Fading newspaper turf writers bad for racing’s key demo

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I had the opportunity to speak to some stewards recently at the Racing Officials Accreditation Program at the University of Louisville. The subject, not surprisingly, was “racing media” and the relationship between officials and journalists.
 
The truth is, there is not that much racing media left, at least from the traditional standpoint of the daily newspaper. In fact, horse racing hardly exists in many American newspapers that used to employ one or more full-time racing writers and handicappers. Feature stories, outside of the Triple Crown, are few and far between, and many papers in racing cities have stopped publishing handicapping selections, entries, and results.
 
Unless I’m mistaken, there are only three daily newspapers left that have a full-time racing writer: the Louisville Courier-Journal, New York Post, and New York Daily News. There are still quite a few papers that have someone covering horse racing regularly – including the Lexington Herald-Leader and New York Times – but many have had to cut out racing coverage and lay off racing writers when forced to make economic cuts in newsprint and staff.

I had the opportunity to speak to some stewards recently at the Racing Officials Accreditation Program at the University of Louisville. The subject, not surprisingly, was “racing media” and the relationship between officials and journalists.

The truth is, there is not that much racing media left, at least from the traditional standpoint of the daily newspaper. In fact, horse racing hardly exists in many American newspapers that used to employ one or more full-time racing writers and handicappers. Feature stories, outside of the Triple Crown, are few and far between, and many papers in racing cities have stopped publishing handicapping selections, entries, and results.

Unless I’m mistaken, there are only three daily newspapers left that have a full-time racing writer: the Louisville Courier-Journal, New York Post, and New York Daily News. There are still quite a few papers that have someone covering horse racing regularly – including the Lexington Herald-Leader and New York Times – but many have had to cut out racing coverage and lay off racing writers when forced to make economic cuts in newsprint and staff.



Many press boxes that not so long ago were a beehive of activity are now pretty much empty, with the exception of a track publicist and an Equibase chart crew. When local newspapers or television crews do show up, it’s often to cover a “bad news” story and the people involved might know very little about the sport.

I’ve spent the better part of the last week in South Florida, where subscribers to the Palm Beach Post wouldn’t know horse racing exists. It didn’t used to be that way. And while there are plenty of online media options to get horse racing information, the people who read a printed daily newspaper are from the same aging or retired demographic that racetracks traditionally have relied upon to fill many of their seats.

We often get caught up urging the horse racing industry to attract more younger people to the sport. Those are the people who are more likely to learn about racing by reading blogs or seeing the occasional story at espn.com or other sports website.

But aging Baby Boomers and retirees are the low-hanging fruit for racing marketers. They are likely to have more familiarity with racing and also to have more time on their hands to spend an afternoon or evening at the track.  This demographic still relies on newspapers for much of their news and information. The disappearing or nearly extinct horse racing coverage in so many papers today makes it an increasing challenge to reach them.

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  • Alex Brown

    this year I started covering horse racing for the Cecil Whig, our local newspaper.  I have probably written a dozen or so articles for them.  I did this simply because I thought that Fair Hill horses, and the bigger races, merited some local coverage.  Also covering racing in a traditional newspaper would have more impact, to a general audience, than writing for a horse racing media org (not that I had offers for that.)  It has been fun writing the stories, and the paper seemed to really enjoy having the content.  They also gave me a small stipend, but that was not the point of my doing this.

    I imagine there are other horse racing bloggers etc. who could reach out to their local media and do the same ? 

  • Alex Brown

    this year I started covering horse racing for the Cecil Whig, our local newspaper.  I have probably written a dozen or so articles for them.  I did this simply because I thought that Fair Hill horses, and the bigger races, merited some local coverage.  Also covering racing in a traditional newspaper would have more impact, to a general audience, than writing for a horse racing media org (not that I had offers for that.)  It has been fun writing the stories, and the paper seemed to really enjoy having the content.  They also gave me a small stipend, but that was not the point of my doing this.

    I imagine there are other horse racing bloggers etc. who could reach out to their local media and do the same ? 

  • nu-fan

    Great and concise story about the mainstream media and, in particular, newspapers. You are so very right about how the younger crowd does not often read a newspaper but does gather news information on the Internet and social media.  But, don’t they have to search for that information?  If they hadn’t already–in the past–sought out information about horseracing, how would this crowd receive it?  And, yes, the low-hanging fruit of the baby-boomers and young retirees: Not only do they have the time to go see horseraces, they also have considerable discretionary income.  The younger retirees are often fairly affluent; they are the ones that the travel industry target for cruises and vacation deals.  While many of this crowd are very tech savvy, they still are subscribers to print media such as newspapers.  And one thing about newspapers is that the information “comes to you” rather than your having to search for the information.  But, if newspapers do not print horseracing news (other than those 2-3 sentence blurbs that are often missed), the public is not “reminded” about this sport–except for the once-a-year stories about the Triple Crown races and some Breeders Cup information. The person who covers horseracing in my local (but major) newspaper is primarily the one who writes about “home and garden”, but this columnist does know horseracing.  Just isn’t given the opportunity to cover the sport very often.  However, I wonder if there will be more opportunities for publishing stories on horseracing with the increasing online news reporting by traditional newspapers?  Also, has the racing industry ever thought about spending money for ad space in major papers?  Couldn’t they do a co-op ad by splitting the costs with various tracks, racing associations, cable channels, etc.?, especially before some big races?  It would cost money but a paid ad space is a controllable variable and many people would see it.  Maybe, some already do this but I, personally, have never seen an ad in a newspaper for horseracing.

  • nu-fan

    Great and concise story about the mainstream media and, in particular, newspapers. You are so very right about how the younger crowd does not often read a newspaper but does gather news information on the Internet and social media.  But, don’t they have to search for that information?  If they hadn’t already–in the past–sought out information about horseracing, how would this crowd receive it?  And, yes, the low-hanging fruit of the baby-boomers and young retirees: Not only do they have the time to go see horseraces, they also have considerable discretionary income.  The younger retirees are often fairly affluent; they are the ones that the travel industry target for cruises and vacation deals.  While many of this crowd are very tech savvy, they still are subscribers to print media such as newspapers.  And one thing about newspapers is that the information “comes to you” rather than your having to search for the information.  But, if newspapers do not print horseracing news (other than those 2-3 sentence blurbs that are often missed), the public is not “reminded” about this sport–except for the once-a-year stories about the Triple Crown races and some Breeders Cup information. The person who covers horseracing in my local (but major) newspaper is primarily the one who writes about “home and garden”, but this columnist does know horseracing.  Just isn’t given the opportunity to cover the sport very often.  However, I wonder if there will be more opportunities for publishing stories on horseracing with the increasing online news reporting by traditional newspapers?  Also, has the racing industry ever thought about spending money for ad space in major papers?  Couldn’t they do a co-op ad by splitting the costs with various tracks, racing associations, cable channels, etc.?, especially before some big races?  It would cost money but a paid ad space is a controllable variable and many people would see it.  Maybe, some already do this but I, personally, have never seen an ad in a newspaper for horseracing.

  • Don Reed

    A billion (or 2) dollars spent on American education (literacy) in the past 30 years.

    Press boxes empty.

    Game over.

    • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

      As long as there are TWO T-BREDS & PUNTER$ “THE GAME” will never be over…ty…

  • Don Reed

    A billion (or 2) dollars spent on American education (literacy) in the past 30 years.

    Press boxes empty.

    Game over.

  • Don Reed

    P.S. When the writers disappear, what happens to the track publicists?

    Are they now the de facto reporters?

    Nice life.  Hand your work to the newspaper editor.  Can’t get fired.

    • Barry Irwin

      Don: little remembered or known fact is that some track publicists have put full time Turf Writers out of work. Bob Benoit, when publicity director at Hollywood Park, once took directions from Marj Everett. She was thin skinned. She did not like to read some of the stuff in the daily newspapers written by Turf Writers.

      Bob came up with an idea: he would provide copy for the newspapers for free. The newspapers liked it because they could take their TW off the payroll.

      That began a long slide in the quality of turf writing in Southern California.

      Racetrack publicity departments then proceded to make huge inroads with publications.

