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Turf Luck retelling of her on again off again relationship to Mountaineer in: "Love's Labor Lost"
But hey, Mountie scorned me and my little labor of love, so in return: No pre-race cheerleading before WV Derby Day, no linking to those hidden past performances for the undercard, no mention of those lovely articles Bill Mooney wrote leading up to the Big Day, no highlighting the visits from big name trainers and jockeys as a reason to maybe visit the track or place a wager.
For a librarian, it was hard to see all of the web visitors that arrived here looking for "West Virginia Derby past performances" only to find my Derby post from last year, which as of this writing, is still comes up first in a Google search. Mountaineer may not be looking for a girlfriend, but golly, I think they could learn a few things about customer service from a librarian. Think I'm wrong? Send an e-mail to your library tomorrow, and see how long it takes them to reply.
What's sad is the impact that tracks like Mountaineer may have on racing in general. While longtime fans may see differences between NYRA, MEC, CDI, etc., for those new to the sport, the brand of "horse racing" generally equates to "the track I visit" and (of course) the Kentucky Derby. If I had visited Mountaineer before going to Belmont, well, it's quite possible I wouldn't have gone on to visit Keeneland, Saratoga, Pimlico, Presque Isle, Penn National, Meadowlands, Philadelphia Park or even Belmont. It seems to me, that in many ways, the brand of "thoroughbred racing" is only as strong as the nearest track -- and sadly, I think I've been dating the weakest link. (cont'd at link)
Jeff Klenner's "The Little Things Still Count"
It is my belief that today’s racetrack executives are prone to treating patrons as a commodity. They don’t honor the fact that fostered by familiarity and memories of days gone by, most fans have a strong identification with their local tracks. This attitude is not unlike the allegiance that fans often have to their local sports franchise. However, it is a double-edged sword, since the same fans may, at times, be harshly critical and vocal about the problems suffered and mistakes committed by such entities.
Such criticism is not, in itself, a bad thing. Anyone who has studied modern management principles will tell you that customers who complain are your best friends—because research shows that the majority of people do not bother to report their unsatisfactory experiences. Meaning that most patrons instead become ticking time bombs—if you disappoint them, they are more likely to just not come back rather than bother finding someone to whom they should voice their complaints. (cont'd at link)
H.A.N.A. has done a very good job of highlighting the concerns of horseplayers, but I think Turf Luck and Jeff Klenner point to a problem facing the entire industry, and indirectly all horseplayers. People have to become, and stay, fans of horseracing. It isn't just a numbers game, not just a gambling alternative to poker, blackjack, or slot machines. It is a live sport with a need to make us want to go to the track and watch the horses run. Horseracing will not survive even if they cut the takeout in half and make all races available for free on every tv and computer, because eventually the current fan base will be dead. They need to actively work to draw new fans and make the current fans feel valued.
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