Can Gene Simmons really make Santa Anita ‘the coolest place on earth’?

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Gene Simmons will be one of the many guests at the Barnstable Brown Derby Eve Gala Gene Simmons will be one of the many guests at the Barnstable Brown Derby Eve Gala

“The past is magical and the present is all going to change. We’re going to get Brad and Angelina out here. They’re all going to come here because it is going to be the coolest place on earth.” –  Gene Simmons, KISS rock band member, reality TV star, entrepreneur, consultant to the Stronach Group in a video shot at Santa Anita Park opening day, Dec. 26, 2012.

Well, so much for under-promising and over-delivering.

There was a time, and not so long ago, that movie and television stars were regulars at Southern California racetracks. During the 1980s when I lived in the Los Angeles area and worked at Daily Racing Form, Fay Wray (actress from the original King Kong) was a turf club regular, along with actor Mickey (“let’s put on a show”) Rooney, and Don (Get Smart) Adams. Jack Klugman (The Odd Couple, Quincy), Dick Van Patten (Eight Is Enough), Vic Tayback (Alice), Vince Edwards (Ben Casey), and Al Lewis (The Munsters) were more habitués of the box seats or the grandstand on an ongoing basis.

Lewis and Adams even often did “doubleheaders,” going from the afternoon Thoroughbred races to the night-time harness races across town.


Occasional racetrack visitors included superstars Elizabeth Taylor and Cary Grant, comedian Richard Pryor and singer Marvin Gaye (and I know I’m forgetting some big names). On any given day you could walk to the top of the stretch and find the old poet and novelist, Charles Bukowski, shuffling around, a coffee cup in one hand and a Daily Racing Form tucked under his arm.

These celebrities often got lost in the crowd because there were crowds. In 1984-85, daily average attendance at Santa Anita Park’s 89-day meeting was 32,902 (not a typo). A day at the races was a day to escape. Pay phones were locked up before the first race, there were no cell phones, pagers, or Internet. There was no simulcasting. It was one race every 30 minutes, win-place-show wagering, one daily double, a couple of exactas, a pick six – and that was it. There was plenty of time to study the past performances and see the horses in the paddock.

Gene Simmons won’t be able to roll back everything to the 1980s, but if he can convince more celebrities to come out for a day of racing (without being paid an appearance or consulting fee), that would be a welcome development.

I hope he can do it.

I’m not quite sure I get the whole Gene Simmons attraction. I like music, so I was never exposed to KISS recordings or concerts when they hit it big in the 1970s. I also don’t watch reality shows, so I’m not sure what “Gene Simmons: Family Jewels” adds to our culture.

I do understand his popularity to an extent, so realize that Simmons and his bandmates on KISS have a huge following. For example, at last count, @GeneSimmons has 414,687 followers on Twitter (including me, now). He could convince a lot of people to give a day of racing a try by having his “Tweet Team” send out a message, something he didn’t do for Santa Anita’s opening day.

Simmons did go on a Los Angeles morning news talk show and promote Thoroughbred racing, Santa Anita Park, and its owner, Frank Stronach. Simmons did the same thing a few years ago when Stronach launched “Frank’s Energy Drink,” a rival to Red Bull that didn’t succeed. They have some history, as does Simmons and Stronach’s daughter, Belinda, having formed a Canadian record company together some years ago.

Simmons and a marketing partner were hired previously to inject some life into another struggling sport, the Indy Racing League that puts on the Indianapolis 500 and other races during the year.

He was brought on board in January 2006, the year after the Indy 500 television telecast drew a 6.6 overnight rating. Despite a marketing campaign that included a song Simmons wrote specifically for the sport (“I Am Indy”), the Indy 500 overnight ratings dropped to 5.2 in 2006 and 4.8 in 2007.  (Here is a video of Simmons explaining how a switch to ethanol fuel would change the public’s perception of Indy Car racing, and another video where he describes the meaning of the slogan and song “I Am Indy.”)

The Indy Racing League hasn’t caught on fire, but you can’t blame Simmons or his song. A destructive battle between two organizations in the sport occurred as NASCAR racing was ascending in popularity, and the Indy 500 and Indy Racing League are now also-rans to stock car races like the Daytona 500 and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

I’m going to give the man a chance. Who knows, maybe he’ll write a signature song about Santa Anita (oh, wait, that was tried during the autumn meeting when the Jimmy Dunne original, “My California,” was played everyday over the PA system, much to the horror of those in attendance).

Perhaps Simmons can convince Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to come out to Santa Anita real soon. I hear they’re planning a wedding, and there’s a beautiful spot across Baldwin Avenue from Santa Anita, at the Arboretum, where they could share their vows, and then take a horse-drawn carriage to kick off their honeymoon at the Great Race Place.

I’ll show up for it, wearing my KISS make-up.

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  • Ace

    You forgot to mention the “couple $5 exactas” were $5 minimum wagers.  That’s right, $30 minimum to box.  Oh, the good old days when free enterprise was stifled.

    • Don Reed

      Mixed feelings. This is
      an acknowledgement of undeniable financial inflation.

      Judging by the above
      resentment, probably poorly “marketed.”

      Plus: You get the exacta
      box price 2 1/2 times, instead of just once. If you’re right, you cash. If not,
      you’re out the door sooner, which I think is a benefit, not a kick in the ass
      (it’s just not your day; keep going to the window, and you’re now blowing $
      better spent on a later date).

  • Ace

    You forgot to mention the “couple $5 exactas” were $5 minimum wagers.  That’s right, $30 minimum to box.  Oh, the good old days when free enterprise was stifled.