      Today, DRF, The Blood-Horse, the Thoroughbred Times (before it went broke) and any number of publications relay on press handouts from racetracks.

      The tracks like it because they get their message and only their message across. The publications like it because it costs them nothing.

      • roger

        That’s quite true…..Steve Anderson from the DRF has never taken a position on any CA Racing issue for over a decade.The hoseplayer’s PAY the high price for their publication but are rarely represented by Anderson’s/DRF bias toward TOC and CHRB policies/decisions. 

  • Don Reed

    P.S. When the writers disappear, what happens to the track publicists?

    Are they now the de facto reporters?

    Nice life.  Hand your work to the newspaper editor.  Can’t get fired.

  • nu-fan

    Alex:  I sometimes wonder if my newspaper rolls their eyes when they see my emails to them?  I do remind the sports editor about stories that he might want to have someone cover regarding horseracing.  One of his replies, to me, was something to do with admiring my “great passion for the sport but not having the resources to cover horseracing as much as he would like to.”  But, that doesn’t stop me from continuing to send a suggestion or two.  Figure that, perhaps, I can wear him down with my constant reminders.  It is the squeaky wheel….  

  • Anderson5999

    Some years ago, the Phila. Daily News decided to drop its entries/results for local tracks. It replaced them with ads for XXX clubs and the like. I sent a letter to the editor, but he said that there was a dwindling interest in the sport, so they decided to fill the space with something that generated income. The paper does still employ a turf writer, but he also covers other sports. Its sister publication, the Phila. Inquirer, laid off its full-time handicapper and inserts racing stories sporadically. Ray is right, full-time turf writers are nearly as extinct as the DoDo bird.

  • Anderson5999

    Some years ago, the Phila. Daily News decided to drop its entries/results for local tracks. It replaced them with ads for XXX clubs and the like. I sent a letter to the editor, but he said that there was a dwindling interest in the sport, so they decided to fill the space with something that generated income. The paper does still employ a turf writer, but he also covers other sports. Its sister publication, the Phila. Inquirer, laid off its full-time handicapper and inserts racing stories sporadically. Ray is right, full-time turf writers are nearly as extinct as the DoDo bird.

  • Bonniemcdo

    Sean Clancy does a good job during the Saratoga meet. Belmont and Aqueduct get little press but at least the Post and Daily News put in the race cards and handicap the races.  More people need to go ahead and write and submit racing stories. Good for you.

  • Bob Hope

    the Saratogian, however small, is as good as it gets! and it pays off, for the paper, the town and the sport.  The Miami Herald Blue stripe used to be sensational but that has long gone.  unfortunately the wagering hustle gradually overcame the quality of the content and it was no longer considered a sport by newspapers.

    • RayPaulick

      “Blue stripe”? Showing your age! Is that something like a Bulldog Edition?

  • Bob Hope

    the Saratogian, however small, is as good as it gets! and it pays off, for the paper, the town and the sport.  The Miami Herald Blue stripe used to be sensational but that has long gone.  unfortunately the wagering hustle gradually overcame the quality of the content and it was no longer considered a sport by newspapers.

  • Anne Peters

    The answer might lie with whatever organization is responsible for promoting racing. Right now I’m not sure what that is, but this body should ensure that racing stories appear in major newspapers, in print or on line. You can’t force a newspaper to have a regular racing column, but space could be bought, like advertizing, featuring photos and stories on local and national racing. It would be a valuable opportunity to present less about the handicapping and gambling, and more about the sport.

    • brussellky

      Without handicapping and gambling there is no sport.

      • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

        THAT IS A FACT JACK!!!…ty…

    • nu-fan

      Anne:  Aside from the handicapping, which is another story altogether, I do have to agree with you about advertising.  The racing industry cannot keep expecting newspapers to continue covering horseracing much more than they already do.  One just has to look at the empty grandstands at our racetracks and ask: Why would a newspaper put money into printing a story when there is such little interest at many of the tracks?  It also tells me that the racing industry keeps expecting others to “foot the bill” instead of taking on some of the financial responsibilities themselves.  Newspaper rates surely have come down–a lot–with the reduced circulation of subscribers.  That means it is more affordable.  But, the most important part is that it is “controllable” by those who advertise.  Put together the ad and message, decide its placement in the paper as well as when and how often to run the ad–then, pay the bill.  Opening day, big races, etc. would be opportune times to run the ad.  The tracks might include a calendar of their races, their website and throw in a coupon for a discount admission.  Voila!  The ad appears!  Public relations is another way of getting coverage–and, this is what has been relied on so much–but, there is little control on whether the paper will actually run the story.  I went to Golden Gate Fields yesterday and the stands were very light even though great weather and some decent horses.  Why?  Maybe, it was because it was a holiday weekend (Thanksgiving) but, also, many people are starting their holiday gift shopping.  I kept thinking to myself: A big ad in the sports section with a message such as “You can go shopping or go and have a great day at Golden Gate Fields.  Which would you rather do?”–would have been a great way to capture those who dread shopping to remind them of this other option: Go see horseracing!

  • Anne Peters

    The answer might lie with whatever organization is responsible for promoting racing. Right now I’m not sure what that is, but this body should ensure that racing stories appear in major newspapers, in print or on line. You can’t force a newspaper to have a regular racing column, but space could be bought, like advertizing, featuring photos and stories on local and national racing. It would be a valuable opportunity to present less about the handicapping and gambling, and more about the sport.

  • Alex Brown

    yes, keep the dialog going.  We really do need to become more creative in terms of getting mainstream media coverage.

  • tom hewitt

    Traditional media, including television, have given up any kind of coverage of sports outside of the four major team sports, football, baseball, ice hockey and basketball.  And these are only covered at the highest levels.  Thankfully, anybody can now get information and opinion on horse racing through the internet that’s better than the newspaper coverage ever was.  Technology changes, I don’t need to drive half way across town on Friday afternoon to get a racing form for Saturday before they’re all sold out.  Goodbye to the dead tree news, I won’t miss you.

    • nu-fan

      Tom:  But, you are probably already into horseracing.  To increase a fan base, one needs a media source that goes to them instead of expecting these potential fans to search out information on the Internet.  Both forms of media are very useful but each in its own way.

  • tom hewitt

    Traditional media, including television, have given up any kind of coverage of sports outside of the four major team sports, football, baseball, ice hockey and basketball.  And these are only covered at the highest levels.  Thankfully, anybody can now get information and opinion on horse racing through the internet that’s better than the newspaper coverage ever was.  Technology changes, I don’t need to drive half way across town on Friday afternoon to get a racing form for Saturday before they’re all sold out.  Goodbye to the dead tree news, I won’t miss you.

  • Starofthecrop

    Peb was the best!

  • Starofthecrop

    Peb was the best!

  • David

    The Courier Journal covers the racing industry from city-side
    and sports, not surprising considering the impact of the overall business in
    the Bluegrass state.  That said an issue
    that many lines have be devoted over the past year has been permissive and illegal
    administration of drugs.  Reality is the
    vast – I mean vast – majority of readers of the CJ have no screaming idea what
    Jennie Rees and Greg Hall are writing about and, even if they did, few would care
    less.  The point here is that the print
    media is merely dedicating the amount of attention their readers expect – not much.

  • David

    The Courier Journal covers the racing industry from city-side
    and sports, not surprising considering the impact of the overall business in
    the Bluegrass state.  That said an issue
    that many lines have be devoted over the past year has been permissive and illegal
    administration of drugs.  Reality is the
    vast – I mean vast – majority of readers of the CJ have no screaming idea what
    Jennie Rees and Greg Hall are writing about and, even if they did, few would care
    less.  The point here is that the print
    media is merely dedicating the amount of attention their readers expect – not much.

  • Concerned Observer

    Tune in to any big radio market, any night of the week, and hear local basketball and football fans spout their boring, silly, illiterate analysis, forecasts and assessments of the local teams. Seems that these people have no other life. Most do not even know the name of the current USA president. Too bad that racing does not have the same level of enthusiasm as this  bunch of young and old fans assessing and reassessing the jumpshot of some player who  hardly has enough vocabulary to say hello.

    Check it out. WVLK OR WHAS OR WJR OR WHO.

