July 9, 2010

Boutique Me

A day at the races should be something to look forward to. Like a child going to Disneyland, I want to be giddy with anticipation at the thought of arriving at the track, immersing myself in the day’s festivities, and watching exciting racing. But alas, there are forces at work that conspire against my idealistic notion.

The United States is a nation that has not always embraced the benefits of moderation, and the horse racing world is as guilty as anyone. There is too much racing and at too many places. To say this ultimately dilutes the product of racing is a major understatement. Less quality, small fields, small attendance, and small handle go hand-in-hand with the over proliferation, and worst of all it takes away from the experience of the fan.

How can we get back the thrill? I offer the answer of shorter race meets or less days of racing. Boutique racing is the norm in countries where racing is more popular than in America. Short race meets with less racing translates to higher quality. Attending the races at Royal Ascot in England is an event. Their extra short meets are memorable rather than ho-hum.

Even in the U.S. the benefits of the boutique meet seem quite evident. Places like Del Mar, Keeneland, and Saratoga thrive because of their recognition of quality over quantity, although, I am worried that the special feeling of these tracks might be lost if they continue expanding dates. Could you imagine what would happen to these places if they started running there 200 days a year?

You can also look at the current Monmouth experiment for a wonderful example of moderation as a step in the right direction. While not a boutique meet in duration, Monmouth has gone with the boutique idea weekly. Offering only three days of racing a week is accomplishing the goal of providing a better product. Shouldn’t that be what we all want?

This matter is the topic du jour for the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance. Please check out their main page to find numerous other points-of-view, and see if they agree with me that less can be so much more.


Anonymous said...

Racing started going downhill when the meets were extended into cold weather forcing architectural changes to the grandstand. No longer were the afternoon breezes available to the customer. The more they enclosed the smokier it got. My wife finally quit going resulting in me not going as much.

Brian Zipse said...

I hear you RG, being inside a smokey box is no fun.

LDP said...

I wonder if a kind of season could be created for racing. The season starts in March and lasts to later November. It would cut a lot of racing out, but it would give the horses some time to just rest and be horses, before going through training again. Plus the winter months are horrible. I love racing, but would not want to freeze myself to go to a track and watch a race. Also as you said it would in a way push the shortened racing dates to put quality over quantity.