Santa Anita: On verge of another change?

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

When entrepreneur and horse owner Mark Verge was hired to run Santa Anita Park in March 2012, he was well aware of the revolving door that’s existed in the executive offices since Frank Stronach purchased the Arcadia, Calif., racetrack in 1998. “I don’t know how long a ride it’s going to be,” Verge told the Paulick Report, “but it’s going to be a wild one.”

Seven months later, it’s beginning to look as though that ride may be entering the home stretch.

With Frank Stronach spending a great deal of time in his native Austria trying to get his new political party – Team Stronach – seats in next year’s parliamentary election, management of The Stronach Group business divisions, including its racetrack and gaming assets, has fallen on his daughter, Belinda, a respected businesswoman and Canadian politician.

Recently, multiple sources told the Paulick Report, Belinda Stronach held a high-level meeting at Santa Anita, addressing the track’s recent troubling business trends. Included in the meeting were key Stronach Group corporate executives and some members of Santa Anita management. Mark Verge was not in that meeting, a source said.

There was one other interesting participant that day: Gene Simmons, the front man for the mega-successful rock group KISS, and the star of the reality television series, “Gene Simmons Family Jewels,” which is in its seventh and final season on A&E.

Simmons has past relationships with the Stronach family. In 2008, he teamed with Belinda Stronach to relaunch the Simmons Record label, focusing on Canadian rock talent. Around that same time, he toured North America with a group of lederhosen-clad models promoting Stronach inspired Frank’s Energy Drink beverage through his company Simmons Abramson Marketing.

Will Gene Simmons be named the track’s next CEO and join other Stronach-era executives like Cliff Goodrich, Rick Cowan, Bill Baker, Lonny Powell, Jack Liebau, Jack McDaniel, George Haines, Ron Charles, Greg Avioli and Verge, who all had their chance at running The Great Race Place?

Doubtful.

It’s more likely Belinda Stronach is relying on Simmons for marketing consulting advice as Santa Anita and other racetracks around the country struggle to retain market share in an increasingly competitive entertainment and gambling environment. Simmons, for all his on-stage antics and theatrical makeup as a member of KISS, by many accounts, is a smart marketing man who understands the entertainment world very well.

Verge has brought a unique energy to the job, along with unconventional marketing efforts that either haven’t succeeded or been given enough time to work. He’s surrounded himself with advisors he knows through some of his other businesses – people like Jimmy Dunne, given the title of “chief creative officer” of Santa Anita. One of Dunne’s projects was to write a song, titled “My California,” that Verge hoped would become as popular an anthem to the track as “My Old Kentucky Home” is to Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby. The song, played daily during the races, has been much-maligned by Santa Anita regulars and long-time track employees.

Verge hired another friend, professional gambler Jimmy “The Hat” Allard, to consult on marketing projects. It was Allard who set up a breakfast for Verge to meet Frank Stronach that led to Verge’s hiring last spring.

Most of Santa Anita’s traditional marketing budget has been moved from television and print to radio, specifically to the nightly talk show hosted by Verge’s close friend, Tim Conway Jr., the son of the well-known comedian.

During a regular monthly meeting of the California Horse Racing Board in July when Santa Anita was asked to outline its marketing plans for this fall, a critical stand that includes the Breeders’ Cup, Verge was openly maligned by several commissioners for his lack of research and planning.  During that meeting, Verge said there would be a free opening day concert featuring singer-songwriter Jackson Browne, who would sing the new song written by Dunne. That never materialized, but Verge did get the University of Southern California marching band to perform.

He’s also drawn criticism for centering much of Santa Anita’s promotions around his friend and trainer, Doug O’Neill, whose success in this year’s Kentucky Derby is counterbalanced by a dubious record of past medication violations. A Doug O’Neill bobblehead giveaway was featured for the Cal Cup, which drew a crowd of only 8,604.

A tipping point in the Stronach Group’s view of Verge, one insider said, might have been the verbal altercation Verge had with trainer Bob Baffert’s wife at the post position draw for the Pacific Classic Stakes at Del Mar this summer. Days earlier, Verge led a group in buying out Pacific Classic contender Richard’s Kid and transferring the horse from Baffert to O’Neill.

To his credit, Verge has tried to focus on bringing a younger, more enthusiastic crowd to Santa Anita. As has happened at some other tracks, however, those efforts have rankled track regulars.

If Verge departs before the winter meeting that begins Dec. 26, Stronach has a strong fallback position in George Haines, a Santa Anita veteran who served a term as president and continues as the track’s general manager. Haines has worked in various capacities at Santa Anita since 1972.

It’s not known if Haines is a big fan of KISS, but it wouldn’t hurt for him to learn the lyrics to “Rock ‘n Roll All Night.”

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  • Ace

    Over/under on Stronach Inc. retaining their racetrack interests after Frank leaves the planet-5 minutes.

    • Cliff

      Please…his kids love the idea of running tracks way more than stoggy auto parts plants. Plus Mrs. S has a lot of sense. Now, if you set a line on how long the companies survive his kids’ business management, I’ll likely take the under.

      • Dave

         On the other hand, those “stoggy” auto parts plants actually turn a profit.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1527969315 Greg Scherr

         ”Mr S” how do you type with your lips firmly planted on his a$$?  Stronach uses the Calif. tracks for a tax write-off against his profitable businesses, he has NO interest in Calif. racing, he doesn’t even send horses here that can run (he sent 16 but ALL were/are bad).  As for Verge, I agree the O’Neill bobblehead was foolish, and other than have lots of energy he doesn’t seem to do much if anything. 

      • Ace

         Keep up to date, Frank not a part of his namesake auto company anymore

    • Second Watcher

      Frank’s body won’t be cold when a big “For Sale” sign is planted on Huntington Drive.

  • Ace

    Over/under on Stronach Inc. retaining their racetrack interests after Frank leaves the planet-5 minutes.

  • Eliza Marshall

    Verge is the best think that has happened to Santa Anita in years. People like him, along with his revolutionary ideas, is the only way that California racing will ever return to its prime.

    • NAFTA

      Please enlighten us on what ideas he has tried to implement are ‘revolutionary’.

  • Eliza Marshall

    Verge is the best think that has happened to Santa Anita in years. People like him, along with his revolutionary ideas, is the only way that California racing will ever return to its prime.

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.crone.52 David Crone

    Hahahahahahahaha, only the racing industry would look to 90 year old musicians for fresh marketing ideas….wow….

    • BigBro

      Yeah, but you are a U of L fan so I don’t think you have any credibility.

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.crone.52 David Crone

    Hahahahahahahaha, only the racing industry would look to 90 year old musicians for fresh marketing ideas….wow….

  • MA

    Verge has had some good ideas, but most of them feel like his own private party for him and his friends, and everyone else is left confused.

    • nu-fan

      I think Mr. Verge has a made a few mistakes such as too closely aligning himself with Doug O’Neill (or any one trainer) as well as concentrating too much on the gambling aspect.  Also, the USC marching band is great during half-time in football but no substitution for Jackson Browne (which I also admit is old-time and not relevant to a younger generation of fans).  But, I don’t know what kind of budget was given to Mr. Verge to come up with new marketing ideas.  Hard to make a silk purse out of a….  However, I believe that he made a good try at getting something done.  Perhaps, the foundation of the problem is with the ownership of this track.