    • nu-fan

      Concerned Observer:  But, wouldn’t horseracing love to have such ardent fans–and in those huge numbers?  Also, many–if not most–pro athletes had to have had some college behind them and are very articulate.  Very few go from high school to pro; most go to college.  (Granted, not all graduate.)  Baseball, maybe not as many since they have the minor leagues.  But, stack the usual sports figures in the NBA and NFL against those in the horseracing industry and it would be interesting to see which of these two groups have a higher number of “players” with higher level education. 

  • Concerned Observer

    Tune in to any big radio market, any night of the week, and hear local basketball and football fans spout their boring, silly, illiterate analysis, forecasts and assessments of the local teams. Seems that these people have no other life. Most do not even know the name of the current USA president. Too bad that racing does not have the same level of enthusiasm as this  bunch of young and old fans assessing and reassessing the jumpshot of some player who  hardly has enough vocabulary to say hello.

    Check it out. WVLK OR WHAS OR WJR OR WHO.

  • Tinky

    First time in a long while that I thought – wistfully, of course – about Barney Nagler. They don’t make ‘em like that anymore in any media setting.

  • Tinky

    First time in a long while that I though – wistfully, of course – about Barney Nagler. They don’t make ‘em like that anymore in any media setting.

  • Tinky

    “thought”, not “though”

  • Nick Kling

    Ray,

    I’m not sure what you define as a  “a full-time racing writer.”

    If it includes writing 165-170 full-length (900-1000 words) columns a year, and handicapping every NYRA race every day, then my coverage for The Record of Troy, NY qualifies.

    In fact, I doubt there is anyone in America who writes as many words about racing annually as I.  I’ll leave it up to readers to evaluate the substance of those words.

    The distinction might be that I don’t go to a racetrack on a frequent basis like the three examples you cite.  Newspapers in the Capital District of NY maintain daily handicapping selections and frequent coverage because of: 1) the proximity of Saratoga, and, 2) the NYS OTB system.  90 percent of the wagers on NYRA racing comes from off-track, most of that from OTB or other simulcast sites within NY.

    My observation and writing on racing is done with the point of view of the OTB customers in mind.  Hence, that means I have a different slant on the game than do “traditional” turf writers like Jennie Rees and others.  Often I disagree with the traditionalists, who frequently reflect the point of horsemen over horseplayers.

    Without horseplayers there will be no racing, a point which escapes many within the industry.

    So, define it how you will.  I’m guessing the person who signs my paychecks considers it full-time.

    • RayPaulick

      My apologies, Nick. My definition was someone who does nothing but cover horse racing for a newspaper. Some former racing writers have been reassigned to cover other sports and are now only writing about horse racing on an as-needed basis. Others, sadly, have been had their positions eliminated altogether.

      • Tiznow3

        Kling also gets paid by Capital OTB.

        • Nick Kling

           Not correct Tiznow3.  I no longer do a show for them.

    • Sue M. Chapman

      Without real turf writers writing about the splendor of racing, the game will continue to erode.  Shackleford’s longevity, big white blaze, and stability in an otherwise eratic sport, made him a star.  Not the return he brought horseplayers. 

      The storied horses covered by turf writers usually eliminate the possibility of big payoffs at the windows.  Is there nothing in between to write about?

      That is what I have tried to add to the mix.

      • Nick Kling

         Sue,

        There is no reason why “the splendor of racing” and gambling can’t peacefully co-exist in the same publications, or even from the same writer.

        While I would argue the game wouldn’t exist without betting handle, most turf writers and handicappers I know like the historic races and stars just as well.  The virulent media arguments about whether Rachel Alexandra or Zenyatta, or Zenyatta and Blame, should be Horse of the Year are ample proof.

        The 1989 Preakness turned me into a lifetime fan.  It had nothing to do with betting the race.

        • Sue M. Chapman

          Terrific news. I’ll look forward to reading about your love for the game.   

          • Nick Kling
          • Citation

            Good article, liked the comparison to baseball.  Yes, I remember ‘Super Joe’ as I was was a freshman attending college just south of Erie PA during his big year.  Thus, I also remember going to Erie Downs.  Sorry that there are people here that dont like your work, but I enjoyed the article.  Your description of Zenyetta’s  half-sister built, race and potential is spot on.

          • Sue M. Chapman

            Enjoyed it, but being a diehard racetracker, the references to other sports were lost on me. 

            Sorry about the classless dialogue below.  Please continue supporting our sport. 
              

        • Anderson5999

          Nice way to toot your own horn, Nick.

          • Don Reed

            Nick was NOT “TYOH.” He was innocently omitted from Ray’s sincere summation of who is currently covering racing.  Nothing is objectionable about Nick sending a message that he – against the tide of ignorance - is still writing about the sport we love.

            Your snide objection is a bomb. 

          • Anderson5999

            Based on Kling’s words: “I doubt there is anyone in America who writes as many words about racing annually as I,” I’m pretty sure I hit the mark. And, quite frankly, I’m pretty sure he’s wrong. How about Ed Fountaine of the New York Post? He writes a lot, every day, just like Kling. So does Jerry Bossert.

            Your snide objection to me is a bomb.

    • http://twitter.com/DRFHersh Marcus Hersh

      I’ll challenge you on racing words per year, Nick. — Marcus Hersh, DRF

      • RayPaulick

        I’m thinking Steve Haskin at Blood-Horse and bloodhorse.com might have you both beat.

        • Nick Kling

           I think Steve would lose only because he doesn’t write up daily selections like Marcus and I.

          My selections for The Record are about 1,000 words/day, so I’m estimating the columns and picks add up to the neighborhood of 400,000 words plus.  Fortunately I haven’t acquired carpal tunnel yet.

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

             Marcus in a landslide.

        • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

          Don’t matter MAD-HATTER…ALL OF YA JUST KEEP ON STROKING!!!…ty…

  • Nick Kling

    Ray,

    I’m not sure what you define as a  “a full-time racing writer.”

    If it includes writing 165-170 full-length (900-1000 words) columns a year, and handicapping every NYRA race every day, then my coverage for The Record of Troy, NY qualifies.

    In fact, I doubt there is anyone in America who writes as many words about racing annually as I.  I’ll leave it up to readers to evaluate the substance of those words.

    The distinction might be that I don’t go to a racetrack on a frequent basis like the three examples you cite.  Newspapers in the Capital District of NY maintain daily handicapping selections and frequent coverage because of: 1) the proximity of Saratoga, and, 2) the NYS OTB system.  90 percent of the wagers on NYRA racing comes from off-track, most of that from OTB or other simulcast sites within NY.

    My observation and writing on racing is done with the point of view of the OTB customers in mind.  Hence, that means I have a different slant on the game than do “traditional” turf writers like Jennie Rees and others.  Often I disagree with the traditionalists, who frequently reflect the point of horsemen over horseplayers.

    Without horseplayers there will be no racing, a point which escapes many within the industry.

    So, define it how you will.  I’m guessing the person who signs my paychecks considers it full-time.

  • ManuelB

    When I first arrived in the US in the 60s (that gives away my age) I used to faithfully read The New Yorker, in part because of its weekly racing column signed by Audax Minor. When that writer retired that was the end of the column and it never came back. And so it goes.

    • Don Reed

      I got done with Woolcott Gibb’s collected TNY work recently.  I would have been a lot better off with the AM book, had one existed.

      • ManuelB

        As far as I know AM (in real life George F.T. Ryall) never wrote a book of his collected columns. As a Canadian I always had a soft spot for him because he would always make a point of coming to Toronto to cover the Queen’s Plate – the oldest continuously run Stakes race in North America, as he always mentioned.

        • 3875waldo

          It would have to be a
          real labor of love, because the editor would potentially have to do a lot of
          research to provide a foreword to each column, explaining the
          who-what-when-why-where-how of things that if left unsaid, would result in AM’s
          column having gaping holes in its information.

          Then the publisher would
          have to be willing to take a probable loss because we’re no longer even a
          nation of newspaper readers, when it comes to horse racing journalism.

          All this would be unnecessary
          if the New Yorker dweebs who put the CD collection of back issues together knew
          what they were doing. The thought of using them even today inspires dread.

