HRU Feedback (2018-04-08)

April 8, 2018

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Something fishy in Saturday’s 1st race at Yonkers?

Apparently some of the racetracks didn’t get the memo about integrity. I would be interested in what Yonkers has to say about its first race Saturday (April 7) payoffs. Any sane person that looks at the odds, payoffs and the two favorites absence at the finish line for this race would smell the stench. We have a $24 win horse, a $18 place horse and a $9 show horse. We also had a 2-5 favorite and a 2-1 second favorite that were nowhere and yet $229 exactor and a $730 trifecta? Come on Yonkers officials. Well, maybe they were out for popcorn.

Kind of make you wonder how well they’re overseeing the casino. Looks like an advisory to the NYS Gaming Commission is in order.

— David Perry / Dearborn, MI

More from Perry: Listen to the customer

Sometimes you gotta wonder where the common sense has gone to in harness racing. So what’s the number one thing you need in the racing business or for any successful business for that matter? Is it horses, a racetrack, a good location? Nope, it’s customers with money to spend. You think not, tell me you haven’t seen camel, ostrich, winner dog, greyhounds, turtle and rabbit (Okay, maybe not rabbit) racing. So if conditions are right, people will bet their money.

A wise man would listen to the customer and try to incorporate those things the customer defines as what they need — thus a win-win situation is formed. Now compare that scenario to the harness racing business which is completely reversed and where the racetrack sets the conditions and the customer gets no sayso. Handles plummet, track attendance declines at 8-10 per cent a year and the poor little racetrack cannot understand what is happening to their business and where the younger bettors are going which they assumed would replace the older customers. Knock knock harness racing the business has changed and you have not. For the last decade and a half the customers have been giving the tracks feedback but it has fallen on deaf ears. So is harness racing destined to go the way of the dinosaurs? It appears to me that the tracks have hired marketing departments that have a 1975 mentality — do as little as possible and keep more of their customer’s money.

About 4 years ago I sent a letter to Yonkers and suggested two things, move the finish line camera TO THE FINISH LINE instead of 25 feet before it, thus causing the customer to have to guess at who finished first. The second thing was provide the finish in slo-motion and put a finish line marker in the background so as to insure integrity. Four years later and still only a portion of the requests are answered. Here’s a tip for you Yonkers and many other of the racetracks for that matter: The answer as to what the customers need in the way of change isn’t in the Marketing office or the Director of Racing’s office, it resides with the customer! There is little time if any, to give up the stubbornness and get sand out of your ears and LISTEN TO THE CUSTOMER. Yonkers here’s a news flash: make significant changes now or start looking for a property buyer because once the casino license is approved across the river, customers will remember who fought for them and listened to them.

In closing, I’ll say one last thing about today’s racing customer, there’s a multitude of other exciting options for them to choose and in our minds most racetracks are lumped together. Therefore, if they are turned off by one track, they are turned off to all. So if you think things that happen at one track — say a 4-minute wait for the race to go off and all the time the clock is at zero — doesn’t affect all tracks in bettors’ minds, think again. What you are hearing here is that the tracks need to police their own.

— David Perry / Dearborn, MI

Yonkers needs to open Empire Terrace for every card

It’s great to see that Yonkers has had a resurgence in its betting handle with a number of race pools hovering around or about $100,000 and nightly handle in the million-dollar range. I congratulate the horseman and management for all they have done to make this possible. However, if Yonkers wants to again become a true leader in this sport it needs to cater to all fans and not just off track and simulcast betting outlets. With such great races coming this spring, summer and fall the Empire Terrace restaurant needs to reopen on all race nights so that owners and patrons can watch the horses with friends and family and have a true on track experience. Saturdays alone are not enough.

There is great NYSS and overnights during the week throughout the meet. Every other major track provides an in-dining experience where you can watch the races on a nightly basis. Whether it be a limited menu, buffet or snacks Yonkers needs at the very least to reopen the bar area again and ride the momentum of their handle resurgence. You can’t get the owners and fans excited about coming back to the track again on just one possible day a week. Every other major track provides a consistent in dining experience where an owner or fan can watch the races with family and friends in comfort. It’s time for Yonkers to gain traction from this momentum and do the same.

— Jonathan Klee / Mineola, NY

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