      One thing that I couldn’t figure out from this article was why there was an argument between Mr. Verge and Baffert’s wife about a post position?  Maybe, she is an employee of that training team but, if not, why was she even in the picture? 

      • Stanley inman

        “…why was she even in the picture?
        Nu fan
        You crack me up;
        No offense
        you are bright
        But you sound like that room-temperature IQ
        family member
        We talk racing to.
        (Or you are pulling someone’s leg)

        • nu-fan

          Stanley:  Unless she is an employee of the training team, she has no business being demanding with Mr. Verge about anything at the tracks.  In the business world, that would have been considered very unprofessional and most executives would have admonished a family member or friend for sticking their nose where it doesn’t belong.  But, again, I don’t know what her role is.  Maybe, she is a paid employee or a co-owner of the training outfit.  But, if not, she is a prima dona who seems to think that being the “wife” gives her the authority that isn’t really hers. 

          • Barbara

            I can’t tell if you are for real, either. But you are certainly confused if you are. Verge got into an argument with Jill Baffert about the sale of Richard’s Kid and his smarmy suck up to Bob after he had twisted the knife, that’s all. The only inappropriate part was that it was in a public place, a post position draw party. I’d fire “the guy” who was unprofessional enough to engage in the other half of an argument with the wife (and an owner) of the top trainer on the circuit (who fills as many races at SA as anyone) after he brought in on with a total conflict of interest minority purchase of a high profile horse that was transferred ASAP to his suspended bobblehead pal, too.

            But don’t worry, she will be Bob’s wife and an owner of Gr. 1 horses long after Verge’s only access to SA is in O’Neill’s barn aisle petting another also ran behind another Baffert winner.

          • nu-fan

            Barbara:  It would help if you read more closely.  Did you even take the time to notice that I stated that  “Maybe, she is a paid employee or a co-owner of the training outfit. But, if not…”  If she is an owner of the horse then that does make the difference.  But, the article just identifies her as Bob Baffert’s wife.  And, Mark Verge will move on to another business venture that will, I hope, have more room for busines growth than the disappearing one of horseracing.  The lack of professionalism is one of the many things that is driving this industry into the ground.   What a pity.  There are so many others in this industry who are polite, well-meaning, generous and have been brought up with manners.

          • Barbara

            I don’t think I needed to read more closely, although maybe I should assume you know less than I thought? It almost seems like an act;)

          • Stanley inman

            Barbara,
            Maybe nu-fan is a
            Mule.

          • Don Reed

            B: This sounds (“reads”) very much like our collegue/correspondent who was busy defending (the indefensible) O’Neill this past spring and summer.

            What was his name?  Works in a barn and wrote like a UCLA law school grad.

  • MA

    Verge has had some good ideas, but most of them feel like his own private party for him and his friends, and everyone else is left confused.

  • Derp

    Verge seems like a good guy but it’s more about ego for him in my opinion. 

    • nu-fan

      Derp:  Or, maybe, he was a cheerleader given only one pom-pom to get the fans energized.

  • Derp

    Verge seems like a good guy but it’s more about ego for him in my opinion. 

  • nu-fan

    As an outsider looking in, it appears to me that Santa Anita is trying to mix oil and water.  They are keeping one foot in the past while trying to stay relevant to a new world.  If Mark Verge had a tough time making changes at Santa Anita, what is going to happen with Gene Simmons on board?  That guy doesn’t need their money and I don’t see him tip-toeing around with their management.  Mr. Simmons has been tremendously successful in marketing himself and his music but is Santa Anita really ready to make serious changes?  I doubt it.  But, if there is one place in the U.S. that can make those changes, it is in California.  The state is not steeped in tradition.  In fact, it rebels against it.  It is the birthplace of the world’s new technology.  But, horseracing may be a thing of the past and any attempts to resuscitate it, will just be prolonging its eventual demise.  That is, as long as old-timers who have little visionary skills as well as those with low ethics control it.

  • nu-fan

    As an outside looking in, it appears to me that Santa Anita is trying to mix oil and water.  They are keeping one foot in the past while trying to stay relevant to a new world.  If Mark Verge had a tough time making changes at Santa Anita, what is going to happen with Gene Simmons on board?  That guy doesn’t need their money and I don’t see him tip-toeing around with their management.  Mr. Simmons has been tremendously successful in marketing himself and his music but is Santa Anita really ready to make serious changes?  I doubt it.  But, if there is one place in the U.S. that can make those changes, it is in California.  The state is not steeped in tradition.  In fact, it rebels against it.  It is the birthplace of the world’s new technology.  But, horseracing may be a thing of the past and any attempts to resuscitate it, will just be prolonging its eventual demise.  That is, as long as old-timers who have little visionary skills as well as those with low ethics control it.

  • Cliff

    Please…his kids love the idea of running tracks way more than stoggy auto parts plants. Plus Mrs. S has a lot of sense. Now, if you set a line on how long the companies survive his kids’ business management, I’ll likely take the under.

  • nu-fan

    I think Mr. Verge has a made a few mistakes such as too closely aligning himself with Doug O’Neill (or any one trainer) as well as concentrating too much on the gambling aspect.  Also, the USC marching band is great during half-time in football but no substitution for Jackson Browne (which I also admit is old-time and not relevant to a younger generation of fans).  But, I don’t know what kind of budget was given to Mr. Verge to come up with new marketing ideas.  Hard to make a silk purse out of a….  However, I believe that he made a good try at getting something done.  Perhaps, the foundation of the problem is with the ownership of this track.

    One thing that I couldn’t figure out from this article was why there was an argument between Mr. Verge and Baffert’s wife about a post position?  Maybe, she is an employee of that training team but, if not, why was she even in the picture? 

  • nu-fan

    Derp:  Or, maybe, he was a cheerleader given only one pom-pom to get the fans energized.

  • Me

    Verge was on the verge of out from the start. Frank wanted an energetic horse owner and got a buffoon. The SG is committed to Santa Anita period. They will be here long after the naysayers are dead and gone. Belinda and Andy are ready to roll up their sleeves.

  • Me

    Verge was on the verge of out from the start. Frank wanted an energetic horse owner and got a buffoon. The SG is committed to Santa Anita period. They will be here long after the naysayers are dead and gone. Belinda and Andy are ready to roll up their sleeves.

  • Nucky Thompson

    To turn it around Frank needs to hire Mitt Romney (subject to availability). After all he saved the Olympics and I’m sure he has got binders full of horse racing stuff.

    • Convene

       I wonder if he could carry his HORSE on the roof of his car!

  • Nucky Thompson

    To turn it around Frank needs to hire Mitt Romney (subject to availability). After all he saved the Olympics and I’m sure he has got binders full of horse racing stuff.

  • NAFTA

    The O’Neill bobblehead promotion alone is enough to know that he doesn’t have very much good sense.

    • Kris

      Excellent point, NAFTA.  I wonder why they didn’t have a Lava Man bobblehead promotion; he’s the real star.

  • NAFTA

    The O’Neill bobblehead promotion alone is enough to know that he doesn’t have very much good sense.

  • Barbara

    This reads like a reality show pitch, Ray! 

  • Barbara

    This reads like a reality show pitch, Ray! 

  • Dave

     On the other hand, those “stoggy” auto parts plants actually turn a profit.

  • Convene

     I wonder if he could carry his HORSE on the roof of his car!