  • ManuelB

    When I first arrived in the US in the 60s (that gives away my age) I used to faithfully read The New Yorker, in part because of its weekly racing column signed by Audax Minor. When that writer retired that was the end of the column and it never came back. And so it goes.

  • Bryan Langlois (ShelterDoc)

    Funny how editors say that they can’t find the space or resources to cover racing on a regular basis, but seem to have no problem creating 50 page wrap around sections about why a pitcher on a baseball team lost a game he shouldn’t have…with everyone from sports columnists to psychology editors getting space to write something about it. 
       I also think one of the biggest problems with covering the sport in main stream media is the fact it is not structured like other sports.  Most major sports have seasons with tons of games for people to follow.  In racing, because the sports stars only seem to race once a millenium now adays, it is hard to get press following.  It is also hard to understand for the layman who doesn’t take the time to really study the sport to understand it.  The mainstream media never did a good job of this.  The closest thing I have seen was that video series put out by Arlington I think that showed days in the life of various track people.  That is what mainstream media needs to focus on right now.  Something like getting unprecedented access to a barn or stable and following that stable for a year or something (Doesn’t have to be a big name stable or high end…just a stable).  Follow the emotions of the people invovled in the sport.  Deal with the criticism.  Deal with the controversy.  But most importantly deal with the bond these people have for their horses.  Show the world that the sport is not just what Drape protrays in his Times articles.  Show the raw emotion that these people put out…the same as athletes in other sports.  I was actually shocked that the whole fight between Borel and Castellano at the BC a few years ago was kind of just swept under the rug as quickly as possible, being brandished as another “black eye” for the sport.  Why was that not followed up on more?  That right there showed the emotion that goes into the sport.  Get some trash talking going on in the sport.  They need to bring back racing series like the ACRS to get horses routinely competing against one another.  That will bring back the media following because then people can follow it like a regular sport, where big matchups are looked forward to.
        Perhaps the biggest problem though that the sport will always face in the mainstream media now is how times have changed.  We live in a instant gratification society, where if people can’t have it now…they wanted it yesterday.  Racing will never be able to be structured this way, with the same horses racing even once a week (to equate close to football and their game schedule). The closest thing would be to follow the jockeys or trainers somehow, and not in a reality series like Jockeys.  Maybe create a “League Championship” of their own…something like NASCARS points series that people could get into following more mainstream and the media could actually get some continuity in following.
        I don’t know if there is an easy fix to any of these issues, but if editors just gave it a chance, I think they could really make a difference.  Heck, just even bring back the days of Warner Wolf on CBS’ nightly sports report where he showed the feature race at whatever NYRA track was running that day.  Have print people do a paragraph or two about it every day in the paper.  Get some quotes from the trainers and jockeys.  Start small and things can be achieved, if only the almighty dollar did not rule everything these days.

    • nu-fan

      Bryan:  You had a lengthy comment but I liked it in so many ways.  First, yes, other sports have a season.  It’s concentrated.  When they are playing in their season, fans can stayed involved.  If the NFL, for instance, played all year, would they be able to keep all of their fans interested?  I don’t think so.  Fans do not have that much time (and money for attendance, etc.) and most people have other interests and obligations.  Can’t be highly involved all year in football (except for those few crazy fans).  Same might be true for horseracing.  Second, I have to agree with the stories being centered around more of the “human interest” types  that might be of more interest to readers/viewers.  Results of a race?  Big deal. Can get that information online very easily.  Why would newspapers want to compete on that basis?  One interesting example was the recent articles in The Sacramento Bee about the new ownership (Golden Bear Racing) at Cal Expo for harness racing.  The reporter (Debbie Arrington) did a great job on a couple of articles about the renovation of the stalls as well as about the workers on the backstretch and how they were affected by the upgrades.  And, she got a couple of these articles printed in the community section instead of the sports section, which meant that many more readers got exposed to that article rather than just those interested in sports.  Third, yes, horses come and go–much too frequently to keep fan loyalty.  (Obviously, I am not speaking about Zenyatta or John Henry.)  But, jockeys stay for a long time.  At Golden Gate Fields, the fans are VERY loyal to Russell Baze and their wagering is on this jockey often more than the horse.  The track recognizes this and has put up a large board that keeps up with the number of his wins.  And, Mr. Baze also recognizes fans and is easily approached.  He’ll go out of his way–and between his many races–to allow fans to take a photo with them.  I wish more tracks would allow a time (halftime?) for the fans to meet with jockeys during race days.  (Maybe, a half an hour.)  And, think of the material a reporter could get with the comments overheard!  But, it isn’t often the reporter that gets to decide if the story is run….

  • Bryan Langlois (ShelterDoc)

    Funny how editors say that they can’t find the space or resources to cover racing on a regular basis, but seem to have no problem creating 50 page wrap around sections about why a pitcher on a baseball team lost a game he shouldn’t have…with everyone from sports columnists to psychology editors getting space to write something about it. 
       I also think one of the biggest problems with covering the sport in main stream media is the fact it is not structured like other sports.  Most major sports have seasons with tons of games for people to follow.  In racing, because the sports stars only seem to race once a millenium now adays, it is hard to get press following.  It is also hard to understand for the layman who doesn’t take the time to really study the sport to understand it.  The mainstream media never did a good job of this.  The closest thing I have seen was that video series put out by Arlington I think that showed days in the life of various track people.  That is what mainstream media needs to focus on right now.  Something like getting unprecedented access to a barn or stable and following that stable for a year or something (Doesn’t have to be a big name stable or high end…just a stable).  Follow the emotions of the people invovled in the sport.  Deal with the criticism.  Deal with the controversy.  But most importantly deal with the bond these people have for their horses.  Show the world that the sport is not just what Drape protrays in his Times articles.  Show the raw emotion that these people put out…the same as athletes in other sports.  I was actually shocked that the whole fight between Borel and Castellano at the BC a few years ago was kind of just swept under the rug as quickly as possible, being brandished as another “black eye” for the sport.  Why was that not followed up on more?  That right there showed the emotion that goes into the sport.  Get some trash talking going on in the sport.  They need to bring back racing series like the ACRS to get horses routinely competing against one another.  That will bring back the media following because then people can follow it like a regular sport, where big matchups are looked forward to.
        Perhaps the biggest problem though that the sport will always face in the mainstream media now is how times have changed.  We live in a instant gratification society, where if people can’t have it now…they wanted it yesterday.  Racing will never be able to be structured this way, with the same horses racing even once a week (to equate close to football and their game schedule). The closest thing would be to follow the jockeys or trainers somehow, and not in a reality series like Jockeys.  Maybe create a “League Championship” of their own…something like NASCARS points series that people could get into following more mainstream and the media could actually get some continuity in following.
        I don’t know if there is an easy fix to any of these issues, but if editors just gave it a chance, I think they could really make a difference.  Heck, just even bring back the days of Warner Wolf on CBS’ nightly sports report where he showed the feature race at whatever NYRA track was running that day.  Have print people do a paragraph or two about it every day in the paper.  Get some quotes from the trainers and jockeys.  Start small and things can be achieved, if only the almighty dollar did not rule everything these days.

  • G. Rarick

    It’s really all about sponsorship. The International Herald Tribune doesn’t care which end of a horse eats, but when Longines decided to sponsor several big race days and take out full-page ads, they called to ask if I could write a page of copy to go along. If there are ads, editors are obliged to fill the space around them (and the separation of church and state went out the window with the advent of the Internet). It’s been great exposure for the sport to have a full page with color pics to go along with the Arc, Royal Ascot and Hong Kong. Track publicists should be targeting advertisers, not pushing for coverage on its own merits. Those days are gone.

    • nu-fan

      G. Rarick:  I’m a big proponent of paid advertising.  You get the copy together, decide its placement and when it is to run and, then, pay the bill.  That gives control.  Advertising costs in newspapers must have come down considerably in the past few years.  But, also, couldn’t there be a shared expense in running these ads with co-op advertising?  It’s done all the time with retailers and manufacturers.  Why couldn’t racetracks, sponsors, and others share in running ads on a periodic basis?  Those big colorful ads (especially full-age ones) you mentioned would be great in the sports section and get noticed.  Might not be cost-effective on a regular basis but for major events and done on, at least, a quarterly basis….

