Loss of the Thoroughbred Times: ‘…And then there was one’

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When I first lived in Chicago in the early 1970s, there were four daily newspapers: morning commuters could read the Tribune and Sun-Times, then take a copy of Chicago Today and The Daily News with them on the way home that evening.

By the time I got my first journalism job in 1975 at the Field Newspaper Syndicate, which was part of the Sun-Times and Daily News family, Chicago Today had ceased publishing.  It was only a few years later, March 4, 1978, to be exact, that the Daily News went out of business, too.

This was particularly shocking to me because the Chicago Daily News – known as “the writers’ newspaper” – represented such outstanding journalism. The staff – which included the brilliant columnist Mike Royko, gifted editorial cartoonist John Fischetti, and political reporting legend Peter Lisagor – won 15 Pulitzer Prizes and a boatload of other prestigious awards. As Royko wrote in his final Daily News column, “The Daily News was doing investigative reporting and sending politicians to jail when Woodward and Bernstein were toddlers.”

But even with all that excellence, dedication, and journalistic integrity, it wasn’t enough. Here, in part, is what publisher Marshall Field wrote in the final edition. “Despite all our efforts, the economics of publishing, reader habits and life-styles have changed dramatically in the last two decades, making it impossible for The Daily News to earn the revenue needed for any healthy, sound business operation.”

The changes then were television, especially television news, and suburban growth outside of major cities like Chicago. Televised nightly news, both local and national, replaced the need for afternoon newspapers, and more commuters were driving home to the suburbs rather than taking trains or buses.

Fast forward 35 years and publishers are again facing changing reader habits and lifestyles.

When I first visited Lexington, Ky., in the summer of 1985, there were two weekly Thoroughbred publications, The Blood-Horse and Thoroughbred Record. A couple of months later there would be a third weekly, the Thoroughbred Times, launched by Bloodstock Research Information Services founder Richard F. Broadbent III and former Thoroughbred Record writer and editor Mark Simon.

Thoroughbred breeding was going through a massive boom cycle in North America that would peak in 1985, when an all-time record number of mares were bred. The foal crop increased from 18,846 in 1965 to 28,271 in 1975, and an astounding 50,430 in 1985.

Stallion farms and accompanying advertising expanded dramatically. An account executive with Blood-Horse magazine during that era once told me all he had to do to sell ads was answer the phone and see if there was any space available.

Those good times didn’t last forever. The commercial yearling market hit its dizzying peak in 1984 and ’85 with averages of about $600,000 at the now-defunct Keeneland July Selected Yearling Sale – 10 times higher than it was a decade earlier.

Tax reform in 1986 and severe oversupply of bloodstock caused a market crash that lasted through 1992.

Publications saw advertising revenue fall just as fast as yearling prices and stud fees. Thoroughbred Record was the first to blink, going to a monthly format in 1986. In the autumn of 1988, it merged with the Thoroughbred Times and ceased publication altogether by May 1990.

Then there were two.

For the next 20-plus years, Blood-Horse and Thoroughbred Times went head-to-head, essentially publishing the same information – news, race reports and features, statistics on racing, sales and breeding – on a weekly basis, each with a somewhat different editorial spin. It was not dissimilar to Time and Newsweek. (Disclosure: I worked at Thoroughbred Times from 1988-91, and at Blood-Horse from 1992-2007)

Then, just as nightly television news replaced afternoon newspapers for many people in the 1960s and ‘70s, fax and electronic newsletters and internet sites chipped away at the timeliness and relevance of weekly magazines.

This didn’t just happen in the Thoroughbred industry. I grew up in the 1960s getting the weekly Sporting News, which covered all sports but especially baseball. It had the most comprehensive statistics and box scores you could find. From 1886 until 2008, the Sporting News was published every week. Then it went to bi-weekly until 2011, then monthly, then it stopped printing altogether and became an on-line product only. You don’t have to wait a week for box scores: now you can see them online as a ballgame is being played.

Earlier this year, Thoroughbred Times announced it was getting out of the weekly newsmagazine business and going with a twice-monthly feature format starting July 1. It seemed like a good idea, inasmuch as the weekly advertising space in the Times (and Blood-Horse) was diminishing, and the magazines were getting thinner and thinner.

Then, last week, the owner of Thoroughbred Times filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, closing the operation completely and immediately, and notifying employees, including longtime editor Mark Simon, via an impersonal letter delivered by Federal Express. Reasons for the financial failure of the company are complex and may not be entirely related to whether or not it was turning a profit. Simon said the owner was using Thoroughbred Times revenue to pay expenses for other magazines owned by the publisher, Norman Ridker. In fact, Ridker and two of his companies are claiming to be owed about $4.7 million of the $5.3 million in debt listed on the bankruptcy filing.

What does the closing of Thoroughbred Times mean, and is it a publication that can, at least in part, be saved?

For starters, it means that 27 people who worked for the company are out of work, not even getting their final paychecks. It will not be easy for any of them. Free-lancers and photographers now have one less publication for which to contribute. It means there will be less work for advertising agencies that prepared ads for the magazine, its Thoroughbred Times Today daily newsletter, website, or statistical supplements. There is a trickle-down effect that hits multiple businesses.

Others may gain from the closing of the Times, particularly the Thoroughbred Daily News daily electronic newsletter and Blood-Horse weekly magazine. I suppose the Paulick Report could be one of those businesses that stands to gain, too. But believe me when I say there is no joy in any possible benefit from this kind of terrible loss, and I trust management and staff at the other Thoroughbred publications feel the same way.

Since Saturday, I have been exploring the wisdom of reaching out to investors in an effort to salvage the magazine or some of the company’s other products, and I imagine I’m not the only one in the publishing business to do so. Thoroughbred Times has, since its inception, stood for high standards and excellence in all of its products, and that means there is value. But just as with the Chicago Daily News, I’m not sure that’s enough.

Is a twice-monthly, monthly, or bi-monthly feature/lifestyle magazine on the horse racing industry something that can make it? Would there be enough support, from both readers and advertisers?