  • Limbaze

    Gene Simmons sends the totally wrong message, he is too old and too sleezy. You need youth to grow the sport, with the right messaging. I think this will be a disaster.

  • Hadrianmarcus

    As a long-time fan of both horse racing and Indycar, I hope to God that Mr. Simmons learned a few important lessons along the way in his attempts to promote Indycar s few years ago. The problem was as I recall that…at times it seemed Mr. Simmons was more interested in promoting Gene Simmons than the racing league.   

    • Waquoit

      Too true. If Gene Simmonds is the answer, what pray tell is the question?

    • NoGeneSimmons

      Hey…..doesn’t that sound familiar to someone else we’ve seen recently? *cough* Mark Verge *cough*

  • Limbaze

    Gene Simmons sends the totally wrong message, he is too old and too sleezy. You need youth to grow the sport, with the right messaging. I think this will be a disaster.

  • Hadrianmarcus

    As a long-time fan of both horse racing and Indycar, I hope to God that Mr. Simmons learned a few important lessons along the way in his attempts to promote Indycar s few years ago. The problem was as I recall that…at times it seemed Mr. Simmons was more interested in promoting Gene Simmons than the racing league.   

  • Waquoit

    Too true. If Gene Simmonds is the answer, what pray tell is the question?

  • roger

    Santa Anita ON – TRACK handle was DOWN 29.2% yesterday vs last year Dec.26 Opening Day.

    Source :CHRIMS

    • Realist

      It was also a Wednesday which historically has always produced lower on track attendance/handle over the entire history of the facility. Apples, meet oranges.

      • roger

        The last Wed. Dec.26 SA Opening Day was in 2007….the total mutuel handle for 9 races was $14.7 million and that was without a P-5 pool.SA
        mutuel handle Wed. was $11.8 million. Your infromation is incorrect.

        SOURCE: Equibase Chart Pools

        • Realist

          You’re comparing this year to five years ago? Have you not paid attention to the economy? How about a historic trend and how 2007 compared with previous Wednesdays? Your example is junk science and again trying to make apple juice from oranges.

          I remember 2007. Sweet August Moon won the first race on a beautiful sunny day with a high in the mid-70s. It didn’t get out of the 50s on Wednesday after it rained all morning.

          Historically, Wednesdays are the lowest for attendance/handle for opening day. That’s a fact.

           

    • Kris

      As I recall the weather last year was much warmer, which also brings out the people.

      • http://twitter.com/EJXD2 Ed DeRosa

        Also, last year was a holiday since it was the Monday following Christmas on a Sunday. So many more people off work last year than this year.

    • HappyHarriet

      Last year opening day was Sunday, I believe – a big difference, and last year it was really warm as well.  I seem to remember the temperatures being in the 70s at last year’s opening day.  This year it was a nippy 63 or so all day – chilly for us in SoCal.

  • roger

    Santa Anita ON – TRACK handle was DOWN 29.2% yesterday vs last year Dec.26 Opening Day.

    Source :CHRIMS

  • SteveG

    Frank & Belinda went for Gene Simmons on the recommendation of their first choice, Richard Simmons, who refused to give up his sold-out exercise gigs sweatin’ the oldies in various community centers throughout the country…

  • SteveG

    Frank & Belinda went for Gene Simmons on the recommendation of their first choice, Richard Simmons, who refused to give up his sold-out exercise gigs sweatin’ the oldies in various community centers throughout the country…

  • Third Party

    For the sake of argument, let’s say getting a celebrity spokesperson is the right way to go.  Why someone from a 1970s era rock band?  What is the demographic of the typical KISS fan?  Probably of an age group very similar to racing’s average age (50).  Probably would be better to have someone that could attract a younger demographic that doesn’t carry AARP cards. 

    If Santa Anita had hired Justin Bieber, I’d chuckle, but at least I would give them the credit for trying to attract a younger demographic.

    As most of the posters here acknowledge, racing’s problems run deeper than just marketing. 

    • Don Reed

      A thoughtful response.

  • Third Party

    For the sake of argument, let’s say getting a celebrity spokesperson is the right way to go.  Why someone from a 1970s era rock band?  What is the demographic of the typical KISS fan?  Probably of an age group very similar to racing’s average age (50).  Probably would be better to have someone that could attract a younger demographic that doesn’t carry AARP cards. 

    If Santa Anita had hired Justin Bieber, I’d chuckle, but at least I would give them the credit for trying to attract a younger demographic.

    As most of the posters here acknowledge, racing’s problems run deeper than just marketing. 

  • Don Reed

    “Can Gene Simmons really make Santa Anita ‘the coolest place on earth’?”

    No.

  • Don Reed

    “Can Gene Simmons really make Santa Anita ‘the coolest place on earth’?”

    No.

  • Don Reed

    A thoughtful response.

  • Don Reed

    Mixed feelings. This is
    an acknowledgement of undeniable financial inflation.

    Judging by the above
    resentment, probably poorly “marketed.”

    Plus: You get the exacta
    box price 2 1/2 times, instead of just once. If you’re right, you cash. If not,
    you’re out the door sooner, which I think is a benefit, not a kick in the ass
    (it’s just not your day; keep going to the window, and you’re now blowing $
    better spent on a later date).

  • Jack

    don’t forget Charles Bukowski 

    • Don Reed

      In relation to what? 

      Has Disqus (3rd World efficiency in action) once again presented a response as an original comment?

      • Jack

        he loved the track and went there often

        • Don Reed

          Thanks, Jack.