  • G. Rarick

    It’s really all about sponsorship. The International Herald Tribune doesn’t care which end of a horse eats, but when Longines decided to sponsor several big race days and take out full-page ads, they called to ask if I could write a page of copy to go along. If there are ads, editors are obliged to fill the space around them (and the separation of church and state went out the window with the advent of the Internet). It’s been great exposure for the sport to have a full page with color pics to go along with the Arc, Royal Ascot and Hong Kong. Track publicists should be targeting advertisers, not pushing for coverage on its own merits. Those days are gone.

  • Dustin Stones

    Ray, you can add Tom Pedulla, formerly with USA Today, to the list of those axed.  Re Bryan Langlois’ thoughtful comments:  These are some verities about horse racing.  1.  It’s a minor sport and dying.  New fans cannot be created because no one knows how or cares to know how.  How do you explain to someone you bring to the track why no one is watching the live races?  2.  We’re in a cyclical wave of gambling interest;  state lotteries and casinos, Native American and otherwise, provide plenty of legal action.  Then throw in internet action and bookie action.  Betting on horse races requires thought/research, time consuming.  3.  Print media are in a crisis as they attempt to protect declining advertising and circulation;  often they do what appear to be counter productive, e.g. cutting entries, results, coverage for cost reasons.  Print is on the way out, face it.

    • RayPaulick

      Very sad about Tom, whose position was eliminated during the 2012 Triple Crown. At least USA Today is using the resources provided by Gannett-owned Courier-Journal, in particular Jennie Rees. I believe the paper’s sports division helped Churchill Downs strategize on the new road to the Kentucky Derby points system.

      • Jeff Lowe

        Who knows how many people actually read it these days, but that association looks to have gained the Derby points sytem a fixed spot on the USA Today agate page.

  • Dustin Stones

    Ray, you can add Tom Pedulla, formerly with USA Today, to the list of those axed.  Re Bryan Langlois’ thoughtful comments:  These are some verities about horse racing.  1.  It’s a minor sport and dying.  New fans cannot be created because no one knows how or cares to know how.  How do you explain to someone you bring to the track why no one is watching the live races?  2.  We’re in a cyclical wave of gambling interest;  state lotteries and casinos, Native American and otherwise, provide plenty of legal action.  Then throw in internet action and bookie action.  Betting on horse races requires thought/research, time consuming.  3.  Print media are in a crisis as they attempt to protect declining advertising and circulation;  often they do what appear to be counter productive, e.g. cutting entries, results, coverage for cost reasons.  Print is on the way out, face it.

  • Susansalk

    Pulling back a little bit to look at the larger picture of newspapers in general, deep cuts have rid once-great (or just-ok) news organizations of all but the bare bones, in my opinion. Years ago, I worked for a small daily in NH. At the time we had specialized beat reporters to cover a variety of “issues” or “speciality” areas, like education, the state house, etc. That went away probably around the time the same paper stopped funding employee retirement 401K funds and got into the layoff dance. 

    To try to correlate the lack of race coverage in the mainstream press is a leap I’m not qualified to make. My only point is that a lot has been cut, and continues to be cut, so maybe that’s got something to do with it as well.

    • Janet delcastillo

      That is sure what has happened to smaller papers..Here in Fla I have seen the papers consolidate and dismiss many writers…Journalism in the University has perhaps been replaced with “Communications”…not sure whether all this net stuff is better…

    • BonnieMcDo

      Newspapers are hurting all over. My father once worked for the NY Herald Tribune, The NY Journal American and then  as art director of the NY Daily Mirror—He left a year before it folded in the sixties. News is on line now but I still like a newspaper although  my daughters think I am a relic for that.  I still think racing has some good  stories-just need the right people to get them written. 

  • Susansalk

    Pulling back a little bit to look at the larger picture of newspapers in general, deep cuts have rid once-great (or just-ok) news organizations of all but the bare bones, in my opinion. Years ago, I worked for a small daily in NH. At the time we had specialized beat reporters to cover a variety of “issues” or “speciality” areas, like education, the state house, etc. That went away probably around the time the same paper stopped funding employee retirement 401K funds and got into the layoff dance. 

    To try to correlate the lack of race coverage in the mainstream press is a leap I’m not qualified to make. My only point is that a lot has been cut, and continues to be cut, so maybe that’s got something to do with it as well.

  • RayPaulick

    Very sad about Tom, whose position was eliminated during the 2012 Triple Crown. At least USA Today is using the resources provided by Gannett-owned Courier-Journal, in particular Jennie Rees. I believe the paper’s sports division helped Churchill Downs strategize on the new road to the Kentucky Derby points system.

  • RayPaulick

    My apologies, Nick. My definition was someone who does nothing but cover horse racing for a newspaper. Some former racing writers have been reassigned to cover other sports and are now only writing about horse racing on an as-needed basis. Others, sadly, have been had their positions eliminated altogether.

  • RayPaulick

    “Blue stripe”? Showing your age! Is that something like a Bulldog Edition?

  • Janet delcastillo

    In 1985 when racing in South Florida, the press boxes at Hialeah, Gulfstream and Calder were vibrant active places with many writers from major newspapers. There were half page articles every race day and the entries and charts from the  local tracks were listed. What a change now. Even the magazines are dying. What a shame Thoroughbred Times abruptly closed its doors and we are left with very few Racing Magazines.
    The Paulick Report has helped fill the void but I sorely miss the weekly arrival of TB Times!
    Ray, if you’re still in Florida come visit the farm…I m in Winter Haven!

  • Janet delcastillo

    In 1985 when racing in South Florida, the press boxes at Hialeah, Gulfstream and Calder were vibrant active places with many writers from major newspapers. There were half page articles every race day and the entries and charts from the  local tracks were listed. What a change now. Even the magazines are dying. What a shame Thoroughbred Times abruptly closed its doors and we are left with very few Racing Magazines.
    The Paulick Report has helped fill the void but I sorely miss the weekly arrival of TB Times!
    Ray, if you’re still in Florida come visit the farm…I m in Winter Haven!

  • Janet delcastillo

    That is sure what has happened to smaller papers..Here in Fla I have seen the papers consolidate and dismiss many writers…Journalism in the University has perhaps been replaced with “Communications”…not sure whether all this net stuff is better…

  • Tiznow3

    Kling also gets paid by Capital OTB.

  • Francis Bush

    Most newspaper sports writers report stories about football players, others write about baseball and basketball players. They have little interest in anything else. What a great opportunity this demise offers the racing industry. Years ago, we had a few racing magazines that spread the gospil about racing. Because the industry did not support this side of business, costs increased and the issues disappeared. Perhaps, the industry should invest in programming its importance by developing new guidelines to attract readers to the industry.

  • Francis Bush

    Most newspaper sports writers report stories about football players, others write about baseball and basketball players. They have little interest in anything else. What a great opportunity this demise offers the racing industry. Years ago, we had a few racing magazines that spread the gospil about racing. Because the industry did not support this side of business, costs increased and the issues disappeared. Perhaps, the industry should invest in programming its importance by developing new guidelines to attract readers to the industry.

  • Sue Chapman

    Without real turf writers writing about the splendor of racing, the game will continue to erode.  Shackleford’s longevity, big white blaze, and stability in an otherwise eratic sport, made him a star.  Not the return he brought horseplayers. 

    The storied horses covered by turf writers usually eliminate the possibility of big payoffs at the windows.  Is there nothing in between to write about?

    That is what I have tried to add to the mix.

  • Juleswins3

    Not only are newspaper turf writers disappearing, newspapers themselves are disappearing. Anything in a newspaper is 24 hours old. Online is immediate. A newspaper is an old, antiquated and quaint means of communication. For newspapers, the times aren’t changing, they’ve already changed.

    • nu-fan

      Juleswins3:  Yes, that is the key: newspapers are disappearing.  And, even if they are still alive, it is in a diminished state.  When I separated today’s newspaper, the ads outweighed the actual paper.  But, the newspaper still comes to us.  For someone who doesn’t attend the races, how would they get the information that it still exists?  Online?  Sure, but, usually, they would have to be interested enough in racing in order to search for it.  They would have had to have had some intention to finding out about horseracing first.  To attract new fans, online information might not be the media vehicle.  Print and broadcast media still is great for providing that kind of message.

      • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

        Reminds me when the first apple pc came out & one of the salesman told me these things will do away with pen & paper!!!…I knew that was pure BS…ty…

  • Juleswins3

    Not only are newspaper turf writers disappearing, newspapers themselves are disappearing. Anything in a newspaper is 24 hours old. Online is immediate. A newspaper is an old, antiquated and quaint means of communication. For newspapers, the times aren’t changing, they’ve already changed.

  • brussellky

    Without handicapping and gambling there is no sport.

  • Sue M. Chapman

    Great stuff, Ray.  How I miss Ray Kerrison, Bill Nack and the local writers who captivated me with their stories about Racing so very long ago.

  • Sue Chapman

    Great stuff, Ray.  How I miss Ray Kerrison, Bill Nack and the local writers who captivated me with their stories about Racing so very long ago.

  • http://twitter.com/DRFHersh Marcus Hersh

    I’ll challenge you on racing words per year, Nick. — Marcus Hersh, DRF

  • RayPaulick

    I’m thinking Steve Haskin at Blood-Horse and bloodhorse.com might have you both beat.

  • Nick Kling

     Not correct Tiznow3.  I no longer do a show for them.

  • Nick Kling

     I think Steve would lose only because he doesn’t write up daily selections like Marcus and I.

    My selections for The Record are about 1,000 words/day, so I’m estimating the columns and picks add up to the neighborhood of 400,000 words plus.  Fortunately I haven’t acquired carpal tunnel yet.

  • Nick Kling

     Sue,

    There is no reason why “the splendor of racing” and gambling can’t peacefully co-exist in the same publications, or even from the same writer.

    While I would argue the game wouldn’t exist without betting handle, most turf writers and handicappers I know like the historic races and stars just as well.  The virulent media arguments about whether Rachel Alexandra or Zenyatta, or Zenyatta and Blame, should be Horse of the Year are ample proof.

    The 1989 Preakness turned me into a lifetime fan.  It had nothing to do with betting the race.

  • Barry Irwin

    Don: little remembered or known fact is that some track publicists have put full time Turf Writers out of work. Bob Benoit, when publicity director at Hollywood Park, once took directions from Marj Everett. She was thin skinned. She did not like to read some of the stuff in the daily newspapers written by Turf Writers.

    Bob came up with an idea: he would provide copy for the newspapers for free. The newspapers liked it because they could take their TW off the payroll.

    That began a long slide in the quality of turf writing in Southern California.

    Racetrack publicity departments then proceded to make huge inroads with publications.

    Today, DRF, The Blood-Horse, the Thoroughbred Times (before it went broke) and any number of publications relay on press handouts from racetracks.

    The tracks like it because they get their message and only their message across. The publications like it because it costs them nothing.

  • Sue Chapman

    Terrific news. I’ll look forward to reading about your love for the game.   

  • Onroad1234

    You forgot the Los Angeles Daily News

  • Onroad1234

    You forgot the Los Angeles Daily News

  • Nick Kling

     Here you go, Sue.

    http://www.troyrecord.com/arti

  • roger

    That’s quite true…..Steve Anderson from the DRF has never taken a position on any CA Racing issue for over a decade.The hoseplayer’s PAY the high price for their publication but are rarely represented by Anderson’s/DRF bias toward TOC and CHRB policies/decisions. 

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

     Marcus in a landslide.

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

    It’s beyond shocking to me that the daily newspaper in the Horse Capital of the World does not have a full-time reporter assigned to horse racing given the economic impact of the industry in the area. Alicia Wincze Hughes & Janet Patton both do great work when they get to do it, and I guess their contributions could add up to 2,000 hours a year, but that there is no “Jennie Rees of Lexington” (for want of a better term0 is a sad commentary on how the editors of Lexington’s newspaper view the importance of “Kentucky’s signature industry”.

    • Don Reed

      It always good to hear from you.

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

    It’s beyond shocking to me that the daily newspaper in the Horse Capital of the World does not have a full-time reporter assigned to horse racing given the economic impact of the industry in the area. Alicia Wincze Hughes & Janet Patton both do great work when they get to do it, and I guess their contributions could add up to 2,000 hours a year, but that there is no “Jennie Rees of Lexington” (for want of a better term0 is a sad commentary on how the editors of Lexington’s newspaper view the importance of “Kentucky’s signature industry”.

  • BonnieMcDo

    Newspapers are hurting all over. My father once worked for the NY Herald Tribune, The NY Journal American and then  as art director of the NY Daily Mirror—He left a year before it folded in the sixties. News is on line now but I still like a newspaper although  my daughters think I am a relic for that.  I still think racing has some good  stories-just need the right people to get them written. 

  • Don Reed

    I got done with Woolcott Gibb’s collected TNY work recently.  I would have been a lot better off with the AM book, had one existed.

  • Don Reed

    Racetrackers, from the big-ticket signers down to the grooms, have been and are very clannish people.  They spent decades telling outsiders (their customers and potential clients) to go away.

    How do you like that?  They went away.

    • nu-fan

      Don:  And, isn’t it incredibly foolish of them to not understand how important customer relations is for the business operation?  It’s beyond words…  If I was a racetrack operator, I would be surveying the people who attended to see what they liked or didn’t like about their day at the track.  Might be able to get some information about how to improve the operations.  I would get an email mailing list going–especially to new fans–so that I can send out all sorts of reminders of special events (after making sure that I had at least one each weekend) and other acitivies.  Social media: Yes.  I’d also have employees who were customer service reps going around the stands to answer questions and to greet people.  For instance, I went to Golden Gate Fields yesterday and had a question about the paddock area.  Found a security guard that was very cordial and answered my question but why aren’t there employees whose responsibility is to do just that: answer questions for the fans who do not know every nuance of this sport?  At the same time, make them feel welcomed and encourage them to return–soon!

      • 3875waldo

        NF: You’re going against the grain of the personality of the average person who works in racing. 

        But you’re not a rarity; most people who share your insights about this naturally gravitate to entertainment mediums where you wouldn’t even have to explain all this.  They wouldn’t dream of having to waste their time at race tracks, talking to the brick walls.

      • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

        I have another AMEN for you TOO!!!…ty…

    • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

      That crowd (past & present) must know by now how stupid & greedy that way of thinking WAS…ty…

  • Don Reed

    Racetrackers, from the big-ticket signers down to the grooms, have been and are very clannish people.  They spent decades telling outsiders (their customers and potential clients) to go away.

    How do you like that?  They went away.

  • ManuelB

    As far as I know AM (in real life George F.T. Ryall) never wrote a book of his collected columns. As a Canadian I always had a soft spot for him because he would always make a point of coming to Toronto to cover the Queen’s Plate – the oldest continuously run Stakes race in North America, as he always mentioned.

  • nu-fan

    Anne:  Aside from the handicapping, which is another story altogether, I do have to agree with you about advertising.  The racing industry cannot keep expecting newspapers to continue covering horseracing much more than they already do.  One just has to look at the empty grandstands at our racetracks and ask: Why would a newspaper put money into printing a story when there is such little interest at many of the tracks?  It also tells me that the racing industry keeps expecting others to “foot the bill” instead of taking on some of the financial responsibilities themselves.  Newspaper rates surely have come down–a lot–with the reduced circulation of subscribers.  That means it is more affordable.  But, the most important part is that it is “controllable” by those who advertise.  Put together the ad and message, decide its placement in the paper as well as when and how often to run the ad–then, pay the bill.  Opening day, big races, etc. would be opportune times to run the ad.  The tracks might include a calendar of their races, their website and throw in a coupon for a discount admission.  Voila!  The ad appears!  Public relations is another way of getting coverage–and, this is what has been relied on so much–but, there is little control on whether the paper will actually run the story.  I went to Golden Gate Fields yesterday and the stands were very light even though great weather and some decent horses.  Why?  Maybe, it was because it was a holiday weekend (Thanksgiving) but, also, many people are starting their holiday gift shopping.  I kept thinking to myself: A big ad in the sports section with a message such as “You can go shopping or go and have a great day at Golden Gate Fields.  Which would you rather do?”–would have been a great way to capture those who dread shopping to remind them of this other option: Go see horseracing!