It’s not as if this hasn’t been tried before.

Spur magazine, originally known as Spur of Virginia, portrayed the lifestyle of horse people and horses in a well-produced glossy magazine. It lasted from 1966 until 1998, going through several transformations along the way but ultimately failing.

Classic magazine, a bi-monthly published from 1975-79, was a slick, well written and heavily financed publication run by horseman E. Barry Ryan and featuring such writers as Whitney Tower and Pete Axthelm. It had advertising support from companies like Hermes, Jaguar, BMW, Bulgari, and Johnny Walker scotch, but still ran out of funding after a few years.

The bi-monthly Backstretch magazine had a long run, folding in 2002 after publishing more than 40 years with various editorial focuses.

Derby magazine, published out of Oklahoma and featuring some very good writers, lasted from 1984-87.

A few years ago, a publication called Horse Society Magazine (The Lifestyle of Thoroughbred Racing) seemed to debut and fold almost simultaneously despite great fanfare and one heckuva launch party.

One horse lifestyle magazine survivor is Keeneland, a quarterly published in conjunction with Blood-Horse Publications, but its advertising support is not nearly what it was just a few years ago.

Nearly every one I’ve talked to, and I’ve talked with a lot of people since Saturday, about whether or not Thoroughbred Times can be saved as a non-news, feature magazine, have said, “No, it won’t work.”

I hope they’re wrong. I’m not giving up on the idea just yet, and I welcome your thoughts on the subject. The wheels of a bankruptcy move slowly, and there’s plenty of time for a white knight to ride in and say, “This magazine deserves another chance.”

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  • Stanley inman

    Ray,
    North American Trainer magazine
    A good read.

    • Giles Anderson

      Thank you Stanley! We try hard – just like Ray, Brad and their team. As Ray says, there is no joy in this loss. The TT was really beginning to work in the new format. Perhaps something new will rise from the ashes….

    • Nan

      I agree!  

  • Stanley inman

    Ray,
    North American Trainer magazine
    A good read.

  • http://twitter.com/Equarius_Bldstk Alistair Brown

    I like the way you are thinking Ray – and, like you, I too hope that those you have canvassed since Saturday are wrong – there HAS to be a format in which a non-news feature magazine promoting the industry CAN work.  MY thinking cap is on!

    • NanRawlins

      The Chronicle of the Horse has a really good on-line, interactive feel-good magazine that comes out once a month , or once every other month.  It’s called the Chronicle Connections.  Advertisers can publish wonderful flash ads, video ads, anything the interactive mind can think up.  It’s not just print media that’s in trouble, but ad content that is changing. Static ads are becoming a thing of the past.  One thing about on-line is the sky is the limit as the opportunities to think outside the box and grab potential customers with interactive media is just going to grow and grow.

  • http://twitter.com/Equarius_Bldstk Alistair Brown

    I like the way you are thinking Ray – and, like you, I too hope that those you have canvassed since Saturday are wrong – there HAS to be a format in which a non-news feature magazine promoting the industry CAN work.  MY thinking cap is on!

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

    Does anyone know what percentage of TJC’s revenues the Thoroughbred Times’s $300k+ annual spend w/ that organization for data represents?

    • Thejockeyclubiskillingracing

      Nobody but the guys in The Jockey Club NY office knows that, and that in itself is an injustice to every single person that registers a foal. This article also did not mention that The Jockey Club is swallowing up vital advertising dollars by accepting ads on all of their various websites and products. I would venture to guess that their advertising revenue doubles any other entity in the industry.

      • Hip #1

        And no one considers Ray’s blog as a direct competitor and contributor to the demise of the Ttimes.  Don’t be hypocrites people, we helped it happen! Duh.  It’s evolution.

        • RayPaulick

          Hip #1

          I acknowledge in the article that Paulick Report is a competitor and may stand to gain from the closing of the Thoroughbred Times. I think competition is a good thing. 

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

    Does anyone know what percentage of TJC’s revenues the Thoroughbred Times’s $300k+ annual spend w/ that organization for data represents?

  • Mike Podesta

    I have subscribed to both the Thoroughbred Times and the Bloodhorse over the years and found the articles, in many cases, too shallow, too feel good. There are things happening in this industry that even the most ardent fans would not believe some of which is coming out in the current debate on drugs. There is room for a truly investigative racing magazine one that really gets to the heart of the subject but feel good articles do not make it any more. Look at the discussions  that take place in the Paulick Report blogs. Real discussions. I have read some great, really informative articles about our industry in the last several months but they are individual articles. It appears that magazines are unwilling to speak out and say it as it truly is. On the other hand articles like the one’s Steve Haskins puts out after each of the Triple Crown races are terrific, but he includes aspects that the fan does not have access to. The demise of the Thoroughbred Times is a shame but watch out Bloodhorse, your days might be numbered to. 

    • Mary Simon

      “Feel-good” articles, Mike? Really? Did you pick up any one of the several bi-weeklies we put out recently–on a shoestring budget, I might add? No, make that a cobweb budget. … Did you happen to read Frank Angst’s incredibly in-depth piece of reporting in the July 7th issue, “Does the NTRA Have a Future … its Fight for Relevency?” Frank’s hands down the best investigative reporter in the business, and it shows in every single word he writes. … Did you read the article in that same issue, called “Hopping Mad? or a subsequent piece on the controversy surrounding racing without salix?” How about owner Maggi Moss’s commentary “Racing and Public Perception–Are We Really Helping?” Or Mark Simon’s lament: “Out of Sight, Out of Mind–I’ll Have Another Faces an Uphill Battle to Remain Relevant.” Or, his piece “Not a Level Playing Field,” about claiming rules that punish owners? How about “The Shrinking Foal Crop–Effects on Racing, Breeding, and Sales?” Or, “Progress Report on the McKinsey Study?” Or, “The Nasal Strip Controversy?” Or even my own on-line rants on the Times website? Do those sound like “feel-good” stories, or “fluff pieces?” You think so?

