HRU Feedback (2017-06-04)

U.S. jurisdictions should use Ontario Racing commercials

Thank you for sharing the two excellent commercials produced by the OLG and Ontario Racing (story here)!

They are so compelling and the thoroughbred one was humorous, as well.

Maybe some U.S. racing jurisdictions could purchase the rights to use and add their own tagline.

— Dot Morgan / Executive Director New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program

Commercials great, but have strange message

Here’s my two cents on those new commercials to promote harness racing in Ontario (story here): The production value — including music and voiceover — is first class. Its message, however, is one I find curious.

Case in point: Two-thirds of the 60-second spot, and 25 seconds of the 30, are devoted to negativity, i.e., you’ve got to experience some disappointment, that will ultimately make the glory sweeter.

A rather strange way to promote a sport on which gambling is conducted — particularly to the new fan — the one harness racing is desperate to attract.

It’s one thing to try and relate Scott Young’s story. But, he’s on the inside — a young driver looking to make his mark on the sport — one which entails fighting through many pitfalls along the way. But it’s a whole helluva lot different when you’re trying to pique the interest of newbies and entice them into sampling your sport!

The idea of losing is anathema – so, why promote THAT?! Hey, I get the concept: you gotta guts it out, before you get to the good stuff.

But, is THAT REALLY the message you want to send to prospective new fans — disappointment and a few frames of fans getting bummed out, while watching a race?

— Steve Ross / Medford, NJ

Disrupting the disruptor

What better guy than Brett Pelling to go to for an interview about change and disruption (story here)?

In the ‘80s in New Jersey his magical form reversals were quite disruptive. I think his quick exit to the Southern Hemisphere was also a little disruptive. Lots of success and a rapid exit always makes one wonder… Justin Abbott, anyone??

Forget that for now.

This article seems to be of the variety that says change and new blood/gambling dollars are sought after and required, which is very true.

What it does not mention, once again, is the nagging issue of integrity in the sport.

For those of us old enough to remember the ‘80s in East Rutherford, NJ, Mr. Pelling would be a fine interview candidate for that topic.

I never doubted (Brett’s) training abilities, but his methods were always in question. I also don’t think that his idea of a different commission structure for drivers and trainers is disruptive, at least not much.

The idea of 10 race bikes at a track, hitch em’ up and roll the starting gate is long overdue and I commend him for that. About 20 years ago, the game started racing bikes, not horses.

The sport will ONLY have a shot at forward movement when integrity and drug use and the policing of the sport is recognized, scrutinized, and implemented, and not before.

— Vic Dante / North Caldwell, NJ

Interesting suggestions

It was interesting that (Brett Pelling suggested) that the trainers get a bigger percent of a horse’s earnings, (story here), but I tend to agree that the trainers do so much more, and they are responsible for the complete welfare of the horse. Drivers spend about 10 minutes with the horse, from the time they get on the seat until they get off. They don’t even warm up their horses any more. There are warm up drivers for that, but I see a lot of the good trainers warming up their own horses. That is a good idea so they can tell if their horse is right or if something is off a little bit. I remember when we first got in the business, in the ‘80s, that drivers got what the owner wanted to give them and trainers didn’t get anything extra, I guess, unless they had a generous owner. We’ve come a long way, but sometimes change is a good thing.

— Lorraine Truitt / Horse Lovers United Inc.