  • Convene

    I don’t know about Simmons’ marketing skills. Hopefully they’re better than the show. Nice to know it’ll finally be over! I wish it would take most of the UN-reality shows with it! All nastiness aside, I believe maybe he does have some marketing know-how that might be at least useful. It would be a shame to see Santa Anita declining because of boo-boos on the management/marketing side.

    • nu-fan

      Convene:  Nice to see someone else who doesn’t see any value in reality shows.  What gets me is that people will actually give up their own free (and assume valuable) time to watch it.  I’m just waiting for this silly trend in television to run its course.  But, aside from his show, I have heard Gene Simmons get serious and discuss his success.  I have a business and marketing/management background and I can tell you that I think that Mr. Simmons is one very smart guy.  But, does he have the patience to work with the racetrack and horseracing industry that has such difficulty in doing anything remotely innovative?  I wish him all the good luck that I can muster up!

  • Convene

    I don’t know about Simmons’ marketing skills. Hopefully they’re better than the show. Nice to know it’ll finally be over! I wish it would take most of the UN-reality shows with it! All nastiness aside, I believe maybe he does have some marketing know-how that might be at least useful. It would be a shame to see Santa Anita declining because of boo-boos on the management/marketing side.

  • Convene

    If this shows up twice, I apologize. Forgot to change the pause thingie again!

    I don’t know about Simmons’ marketing skills. Hopefully they’re better
    than the show. Nice to know it’ll finally be over! I wish it would take
    most of the UN-reality shows with it! All nastiness aside, I believe
    maybe he does have some marketing know-how that might be at least
    useful. It would be a shame to see Santa Anita declining because of
    boo-boos on the management/marketing side. 

  • Convene

    If this shows up twice, I apologize. Forgot to change the pause thingie again!

    I don’t know about Simmons’ marketing skills. Hopefully they’re better
    than the show. Nice to know it’ll finally be over! I wish it would take
    most of the UN-reality shows with it! All nastiness aside, I believe
    maybe he does have some marketing know-how that might be at least
    useful. It would be a shame to see Santa Anita declining because of
    boo-boos on the management/marketing side. 

  • Second Watcher

    Frank’s body won’t be cold when a big “For Sale” sign is planted on Huntington Drive.

  • Jeffrey H.

    RThis Announcement might bankrupt Betfair Hollywood Park, more so it looks like they are making sure that they deadlock TVG from any coverage is the real answer of it, looks like Austria has taken full control of the track if that is the case, Because TVG is part of the Fox Family of Networks, something against HRTV and it’s “Democratic” design…

  • Jeffrey H.

    RThis Announcement might bankrupt Betfair Hollywood Park, more so it looks like they are making sure that they deadlock TVG from any coverage is the real answer of it, looks like Austria has taken full control of the track if that is the case, Because TVG is part of the Fox Family of Networks, something against HRTV and it’s “Democratic” design…

  • Jersey Josh

    She called in Gene for ideas, Why you ask.  He is a marketing machine!  Look anyone who can puts butts in the seats right?  Kiss has a fan base that ranges from teens today to late 40′s early 50′s.  You don’t agree? Go to a concert and you will then see it. 

    He has been able to bridge a gap that horse racing people won’t even think about.  See above where ideas ‘upset’ the regulars.  What is the age group of the regulars? 

    • nu-fan

      Jersey:  I agree with you.  I lot of people underestimate the abilities of many top musicians.  To be that successful, as Gene Simons has been, it takes a lot more than just the music.  It takes savvy.  And, he has that–and, staying power.  For a poor kid who was brought up by a single mom, in Israel, (as I understand it), everything he has is what he accomplished.  Let’s just hope that Santa Anita has a big enough of a mind to not encumber Mr. Simmons with a lot of silly restrictions.  And, they need to give him a lot of $$$$$$$ to really get serious about bringing in even more $$$$$$$$$.

  • Jersey Josh

    She called in Gene for ideas, Why you ask.  He is a marketing machine!  Look anyone who can puts butts in the seats right?  Kiss has a fan base that ranges from teens today to late 40′s early 50′s.  You don’t agree? Go to a concert and you will then see it. 

    He has been able to bridge a gap that horse racing people won’t even think about.  See above where ideas ‘upset’ the regulars.  What is the age group of the regulars? 

  • Ssk12955

    At least Verge can get his buddy West Side rentals to move his stuff out.

  • Ssk12955

    At least Verge can get his buddy West Side rentals to move his stuff out.

  • nu-fan

    Jersey:  I agree with you.  I lot of people underestimate the abilities of many top musicians.  To be that successful, as Gene Simons has been, it takes a lot more than just the music.  It takes savvy.  And, he has that–and, staying power.  For a poor kid who was brought up by a single mom, in Israel, (as I understand it), everything he has is what he accomplished.  Let’s just hope that Santa Anita has a big enough of a mind to not encumber Mr. Simmons with a lot of silly restrictions.  And, they need to give him a lot of $$$$$$$ to really get serious about bringing in even more $$$$$$$$$.

  • Stanley inman

    “…why was she even in the picture?
    Nu fan
    You crack me up;
    No offense
    you are bright
    But you sound like that room-temperature IQ
    family member
    We talk racing to.
    (Or you are pulling someone’s leg)

  • BigBro

    Yeah, but you are a U of L fan so I don’t think you have any credibility.

  • nu-fan

    Stanley:  Unless she is an employee of the training team, she has no business being demanding with Mr. Verge about anything at the tracks.  In the business world, that would have been considered very unprofessional and most executives would have admonished a family member or friend for sticking their nose where it doesn’t belong.  But, again, I don’t know what her role is.  Maybe, she is a paid employee or a co-owner of the training outfit.  But, if not, she is a prima dona who seems to think that being the “wife” gives her the authority that isn’t really hers. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1527969315 Greg Scherr

     ”Mr S” how do you type with your lips firmly planted on his a$$?  Stronach uses the Calif. tracks for a tax write-off against his profitable businesses, he has NO interest in Calif. racing, he doesn’t even send horses here that can run (he sent 16 but ALL were/are bad).  As for Verge, I agree the O’Neill bobblehead was foolish, and other than have lots of energy he doesn’t seem to do much if anything. 

  • nu-fan

    Convene:  Nice to see someone else who doesn’t see any value in reality shows.  What gets me is that people will actually give up their own free (and assume valuable) time to watch it.  I’m just waiting for this silly trend in television to runs its course.  But, aside from his show, I have heard Gene Simmons get serious and discuss his success.  I have a business and marketing/management background and I can tell you that I think the Mr. Simmons is one very smart guy.  But, does he have the patience to work with the racetrack and horseracing industry that has such difficulty in doing anything remotely innovative?  I wish him all the good luck that I can muster up!

  • Ace

     Keep up to date, Frank not a part of his namesake auto company anymore

  • Alydar47

    Stay positive, Ray, stay positive

  • Alydar47

    Stay positive, Ray, stay positive

  • Barbara

    I can’t tell if you are for real, either. But you are certainly confused if you are. Verge got into an argument with Jill Baffert about the sale of Richard’s Kid and his smarmy suck up to Bob after he had twisted the knife, that’s all. The only inappropriate part was that it was in a public place, a post position draw party. I’d fire “the guy” who was unprofessional enough to engage in the other half of an argument with the wife (and an owner) of the top trainer on the circuit (who fills as many races at SA as anyone) after he brought in on with a total conflict of interest minority purchase of a high profile horse that was transferred ASAP to his suspended bobblehead pal, too.