      • http://www.facebook.com/Ann.Mitchell.Adam Ann Mitchell Adam

        Mary,
            I don’t think Mike was really intending disrespect to TT. In fact, I regard much of what he posted as backing your stand. He should be considered to be an ally or someone that could be recruited as such but, maybe you know him better than I do? 

        • Mary Simon

           Ann–He was referring to articles in the BH and Times as “shallow” and “too feel good.” If he’d bothered to look at a single issue of the Times this past, oh, 27 years, he’d know better than that.

  • Mike Podesta

    I have subscribed to both the Thoroughbred Times and the Bloodhorse over the years and found the articles, in many cases, too shallow, too feel good. There are things happening in this industry that even the most ardent fans would not believe some of which is coming out in the current debate on drugs. There is room for a truly investigative racing magazine one that really gets to the heart of the subject but feel good articles do not make it any more. Look at the discussions  that take place in the Paulick Report blogs. Real discussions. I have read some great, really informative articles about our industry in the last several months but they are individual articles. It appears that magazines are unwilling to speak out and say it as it truly is. On the other hand articles like the one’s Steve Haskins puts out after each of the Triple Crown races are terrific, but he includes aspects that the fan does not have access to. The demise of the Thoroughbred Times is a shame but watch out Bloodhorse, your days might be numbered to. 

  • Thejockeyclubiskillingracing

    Nobody but the guys in The Jockey Club NY office knows that, and that in itself is an injustice to every single person that registers a foal. This article also did not mention that The Jockey Club is swallowing up vital advertising dollars by accepting ads on all of their various websites and products. I would venture to guess that their advertising revenue doubles any other entity in the industry.

  • Susansalk

    Hearing about the sudden collapse of the TB Times last week kind of knocked the stuffing out of me. Not because I’ve ever written a word for them, but, I did have hope that I would, someday.

    While you were enjoying the boom-times of the late 80s, picking up the phone with the biggest worry being how you would accommodate all those requests for ads, I was getting a degree in “a dying industry”—journalism— in Boston. It was a roaring good time here too, and despite warnings from professors that times were changing, we were idealistic and naive to believe there would always be strong newspapers. And magazines. 

    The professors were right. But it would have taken a crystal ball to predict the downturn of the print industry.

    These days, with so much free content populating the Internet, and with the *news* on television now teetering toward advocacy journalism, on both sides, I wonder where it will all lead. It’s hard to have hope.

    So, my heart goes out to the 27 freshly unemployed journalists at the Thoroughbred Times. 

    And thank you Ray, for writing such a well-thought-out piece (as always!), and for ending on a hopeful note. 

  • Giles Anderson

    Thank you Stanley! We try hard – just like Ray, Brad and their team. As Ray says, there is no joy in this loss. The TT was really beginning to work in the new format. Perhaps something new will rise from the ashes….

  • Susansalk

    Hearing about the sudden collapse of the TB Times last week kind of knocked the stuffing out of me. Not because I’ve ever written a word for them, but, I did have hope that I would, someday.

    While you were enjoying the boom-times of the late 80s, picking up the phone with the biggest worry being how you would accommodate all those requests for ads, I was getting a degree in “a dying industry”—journalism— in Boston. It was a roaring good time here too, and despite warnings from professors that times were changing, we were idealistic and naive to believe there would always be strong newspapers. And magazines. 

    The professors were right. But it would have taken a crystal ball to predict the downturn of the print industry.

    These days, with so much free content populating the Internet, and with the *news* on television now teetering toward advocacy journalism, on both sides, I wonder where it will all lead. It’s hard to have hope.

    So, my heart goes out to the 27 freshly unemployed journalists at the Thoroughbred Times. 

    And thank you Ray, for writing such a well-thought-out piece (as always!), and for ending on a hopeful note. 

  • Figless

    I cancelled my TT subsription two years ago, reluctantly, simply because they stopped printing all the various sire lists and Winners Lists. I am in the minority, I am aware, but I work on the computer all day and prefer to picks up a hard copy of a magazine and just skim through those lists over breakfast or in the evening in the yard or on my couch. I dont need technology following me around all day long. The articles themselves were mostly feel good stories and were old news by the time they arrived in print, which is the major problem with all print media nowadays, so would suggest more of a journalistic take on racing, investigative reporting rather than simple race recaps, but include as many of those lists as you can as well and I will subscribe again.

    • BonnieMcDo

      I agree with what you say here. In NY the R Dutrow saga goes on and a good story about issue would be nice including how the legal  process can be used to prolong an issue. There are many stories out there but no one is writing them. I wish some old style guys like the ones they had in the sixties in NY were around to write about horse racing. And I do think all negative stories are  not needed . I hope an on line version of TT can exist in the future..I will miss it and enjoyed reading it. 

  • Figless

    I cancelled my TT subsription two years ago, reluctantly, simply because they stopped printing all the various sire lists and Winners Lists. I am in the minority, I am aware, but I work on the computer all day and prefer to picks up a hard copy of a magazine and just skim through those lists over breakfast or in the evening in the yard or on my couch. I dont need technology following me around all day long. The articles themselves were mostly feel good stories and were old news by the time they arrived in print, which is the major problem with all print media nowadays, so would suggest more of a journalistic take on racing, investigative reporting rather than simple race recaps, but include as many of those lists as you can as well and I will subscribe again.

  • Nan

    I agree!  

  • NanRawlins

    The Chronicle of the Horse has a really good on-line, interactive feel-good magazine that comes out once a month , or once every other month.  It’s called the Chronicle Connections.  Advertisers can publish wonderful flash ads, video ads, anything the interactive mind can think up.  It’s not just print media that’s in trouble, but ad content that is changing. Static ads are becoming a thing of the past.  One thing about on-line is the sky is the limit as the opportunities to think outside the box and grab potential customers with interactive media is just going to grow and grow.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rusty.hefner.77 Rusty Hefner

    I subscribed to many of the magazines you mentioned. Thoroughbred Times demise is not only a reflection of a changing marketplace (hard copy vs. web)…but also shrinking disposable income…and most troubling..a shrinking fan base related to the horse racing industry.

