Sunday, June 17, 2018
Springsteen: Get in the Game

It's autumn 1991 at Keeneland Race Course in the Kentucky Bluegrass and I'm a fledgling fan of horse racing. The dogwood and maple trees are showing off some color. Exotic wagers are few, and a public address system is nonexistent. Races are run only to the shouts and murmurs of the crowd. Necks crane to see the current running order on the infield tote. Rap pioneer MC Hammer and his entourage cause a mild stir as they weave through the crowd toward the winner's circle. His colt Dance Floor looks like he might be a good one. Just one of those racetrack memories that stays with you I guess.

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Lessons in Listening from NASCAR

"We know that our best customers are what drive the metrics of this sport.” ~Brian Moyer, NASCAR

nascarThe popularity of NASCAR is no accident or mysterious cultural phenomenon. This is a carefully managed customer-centric business that pours effort and budget into market research. NASCAR does so many things right that it's difficult to focus on just one aspect. From presenting corporate sponsors with sophisticated ROI calculations to converting fans into brand evangelists, NASCAR's marketing prowess is a marvel.

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Those Brainy Horseplayers

200px-Graduation_hat1The controversial trainer Jeff Mullins once famously quipped "if you bet on horses, I would call you an idiot." Unsurprisingly the comment was not well-received by horseplayers at the time, especially those attracted to the game by the intellectual challenge. And unfortunately Mr. Mullins' sentiment did little to change the popular stereotype of the "degenerate" horseplayer.

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Secretariat: Big Red to the Rescue

Disney's new film "Secretariat" rolls out in theaters across the nation today. By many accounts this family-oriented "feel-good" production is visually impressive and sure to please. While hard-core horse Secretariat-Belmontracing fans and purists will quibble with various historical inaccuracies and questionable character portrayals, the inspiring narrative remains intact. It is "a great film about greatness," according to movie critic Roger Ebert, who also considers it "one of the year's best films." More importantly, a new generation of potential fans is primed to learn about this incomparable equine athlete and receive an introduction to the sport of Thoroughbred horse racing in the process.

Although I was very much alive in 1973 when Secretariat, nicknamed Big Red, won the Triple Crown in sensational style and captured the nation's imagination, I unfortunately have no personal memories of his exploits. I'm envious of those who do. My cherished Sgt. Rock comic books were undoubtedly a higher priority at the time. What I do remember watching on television was Senator Sam Ervin and the Watergate hearings, which is a curious memory to have from one's childhood. Such were the times.

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Top 10 Fictitious Quotes from Thoroughbred Racing in 2010*
(*that we wish had actually been spoken)

10. "We will reach an agreement with NBC to televise the Breeders' Cup once again. Maybe even before our contract with ABC/ESPN expires, if we can find a loophole somewhere. Our experience with ESPN/ABC has been, shall we say... disappointing." ~ Greg Avioli

9. "It has been, to say the least, a pleasant surprise to us how well the show has been received by our audience. 'Jockeys' is quickly becoming one of our most valuable programs." ~ Animal Planet spokesperson

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