    But don’t worry, she will be Bob’s wife and an owner of Gr. 1 horses long after Verge’s only access to SA is in O’Neill’s barn aisle petting another also ran behind another Baffert winner.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/TYQWW7PLW6HP274SHIFT624HNM Gene

    Your article sounds very much like a Facebook post I read last weekend…Here it is.

    Here are the Top Thirteen Reasons (yes there are THAT many) Santa Anita patrons cannot wait for Breeders Cup to be over and Mark Verge let go as “The Guy” at Santa Anita. 13) No more horrible, ridiculous, annoying, poorly done imitations by some fat guy with no talent over the Santa Anita PA system. 12) No longer will Santa Anita Marketing, Group Event and Public Relations employees fear daily …for their job 11) No longer will there be a tacky, non patronized Westside Rental tent trying to solicit business 10) No longer will there be Cash Call signs everywhere you look at “The Great Race Place” 9) No longer will there be a deserted, empty, and unfrequented I’ll Have Another bar and stand 8) No longer will there be Doug O’Neill bobbleheads that look nothing like him 7) No longer will there be I’ll Have Another cap giveaways 6) Michelle Yu will once again be unemployed 5) No longer will Tim Conway Jr. be mentioned every time Mark Verge grabs the microphone and babbles insipidly 4) No longer will patrons be subjected to hearing annoying 40′s music piped in loudly through the speakers all day long. 3) No longer will patrons be subjected to hearing Steve Rothblum blab incessantly all day about Mark Verge’s giveaway promotions that no one cares about 2) No longer will patrons be subjected to hearing that awful California song sung by another of Mark Verge’s talentless friends 1) If he isn’t gone, Jill Baffert will kick his ass out. Once this autumn meeting is over, no longer will Mark Verge be able to make Santa Anita his vehicle of self promotion and the nepotism of everything him and Doug O’Neill and their niche of friends….

    • Jay

      Hear, hear!

    • MA

      Written by someone who obviously spends a lot of time at the track and observes everything.

    • NAFTA

      Outstanding, soldier.

    • Barbara

      I’d like to triple like this comment.

    • Don Reed

      I wouldn’t mess with Jill Baffert if I were the entire USC football team.

      Obviously, something is very, very wrong.

    • MSD

      This is awesome. #6 made me LOL 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/TYQWW7PLW6HP274SHIFT624HNM Gene

    Your article sounds very much like a Facebook post I read last weekend…Here it is.

    Here are the Top Thirteen Reasons (yes there are THAT many) Santa Anita patrons cannot wait for Breeders Cup to be over and Mark Verge let go as “The Guy” at Santa Anita. 13) No more horrible, ridiculous, annoying, poorly done imitations by some fat guy with no talent over the Santa Anita PA system. 12) No longer will Santa Anita Marketing, Group Event and Public Relations employees fear daily …for their job 11) No longer will there be a tacky, non patronized Westside Rental tent trying to solicit business 10) No longer will there be Cash Call signs everywhere you look at “The Great Race Place” 9) No longer will there be a deserted, empty, and unfrequented I’ll Have Another bar and stand 8) No longer will there be Doug O’Neill bobbleheads that look nothing like him 7) No longer will there be I’ll Have Another cap giveaways 6) Michelle Yu will once again be unemployed 5) No longer will Tim Conway Jr. be mentioned every time Mark Verge grabs the microphone and babbles insipidly 4) No longer will patrons be subjected to hearing annoying 40′s music piped in loudly through the speakers all day long. 3) No longer will patrons be subjected to hearing Steve Rothblum blab incessantly all day about Mark Verge’s giveaway promotions that no one cares about 2) No longer will patrons be subjected to hearing that awful California song sung by another of Mark Verge’s talentless friends 1) If he isn’t gone, Jill Baffert will kick his ass out. Once this autumn meeting is over, no longer will Mark Verge be able to make Santa Anita his vehicle of self promotion and the nepotism of everything him and Doug O’Neill and their niche of friends….

  • Jay

    Hear, hear!

  • s/s

    What I liked best about my Doug O’Neill bobblehead doll was the position I was able to bend it into.

  • s/s

    What I liked best about my Doug O’Neill bobblehead doll was the position I was able to bend it into.

  • nu-fan

    Barbara:  It would help if you read more closely.  Did you even take the time to notice that I stated that  “Maybe, she is a paid employee or a co-owner of the training outfit. But, if not…”  If she is an owner of the horse then that does make the difference.  But, the article just identifies her as Bob Baffert’s wife.  And, Mark Verge will move on to another business venture that will, I hope, have more room for busines growth than the disappearing one of horseracing.  The lack of professionalism is one of the many things that is driving this industry into the ground.   What a pity.  There are so many others in this industry who are polite, well-meaning, generous and have been brought up with manners.

  • Swiss305

    This board is full of criticism and cynicism.  Where are all the better ideas for marketing and expanding the fan base?  Mark Verge at least shook things up.  Nothing new or different had been tried in decades.  There have been some big crowds and good times in the last year.  It’s a nearly impossible task to bring back the crowds, including young people new to racing and even harder in an animal-sensitive state such as California where frequent breakdowns will invigorate the movement to shut racing down altogether. Whatever they’ve been doing to avoid injuries and breakdowns has been working at least.

    What would the contributors to this discussion do as CEO of Santa Anita?

    • SA Lifer

      Take it easy there, Mark. We’re not fooled.

    • NAFTA

      Focus, and focus strongly, on the fundamentals that have direct and meaningful economic impact.  Lower takeout, look at possible rebates for on-track play, player hospitality, and really maximizing the efficiency of your advertising spends.  Meaningful promotions with national ADWs to promote remote play.  Gimmicks don’t produce long-term results.  

      Also, finding create ways to maxmize your media exposure in the local market.  Sports and entertainment are primarily media-driven products.  People respond to what they are told is important by gatekeepers, moreso than responding to paid messages.  

    • Barbara

      This “guy” was the equivalent of Frank hiring the nerdy awkward dad of a little league player and asking him to coach a talented team.

      What I would do as CEO of SA is invest in improving the barn area, partner with the BC in all marketing efforts for the The Great Race Place since it is planning a two year run there and wants to be there long term – expand entertainment promotions at the track like live music (no, not the USC marching band, and no, not incredibly obtuse ideas like creating a really poor Cali version of My Old Kentucky Home – wtf?), increase entertainment activity for families and promote it, get the jocks and trainers more air time via PR efforts, use Baffert as hard as he works his best horse to drive media coverage (instead of Doug O’Neill’s latest visit to a sick kid), use the jocks to engage more with fan education, and yes, as mentioned cross promote with all ADW’s for the greater good (and not have to have my arm twisted to put SA on TVG with far more viewer reach.)Maybe if The Guy hadn’t driven out the good marketing folks at SA as part of his reign of nonsense I wouldn’t have to to go out and hire Jill Baffert as VP of Promotions.

      Lastly, I’d try to figure out just who the hell Tim Conway Jr. is? Oh, wait, no, the last thing I’d do is have a clause written in my new contract that I couldn’t buy horses to send to Baffert. It might look shady;-)

      • Swiss305

        Thoughtful, sensible, positive ideas.  SA should host a fan forum to gather ideas from those who use the product and want to see racing survive.