    • Suzanneadvnc

       I hate to agree with you about the shrinking fan base to horse racing but I guess I have to.  It is sad.  The only place where it seems horse racing is as popular as it once was is at Keeneland race course.  There, the glory of racing lives on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rusty.hefner.77 Rusty Hefner

    I subscribed to many of the magazines you mentioned. Thoroughbred Times demise is not only a reflection of a changing marketplace (hard copy vs. web)…but also shrinking disposable income…and most troubling..a shrinking fan base related to the horse racing industry.

  • David

    The TT was great and a valuable resource to many involved in the business; but, isn’t the overriding consideration there is simply not enough demand to drive enough revenue to justify as many specialty/trade pubs as there are out there?  Didn’t pet publications make up the vast majority of those guys’ holdings?   Few pets in the world, huh?

    • Convene

       Unfortunately most of the pet publications are going down the toilet too, quality-wise. Dog World used to provide plenty of real information and research findings about health, nutrition, dog psychology etc. Now it’s just another PowerPoint presentation for fanciers of mindless minions and new owners. I used to buy it every month. Haven’t bought a copy now in several years. Sad sad sad …

  • David

    The TT was great and a valuable resource to many involved in the business; but, isn’t the overriding consideration there is simply not enough demand to drive enough revenue to justify as many specialty/trade pubs as there are out there?  Didn’t pet publications make up the vast majority of those guys’ holdings?   Few pets in the world, huh?

  • Glimmerglass

    Add in The Steeplechase Times as a publication that soldiers on.

  • Glimmerglass

    Add in The Steeplechase Times as a publication that soldiers on.

  • Rachel

    I am trying to understand why you would shut down the revenue making magazine that was paying the bills for two other magazines…? Does that mean they will tank soon, also?

    • Chef Boy R Dee

      Yes that’s exactly what it means, Bow Tie is going down, Ridker played a shell game moving money from one title to another, he chose TTimes as his designated bankrupt company, and had the absolute gall, to list himself and other companies he owns as the larger creditor (4.8 mil of the 5.3 mil listed)

      • Rufus T Firefly

         Correct, Chef. This is but a stopgap measure in what promises to be an epic collapse, based on my encounters with Ridker and his band of mediocrities. He may be able to get through this bankruptcy but his utter lack of knowledge on how to run a subscription-based business in a digital age (granted, it is a difficult proposition) will sink him and his publishing “empire.”

        Prepare for “the big one,” cluless Califnornia-ites out there in Irvine corporate HQ. Sierra Madrid ain’t got nothin’ on what you’re gonna receive…

  • Rachel

    I am trying to understand why you would shut down the revenue making magazine that was paying the bills for two other magazines…? Does that mean they will tank soon, also?

  • BonnieMcDo

    I agree with what you say here. In NY the R Dutrow saga goes on and a good story about issue would be nice including how the legal  process can be used to prolong an issue. There are many stories out there but no one is writing them. I wish some old style guys like the ones they had in the sixties in NY were around to write about horse racing. And I do think all negative stories are  not needed . I hope an on line version of TT can exist in the future..I will miss it and enjoyed reading it. 

  • Fran Jurga

    Thanks for reminding us of the history of Thoroughbred periodical publishing. I’d like to point to North American Trainer and ST Publishing’s “Special” publications as examples of successful (hopefully) publications that serve the reader through terrific content and an authentic voice.

    I think that authenticity is what people seek, even if their quest is unconscious.Two favorite quotes I hear at publishing conferences are “In the future, magazines won’t have web sites: web sites will have magazines” and “There are no more publishing companies, they are all media companies”.The other thing I hear about is private publishing and the need for all entities–in our case, breeders, trainers, tracks, manufacturers–to create and distribute their own content and hijack/spin the news to their advantage (“newsjacking”). A void in legitimate publishers will fuel this trend in the Thoroughbred world.Another problem: what do we know about where people get their racing and industry news now, in 2012? Can they tell when they are reading a press release? Do they care? Are they happy with canned content crafted with the minimum amount of effort because the writer is being paid a pittance, and waiting 60-90 days to receive it, at that?We don’t need any more publications–web or print–that use mediocre or canned content as a spacer mechanism between ads. We don’t need another ambitious publisher who counts his/her successes in ad pages alone and allows advertisers to drive or spin content. Is anyone brave enough to both take the financial risk and answer the challenge of doing something better, producing something that people will actually read and recognize as painting a truthful picture of horse racing and breeding in America? More importantly: who has an authentic enough voice to earn both the readers’ trust and the support of advertisers? Because that is what it will take to succeed.

    • Mary Simon

       Excellent post, Fran. Painful to read, but much truth in it.

  • Fran Jurga

    Thanks for reminding us of the history of Thoroughbred periodical publishing. I’d like to point to North American Trainer and ST Publishing’s “Special” publications as examples of successful (hopefully) publications that serve the reader through terrific content and an authentic voice.

    I think that authenticity is what people seek, even if their quest is unconscious.Two favorite quotes I hear at publishing conferences are “In the future, magazines won’t have web sites: web sites will have magazines” and “There are no more publishing companies, they are all media companies”.The other thing I hear about is private publishing and the need for all entities–in our case, breeders, trainers, tracks, manufacturers–to create and distribute their own content and hijack/spin the news to their advantage (“newsjacking”). A void in legitimate publishers will fuel this trend in the Thoroughbred world.Another problem: what do we know about where people get their racing and industry news now, in 2012? Can they tell when they are reading a press release? Do they care? Are they happy with canned content crafted with the minimum amount of effort because the writer is being paid a pittance, and waiting 60-90 days to receive it, at that?We don’t need any more publications–web or print–that use mediocre or canned content as a spacer mechanism between ads. We don’t need another ambitious publisher who counts his/her successes in ad pages alone and allows advertisers to drive or spin content. Is anyone brave enough to both take the financial risk and answer the challenge of doing something better, producing something that people will actually read and recognize as painting a truthful picture of horse racing and breeding in America? More importantly: who has an authentic enough voice to earn both the readers’ trust and the support of advertisers? Because that is what it will take to succeed.