  • nu-fan

    Tom:  But, you are probably already into horseracing.  To increase a fan base, one needs a media source that goes to them instead of expecting these potential fans to search out information on the Internet.  Both forms of media are very useful but each in its own way.

  • Sandra Warren

    When I was young, we had much media coverage on racing in the SF Bay Area.  KCBS-AM played the stretch run of every race about 20 minutes after the race.  All of the local papers had the entries and a handicap, and full chart results.  On the weekends, they usually had a racing column.  Most local TV news played a clip of any stakes races.  Opening Day at any meet was covered as an event.  At some point, each one of these has gotten chipped off.  My local paper only has results, not a chart, and often doesn’t even include the entries anymore.  When I complained, I was actually told that entries were easily looked up on the internet.  He didn’t seem to get the irony when I told him that the news was also available easily that way.

  • Sandra Warren

    When I was young, we had much media coverage on racing in the SF Bay Area.  KCBS-AM played the stretch run of every race about 20 minutes after the race.  All of the local papers had the entries and a handicap, and full chart results.  On the weekends, they usually had a racing column.  Most local TV news played a clip of any stakes races.  Opening Day at any meet was covered as an event.  At some point, each one of these has gotten chipped off.  My local paper only has results, not a chart, and often doesn’t even include the entries anymore.  When I complained, I was actually told that entries were easily looked up on the internet.  He didn’t seem to get the irony when I told him that the news was also available easily that way.

  • nu-fan

    Concerned Observer:  But, wouldn’t horseracing love to have such ardent fans–and in those huge numbers?  Also, many–if not most–pro athletes had to have had some college behind them and are very articulate.  Very few go from high school to pro; most go to college.  (Granted, not all graduate.)  Baseball, maybe not as many since they have the minor leagues.  But, stack the usual sports figures in the NBA and NFL against those in the horseracing industry and it would be interesting to see which of these two groups have a higher number of “players” with higher level education. 

  • nu-fan

    Don:  And, isn’t it incredibly foolish of them to not understand how important customer relations is for the business operation?  It’s beyond words…  If I was a racetrack operator, I would be surveying the people who attended to see what they liked or didn’t like about their day at the track.  Might be able to get some information about how to improve the operations.  I would get an email mailing list going–especially to new fans–so that I can send out all sorts of reminders of special events (after making sure that I had at least one each weekend) and other acitivies.  Social media: Yes.  I’d also have employees who were customer service reps going around the stands to answer questions and to greet people.  For instance, I went to Golden Gate Fields yesterday and had a question about the paddock area.  Found a security guard that was very cordial and answered my question but why aren’t there employees whose responsibility is to do just that: answer questions for the fans who do not know every nuance of this sport?  At the same time, make them feel welcomed and encourage them to return–soon!

  • nu-fan

    Juleswins3:  Yes, that is the key: newspapers are disappearing.  And, even if they are still alive, it is in a diminished state.  When I separated today’s newspaper, the ads outweighed the actual paper.  But, the newspaper still comes to us.  For someone who doesn’t attend the races, how would they get the information that it still exists?  Online?  Sure, but, usually, they would have to be interested enough in racing in order to search for it.  They would have had to have had some intention to finding out about horseracing first.  To attract new fans, online information might not be the media vehicle.  Print and broadcast media still is great for providing that kind of message.

  • nu-fan

    G. Rarick:  I’m a big proponent of paid advertising.  You get the copy together, decide its placement and when it is to run and, then, pay the bill.  That gives control.  Advertising costs in newspapers must have come down considerably in the past few years.  But, also, couldn’t there be a shared expense in running these ads with co-op advertising?  It’s done all the time with retailers and manufacturers.  Why couldn’t racetracks, sponsors, and others share in running ads on a periodic basis?  Those big colorful ads (especially full-age ones) you mentioned would be great in the sports section and get noticed.  Might not be cost-effective on a regular basis but for major events and done on, at least, a quarterly basis….

  • nu-fan

    Bryan:  You had a lengthy comment but I liked it in so many ways.  First, yes, other sports have a season.  It’s concentrated.  When they are playing in their season, fans can stayed involved.  If the NFL, for instance, played all year, would they be able to keep all of their fans interested?  I don’t think so.  Fans do not have that much time (and money for attendance, etc.) and most people have other interests and obligations.  Can’t be highly involved all year in football (except for those few crazy fans).  Same might be true for horseracing.  Second, I have to agree with the stories being centered around more of the “human interest” types  that might be of more interest to readers/viewers.  Results of a race?  Big deal. Can get that information online very easily.  Why would newspapers want to compete on that basis?  One interesting example was the recent articles in The Sacramento Bee about the new ownership (Golden Bear Racing) at Cal Expo for harness racing.  The reporter (Debbie Arrington) did a great job on a couple of articles about the renovation of the stalls as well as about the workers on the backstretch and how they were affected by the upgrades.  And, she got a couple of these articles printed in the community section instead of the sports section, which meant that many more readers got exposed to that article rather than just those interested in sports.  Third, yes, horses come and go–much too frequently to keep fan loyalty.  (Obviously, I am not speaking about Zenyatta or John Henry.)  But, jockeys stay for a long time.  At Golden Gate Fields, the fans are VERY loyal to Russell Baze and their wagering is on this jockey often more than the horse.  The track recognizes this and has put up a large board that keeps up with the number of his wins.  And, Mr. Baze also recognizes fans and is easily approached.  He’ll go out of his way–and between his many races–to allow fans to take a photo with them.  I wish more tracks would allow a time (halftime?) for the fans to meet with jockeys during race days.  (Maybe, a half an hour.)  And, think of the material a reporter could get with the comments overheard!  But, it isn’t often the reporter that gets to decide if the story is run….

  • 3875waldo

    NF: You’re going against the grain of the personality of the average person who works in racing. 

    But you’re not a rarity; most people who share your insights about this naturally gravitate to entertainment mediums where you wouldn’t even have to explain all this.  They wouldn’t dream of having to waste their time at race tracks, talking to the brick walls.

  • 3875waldo

    It would have to be a
    real labor of love, because the editor would potentially have to do a lot of
    research to provide a foreword to each column, explaining the
    who-what-when-why-where-how of things that if left unsaid, would result in AM’s
    column having gaping holes in its information.

    Then the publisher would
    have to be willing to take a probable loss because we’re no longer even a
    nation of newspaper readers, when it comes to horse racing journalism.

    All this would be unnecessary
    if the New Yorker dweebs who put the CD collection of back issues together knew
    what they were doing. The thought of using them even today inspires dread.

  • 3875waldo

    Unless we can orchestrate a fake owner-trainer murder-suicide pact (along the lines of Orson Welles’ 1937 radio broadcast of the Martian Invasion, which wasn’t intended to be a stunt), how exactly do you plan to appeal to people who run the MM coverage?

  • Joltman

     For me, there’s nothing like the great stories about horses.  I used to love getting the print DRF just for the articles – Joe Hirsch et al.  Still love the articles by Haskin and others writing online.  For me the stories make racing far more than a gambling exercise.  The stories will always be there, but the media will be different.   I think it will be new media like Jim Romes radio or online commentators/bloggers that will get the following and stir business with the new generation.  They will not, however, be as knowledgeable as the old time writers despite the plethora of ‘information’.  Sadly, I can’t even get my hands on a print DRF any more.

  • Joltman

     For me, there’s nothing like the great stories about horses.  I used to love getting the print DRF just for the articles – Joe Hirsch et al.  Still love the articles by Haskin and others writing online.  For me the stories make racing far more than a gambling exercise.  The stories will always be there, but the media will be different.   I think it will be new media like Jim Romes radio or online commentators/bloggers that will get the following and stir business with the new generation.  They will not, however, be as knowledgeable as the old time writers despite the plethora of ‘information’.  Sadly, I can’t even get my hands on a print DRF any more.