  • Jack

    don’t forget Charles Bukowski 

  • Realist

    It was also a Wednesday which historically has always produced lower on track attendance/handle over the entire history of the facility. Apples, meet oranges.

  • NoGeneSimmons

    Hey…..doesn’t that sound familiar to someone else we’ve seen recently? *cough* Mark Verge *cough*

  • RayPaulick

    Roger,

    I know you hate being the bearer of bad news, but there was some good news. Off-track handle (non-instate simulcasting) rose significantly, putting total handle up for the day. I am assuming much of that was due to a jump in ADW wagering.

  • Citation

    Gene Simmons, really?  Why not have Hall and Oates, Dave Clark 5, Chic, Todd Rungren, Marshall Tucker Band or various other performer from the 70′s to bring in the younger people. 

    Nonetheless, I do remember when I first started to go to the races in the mid 80′s{BTW, not to see any performer, but rather someone took me} that the pay phone went off, the cash/buy ticket lines.  WPS and the DD had a different line.  How it has changed.

    • Ace

       You missed when the tickets were different colors for denomination and type of bet and race and were cardboard

    • Jeffrey H.

      Todd Rundgren, one of my favorite artists from the 70s to early 90s, even the days both boands of Utopia were strong, but I say I would agree if Todd Rundgren was there, although I will add my 2 besides them,

      Meat Loaf(70s and 80s hits) and Bruce Hornsby would be mine.

  • Citation

    Gene Simmons, really?  Why not have Hall and Oates, Dave Clark 5, Chic, Todd Rungren, Marshall Tucker Band or various other performer from the 70′s to bring in the younger people. 

    Nonetheless, I do remember when I first started to go to the races in the mid 80′s{BTW, not to see any performer, but rather someone took me} that the pay phone went off, the cash/buy ticket lines.  WPS and the DD had a different line.  How it has changed.

  • Ace

     You missed when the tickets were different colors for denomination and type of bet and race and were cardboard

  • Stanley inman

    Ray,
    Gene’s perfect
    love his hip
    Racetracker
    Style,
    (very popular at all the tracks.)

  • Stanley inman

    Ray,
    Gene’s perfect
    love his hip
    Racetracker
    Style,
    (very popular at all the tracks.)

  • Wajsgras

    If racing has to resort to this rediculousness instead of trying to just have wager friendly fan freindly good product racing than just shut the sport down and be done with the stupidity as the kids say LOL

  • Wajsgras

    If racing has to resort to this rediculousness instead of trying to just have wager friendly fan freindly good product racing than just shut the sport down and be done with the stupidity as the kids say LOL

  • David

    What’s the percentage of the US population that darken door
    of a racetracks during the course of a year?  
    5%?  Can’t be 10% I wouldn’t
    think (total reported attendance means absolutely nothing even if it were
    correct as it fails to factor multiple incident – of attendance – among
    regulars attendees) but if it’s 7.5%, how many A-list Celebes account for 7.5%
    of the total and how much influence will they have?   SA (and it’s just them and Del Mar) is in a unique position to
    glean association to star power but Mr. Simmons had better have a thick address
    book is that’s going to be the strategy.  
    Just ‘sayin.

  • David

    What’s the percentage of the US population that darken door
    of a racetracks during the course of a year?  
    5%?  Can’t be 10% I wouldn’t
    think (total reported attendance means absolutely nothing even if it were
    correct as it fails to factor multiple incident – of attendance – among
    regulars attendees) but if it’s 7.5%, how many A-list Celebes account for 7.5%
    of the total and how much influence will they have?   SA (and it’s just them and Del Mar) is in a unique position to
    glean association to star power but Mr. Simmons had better have a thick address
    book is that’s going to be the strategy.  
    Just ‘sayin.

  • David

    Can Gene Simmons really make Santa Anita ‘the coolest place on earth’?

    Hahahahahahahahaha!!!!

    Thanks for the laugh Ray.

  • David

    Can Gene Simmons really make Santa Anita ‘the coolest place on earth’?

    Hahahahahahahahaha!!!!

    Thanks for the laugh Ray.

  • Matthew Martini

    Man, I would have loved to have spent a day at the track with Charles Bukowski. He carried around a coffee cup? I wonder what was in it.

    For racing to gain new fans, it has to clean itself up in all of the ways that we already know and read about every day (no need for details). Lower takeout would help, as would a website where people could practice ticket construction to see how they are doing with their handicapping (e.g., something like the old TVG Free site). Make it easy for people who already like horses to learn how to play the gaming side too. Once they are “in,” racing could very well find itself with some lifetime fans and frequent horseplayers.

    I’m not sure if Gene can help at Santa Anita, or anywhere else, for that matter.

    • desertrailrat

      Well meant comments.  But dude, your avatar looks like an arrest photo with the off white background.  Just sayin, I rock a chin goatee and a shaved head but if I took a picture like that I would kind of see it coming…..

  • Matthew Martini

    Man, I would have loved to have spent a day at the track with Charles Bukowski. He carried around a coffee cup? I wonder what was in it.

    For racing to gain new fans, it has to clean itself up in all of the ways that we already know and read about every day (no need for details). Lower takeout would help, as would a website where people could practice ticket construction to see how they are doing with their handicapping (e.g., something like the old TVG Free site). Make it easy for people who already like horses to learn how to play the gaming side too. Once they are “in,” racing could very well find itself with some lifetime fans and frequent horseplayers.

  • Kris

    As I recall the weather last year was much warmer, which also brings out the people.