  • Alex Brown

    I love the North American Trainer Magazine, out of CA (may have got the name wrong), Steeplechase Times and Saratoga Special.  That being said, I do not think it is practical to consider launching another industry-wide magazine, or try to relaunch Thoroughbred Times to include a print magazine.  BUT, there is value for sure.  For example, on Twitter @TTimes has more than 9,000 followers.  I am sure they have a FB page with Fans etc.  Those connections mean there is value for anyone purchasing the brand.  But I imagine the brand should be internet centric … ?

    • Mary Simon

      Good comment, Alex. The internet’s the future, that’s for sure. But as the Times discovered when we went bi-weekly and dropped the stakes shells in the back of the magazine–there are still plenty of people out there who want their news available them in hands-on format as well. Maybe a few years from now that won’t be the case. … Also, no matter how wonderful a website may be, there are certain things you just can’t see as well or appreciate as much via a computer screen as opposed to the real deal. Take your own drop-dead gorgeous and wonderful book on Barbaro. Imagine if that had never been available in hard copy, but only piece meal electronically. It would have been a crime.

  • Alex Brown

    I love the North American Trainer Magazine, out of CA (may have got the name wrong), Steeplechase Times and Saratoga Special.  That being said, I do not think it is practical to consider launching another industry-wide magazine, or try to relaunch Thoroughbred Times to include a print magazine.  BUT, there is value for sure.  For example, on Twitter @TTimes has more than 9,000 followers.  I am sure they have a FB page with Fans etc.  Those connections mean there is value for anyone purchasing the brand.  But I imagine the brand should be internet centric … ?

  • Satch

    My points:  a.)  The daily arrival of TT around 9 PM each night meant that there was quality reading first thing in the morning.
    b.)  Life is busy, so the articles have to be kept short, just like what TT was offering.  My monthly National Geographic unfortunately often goes unread for the very same reason.
    c.)  Format matters.  TT had a nice, crisp professional feel to it.  TDN’s font and presentation really make it unreadable for me, even though the content appears to be good.
    d.)  Perspective and insights vs. industry puff pieces is no contest.  The readers prefer the former and can see through the latter.
    e.)  The daily stats in TT were relevant and useful.
    f.)  Good luck, I really hope that TT comes back as a daily electronic product.  Maybe the rest of the customer base prefers the printed copy.  Knowing and understanding the customer and what we/they want becomes paramount if you want to succeed.

  • Satch

    My points:  a.)  The daily arrival of TT around 9 PM each night meant that there was quality reading first thing in the morning.
    b.)  Life is busy, so the articles have to be kept short, just like what TT was offering.  My monthly National Geographic unfortunately often goes unread for the very same reason.
    c.)  Format matters.  TT had a nice, crisp professional feel to it.  TDN’s font and presentation really make it unreadable for me, even though the content appears to be good.
    d.)  Perspective and insights vs. industry puff pieces is no contest.  The readers prefer the former and can see through the latter.
    e.)  The daily stats in TT were relevant and useful.
    f.)  Good luck, I really hope that TT comes back as a daily electronic product.  Maybe the rest of the customer base prefers the printed copy.  Knowing and understanding the customer and what we/they want becomes paramount if you want to succeed.

  • Mary Simon

    “Feel-good” articles, Mike? Really? Did you pick up any one of the several bi-weeklies we put out recently–on a shoestring budget, I might add? No, make that a cobweb budget. … Did you happen to read Frank Angst’s incredibly in-depth piece of reporting in the July 7th issue, “Does the NTRA Have a Future … its Fight for Relevency?” Frank’s hands down the best investigative reporter in the business, and it shows in every single word he writes. … Did you read the article in that same issue, called “Hopping Mad? or a subsequent piece on the controversy surrounding racing without salix?” How about owner Maggi Moss’s commentary “Racing and Public Perception–Are We Really Helping?” Or Mark Simon’s lament: “Out of Sight, Out of Mind–I’ll Have Another Faces an Uphill Battle to Remain Relevant.” Or, his piece “Not a Level Playing Field,” about claiming rules that punish owners? How about “The Shrinking Foal Crop–Effects on Racing, Breeding, and Sales?” Or, “Progress Report on the McKinsey Study?” Or, “The Nasal Strip Controversy?” Or even my own on-line rants on the Times website? Do those sound like “feel-good” stories, or “fluff pieces?” You think so?

  • sammie

    Not just the 27 but also the other 6 laid off last month. News just arrived this morning that they also cut off our COBRA so now my insurance is almost double than with my COBRA. 

    • Mary Simon

      Really? I don’t think that’s legal. Of course, it’s beginning to look like Norman wasn’t much concerned with such trivial matters as legality. No heart, no class … potentially criminal.

      • Rufus T Firefly

         None of the “final 27″ will be eligible for COBRA either. COBRA was available to “sammie” because the company plan was still in effect when he/she was let go. The company plan is no longer in effect. There is no company. Thus, there will be no coverage under COBRA. Employees will be able to purchase similar coverage to their previous plan, but it is bound to be mucho expensive.

  • sammie

    Not just the 27 but also the other 6 laid off last month. News just arrived this morning that they also cut off our COBRA so now my insurance is almost double than with my COBRA. 