    • nu-fan

      Swiss305:  I almost missed your comments here.  Good for you.  I like what you said and it is pretty much the way I view things.  It is so easy for those who know little about business, management and marketing, to make such personal attacks on Mr. Verge.  I doubt that any of us, making comments, sat inside the meetings where discussions about the future of Santa Anita were discussed with those representing the ownership of that racetrack. But, I do agree that it is very difficult to bring the old crowds back. The future fans are those in the younger crowd that need to be coaxed into coming to the races.  How?  By focusing on the entertainment aspect of this sport by incorporating other enticements–to add value.  I’ll allow Mr. Simmons to do the strategizing.  But, the regulars?  While still accommodating them, this group is not going to continue driving attendance, and their numbers are dwindling.  But, you are so right in that it is hard to bring everyone together.  And, you are also so very correct: Californians do protect animals, the environment and their citizens very fervently. But, that might be a good thing for horseracing.  It might lead the way to improving the lives of horses and those who ride and take care of them.  At the same time, Santa Anita may offer a template, for other tracks, in increasing attendance and profits. 

    • Sandra Warren

      When you go to the Magna-owned racetrack in FL, they do not charge you to park.  You get a program with your admission.  The employees are obviously schooled to greet you with a smile, to be helpful, and not look like they despise you for bothering them with work.  But when you go the Magna-owned tracks in CA, they charge you to park, charge you to get in, charge you for a program, and disallow tout sheets to be sold except one or two favorite sons.  Before you make your first bet, you are in for $20 in CA.  In FL, there is a delicious buffet that people really turn out for in the clubhouse.  At GGF…suck on it unless you pay for the turf club and dress for it.  I drove into the SA main parking lot before 10am a few months ago WHEN THE MEET WASN’T EVEN THERE and they wanted to charge me to….what, go to Clocker’s Corner, place an early wager, anything else that a FAN might do?  Actually, I am a horseman and had my license, but that guy sat on his chair glowering at me while I fumbled in my wallet for my license like I was holding up the scads up people NOT behind me at that hour.

      Let’s never mind the backside where the public doesn’t see anyone.  The backside is a community and we treat each other differently.  Just look at the grandstand where the public meets the Magna employees.    I have brought friends to the races who went to the window to bet, they made a small mistake like using the horse’s name instead of the number, and they’ve left the window slinking after the teller glares and them and speaks sharply.  I have seen mothers with small children that just wanted to see a pony horse for a few seconds that were ignored. 

      On the other hand, when I went to GP, I spent some time in the gift shop and the fellow could not have been nicer.  I walked through the casino just to see what it was like, and the employees made a point of making eye contact in case I wanted to set up in front of a machine. I went upstairs into the clubhouse, and there was no barrier between it and the grandstand, so I asked the headwaiter if I could come in and sit there.  He explained right away that I could do that if I wanted to eat from the buffet.  I felt certain if I was in CA, that discussion would have been a lot more awkward, like, “Are you SURE you belong in here?”  I happened to mention to the waiter in the clubhouse I was a horseman from CA, he pulled over the busboy.  “I want to you to a look at this lady.  She’s a horseman visiting from California.  Make sure she is treated well.”  The service was fantastic.  I cannot for the life of me understand how one corporation can have two divisions doing the exact same business with two such diverse experiences.  That is ALL management.  No one is training the CA employees to be nice. It’s all take and no give there.

      • Barney Door

         Welcome to the cultural superiority of California, Sandra.

  • Swiss305

    This board is full of criticism and cynicism.  Where are all the better ideas for marketing and expanding the fan base?  Mark Verge at least shook things up.  Nothing new or different had been tried in decades.  There have been some big crowds and good times in the last year.  It’s a nearly impossible task to bring back the crowds, including young people new to racing and even harder in an animal-sensitive state such as California where frequent breakdowns will invigorate the movement to shut racing down altogether. Whatever they’ve been doing to avoid injuries and breakdowns has been working at least.

    What would the contributors to this discussion do as CEO of Santa Anita?

  • Barbara

    I don’t think I needed to read more closely, although maybe I should assume you know less than I thought? It almost seems like an act;)

  • SA Lifer

    Take it easy there, Mark. We’re not fooled.

  • I heart SA

    At the end of the day I can’t believe how poor this guy’s judgement was. It’s really quite amazing. First as the new head of one of the finest tracks in the world, he creates a persona called “The Guy.” And let’s face it people, ‘The Guy’ is not a likable guy or savvy CEO. He’s an idiot. Loud and obnoxious, running around in that silly little hat drawing attention to himself. I’m saying this about ‘The Guy’ and not Mr. Verge. Are they one and the same?

    I checked out completely with the way Richard’s Kid went down. Mr. Verge taking part in that sale while Doug O’Neill was serving the first day of his suspension, in my opinion, was appalling. Whether it was ethical or not, it’s a dealing a good CEO would know just looks bad on so many levels. 

    The post blowout with Jill Baffert was just icing on the cake. I’ve heard from people there that she was the aggressor and Verge more or less fended her off. In my opinion though, Mr. Verge had no business being involved in that transaction given the timing of everything happening with O’Neill. It was like their little club laughing at the rules and saying….Screw ‘em.

  • I heart SA

    At the end of the day I can’t believe how poor this guy’s judgement was. It’s really quite amazing. First as the new head of one of the finest tracks in the world, he creates a persona called “The Guy.” And let’s face it people, ‘The Guy’ is not a likable guy or savvy CEO. He’s an idiot. Loud and obnoxious, running around in that silly little hat drawing attention to himself. I’m saying this about ‘The Guy’ and not Mr. Verge. Are they one and the same?

    I checked out completely with the way Richard’s Kid went down. Mr. Verge taking part in that sale while Doug O’Neill was serving the first day of his suspension, in my opinion, was appalling. Whether it was ethical or not, it’s a dealing a good CEO would know just looks bad on so many levels. 

    The post blowout with Jill Baffert was just icing on the cake. I’ve heard from people there that she was the aggressor and Verge more or less fended her off. In my opinion though, Mr. Verge had no business being involved in that transaction given the timing of everything happening with O’Neill. It was like their little club laughing at the rules and saying….Screw ‘em.

  • Angie

    Maybe if the guy was given more than a few months to implement change then things could start happening. Give the guy a break, at least he is trying and he is bringing a fresh new perspective and energy to the track.

  • Angie

    Maybe if the guy was given more than a few months to implement change then things could start happening. Give the guy a break, at least he is trying and he is bringing a fresh new perspective and energy to the track.

  • Don Reed

    Another Stronach management shake-up?!

    Impossible! 

    What are we going to do with the warehouse full of the Verge bobblehead dolls that we ordered, anticipating that he’d last at least one year in the job?

    Geez, at least the Yankees were in first place for the entire 2012 season before they tanked in the playoffs.

    Doesn’t Mark at least deserve the same consideration before CEO #439 replaces him?

    Look, at least allow him to save face.  Iit’s not too late to shift him over to the new NYRA management, where he can secure at least one Breeders’ Cup for Belmont in the next 50 years. 

    Allow the man to be useful, that’s all I ask. 

  • Don Reed

    Another Stronach management shake-up?!

    Impossible! 

    What are we going to do with the warehouse full of the Verge bobblehead dolls that we ordered, anticipating that he’d last at least one year in the job?

    Geez, at least the Yankees were in first place for the entire 2012 season before they tanked in the playoffs.