  • http://twitter.com/nancyalis nancy albino

    One of my guilty pleasures was Gene’s show “Family Jewels”.
    I didn’t think I’d like it at first, because he is a very arrogant person,
    except when dealing with his business (fans) or family. I actually found it funny, and
    his family is wonderful. One of the episodes featured him & his wife attending
    the Kentucky Derby. He was NOT a happy camper, and does NOT believe in
    gambling.  His wife really enjoyed it, however.  He is a very smart businessman, but he is all about making money for himself, first and foremost.  Since he DOES know about audio, I am hoping that he does something about the SA horrible sound system. I attended the BC and the sound for the “Star-Spangled Banner” was muted. How embarrassing! I could hardly hear Tony Bennett, and forget about hearing any of the calls if you were inside wagering. Santa Anita is a first-class racetrack. It should sound like one as well. PS. My best friend (broadcast sound engineer) attended
    opening day, and he DID think the sound was a bit better. Don’t know if Gene
    had anything to do with it, though.

    • HappyHarriet

      I, too, couldn’t get enough of “Family Jewels”, and I’m not a rock fan AT ALL.  However, the reality show was compelling because of the family dynamics that were inspiring AND because Gene Simmons is an absolute marketing genius, along with his business partner, and has been consulted by companies (and countries) the world over, most of the time bringing success, not failure, to various business enterprises.

      I thought it was extremely smart of Mr. Simmons to pay homage to Stronach on opening day, by the way.

      Once Mr. Simmons, I believe, wraps his mind around horse racing and its potential, you might be surprised what he’s able to suggest and accomplish.

      One good start would be to get a replacement for Verge.  As I understand it, the position remains unfilled and hiring at Santa Anita is stuck, waiting for this decision to be made. 

      MISMANAGEMENT 101 in my opinion.

  • http://twitter.com/nancyalis nancy albino

    One of my guilty pleasures was Gene’s show “Family Jewels”.
    I didn’t think I’d like it at first, because he is a very arrogant person,
    except when dealing with his business or family. I actually found it funny, and
    his family is wonderful. One of the episodes featured him & his wife attending
    the Kentucky Derby. He was NOT a happy camper, and does NOT believe in
    gambling.  His wife really enjoyed it, however.  He is a very smart businessman, but he is all about making money for himself, first and foremost.  Since he DOES know about audio, I am hoping that he does something about the SA horrible sound system. I attended the BC and the sound for the “Star-Spangled Banner” was muted. How embarrassing! I could hardly hear Tony Bennett, and forget about hearing any of the calls if you were inside wagering. Santa Anita is a first-class racetrack. It should
    sound like one as well. PS. My best friend (broadcast sound engineer) attended
    opening day, and he DID think the sound was a bit better. Don’t know if Gene
    had anything to do with it, though.

  • Noelle

    What could make racing cool is coherent national promotion of its superstar horses. 

    When Jess Jackson was racing his superfilly Rachel Alexandra, he had to do all the promoting himself, state by state, because the hodgepodge of racing jurisdictions she ran in were incapable of promoting her as she moved from one state to another, so focused were they on their own parochial interests. 

    Who cares about Gene Simmons or Brangelina? If any one of them were at Santa Anita tomorrow, they’ll be gone the day after and the press gone with them. 

    Racing needs a national, coherent, horse-centered public relations program.  The public is waiting to fall in love with the next Zenyatta, longing to fall in love with a horse like that. The fact is we in the East barely heard of Zenyatta until her career was almost over because she was a California horse promoted only in California.  How much bigger would she have been if the country had been introduced to her when she first gained fame in California?  We now know that Zenyatta was a national treasure. How many more fans would have been attracted to racing if Zenyatta had been reported that way across the country throughout her career, if she had been reported as the national treasure she was before she ran her first Classic? 

    Had there been a national promotion strategy in place before Zenyatta competed in her first BC Classic, the whole country, not just the racing fans, would have been on her side cheering as she won that race.

    • Ole Bob Bowers

      Lest we forget some of the East Coast Media were knocking Zenyatta! One clown, Andy Beyers, from the DRF went so far as to call her ‘just a synthetic specialist’ in his public attempt to belittle the greatest race horse ever foaled, in MHO. In all fact, instead of lowering the public’s opinion of Zenyatta, he revealed what I have long said, he needs to retire. If I did believe in the ‘Beyers Figures’ (which I never have) he would be rated a minus ten.

  • Noelle

    What could make racing cool is coherent national promotion of its superstar horses. 

    When Jess Jackson was racing his superfilly Rachel Alexandra, he had to do all the promoting himself, state by state, because the hodgepodge of racing jurisdictions she ran in were incapable of promoting her as she moved from one state to another, so focused were they on their own parochial interests. 

    Who cares about Gene Simmons or Brangelina? If any one of them were at Santa Anita tomorrow, they’ll be gone the day after and the press gone with them. 

    Racing needs a national, coherent, horse-centered public relations program.  The public is waiting to fall in love with the next Zenyatta, longing to fall in love with a horse like that, but the fact is we in the East barely heard of Zenyatta until her career was almost over because she was a California horse promoted only in California.  How much bigger would she have been if the country had been introduced to her when she first gained fame in California?  Zenyatta was a national treasure. How many more fans would have been attracted to racing if Zenyatta had been reported that way across the country, as the national treasure she was, when she ran in her first Classic? 

    Had there been a national promotion strategy in place before Zenyatta competed in her first BC Classic, the whole country, not just the racing fans, would have been on her side cheering as she won that race.