  • Convene

    Excellent – and incredibly sad – article, Ray. I see the same things happening to so many publications of every type. Even Readers Digest, for pete’s sake! Used to be there were actual articles written often by ordinary people who actually knew basic grammar. Now there are a few articles written by people who my 5th grade teacher would have flunked in English grammar – and the rest is little more than a printed PowerPoint presentation. I know life’s busy but come on! If we don’t take time to read and learn and just enjoy, we’re going to be society of burned-out, worn-out carcasses who know a smidgen about lots of things but no real meat about anything – and things like joy and wonder and just plain awe will be down there with the ashes of those dead publications. No, I’m not waxing poetic; I’m just sad to see how many of us are too busy chasing life to actually LIVE. Sitting down with my Blood Horse every week, my Paulik Report every day and the Thoroughbred Times etc. whenever provided relaxation, knowledge, amusement and sometimes even a few mushy ol’ tears – and a chance to stop rushing and just BREATHE. PowerPoint presentations just don’t cut it, not for relaxation and not for depth of knowledge either. I hope someone can come up with something to save our dying publications because when they’re gone, we all lose. All of us.

    Sorry for the rambling but this is just one more sign of the times that makes me incredibly sad. Thanks for the articles, Ray. Gives me something to read every day!

  • Convene

    Excellent – and incredibly sad – article, Ray. I see the same things happening to so many publications of every type. Even Readers Digest, for pete’s sake! Used to be there were actual articles written often by ordinary people who actually knew basic grammar. Now there are a few articles written by people who my 5th grade teacher would have flunked in English grammar – and the rest is little more than a printed PowerPoint presentation. I know life’s busy but come on! If we don’t take time to read and learn and just enjoy, we’re going to be society of burned-out, worn-out carcasses who know a smidgen about lots of things but no real meat about anything – and things like joy and wonder and just plain awe will be down there with the ashes of those dead publications. No, I’m not waxing poetic; I’m just sad to see how many of us are too busy chasing life to actually LIVE. Sitting down with my Blood Horse every week, my Paulik Report every day and the Thoroughbred Times etc. whenever provided relaxation, knowledge, amusement and sometimes even a few mushy ol’ tears – and a chance to stop rushing and just BREATHE. PowerPoint presentations just don’t cut it, not for relaxation and not for depth of knowledge either. I hope someone can come up with something to save our dying publications because when they’re gone, we all lose. All of us.

    Sorry for the rambling but this is just one more sign of the times that makes me incredibly sad. Thanks for the articles, Ray. Gives me something to read every day!

  • Mary Simon

    Good comment, Alex. The internet’s the future, that’s for sure. But as the Times discovered when we went bi-weekly and dropped the stakes shells in the back of the magazine–there are still plenty of people out there who want their news available them in hands-on format as well. Maybe a few years from now that won’t be the case. … Also, no matter how wonderful a website may be, there are certain things you just can’t see as well or appreciate as much via a computer screen as opposed to the real deal. Take your own drop-dead gorgeous and wonderful book on Barbaro. Imagine if that had never been available in hard copy, but only piece meal electronically. It would have been a crime.

  • Mary Simon

     Excellent post, Fran. Painful to read, but much truth in it.

  • Mary Simon

    Really? I don’t think that’s legal. Of course, it’s beginning to look like Norman wasn’t much concerned with such trivial matters as legality. No heart, no class … potentially criminal.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ray.manley.336 Ray Manley

    I always enjoyed reading the daily electronic issue of TT News.  I would be willing to pay the subscription costs to receive the TT News.  I guess most people would think that’s crazy because of TDN.  But since I have spent most of my life chasing the ponies I more than qualify as crazy.  Good luck to you Ray and anyone else that might attempt to revive The Thoroughbred Times in any format. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/ray.manley.336 Ray Manley

    I always enjoyed reading the daily electronic issue of TT News.  I would be willing to pay the subscription costs to receive the TT News.  I guess most people would think that’s crazy because of TDN.  But since I have spent most of my life chasing the ponies I more than qualify as crazy.  Good luck to you Ray and anyone else that might attempt to revive The Thoroughbred Times in any format. 

  • voiceofreason

    Luckily we still have the Blood Horse around for news – free from the influence of the advertising dollar  – giving us unbiased hard hitting content.

    :p

    • Chef Boy R Dee

      Thats a freaking joke, Blood Horse is TOBA owned, fluff pieces galore, advertising dollars still rule, although a monopoly will NOT be good for advertisers.

      • voiceofreason

        Yes, it’s a total joke. Both publications were beholden to advertisers. That’s the fallout from an industry in turmoil. Now, it will only be worse. The Blood Horse is an absolute puppet to it’s advertising sponsors.

  • voiceofreason

    Luckily we still have the Blood Horse around for news – free from the influence of the advertising dollar  – giving us unbiased hard hitting content.

    :p

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Luis-E-Astacio/1437755043 Luis E Astacio

    The internet is the major cause for the demise of so many publication

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Luis-E-Astacio/1437755043 Luis E Astacio

    The internet is the major cause for the demise of so many publication

  • PTP

    Swallow up all the blogs, pay $150 an article once a week, and de-web the web :)

    PTP

  • PTP

    Swallow up all the blogs, pay $150 an article once a week, and de-web the web :)

    PTP

  • Barbara

    This was a great report Ray. Even if it made me feel old;-) Thanks.

  • Barbara

    This was a great report Ray. Even if it made me feel old;-) Thanks.

  • Sunny Farm

    , .Ray , An excellent article. I have an idea . What about a magazine that features all other aspects of what the Thoroughbred can do . Also designed to assist new comers into the Sport of racing. A magazine all Thoroughbred owners will enjoy and learn from , no matter how they enjoy their horses.I think a magazine that helps new owners to get involved with racing would help the industry. There are a lot of things to write about in the industry on the Thoroughbred and the magazine should be designed for all , not just cater to the large farms and advertisement. Invite every one in and the magaZine would be a great way to do it. Take care

  • Sunny Farm

    , .Ray , An excellent article. I have an idea . What about a magazine that features all other aspects of what the Thoroughbred can do . Also designed to assist new comers into the Sport of racing. A magazine all Thoroughbred owners will enjoy and learn from , no matter how they enjoy their horses.I think a magazine that helps new owners to get involved with racing would help the industry. There are a lot of things to write about in the industry on the Thoroughbred and the magazine should be designed for all , not just cater to the large farms and advertisement. Invite every one in and the magaZine would be a great way to do it. Take care

  • Hip #1

    And no one considers Ray’s blog as a direct competitor and contributor to the demise of the Ttimes.  Don’t be hypocrites people, we helped it happen! Duh.  It’s evolution.

