It’s Monday morning, 5:22 a.m. 7 degrees here in Brooklyn. The Jets lost. If I had any sense at all, I’d still be cranky. I might even be crankier.
But the weekend offered perspective. Hours of research into the weekend post on the Toboggan – its history, the horses and connections who’ve won it, the storied tracks at which it’s been run – was an excellent tonic to the vitriol in which I found myself steeped last week.
So, too, was a fun conversation with Nick Kling and Tom Amello on their Sunday morning Capital OTB program, Trackfacts, in which we talked Eclipse Awards, Twitter, and women in racing. Amello tried, I think, to lure me into a conversation about college basketball and any parallels it might share with racing, but I wisely stayed out of those waters.
But perhaps most responsible for pulling me out of my cantankerous mood were the dozens of comments and e-mails that proved exactly the antidote: civil, thoughtful, reasonable messages from people who care about racing. One in particular stood out to me, and I print it here with the writer’s permission:
Let me assure you that the core of the Zenyatta fans were not anti-Blame (I was at the Breeders Cup, first race I ever attended, and have always been a fan of Blame) as much as we were pro-Zenyatta. After being second for two years for HOY, it seemed to us that her time had come. I can assure you that she made a significant number of us into lasting racing fans who were not previously, myself in particular. As a novice, racing gave me the impression of a rather “closed” sport, not very inviting to new fans. Zenyatta flung the doors wide open and invited everyone in. It made it so much fun. Also, If Blame raced another year, I for one would have been elated.
I have been a Fan of Barbaro since his Kentucky Derby and aftermath, and was made aware of so much through that experience that I would never have known otherwise, including horse welfare issues, what racing is about, etc. Zenyatta took that experience to a new level.
I am a big fan of Blame and respect the writers no matter whom they supported, but they gave the impression of talking to themselves and their peers, rather than the public at large. Also, they seemed to disparage everyday horse fans like myself, and said some pretty condescending things that I have never heard said about fans in other sports.
Jo Ann Scalf
Jo Ann’s e-mail raised several important points, not the least of which is her experience of feeling excluded and condescended to. “…they gave the impression of talking to themselves and their peers, rather than the public at large. Also, they seemed to disparage everyday horse fans like myself…” We would do well to keep Jo Ann’s words in mind as we go forward this year, thinking about how not only to attract new fans and gamblers to the sport, but also how to keep them.
In that vein, I point you to Dana Byerly’s most recent post at Green but Game, in which she highlights the fan education site that she co-founded, Hello Race Fans!, and that offers a variety of ways for new and experienced fans and horseplayers to get involved in racing (full disclosure: I’m a contributing editor). An easy way to access one of HRF’s resources is to sign up for the Derby Prep Alert, a weekly e-mail highlighting that week’s prep races as we head towards Louisville in May. We kicked things off last week with a preview of the Grade 3 Lecomte at Fair Grounds, won on Saturday by Wilkinson.
And see that big banner at the top of the page? If you click on it, you’ll be directed to a page that is guaranteeing you free money. $100. Cash. And all you have to do is open a NYRA Rewards account and bet $100. You bet $100, NYRA gives you $100. Easy. No catches.
Several years ago at Saratoga, NYRA offered a similar promotion for its ADW, a “Bet $50, Get $50” deal for new account-holders. Without that incentive, I’d never have opened an ADW account, and while I don’t bet enough to get the rewards that the program offers, having a phone/internet account has come in handy a number of times.
So regardless of the amount that you wager, consider opening an account. NYRA can now stream live race videos on its site; the platform (both on a computer and on your phone) is easy to use; you’ll support one of the advertisers that helps to keep this site going; and if you bet $100 in thirty days, you’ll get $100. Win. The promotion ends on January 31st.
So it’s Monday, and it’s 7 degrees, and the Jets lost. But tomorrow will be Tuesday, and it’s supposed to be almost 40. And while the Jets will still have lost, the Rangers will play at home. On we go…