Sunday, April 19, 2009

HANA Day 3 Wrap: A Horseplayer on TV?

The day began with breakfast at the Horseman's Kitchen on the backside. On the walk over from the kitchen to the front gate we stopped to let a man on horseback pass us near the shedrow. HANA member Fred Palmer recognized him and called out "Larry Jones!" Larry stopped and chatted for a few seconds. It wasn't until Larry removed his helmet that I recognized him myself.

We met with Keeneland President Nick Nicholson. He described the incredible amount of forethought and detail that went into many of the things that most visitors at Keeneland might take for granted... for example the height of the infield toteboard in relation to line of sight - so that horses running down the backstretch are always visible from the grandstand... how the poles indicating the finish line have the mirror located in the right place: the exact center of the pole marking the finish area. This causes the line in photo finishes to match up perfectly with the area marked as the finish line by the pole.

Note: This is something that should be a no brainer for all tracks everywhere. I can think of a lot of tracks where the mirror is placed several feet away from the pole. IMHO this is bad practice. It gives you a false finish line... a pole marked "Finish" when in fact the mirror several feet away from the pole is used as the actual finish line. As with a lot of things - Keeneland has this part exactly right.

Then we talked about some of the things that matter to us players:

1. Track Signal Availability to ADWs
2. Takeout
3. Drugs
4. Pool Integrity

We started a genuine dialog on these areas. And even though we had blocked off more than an hour for the meeting we ran out of time. Nick had to leave to introduce the chior members who sang the national anthem. But he graciously agreed to sit down and meet with us again tomorrow.

Then we met with Tony Allevato of TVG - who asked me to be a guest on their live broadcast.

I've never been on TV before and didn't know quite what to expect. Todd and Matt asked some questions about HANA, takeout, and drugs. One thing I didn't want to do was bash the industry too hard while on camera. HANA is all about giving the player a voice and making the industry aware of customer needs and wants. I hope it came off ok.

Then there was a day of live racing. I managed to have a good day. But in the post parade before the Lexington I noticed that #11 Advice was acting up, tossing his head, and shying from the crowd. Theresia was sitting next to me and liked the horse. I'm afraid my negative comments about his pre-race antics were a little too strong. I think I talked her off the horse... who came rolling over the top of them late to pay $33.60 to win. If I had it to do over again I would have kept quiet as a MOUSE.

After the races we had dinner and drinks with Mike Maloney and Matt Carothers. Mike told some racing stories that had me laughing so hard I literally couldn't breathe.

It was a long day - one that was over all too soon. I'm really starting to like this place. It grows on you... the hospitality... the racing... the people.

Jeff Platt

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