  • Sunny Farm

    RsPlease allow me to expound further. The industry has done well enoughthrough the economicp times because it has made changes. While I love the big farms ,there should be the invitation to the new comers. I truly believe that a lot of horse owners would try racing if they understood more about it and so believed that they CAN do it. Raqces can be structured to assist the new owner. So far the industry has done well to create A new format such as stopping drugs and gives new confidence as well as other important issues. We need new members and an all around magazine FOR the Thoroughbred. Forgive the mistakes in my writing still learning this new cell phone…it has more quirks than ANY horse I have ever handled !

  • Sunny Farm

    RsPlease allow me to expound further. The industry has done well enoughthrough the economicp times because it has made changes. While I love the big farms ,there should be the invitation to the new comers. I truly believe that a lot of horse owners would try racing if they understood more about it and so believed that they CAN do it. Raqces can be structured to assist the new owner. So far the industry has done well to create A new format such as stopping drugs and gives new confidence as well as other important issues. We need new members and an all around magazine FOR the Thoroughbred. Forgive the mistakes in my writing still learning this new cell phone…it has more quirks than ANY horse I have ever handled !

  • RayPaulick

    Hip #1

    I acknowledge in the article that Paulick Report is a competitor and may stand to gain from the closing of the Thoroughbred Times. I think competition is a good thing. 

  • Chef Boy R Dee

    Thats a freaking joke, Blood Horse is TOBA owned, fluff pieces galore, advertising dollars still rule, although a monopoly will NOT be good for advertisers.

  • Chef Boy R Dee

    The Thoroughbred Times was on the right track with their newer upscale bi-weekly look, too bad the weasel Ridker pulled the plug. Unless the industry reaches NEW potential owners, a revivial of a publication wont work.

    It would take serious financial backing and tapping into the corporate advertising world to attract new people to the sport….

    There are a few select people in the industry actually able to pull this off, question is, do they want to make the committment?

    I see a great opportunity in play.

  • Chef Boy R Dee

    The Thoroughbred Times was on the right track with their newer upscale bi-weekly look, too bad the weasel Ridker pulled the plug. Unless the industry reaches NEW potential owners, a revivial of a publication wont work.

    It would take serious financial backing and tapping into the corporate advertising world to attract new people to the sport….

    There are a few select people in the industry actually able to pull this off, question is, do they want to make the committment?

    I see a great opportunity in play.

  • Chef Boy R Dee

    Yes that’s exactly what it means, Bow Tie is going down, Ridker played a shell game moving money from one title to another, he chose TTimes as his designated bankrupt company, and had the absolute gall, to list himself and other companies he owns as the larger creditor (4.8 mil of the 5.3 mil listed)

  • Rufus T Firefly

     None of the “final 27″ will be eligible for COBRA either. COBRA was available to “sammie” because the company plan was still in effect when he/she was let go. The company plan is no longer in effect. There is no company. Thus, there will be no coverage under COBRA. Employees will be able to purchase similar coverage to their previous plan, but it is bound to be mucho expensive.

  • Rufus T Firefly

     Correct, Chef. This is but a stopgap measure in what promises to be an epic collapse, based on my encounters with Ridker and his band of mediocrities. He may be able to get through this bankruptcy but his utter lack of knowledge on how to run a subscription-based business in a digital age (granted, it is a difficult proposition) will sink him and his publishing “empire.”

    Prepare for “the big one,” cluless Califnornia-ites out there in Irvine corporate HQ. Sierra Madrid ain’t got nothin’ on what you’re gonna receive…

  • THE ENFORCER

    THANK YOU FOR A GREAT HISTORY OF THE CHICAGO AND RACING MARKET YOU HAVE SERVED..

    I DO REMEMBER GRABBING THE CHICAGO DAILY NEWS AT THE CHICAGO TRAIN STATION AS THE
    RED STREAK EDITION HAD THE RESULTS OF THE EARLY DOUBLE AT ARLINGTON..THE ENTIRE BACK PAGE OF THE SPORTS SECTION WAS DEVOTED TO RACING ON RACE DAYS..
    DAVE FELDMAN AND ELMER POLZIN DID AN OUTSTANDING JOB SUPPLYING THEIR PICKS AND RACING INFO TO THE BELUVED FAN..

    WASN’T CHICAGO TODAY NAMED CHICAGO AMERICAN AT ONE TIME??.. VETERAN FOOTBALL SPORTSCASTER, BRENT MUSBURGER WAS A REPORTER AND THEN COLUMNIST AT THIS DAILY..HE WAS A BORING RADIO GUEST THEN– NOW HE IS SUPERB ON TV!!

    I ACHE FOR THE DAYS OF READING HARD COPY OF COMPETING PAPERS IN THE WINDY CITY..THE CURRENT TRIBUNE AND SUN-TIMES ARE MERE SHELLS OF WHAT THEY USED TO BE..ONE OF THEM WILL EVENTUALLY FOLD..

    DOES RAY OR ANYONE ELSE HAVE A PLAN/MODEL TO SALVAGE WHAT IS LEFT FOR THE DWINDLING/DYING RACING MARKET??

    • RayPaulick

      Thanks for the note. You are correct about Brent Musburger. He was a young sport writer for the American (which began Chicago Today). I wish I could say I had a plan to improve the economic conditions of our sport. It’s a bigger problem than any one person can solve.

  • THE ENFORCER

    THANK YOU FOR A GREAT HISTORY OF THE CHICAGO AND RACING MARKET YOU HAVE SERVED..