  • Noelle

    Further to my previous comment, I ended up on a (perfectly understandable) I-love-Zenyatta tangent, but my point was that every year there are marvelous horses, like Wise Dan and Groupie Doll and Fort Larned this year, who get local short-term attention only in the local racing jurisdiction where they’ve won a race.  Few are paying long-term national  attention.  The individual local race means nothing to the nation because racing is not promoted as a national sport.

    Long story finally made short, mine is another argument for a national racing commissioner – with an attendant national public relations office.

  • Noelle

    Further to my previous comment, I ended up on a (perfectly understandable) I-love-Zenyatta tangent, but my point was that every year there are marvelous horses, like Wise Dan and Groupie Doll and Fort Larned this year, who get local short-term attention only in the local racing jurisdiction where they’ve won a race.  Few are paying long-term national  attention.  The individual local race means nothing to the nation because racing is not promoted as a national sport.

    Long story finally made short, mine is another argument for a national racing commissioner – with an attendant national public relations office.

  • desertrailrat

    Wife: What are you reading?

    Me: Paulick Report.  Guess who they are putting out as the face of Santa Anita?

    Wife: Who?

    Me: Gene Simmons

    Wife: Whhaaatt?

    Me: I guess they decided a washed up money hungry metal dude was the best choice.

    Wife: He’s gross.

    To reiterate Don Reed’s answer………….NO 

    • Don Reed

      A thousand times NO.

  • desertrailrat

    Wife: What are you reading?

    Me: Paulick Report.  Guess who they are putting out as the face of Santa Anita?

    Wife: Who?

    Me: Gene Simmons

    Wife: Whhaaatt?

    Me: I guess they decided a washed up money hungry metal dude was the best choice.

    Wife: He’s gross.

    To reiterate Don Reed’s answer………….NO 

  • desertrailrat

     Well meant comments.  But dude, your avatar looks like a arrest photo with the off white background.  Just sayin, I rock a chin goatee and a shaved head but if I took a picture like that I would kind of see it coming…..

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ZGXXN4XH4RGIAEN7W6HQMKVZZQ Csun

    Heard that the first thing on Mr. Simmons’ agenda is to get the tounge tie banned as equipment at all race tracks.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ZGXXN4XH4RGIAEN7W6HQMKVZZQ Csun

    Heard that the first thing on Mr. Simmons’ agenda is to get the tounge tie banned as equipment at all race tracks.

  • roger

    The last Wed. Dec.26 SA Opening Day was in 2007….the total mutuel handle for 9 races was $14.7 million and that was without a P-5 pool.SA
    mutuel handle Wed. was $11.8 million. Your infromation is incorrect.

    SOURCE: Equibase Chart Pools

  • Don Reed

    A thousand times NO.

  • Don Reed

    In relation to what? 

    Has Disqus (3rd World efficiency in action) once again presented a response as an original comment?

  • Jeffrey H.

    Todd Rundgren, one of my favorite artists from the 70s to early 90s, even the days both boands of Utopia were strong, but I say I would agree if Todd Rundgren was there, although I will add my 2 besides them,

    Meat Loaf(70s and 80s hits) and Bruce Hornsby would be mine.

  • Jack

    he loved the track and went there often

  • PWK

    I really like your comment “I like music. I have never heard his recordings. . .”

  • PWK

    I really like your comment “I like music. I have never heard his recordings. . .”

  • Warren Hill

    My oh My. I wonder what Frank Stronach and Mike Rogers
    will look like dressed up in Kiss outfits. I wonder if Belinda knows about
    Gene’s tong

    My. I
    wonder what Frank Stronach will look like dressed up in Kiss outfits? I think I
    will pass on that tought.I wonder if Belinda knows about Gene’s tong……perhaps
    she does. (oops now I am being naughty)

    Enough of
    my dithering. Realistically speaking if this is the next coming I am out of
    this game. If you want to see what works go to Royal Ascot,Keeneland or for
    that matter Saratoga. What they all have in common they cater to the dream and
    to present it with class.

    Whatever
    whacky tobacco Frank is smoking, he needs to stop. For a man that has done so
    much in life he seems to be in La La land when it comes to Santa Anita and
    horse racing. But then again he surrounds himself with full blown idiots who
    have nothing invested in the game. So once again a fool and his money will
    easily be parted (except this time it will be Franks own money and not the
    shareholders of Magna Entertainment)

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/TSL2ON5J75IYYIUJIPZRK2SVQ4 Mike

    Sad to see Santa Anita becoming like a Wrestling Promotion – Simmons was chewing gum while handing out the Malibu Trophy – Probably will last the usual 6 to 9 months for Stronach.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/TSL2ON5J75IYYIUJIPZRK2SVQ4 Mike

    Sad to see Santa Anita becoming like a Wrestling Promotion – Simmons was chewing gum while handing out the Malibu Trophy – Probably will last the usual 6 to 9 months for Stronach.

  • Bob Hope

    you can’t cure it if you don’t know what’s causing it ! there is no comparison between NASCAR and horse racing and that’s a realization that must be considered.

    • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

      Oh!…but it damn sure could be…one can’t walk away from that boaring ass merry go round of screaming metal with $$$ in their pockets…there is a man (with a plan) somewhere & “THE GAME” needs to find his A$$…ty…

  • Bob Hope

    you can’t cure it if you don’t know what’s causing it ! there is no comparison between NASCAR and horse racing and that’s a realization that must be considered.

