After Preakness Day success…..nothing?

May 24, 2011 | Keith Melchior

Congrats to the Maryland Jockey Club and the Maryland Racing Commission for the success they achieved on Preakness Day. It looks like their promotion of Kegasus, which many thought was a terrible marketing idea, worked out in their favor as an announced 107,000 people walked, or staggered, through the gates at Old Hilltop.  The infield concerts headlined by the popular Bruno Mars and Train didn’t hurt either.  The Maryland Jockey Club is resting on it’s laurels and patting itself on the back for what they consider was a very successful day. The only drawback was not having some New York OTB facilities on-line and figure that hurt their projected betting pool numbers. They are very happy and full of themselves with what took place Saturday.

What’s next on the agenda for Maryland horse racing?  “Nothing.”  WHAT? Nothing? Seriously? You’d think they would attempt to parlay the success of the Preakness into an additional marketing attempt to lure people back to the track.  When people love the food or the atmosphere of a certain restaurant, chances are they’ll return or most assuredly, tell a friend about the good time they had.

Here’s a  hypothetical situation;   A guy who has seen horse racing on TV but has never been to the track in person goes to the Preakness. He drinks a little, bets on a few races, wins a little extra cash, and just flat out has a great time. While the experience is fresh in his mind, he decides on the way home he’d like to learn more about horse racing and wants to plan a trip back to Pimlico again soon. He might even take 5 of his friends along with him.

Well guess what, he has to wait 14 more weeks before he can see another live horse race in the State of Maryland. That’s FOURTEEN WEEKS, or on calendar terms approximately August 20, or almost the end of summer.

Supposedly the deal made between the Maryland Jockey Club and  Governor Martin O’Miserable, calls for a gap in live racing from Preakness Day until 14 weeks later, when live racing returns to Laurel Park (and Timonium for the State Fair)  I don’t know too much about the details of that deal, but you know it involves a few million dollars taken from the slots revenue. Supposedly the deal calls for live racing 146 days a year, but just none after the Preakness for a few months, which still makes no sense at all. I think you still might be able to go to Pimlico and Laurel to watch simulcasts of races from other venues, but it’s not the same as experiencing live horse racing.

Why they wouldn’t want to keep the momentum of the Preakness alive and continue to market horse racing throughout the summer months seems a little strange to me. If you have to shut down for a period of time, then why not cancel the racing cards in the winter months and have racing over the summer? People are more apt to go see racing when it’s warm rather than when temperatures are in the 30’s and 40’s. The thrill of horse races live are the sounds of the track from up close near the finish line. To be stuck inside is almost like being in the party suites at OPACY with the AC on and the doors closed. You can’t hear the true sounds of the ballpark unless you go outside.

So yet another Maryland political screw-up takes place. You have a great day Saturday, pat yourselves on the back and then do absolutely nothing to keep the momentum going. I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s pretty typical with the way this state is being run. First they dicked around with the slots bill with their delays and bickering. Now they cut a deal to take away the “sport of kings” for 14 weeks after the most successful day in Maryland racing since last May.

Regardless of what a great time it is, and that over 100,000 people attended, Maryland doesn’t deserve to have the Preakness if they are just interested in promoting the sport of horse racing for one day a year and then locking it away in the closet afterward only to let it out at their convenience during a time frame when the weather isn’t all that great to begin with.

Well,  if you have nothing to do on a weekend this summer and want to see live horse racing, head on up I-95 to Delaware Park. I definitely am planning a trip there very soon. Delaware Park would love to have you visit their beautiful facility and spend a few dollars on horse races and slots, because it’s pretty obvious the State of Maryland doesn’t care about anything but the festivities on the 3rd Saturday in May.