooperation between tracks. It’s the difference between a great product and a bad one.
Many times this year, Oaklawn and Gulfstream would race at the same time, making it impossible for the television networks to show the races live. The network would have to choose which race it would show live, and then show the other race on tape delay.
Even worse, the network would now be faced with 30 minutes to fill before another race went off. This had been standard operational procedure for many tracks in the simulcast era.
Because of the cooperation between Gulfstream and Oaklawn on Saturday
afternoon and evening , handle between the two tracks exploded.
Coordinated off times made it easy to follow both tracks, and the end result was final handle numbers north of $60,000,000.
As we get closer to more tracks opening, we can learn from Arkansas Derby Day that post time cooperation between the major tracks will benefit everyone in the industry and continue to grow wagering and viewing interest in the sport .
GP. Gulfstream Park
OP. Oaklawn Park
Saturday post times
OP11. 6:36. Derby
OP12. 7:11. Handicap
OP13. 7:52. Derby