    Doesn’t Mark at least deserve the same consideration before CEO #439 replaces him?

    Look, at least allow him to save face.  Iit’s not too late to shift him over to the new NYRA management, where he can secure at least one Breeders’ Cup for Belmont in the next 50 years. 

    Allow the man to be useful, that’s all I ask. 

  • MA

    Written by someone who obviously spends a lot of time at the track and observes everything.

  • NAFTA

    Focus, and focus strongly, on the fundamentals that have direct and meaningful economic impact.  Lower takeout, look at possible rebates for on-track play, player hospitality, and really maximizing the efficiency of your advertising spends.  Meaningful promotions with national ADWs to promote remote play.  Gimmicks don’t produce long-term results.  

    Also, finding create ways to maxmize your media exposure in the local market.  Sports and entertainment are primarily media-driven products.  People respond to what they are told is important by gatekeepers, moreso than responding to paid messages.  

  • NAFTA

    Outstanding, soldier.

  • Barbara

    This “guy” was the equivalent of Frank hiring the nerdy awkward dad of a little league player and asking him to coach a talented team.

    What I would do as CEO of SA is invest in improving the barn area, partner with the BC in all marketing efforts for the The Great Race Place since it is planning a two year run there and wants to be there long term – expand entertainment promotions at the track like live music (no, not the USC marching band, and no, not incredibly obtuse ideas like creating a really poor Cali version of My Old Kentucky Home – wtf?), increase entertainment activity for families and promote it, get the jocks and trainers more air time via PR efforts, use Baffert as hard as he works his best horse to drive media coverage (instead of Doug O’Neill’s latest visit to a sick kid), use the jocks to engage more with fan education, and yes, as mentioned cross promote with all ADW’s for the greater good (and not have to have my arm twisted to put SA on TVG with far more viewer reach.)Maybe if The Guy hadn’t driven out the good marketing folks at SA as part of his reign of nonsense I wouldn’t have to to go out and hire Jill Baffert as VP of Promotions.

    Lastly, I’d try to figure out just who the hell Tim Conway Jr. is? Oh, wait, no, the last thing I’d do is have a clause written in my new contract that I couldn’t buy horses to send to Baffert. It might look shady;-)

  • brenda and nick

    the disaster of renaming all of those stakes for that alone he should go

    • Barbara

      He didn’t do that. SA (Stronach) wouldn’t pay Oak Tree this year for the use of the long held names of those stakes, so SA renamed them. Some of them were quite suspect choices, but nonetheless, that one isn’t on him.

  • brenda and nick

    the disaster of renaming all of those stakes for that alone he should go

  • Barbara

    I’d like to triple like this comment.

  • Barbara

    He didn’t do that. SA (Stronach) wouldn’t pay Oak Tree this year for the use of the long held names of those stakes, so SA renamed them. Some of them were quite suspect choices, but nonetheless, that one isn’t on him.

  • greg f

    If Santa Anita is to survive California will have to allow racinos or at the very least sports betting at the racetracks

  • greg f

    If Santa Anita is to survive California will have to allow racinos or at the very least sports betting at the racetracks

  • David

    Mr. Stronach and possibly his daughter are likely like many
    successful top executives in that they’re used to having their own way and
    affirmation of their own contentions. 
    Aside from religious and animal rights bias, there’s very little not to
    like about racing.  It is therefore difficult
    for some to accept that it’s a business in decline.  Conventional, time-tested tactics fall frustratingly short of
    expectations; perhaps what we have here is a case of trying unconventional
    strategy.  LOL.

  • David

    Mr. Stronach and possibly his daughter are likely like many
    successful top executives in that they’re used to having their own way and
    affirmation of their own contentions. 
    Aside from religious and animal rights bias, there’s very little not to
    like about racing.  It is therefore difficult
    for some to accept that it’s a business in decline.  Conventional, time-tested tactics fall frustratingly short of
    expectations; perhaps what we have here is a case of trying unconventional
    strategy.  LOL.

  • nu-fan

    Swiss305:  I almost missed your comments here.  Good for you.  I like what you said and it is pretty much the way I view things.  It is so easy for those who know little about business, management and marketing, to make such personal attacks on Mr. Verge.  I doubt that any of us, making comments, sat inside the meetings where discussions about the future of Santa Anita were discussed with those representing the ownership of that racetrack. But, I do agree that it is very difficult to bring the old crowds back. The future fans are those in the younger crowd that need to be coaxed into coming to the races.  How?  By focusing on the entertainment aspect of this sport by incorporating other enticements–to add value.  I’ll allow Mr. Simmons to do the strategizing.  But, the regulars?  While still accommodating them, this group is not going to continue driving attendance, and their numbers are dwindling.  But, you are so right in that it is hard to bring everyone together.  And, you are also so very correct: Californians do protect animals, the environment and their citizens very fervently. But, that might be a good thing for horseracing.  It might lead the way to improving the lives of horses and those who ride and take care of them.  At the same time, Santa Anita may offer a template, for other tracks, in increasing attendance and profits. 

  • Stanley inman

    Barbara,
    Maybe nu-fan is a
    Mule.

  • Don Reed

    B: This sounds (“reads”) very much like our collegue/correspondent who was busy defending (the indefensible) O’Neill this past spring and summer.

    What was his name?  Works in a barn and wrote like a UCLA law school grad.

  • Don Reed

    I wouldn’t mess with Jill Baffert if I were the entire USC football team.

    Obviously, something is very, very wrong.

  • NAFTA

    Please enlighten us on what ideas he has tried to implement are ‘revolutionary’.

  • Chasman

    Verge is another example of how clueless Frank Stronach is when it comes to running his race tracks especially Santa Anita…Stronach hires a bozo like Verge who owns ‘Westside Rental’ an apartment rental listing company…That company goes around placing their rental signs on properties that they have ‘no listing agreements with’ and how do I know this? They put signs on properties in my neighborhoo…Also, just look at what Verge has done since running the great race place…His ideas and plans have been worthless unless you are his buddy….Verge is a joke! Stronach should get Ron Charles back to run the track and this time have Charles’ back and not let Stronach’s ‘little know nothing yes men’ interfering with Charles plans and ideas like they did…

  • Chasman

    Verge is another example of how clueless Frank Stronach is when it comes to running his race tracks especially Santa Anita…Stronach hires a bozo like Verge who owns ‘Westside Rental’ an apartment rental listing company…That company goes around placing their rental signs on properties that they have ‘no listing agreements with’ and how do I know this? They put signs on properties in my neighborhoo…Also, just look at what Verge has done since running the great race place…His ideas and plans have been worthless unless you are his buddy….Verge is a joke! Stronach should get Ron Charles back to run the track and this time have Charles’ back and not let Stronach’s ‘little know nothing yes men’ interfering with Charles plans and ideas like they did…

  • Sandra Warren

    Attention Santa Anita:  I have General Manager experience.  I get along well with others.  I’m smart.  I’m good with difficult situations. I’m great with regulatory compliance.  And I love horses and horse racing.  You should hire me.  You’ve tried everybody else.  How much worse can it get?  Pssst:  you already own Gulfstream.  You should look at that operation, and try to run your California tracks at least a little bit like that.

    • Jay

      Sandra, unwittingly you expose the problem with Santa Anita. Unfortunately, the Stronach group has no concept of a knowledgeable hire. To be candid,nothing will change under present ownership; and I fear that the window for different ownership closed long ago.