  • Ohio Bred Girl

    I didn’t see his appearance at The Great Race Place, but he doesn’t need to make Santa Anita “the coolest place on earth.”  It already is–or one of them, anyway.

  • Ohio Bred Girl

    I didn’t see his appearance at The Great Race Place, but he doesn’t need to make Santa Anita “the coolest place on earth.”  It already is–or one of them, anyway.

  • Nucky Thompson

    Hell will freeze over before Gene Simmons makes Santa Anita the coolest place on earth.

  • Nucky Thompson

    Hell will freeze over before Gene Simmons makes Santa Anita the coolest place on earth.

  • stlouiskid

    If they were going to turn it into a freak show, at least go out and get Keith Richards, that would be interesting. PT Barnum is once again right. And I also am once again dumbfounded just exactly how Frank Stronach ever got rich in the first place.
    ps. Frank, put Gulfstream back the way it was before you destroyed it.

  • stlouiskid

    If they were going to turn it into a freak show, at least go out and get Keith Richards, that would be interesting. PT Barnum is once again right. And I also am once again dumbfounded just exactly how Frank Stronach ever got rich in the first place.
    ps. Frank, put Gulfstream back the way it was before you destroyed it.

  • Jerry

    WHO’S NEXT———————————–

                                         RICHARD SIMMONS??????????????

    NOTHING GOOD WILL HAPPEN UNTIL FRANK WIPES OUT THE TOC AND THE CHRB.

    • Don Reed

      R.S. has too much class to do a deal with Frank.

      But maybe just to jerk F.S. around, R.S. can demand that during negotiations, F.S. has to wear gym shorts.

  • Jerry

    WHO’S NEXT———————————–

                                         RICHARD SIMMONS??????????????

    NOTHING GOOD WILL HAPPEN UNTIL FRANK WIPES OUT THE TOC AND THE CHRB.

  • Sue M. Chapman

    To all the critics posting madly about the impending failure of Gene Simmons’ plan, speak up now if you have anything positive to offer our sport, other than sarcasm and criticism.

    • citation

      I liked the song ‘I was made for loving you baby’ by KISS when I was young and didnt know what a exacta was, today I know what an exacta is and gene Simmons isnt the horseracing woes.  Give OZZY a shot, his show was higher rated than Simmons.

      • Don Reed

        Let’s dig up Groucho Marx.

        • citation

          SA can go real old school and sign Fatty Arbuckle

          • Don Reed

            P.T. Barnum’s available.

      • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

        gene couldn’t wear OZZIES JOCKSTRAP!!!…ty…

    • Matthew Martini

      Having celebrities at the track neither creates fans of the sport nor does it generate handle. Fixing the problems intrinsic to racing will generate both.

      This comment might be criticism of the article, but it is not sarcasm. It is an opinion.

    • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

      JAIL TIME/LIFE TIME BANS for CHEATERS/REPETERS!!!…is that postive enough for ya???…ty…

  • Sue M. Chapman

    To all the critics posting madly about the impending failure of Gene Simmons’ plan, speak up now if you have anything positive to offer our sport, other than sarcasm and criticism.

  • Ole Bob Bowers

    Lest we forget some of the East Coast Media were knocking Zenyatta! One clown, Andy Beyers, from the DRF went so far as to call her ‘just a synthetic specialist’ in his public attempt to belittle the greatest race horse ever foaled, in MHO. In all fact, instead of lowering the public’s opinion of Zenyatta, he revealed what I have long said, he needs to retire. If I did believe in the ‘Beyers Figures’ (which I never have) he would be rated a minus ten.

  • Tarheel25430

    Didn.t like Simmons a LONG time ago and like him less today!  If Stronach continues to make unwuse decisions in FREQUENT CEO changes, Santa Anita’s image will not change.  It would have made more sense to maintain Verge with minor parameters in place for the objections Stronach had in regards to Verge’s managerial attributes.  Verge was getting more of the younger population to the track.  And, the programs for children were well received as there are many of us who won’t go places if our children are not welcome.  The ‘Photographers’ Day was another good thing.  To be quite honest, I LOVED the song “MY CALIFORNIA” and feel that [like My Old KY Home] it should be the theme for the Santa Anita Derby as well as being played once during every day.

    Mark Verge as well as his predecessors should have been given enough time to settle into this position, to get a feel for what accomplish to promote the track and racing in general.  Mr Stronach surely is aware that often it takes time, results are NOT instantaneous much of the time.

    • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

      Frankie & CDI have been instrumental in keeping “THE GAME” in the “STONEAGE”…PERIOD…ty…

  • Tarheel25430

    Didn.t like Simmons a LONG time ago and like him less today!  If Stronach continues to make unwuse decisions in FREQUENT CEO changes, Santa Anita’s image will not change.  It would have made more sense to maintain Verge with minor parameters in place for the objections Stronach had in regards to Verge’s managerial attributes.  Verge was getting more of the younger population to the track.  And, the programs for children were well received as there are many of us who won’t go places if our children are not welcome.  The ‘Photographers’ Day was another good thing.  To be quite honest, I LOVED the song “MY CALIFORNIA” and feel that [like My Old KY Home] it should be the theme for the Santa Anita Derby as well as being played once during every day.

    Mark Verge as well as his predecessors should have been given enough time to settle into this position, to get a feel for what accomplish to promote the track and racing in general.  Mr Stronach surely is aware that often it takes time, results are NOT instantaneous much of the time.

  • citation

    I liked the song ‘I was made for loving you baby’ by KISS when I was young and didnt know what a exacta was, today I know what an exacta is and gene Simmons isnt the horseracing woes.  Give OZZY a shot, his show was higher rated than Simmons.