  • Harlan jAbbey

    As a long time daily newspaper reoirter abd a weekly race column writer for about 20 years covering Fort Erie, for two small city Canadian dailies, plus a groom, hot walker, owner,  I agree with almost everything written so far…. except you all seem to be forgetting that newspapers are shrinking and — most important, I think — there are now high school and college girls sports. The players’ parents are subscribers and they want their daughters to get at least 50 percent of the much longer stories, statistics, etc. as the high school and college BOYS teams.  There is just not enough room in the sports sections for everything. and it’s not politically correct to ignore the ladies.  Harlan Abbey, Buffalo, NY

  • Harlan jAbbey

    As a long time daily newspaper reoirter abd a weekly race column writer for about 20 years covering Fort Erie, for two small city Canadian dailies, plus a groom, hot walker, owner,  I agree with almost everything written so far…. except you all seem to be forgetting that newspapers are shrinking and — most important, I think — there are now high school and college girls sports. The players’ parents are subscribers and they want their daughters to get at least 50 percent of the much longer stories, statistics, etc. as the high school and college BOYS teams.  There is just not enough room in the sports sections for everything. and it’s not politically correct to ignore the ladies.  Harlan Abbey, Buffalo, NY

  • Ron Crookham

    Ray, at the Las Vegas Review Journal we have Turf writer Richard Eng. Richard is also a damn good handicapper :)

  • Ron Crookham

    Ray, at the Las Vegas Review Journal we have Turf writer Richard Eng. Richard is also a damn good handicapper :)

  • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

    AMEN BRO!!!…ty…

  • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

    AMEN BRO!!!…ty…

  • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

    You are a “GOOD MAN CHARLIE BROWN’”!!!…ty…

  • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

    That crowd (past & present) must know by now how stupid & greedy that way of thinking WAS…ty…

  • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

    I have another AMEN for you TOO!!!…ty…

  • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

    Don’t matter MAD-HATTER…ALL OF YA JUST KEEP ON STROKING!!!…ty…

  • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

    Reminds me when the first apple pc came out & one of the salesman told me these things will do away with pen & paper!!!…I knew that was pure BS…ty…

  • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

    THAT IS A FACT JACK!!!…ty…

  • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

    As long as there are TWO T-BREDS & PUNTER$ “THE GAME” will never be over…ty…

  • Anderson5999

    Nice way to toot your own horn, Nick.

  • Thelibrarian

    Outside of the Triple Crown & the BC the mainstream does not care about this sport. You could have entries & results in every paper…every day & nobody would care. It’s a niche market in the gambling sector…..and should be marketed that way.  

  • Thelibrarian

    Outside of the Triple Crown & the BC the mainstream does not care about this sport. You could have entries & results in every paper…every day & nobody would care. It’s a niche market in the gambling sector…..and should be marketed that way.  

  • Lory

    the loss of turf writers goes to another FAIL on the tracks themselves ! tracks used to court writers and take care of them at the races ,should a Chet Nelson show up out of the clear blue sky hhe would be shown top class treatment. for the price of a meal a drink or two and some thanks they started staying home ! that happens when so many tracks think their announcer should be the publicist etc. The tracks out here ran off all the kids (and future fans) another FAIL. they try same ideas that FAILED over and over no matter how bad they FAIL.

  • Lory

    the loss of turf writers goes to another FAIL on the tracks themselves ! tracks used to court writers and take care of them at the races ,should a Chet Nelson show up out of the clear blue sky hhe would be shown top class treatment. for the price of a meal a drink or two and some thanks they started staying home ! that happens when so many tracks think their announcer should be the publicist etc. The tracks out here ran off all the kids (and future fans) another FAIL. they try same ideas that FAILED over and over no matter how bad they FAIL.

  • Citation

    Good article, liked the comparison to baseball.  Yes, I remember ‘Super Joe’ as I was was a freshman attending college just south of Erie PA during his big year.  Thus, I also remember going to Erie Downs.  Sorry that there are people here that dont like your work, but I enjoyed the article.  Your description of Zenyetta’s  half-sister built, race and potential is spot on.

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

    While the number of Turf writers and the publications that use their services certainly has decreased, the number of Turf writers doing actual, investigative reporting has increased.

    Plenty of old-time Turf writers regurgitated press releases and put their name on it with nothing more than a new lede and no original reporting. People today like Angst, Lamarra, Drape, Hegarty, etc. pound the pavement hard to deliver real news, and I’m not sure racing ever had that kind of investigative power before the 21st century.

    • Damon Runyon

      You must be completely delusional. Perhaps you should go back to tweeting about your hero Donald Trump. That is more your speed, intellectually speaking.

      • Mary Simon

         Maple Grove! As usual, you have nothing of value to say.

      • Jeff Lowe

        Easy to dismiss such a ridiculous (and conveniently anonymous) comment.  I would add Ray Paulick and Greg Hall to Ed’s list and they both exemplify what can be done on the Web even if print opportunities are way down.

      • Mary Simon

        Damon or Maple Grove or whoever the hell you are on any given day … you keep just keep on spewing your insulting drivel like the EverReady rabbit–except when you’re too busy being a sycophant. Depending on your mood and who you’re “talking” to. By the way, you never got back to me on the nasty remark you made about my husband from a couple of months back. Coward. 

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

    While the number of Turf writers and the publications that use their services certainly has decreased, the number of Turf writers doing actual, investigative reporting has increased.

    Plenty of old-time Turf writers regurgitated press releases and put their name on it with nothing more than a new lede and no original reporting. People today like Angst, Lamarra, Drape, Hegarty, etc. pound the pavement hard to deliver real news, and I’m not sure racing ever had that kind of investigative power before the 21st century.

  • Don Reed

    It always good to hear from you.

  • Don Reed

    Nick was NOT “TYOH.” He was innocently omitted from Ray’s sincere summation of who is currently covering racing.  Nothing is objectionable about Nick sending a message that he – against the tide of ignorance - is still writing about the sport we love.

    Your snide objection is a bomb. 

  • Damon Runyon

    You must be completely delusional. Perhaps you should go back to tweeting about your hero Donald Trump. That is more your speed, intellectually speaking.

  • Jay Robbins

    Dustin, you succinctly address all the salient points for racings demise. At this point we can only hope it is cyclical.

  • Jay Robbins

    Dustin, you succinctly address all the salient points for racings demise. At this point we can only hope it is cyclical.

  • Anderson5999

    Based on Kling’s words: “I doubt there is anyone in America who writes as many words about racing annually as I,” I’m pretty sure I hit the mark. And, quite frankly, I’m pretty sure he’s wrong. How about Ed Fountaine of the New York Post? He writes a lot, every day, just like Kling. So does Jerry Bossert.

    Your snide objection to me is a bomb.

  • Buddy29

    Waldo 3875 that is exactly what they did. I see Hollywood and Santa Anita drawing about 3,500 a day and Churchill Downs quit reporting about 12 years ago. It’s Keeneland, Saratoga and Del Mar. That’s what’s left. I live in Louisville and I drive to Keeneland for all my racing.

  • Buddy29

    Waldo 3875 that is exactly what they did. I see Hollywood and Santa Anita drawing about 3,500 a day and Churchill Downs quit reporting about 12 years ago. It’s Keeneland, Saratoga and Del Mar. That’s what’s left. I live in Louisville and I drive to Keeneland for all my racing.

  • Sue Chapman

    Enjoyed it, but being a diehard racetracker, the references to other sports were lost on me. 

    Sorry about the classless dialogue below.  Please continue supporting our sport. 
      

  • Mary Simon

     Maple Grove! As usual, you have nothing of value to say.

  • Jeff Lowe

    Easy to dismiss such a ridiculous (and conveniently anonymous) comment.  I would add Ray Paulick and Greg Hall to Ed’s list and they both exemplify what can be done on the Web even if print opportunities are way down.

  • Jeff Lowe

    Who knows how many people actually read it these days, but that association looks to have gained the Derby points sytem a fixed spot on the USA Today agate page.

  • Mary Simon

    Damon or Maple Grove or whoever the hell you are on any given day … you keep just keep on spewing your insulting drivel like the EverReady rabbit–except when you’re too busy being a sycophant. Depending on your mood and who you’re “talking” to. By the way, you never got back to me on the nasty remark you made about my husband from a couple of months back. Coward. 

  • MYSTICWRITER

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