    • Don Reed

      Dear Santa Anita: In reference to your GM executive offer, it is with regret that I must urge you to consider other, equally worthy candidates.

      I know, you spotted my resume with numerous jobs that didn’t last all that long.  In fact, you weren’t even going to hold it against me for staying with two companies, each for a five-year run.

      (I have solid excuses for both… well, at least for one of them.  Do you remember being young, idealistic and dedicated?  I can’t, but I have some photos from that time that can prove that I was.  Oh, 30 Rock.  Where did it all go wrong?)

      It’s not that your offer of a probable term of six weeks as a vested Stronach CEO (or being on probation for ten years, whichever comes first) doesn’t tempt me. 

      It does!  I can see it now…

      I sit around, bang out Tweets pretending to be at the track, when I’m really at home, with milk and cookies on the table and ESPN on the tube.  Meanwhile, FS, as always, will be making all of the actual decisions.  Sounds even easier than being on the wrong side of a debate in Denver!

      So please, consider Sandra for the position.  It’s a no-brainer!  She has a good sense of humor, which you’ll find irritating, even threatening, which means you’ll get to hire at least three people for the same position in 2012!

  • Sandra Warren

    Attention Santa Anita:  I have General Manager experience.  I get along well with others.  I’m smart.  I’m good with difficult situations. I’m great with regulatory compliance.  And I love horses and horse racing.  You should hire me.  You’ve tried everybody else.  How much worse can it get?  Pssst:  you already own Gulfstream.  You should look at that operation, and try to run your California tracks at least a little bit like that.

  • Jay

    Sandra, unwittingly you expose the problem with Santa Anita. Unfortunately, the Stronach group has no concept of a knowledgeable hire. To be candid,nothing will change under present ownership; and I fear that the window for different ownership closed long ago.

  • Sandra Warren

    When you go to the Magna-owned racetrack in FL, they do not charge you to park.  You get a program with your admission.  The employees are obviously schooled to greet you with a smile, to be helpful, and not look like they despise you for bothering them with work.  But when you go the Magna-owned tracks in CA, they charge you to park, charge you to get in, charge you for a program, and disallow tout sheets to be sold except one or two favorite sons.  Before you make your first bet, you are in for $20 in CA.  In FL, there is a delicious buffet that people really turn out for in the clubhouse.  At GGF…suck on it unless you pay for the turf club and dress for it.  I drove into the SA main parking lot before 10am a few months ago WHEN THE MEET WASN’T EVEN THERE and they wanted to charge me to….what, go to Clocker’s Corner, place an early wager, anything else that a FAN might do?  Actually, I am a horseman and had my license, but that guy sat on his chair glowering at me while I fumbled in my wallet for my license like I was holding up the scads up people NOT behind me at that hour.

    Let’s never mind the backside where the public doesn’t see anyone.  The backside is a community and we treat each other differently.  Just look at the grandstand where the public meets the Magna employees.    I have brought friends to the races who went to the window to bet, they made a small mistake like using the horse’s name instead of the number, and they’ve left the window slinking after the teller glares and them and speaks sharply.  I have seen mothers with small children that just wanted to see a pony horse for a few seconds that were ignored. 

    On the other hand, when I went to GP, I spent some time in the gift shop and the fellow could not have been nicer.  I walked through the casino just to see what it was like, and the employees made a point of making eye contact in case I wanted to set up in front of a machine. I went upstairs into the clubhouse, and there was no barrier between it and the grandstand, so I asked the headwaiter if I could come in and sit there.  He explained right away that I could do that if I wanted to eat from the buffet.  I felt certain if I was in CA, that discussion would have been a lot more awkward, like, “Are you SURE you belong in here?”  I happened to mention to the waiter in the clubhouse I was a horseman from CA, he pulled over the busboy.  “I want to you to a look at this lady.  She’s a horseman visiting from California.  Make sure she is treated well.”  The service was fantastic.  I cannot for the life of me understand how one corporation can have two divisions doing the exact same business with two such diverse experiences.  That is ALL management.  No one is training the CA employees to be nice. It’s all take and no give there.

  • Kris

    Unfortunately, the biggest problem at Santa Anita seems to be anyone named Stronach.  Too bad we’re stuck with them.

  • Kris

    Unfortunately, the biggest problem at Santa Anita seems to be anyone named Stronach.  Too bad we’re stuck with them.

  • Kris

    Excellent point, NAFTA.  I wonder why they didn’t have a Lava Man bobblehead promotion; he’s the real star.

  • Swiss305

    Thoughtful, sensible, positive ideas.  SA should host a fan forum to gather ideas from those who use the product and want to see racing survive.

  • Don Reed

    Dear Santa Anita: In reference to your GM executive offer, it is with regret that I must urge you to consider other, equally worthy candidates.

    I know, you spotted my resume with numerous jobs that didn’t last all that long.  In fact, you weren’t even going to hold it against me for staying with two companies, each for a five-year run.

    (I have solid excuses for both… well, at least for one of them.  Do you remember being young, idealistic and dedicated?  I can’t, but I have some photos from that time that can prove that I was.  Oh, 30 Rock.  Where did it all go wrong?)

    It’s not that your offer of a probable term of six weeks as a vested Stronach CEO (or being on probation for ten years, whichever comes first) doesn’t tempt me. 

    It does!  I can see it now…

    I sit around, bang out Tweets pretending to be at the track, when I’m really at home, with milk and cookies on the table and ESPN on the tube.  Meanwhile, FS, as always, will be making all of the actual decisions.  Sounds even easier than being on the wrong side of a debate in Denver!

    So please, consider Sandra for the position.  It’s a no-brainer!  She has a good sense of humor, which you’ll find irritating, even threatening, which means you’ll get to hire at least three people for the same position in 2012!

  • Trainer

    As they say in baseball HE’s OUT!!!!

  • Trainer

    As they say in baseball HE’s OUT!!!!

  • stlouiskid

    It is a good thing for Frank that he is good at other business, because he is a disaster in the horse racing biz. He ruined one of the worlds great tracks in Gulfstream, guess he is working on destroying Santa Anita next.

  • stlouiskid

    It is a good thing for Frank that he is good at other business, because he is a disaster in the horse racing biz. He ruined one of the worlds great tracks in Gulfstream, guess he is working on destroying Santa Anita next.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UYBILIHAIFH2HKEJK43BBFJQCQ Chris

    My home track is Remington Park, and the day that Frank Stronach was forced to sell the track because it was one of his few viable assets (because of the casino) was a great day.  He put zero money in the facility and was more concerned about selling Frank’s Energy Drink and renaming bars after his horses than anything else.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UYBILIHAIFH2HKEJK43BBFJQCQ Chris

    My home track is Remington Park, and the day that Frank Stronach was forced to sell the track because it was one of his few viable assets (because of the casino) was a great day.  He put zero money in the facility and was more concerned about selling Frank’s Energy Drink and renaming bars after his horses than anything else.

  • Don Reed

    Why can’t Gene just replace Frank?

    We can doll Stronach up with the KISS makeup and have a concert in the Gulfstream parking lot.  Set up the amps!

  • Don Reed

    Why can’t Gene just replace Frank?

    We can doll Stronach up with the KISS makeup and have a concert in the Gulfstream parking lot.  Set up the amps!