    I DO REMEMBER GRABBING THE CHICAGO DAILY NEWS AT THE CHICAGO TRAIN STATION AS THE
    RED STREAK EDITION HAD THE RESULTS OF THE EARLY DOUBLE AT ARLINGTON..THE ENTIRE BACK PAGE OF THE SPORTS SECTION WAS DEVOTED TO RACING ON RACE DAYS..
    DAVE FELDMAN AND ELMER POLZIN DID AN OUTSTANDING JOB SUPPLYING THEIR PICKS AND RACING INFO TO THE BELUVED FAN..

    WASN’T CHICAGO TODAY NAMED CHICAGO AMERICAN AT ONE TIME??.. VETERAN FOOTBALL SPORTSCASTER, BRENT MUSBURGER WAS A REPORTER AND THEN COLUMNIST AT THIS DAILY..HE WAS A BORING RADIO GUEST THEN– NOW HE IS SUPERB ON TV!!

    I ACHE FOR THE DAYS OF READING HARD COPY OF COMPETING PAPERS IN THE WINDY CITY..THE CURRENT TRIBUNE AND SUN-TIMES ARE MERE SHELLS OF WHAT THEY USED TO BE..ONE OF THEM WILL EVENTUALLY FOLD..

    DOES RAY OR ANYONE ELSE HAVE A PLAN/MODEL TO SALVAGE WHAT IS LEFT FOR THE DWINDLING/DYING RACING MARKET??

  • RayPaulick

    Thanks for the note. You are correct about Brent Musburger. He was a young sport writer for the American (which began Chicago Today). I wish I could say I had a plan to improve the economic conditions of our sport. It’s a bigger problem than any one person can solve.

  • voiceofreason

    Yes, it’s a total joke. Both publications were beholden to advertisers. That’s the fallout from an industry in turmoil. Now, it will only be worse. The Blood Horse is an absolute puppet to it’s advertising sponsors.

  • Jon Luman

    What a great opportunity to re-direct an old established publication. Take the Enewsletter and re-direct it to bettors primarily. Add to it with a simple past performance format for regular people that enables them to make intelligent betting decisions without spending hours re-handicapping.

    A format that enables a player to play horse racing like a slot machine, and the lottery player to play horse racing like the lottery. If that is the desire.

    Horse racing has managed to lose all of these players in only 30 years by insisting that everyone must be a conventional past performance handicapper.

    Horse racing is supported by bettors.

    Resurrect TT with a new mission and purpose. Sell all bettors on horse racing, and bring them back to horse racing.

    The fact that millions are spent on scratch-off tickets daily means that there is a wide open opportunity for publishing the simple truth. Horse racing is still the best bet of them all. Millions of people have no idea. That is a publishing opportunity.

    Considering the power, and costs of the internet, the potential is just greater.

  • Jon Luman

    What a great opportunity to re-direct an old established publication. Take the Enewsletter and re-direct it to bettors primarily. Add to it with a simple past performance format for regular people that enables them to make intelligent betting decisions without spending hours re-handicapping.

    A format that enables a player to play horse racing like a slot machine, and the lottery player to play horse racing like the lottery. If that is the desire.

    Horse racing has managed to lose all of these players in only 30 years by insisting that everyone must be a conventional past performance handicapper.

    Horse racing is supported by bettors.

    Resurrect TT with a new mission and purpose. Sell all bettors on horse racing, and bring them back to horse racing.

    The fact that millions are spent on scratch-off tickets daily means that there is a wide open opportunity for publishing the simple truth. Horse racing is still the best bet of them all. Millions of people have no idea. That is a publishing opportunity.

    Considering the power, and costs of the internet, the potential is just greater.

  • Convene

     Unfortunately most of the pet publications are going down the toilet too, quality-wise. Dog World used to provide plenty of real information and research findings about health, nutrition, dog psychology etc. Now it’s just another PowerPoint presentation for fanciers of mindless minions and new owners. I used to buy it every month. Haven’t bought a copy now in several years. Sad sad sad …

  • http://www.facebook.com/Ann.Mitchell.Adam Ann Mitchell Adam

    Mary,
        I don’t think Mike was really intending disrespect to TT. In fact, I regard much of what he posted as backing your stand. He should be considered to be an ally or someone that could be recruited as such but, maybe you know him better than I do? 

  • Mary Simon

     Ann–He was referring to articles in the BH and Times as “shallow” and “too feel good.” If he’d bothered to look at a single issue of the Times this past, oh, 27 years, he’d know better than that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kristie.jakeman Kristie Jakeman

    Great Gatsby I love a good read, Ray.  No fluff, no puff, just good hard facts and a little bit of drama.  Can it be saved?  I am not sure.  So many things have changed already, maybe  just reinvent themselves without the proud flesh.  I can say that after reading your article I suddenly felt very old.  Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kristie.jakeman Kristie Jakeman

    Great Gatsby I love a good read, Ray.  No fluff, no puff, just good hard facts and a little bit of drama.  Can it be saved?  I am not sure.  So many things have changed already, maybe  just reinvent themselves without the proud flesh.  I can say that after reading your article I suddenly felt very old.  Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kristie.jakeman Kristie Jakeman

    I second the vote on NAT, and Hello Giles.  Still plugging the green stuff.  I check in from time to time, love the layout,  good journalism without all the puff.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kristie.jakeman Kristie Jakeman

    I second the vote on NAT, and Hello Giles.  Still plugging the green stuff.  I check in from time to time, love the layout,  good journalism without all the puff.

  • Suzanneadvnc

    I am very saddened to hear about the Times.  I had been getting it since 1992 and it was my preferred racing magazine.  Another sad sign of the awful times we live in.  Hate to hear it. Suzanne

  • Suzanneadvnc

    I am very saddened to hear about the Times.  I had been getting it since 1992 and it was my preferred racing magazine.  Another sad sign of the awful times we live in.  Hate to hear it. Suzanne

  • Suzanneadvnc

     I hate to agree with you about the shrinking fan base to horse racing but I guess I have to.  It is sad.  The only place where it seems horse racing is as popular as it once was is at Keeneland race course.  There, the glory of racing lives on.

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