  • http://twitter.com/EJXD2 Ed DeRosa

    Also, last year was a holiday since it was the Monday following Christmas on a Sunday. So many more people off work last year than this year.

  • HappyHarriet

    Last year opening day was Sunday, I believe – a big difference, and last year it was really warm as well.  I seem to remember the temperatures being in the 70s at last year’s opening day.  This year it was a nippy 63 or so all day – chilly for us in SoCal.

  • HappyHarriet

    I, too, couldn’t get enough of “Family Jewels”, and I’m not a rock fan AT ALL.  However, the reality show was compelling because of the family dynamics that were inspiring AND because Gene Simmons is an absolute marketing genius, along with his business partner, and has been consulted by companies (and countries) the world over, most of the time bringing success, not failure, to various business enterprises.

    I thought it was extremely smart of Mr. Simmons to pay homage to Stronach on opening day, by the way.

    Once Mr. Simmons, I believe, wraps his mind around horse racing and its potential, you might be surprised what he’s able to suggest and accomplish.

    One good start would be to get a replacement for Verge.  As I understand it, the position remains unfilled and hiring at Santa Anita is stuck, waiting for this decision to be made. 

    MISMANAGEMENT 101 in my opinion.

  • Realist

    You’re comparing this year to five years ago? Have you not paid attention to the economy? How about a historic trend and how 2007 compared with previous Wednesdays? Your example is junk science and again trying to make apple juice from oranges.

    I remember 2007. Sweet August Moon won the first race on a beautiful sunny day with a high in the mid-70s. It didn’t get out of the 50s on Wednesday after it rained all morning.

    Historically, Wednesdays are the lowest for attendance/handle for opening day. That’s a fact.

     

  • Jerry

    HERE ARE THE TRUE FACTS THAT NOONE CAN DISPUTE……………..

    1) HANDLE IS DOWN
    2) ATTENDANCE IS DOWN
    3) THERE ARE FEWER RACING DATES
    4) BREEDERS ARE LOSING MONEY
    5) TRACKS ARE LOSING MONEY
    6) OWNERS ARE LEAVING THE BUSINESS AND/OR CALIFORNIA

    WELL FOLKS, IT’S ONLY GETTING WORSE AND THE TOC AND CHRB BELIEVE THAT THEY CAN SAVE CA RACING WITH——————-

                                         E X C H A N G E    W A G E R I N G !!!!!!!!!

    WHAT HAPPENS WHEN HOLLYWOOD PARK CLOSES?????????????

    ANSWER:

    1) EVEN LESS HANDLE
    2) EVEN LESS ATTENDANCE
    3) EVEN FEWER BREEDERS
    4) EVEN FEWER TRACKS AND RACE DAYS
    5) EVEN LESS OWNERS

    IF YOU HAVEN’T LEFT CA YET, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU WAITING FOR?????????

    WAKE-UP BEFORE IT’S TOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO LATE!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • David

      They deserve It for screwing their customers.

  • Jerry

    HERE ARE THE TRUE FACTS THAT NOONE CAN DISPUTE……………..

    1) HANDLE IS DOWN
    2) ATTENDANCE IS DOWN
    3) THERE ARE FEWER RACING DATES
    4) BREEDERS ARE LOSING MONEY
    5) TRACKS ARE LOSING MONEY
    6) OWNERS ARE LEAVING THE BUSINESS AND/OR CALIFORNIA

    WELL FOLKS, IT’S ONLY GETTING WORSE AND THE TOC AND CHRB BELIEVE THAT THEY CAN SAVE CA RACING WITH——————-

                                         E X C H A N G E    W A G E R I N G !!!!!!!!!

    WHAT HAPPENS WHEN HOLLYWOOD PARK CLOSES?????????????

    ANSWER:

    1) EVEN LESS HANDLE
    2) EVEN LESS ATTENDANCE
    3) EVEN FEWER BREEDERS
    4) EVEN FEWER TRACKS AND RACE DAYS
    5) EVEN LESS OWNERS

    IF YOU HAVEN’T LEFT CA YET, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU WAITING FOR?????????

    WAKE-UP BEFORE IT’S TOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO LATE!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • aprimo224

    Uh no, Gene Simmons cannot make Santa Anita or horse racing cool.  Gene can’t even make himself cool again.  I suppose there is still a certain demographic that is starstruck by Gene, but those guys are old.  Is getting 40-50somethings out to the track what Stronach is going for?  If so, OK, but I don’t think that’s going to make it cool.  Don’t you need young celebrities and the kids who are in awe of them for that?  Maybe I’m missing something.

    One thing I know for sure, Gene Simmons is now and always has been a money-grubbing egomaniac.  He apparently promotes himself pretty well, but I doubt he’s truly interested in promoting Santa Anita or racing.  I’d be shocked if he were capable of getting Pitt & Jolie to SA, unless Brad is a secret member of the KISS army.  I’d actually be shocked to learn that Jolie isn’t a card-carrying-PETA-member-hater-of-horse-racing.

    Gene is even out of touch with the music business these days.  Google “The Lefsetz Letter” and search the blog for mentions of Gene Simmons and you’ll see what I mean.  Not everyone agrees with Lefsetz, but he knows the music business and he’s had some run-ins with Simmons.

    This whole thing is a steaming pile of manure, of which SA already has plenty.  Hope I’m wrong, but I wouldn’t put any money on it.

