Bundling Races on Big Days--Good or Bad for the Sport
IS BUNDLING RACES GOOD FOR THE SPORT
Steve Haskin writes in the Blood Horse
about the net impact of "big racing days" in New York. ThoroFan and the New York State Racing Fan Advisory Council have addressed the issue of bundling stakes races on select days. Although those days are exciting, they deplete the track from offering good stakes races on other days. Haskin writes about the effect of the bundling during the Saratoga meet has on September racing in New York. Years-gone-by September was a major month for racing on the east coast. The weather was perfect and horses and barns were closing up one year in preparation for the next. The Breeders' Cup helped because many the September horses were prepping for the Cup. October seems to have replaced September for that purpose.
For many fans who were overly challenged by racing at Saratoga and Del Mar a September-hiatus may be a good thing. But for other new fans it offers a void in racing that might be filled by weekend football games, other gambling activities or forms of entertainment.
Although every strategy to improve racing deserves a try, every strategy needs to be evaluated. Now is the time for NYRA to take a "hard-look" at the concept of bundling. They should ask if it has been as successful at rebuilding the sport's fan base, as it has been in filling seats a few days a year and increasing handle. The latter two can be temporary gains, while the former has a longer range value.