A couple of member and board comments. A couple about HANA Week at Keeneland with the crew, and one about Emerald Downs, which Handride noted something about recently on his blog.
From Hajck, writer of our very interesting "Why I Left Racing" series:
After watching the opening night's festivities from Auburn Washington, I just wanted to take a minute to show how a subtle change can make all the difference in how a track approaches its fan base.
For the last few years, it had been my contention that EMD had a flaw in their wagering format. EMD usually runs an eight race card, with the early Pik4 starting in the second race. This would create an overlap in the fifth race as the concluding leg of the early Pik4 and the initial leg of the late Pik4.
I presented to the powers-that-be (not naming names), on numerous occasions (in writing), that this format might be adversely effecting the handle, that if the Pik4's were split, they would have a larger pool in the late Pik4.
I was told, in no uncertain terms, to live with it. My response was "I'll live with it, but I certainly won't bet it," and proceeded to boycott the wager at EMD.
This year, Emerald Downs has shuffled some of their administrative personnel, and they received a similar missive from a fan of the sport in the off season. The new administration, in concert with long time media relations director Joe Withee, initiated the simple change of creating split Pik4's.
The illustration I am trying to make is that when a racetrack listens to its fanbase, and initiates positive change, everyone benefits.
A hearty salute to Adrian Buchan, the new Director of Marketing at EMD, and the administrative staff at Emerald Downs for taking the track down a new and exciting path. I look for good things from Emerald Downs this season, as the energy is strong, the perspective positive, and the direction finally going the right way.
Further, the HANA board and crew have very good things to say about this week at Keeneland:
Keeneland has been extremely gracious with their hospitality and as a first timer at Keeneland this weekend that was the one aspect that struck me the most, its the little things that make a difference in any experience including a visit to the track and Keeneland is one of the few tracks that seems to understand that. I am someone that travels around a fair amount each year to different tracks throughout the country and I have been known to be rather critical at times but so far in my trip I have not had any complaints.
From Jeff Platt, HANA President:
Wrap Up Day Two
Met with Hank Zeitlin - President and CEO of Equibase. Hank was kind enough to sit down and talk with us - and then introduce us around and give us a tour of the IT Center. I never before realized that Equibase was part of the Jockey Club and just how much they do. One thing we did do was start a dialog about one area where (my opinion) the industry could do a better job of disseminating information to players: Scratches and changes in real time. I plan to follow up that initial conversation with ideas about accomplishing the desired goal: Getting a system in place where scratches and changes are published on the web in one location in real time.
We also met with Keeneland President Nick Nicholson. I can't say enough about the hospitality he has shown us. He really rolled out the red carpet. On a crowded Friday afternoon they set us up with a private room (for our board meeting)... monitors everywhere... a fully stocked fridge... our own betting machine... food and drink vouchers... and we even presented the trophy to the winning connections after race 6.
I can't say enough good things about Mike Maloney. Not only did he pass out HANA flyers and talk to people for us, and let us use his private "office". I found him to be completely laid back, open, and approachable about his handicapping. How many serious players can you say that about? We had dinner with him tonight - at a place where he knows the owner... we talked horses and betting and told jokes and just had a good time...
Like I said, I'm just blown away by the hospitality everybody here has shown us.
Hospitality, dialogue, customer service, respect and customers and tracks who want to change the game for the better. This is a good thing, no matter what business you are in.
Keeneland just gets it right. It should be the model for the industry, but you just can't teach hospitality. The fabric that is Keeneland green, can attempted to be emulated, but impossible to be duplicated. Any effort to do so, though, would only benefit the industry.
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