  • aprimo224

    Uh no, Gene Simmons cannot make Santa Anita or horse racing cool.  Gene can’t even make himself cool again.  I suppose there is still a certain demographic that is starstruck by Gene, but those guys are old.  Is getting 40-50somethings out to the track what Stronach is going for?  If so, OK, but I don’t think that’s going to make it cool.  Don’t you need young celebrities and the kids who are in awe of them for that?  Maybe I’m missing something.

    One thing I know for sure, Gene Simmons is now and always has been a money-grubbing egomaniac.  He apparently promotes himself pretty well, but I doubt he’s truly interested in promoting Santa Anita or racing.  I’d be shocked if he were capable of getting Pitt & Jolie to SA, unless Brad is a secret member of the KISS army.  I’d actually be shocked to learn that Jolie isn’t a card-carrying-PETA-member-hater-of-horse-racing.

    Gene is even out of touch with the music business these days.  Google “The Lefsetz Letter” and search the blog for mentions of Gene Simmons and you’ll see what I mean.  Not everyone agrees with Lefsetz, but he knows the music business and he’s had some run-ins with Simmons.

    This whole thing is a steaming pile of manure, of which SA already has plenty.  Hope I’m wrong, but I wouldn’t put any money on it.

  • Matthew Martini

    Having celebrities at the track neither creates fans of the sport nor does it generate handle. Fixing the problems intrinsic to racing will generate both.

    This comment might be criticism of the article, but it is not sarcasm. It is an opinion.

  • Don Reed

    Thanks, Jack.

  • Don Reed

    R.S. has too much class to do a deal with Frank.

    But maybe just to jerk F.S. around, R.S. can demand that during negotiations, F.S. has to wear gym shorts.

  • Don Reed

    Let’s dig up Groucho Marx.

  • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

    Oh!…but it damn sure could be…one can’t walk away from that boaring ass merry go round of screaming metal with $$$ in their pockets…there is a man (with a plan) somewhere & “THE GAME” needs to find his A$$…ty…

  • citation

    SA can go real old school and sign Fatty Arbuckle

  • Don Reed

    P.T. Barnum’s available.

  • pdlweb

    You’ll notice that Sprint Cup and Nationwide have something that the Indy circuit does not and that is a National Sponsor built into the name of their racing series (Sprint Cup was Winston Cup prior to Sprint). Simmons can promote horse racing at Santa Anita but the fans are coming to see Simmons not horse racing. Horse Racing is going to have do something longer term like talk about horse racing, its issues, problems, successes, failures, history, jockeys, drivers, horses, pedigree etc … and share the same stage as other sports rather than keeping itself apart from them.

    The ill-fated series Luck on HBO was a good idea, even though the story line was less than complimentary (any news is good news). The debacle of Luck is another example of getting people who know nothing about horse racing involved in promoting horse racing. Horse racing needs to see itself as another type of racing sport. That means getting the stables involved in promotion too. But that is another story !!!!

  • pdlweb

    You’ll notice that Sprint Cup and Nationwide have something that the Indy circuit does not and that is a National Sponsor built into the name of their racing series (Sprint Cup was Winston Cup prior to Sprint). Simmons can promote horse racing at Santa Anita but the fans are coming to see Simmons not horse racing. Horse Racing is going to have do something longer term like talk about horse racing, its issues, problems, successes, failures, history, jockeys, drivers, horses, pedigree etc … and share the same stage as other sports rather than keeping itself apart from them.

    The ill-fated series Luck on HBO was a good idea, even though the story line was less than complimentary (any news is good news). The debacle of Luck is another example of getting people who know nothing about horse racing involved in promoting horse racing. Horse racing needs to see itself as another type of racing sport. That means getting the stables involved in promotion too. But that is another story !!!!

  • David

    They deserve It for screwing their customers.

  • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

    Frankie & CDI have been instrumental in keeping “THE GAME” in the “STONEAGE”…PERIOD…ty…

  • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

    gene couldn’t ware OZZIES JOCKSTRAP!!!…ty…

  • Seawave121

    Cannot forget John Forsythe

  • Seawave121

    Cannot forget John Forsythe

  • ziggypop

    No.

  • ziggypop

    No.

  • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

    JAIL TIME/LIFE TIME BANS for CHEATERS/REPETERS!!!…is that postive enough for ya???…ty…

  • Jerry McMahon

    The L.A. market is a competitive beast.  If you want it to be cool on track, start by competing with the casinos.  Drop the barriers for entry.  Free general parking, Free general admission (or at least give paid attendees a betting voucher for the G.A. amount), Free basic pp’s, Lower food prices (currently $3.25 for a bottled water, $6+ beers, etc.), and yes, an ACROSS THE BOARD increase in on-track payouts (not just for the pick 6 winners).

    Patrons will feel appreciated, and will plow all the savings right back into the on-track handle, which of course provides the highest revenue for everyone.

    Social gurus may be wonderful for selling shoes or soda, but not racing.

  • Jerry McMahon

    The L.A. market is a competitive beast.  If you want it to be cool on track, start by competing with the casinos.  Drop the barriers for entry.  Free general parking, Free general admission (or at least give paid attendees a betting voucher for the G.A. amount), Free basic pp’s, Lower food prices (currently $3.25 for a bottled water, $6+ beers, etc.), and yes, an ACROSS THE BOARD increase in on-track payouts (not just for the pick 6 winners).

    Patrons will feel appreciated, and will plow all the savings right back into the on-track handle, which of course provides the highest revenue for everyone.

    Social gurus may be wonderful for selling shoes or soda, but not racing.

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