  • Ben K McFadden

    Whatever you think of Verge, and his predecessors remember who hired them and  is really responsible for the decline of SA.

    CHRB should have awarded SA to the tech guy.

    • Ace

       You mean the guy being sued by dozens of entities for not paying his bills?  That tech guy?

      • Ben K McFadden

         No, he’s running for premier of Albania.  The other guy.

  • Ben K McFadden

    Whatever you think of Verge, and his predecessors remember who hired them and  is really responsible for the decline of SA.

    CHRB should have awarded SA to the tech guy.

  • Ben K McFadden

    A bobblehead is apropos recognition.

  • Ben K McFadden

    A bobblehead is apropos recognition.

  • Charlie Davis

    “Simmons, for all his on-stage antics and theatrical makeup as a member of KISS, by many accounts, is a smart marketing man who understands the entertainment world very well.”

    That’s great.  Too bad we make our money in this sport from handle, not entertainment.  

    • Ace

       really-who is we?
      $2 wager, 38 cents takeout split 3 ways=13 cents for the track.
      $2 hot dog, 70 cents profit to the track.
      I vote for entertainment.

      • Charlie Davis

        “We” is this entire industry.  You really think the tracks make a profit off of $2 hot dogs?  Vote for entertainment all you want.  Maybe you can watch videos of former entertaining days at the track once all the tracks close down.  

        People that think entertainment is the way forward have no idea how this business works.  Entertainment as one way to increase on-track handle is a good idea, but it’s not a solution, merely a band-aid.

  • Charlie Davis

    “Simmons, for all his on-stage antics and theatrical makeup as a member of KISS, by many accounts, is a smart marketing man who understands the entertainment world very well.”

    That’s great.  Too bad we make our money in this sport from handle, not entertainment.  

  • Ace

     really-who is we?
    $2 wager, 38 cents takeout split 3 ways=13 cents for the track.
    $2 hot dog, 70 cents profit to the track.
    I vote for entertainment.

  • Ace

     You mean the guy being sued by dozens of entities for not paying his bills?  That tech guy?

  • Ben K McFadden

     No, he’s running for premier of Albania.  The other guy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1037781156 Charles Hogan

    Churchill Downs did the same thing with the loud music all day long. Ran most of their betters off and keep a bunch of drunk kids that wager $1.45 a week. Santa Anita can’t possible be worse than Churchill Downs. Not a chance in the world to go to CD and set outside with a racing form and bet on horse racing. It’s impossible.

    • nu-fan

      Charles:  I can agree with you–up to a point.  I, too, have been at the tracks and seen/heard a rock band playing DURING the races.  That, I thought, was counterproductive.  Why have competition with the actual races?  But, if the track had the concert AFTER the races, it might attract a lot of young people for the concert but, at the same time, these new fans might have been introduced to horseracing for the first time, which they wouldn’t have gone to without the aim of hearing the concert. Also, I’ve often wondered why the races do not have a “half-time” event during a racing day?  Sure, there is some time off between the races but not enough to stop and have lunch, go shopping in one of the retail stores, or so forth.  Or, have a short concert during that time.  It breaks the day of race after race after race.  For die-hard fans, those race after race might be just what they want.  But, for expanding a fan base, it might be more fun for prospective fans to have more than just one thing offered.  It gives them more “value” for their money. Even the Super Bowl has entertainment between the sport of football.  It gives a little more for everyone.  And, it might bring those fans back again because they had such a great time.  Horseracing cannot stay the same.  It’s been declining because there is so much competion out there with other attractions.

      • Charlie Davis

        Exactly.  Like they do at DelMar.  Like you said, most of them don’t end up betting, but some of them will, and some of them will come back for the betting instead of the entertainment next time.

        • nu-fan

          Charlie:  I have always had a tendency to look more at the crowd rather than the event, whether football or basketball games—or horse races.  With a background in marketing, I find the fans (or customers) very intriguing.  At the tracks, I have seen quite a few of the 25-40 age group and they do bet.  They may start off with those $2 bets but as they gain more experience and confidence, they may end up betting larger amounts.  I see these fans with their smartphones doing some research on the horses and I assume that they are placing higher wagers than the $2 betters who are often using criteria such as the name of the horse (or how pretty it is) to place a bet.  Will horseracing ever get back to those days when the grandstands were packed with thousands of fans?  I really don’t think so.  But, maybe, someone will come up with that great new idea to turn around this sport.  I know it took me a long, long time to finally go to my first race.  And, when I did and found out what a great time everyone had, I couldn’t wait to go back.  It really is fun to see the other fans having such a fabulous time.  It makes for a great experience for everyone.  But, “gotta go that first time….”  Need to have that “hook” to get them there to see what they’ve been missing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1037781156 Charles Hogan

    Churchill Downs did the same thing with the loud music all day long. Ran most of their betters off and keep a bunch of drunk kids that wager $1.45 a week. Santa Anita can’t possible be worse than Churchill Downs. Not a chance in the world to go to CD and set outside with a racing form and bet on horse racing. It’s impossible.

  • nu-fan

    Charles:  I can agree with you–up to a point.  I, too, have been at the tracks and seen/heard a rock band playing DURING the races.  That, I thought, was counterproductive.  Why have competition with the actual races?  But, if the track had the concert AFTER the races, it might attract a lot of young people for the concert but, at the same time, these new fans might have been introduced to horseracing for the first time, which they wouldn’t have gone to without the aim of hearing the concert. Also, I’ve often wondered why the races do not have a “half-time” event during a racing day?  Sure, there is some time off between the races but not enough to stop and have lunch, go shopping in one of the retail stores, or so forth.  Or, have a short concert during that time.  It breaks the day of race after race after race.  For die-hard fans, those race after race might be just what they want.  But, for expanding a fan base, it might be more fun for prospective fans to have more than just one thing offered.  It gives them more “value” for their money. Even the Super Bowl has entertainment between the sport of football.  It gives a little more for everyone.  And, it might bring those fans back again because they had such a great time.  Horseracing cannot stay the same.  It’s been declining because there is so much competion out there with other attractions.

  • Barney Door

     Welcome to the cultural superiority of California, Sandra.

  • Charlie Davis

    “We” is this entire industry.  You really think the tracks make a profit off of $2 hot dogs?  Vote for entertainment all you want.  Maybe you can watch videos of former entertaining days at the track once all the tracks close down.  

    People that think entertainment is the way forward have no idea how this business works.  Entertainment as one way to increase on-track handle is a good idea, but it’s not a solution, merely a band-aid.

  • Charlie Davis

    Exactly.  Like they do at DelMar.  Like you said, most of them don’t end up betting, but some of them will, and some of them will come back for the betting instead of the entertainment next time.

  • nu-fan

    Charlie:  I have always had a tendency to look more at the crowd rather than the event, whether football or basketball games—or horse races.  With a background in marketing, I find the fans (or customers) very intriguing.  At the tracks, I have seen quite a few of the 25-40 age group and they do bet.  They may start off with those $2 bets but as they gain more experience and confidence, they may end up betting larger amounts.  I see these fans with their smartphones doing some research on the horses and I assume that they are placing higher wagers than the $2 betters who are often using criteria such as the name of the horse (or how pretty it is) to place a bet.  Will horseracing ever get back to those days when the grandstands were packed with thousands of fans?  I really don’t think so.  But, maybe, someone will come up with that great new idea to turn around this sport.  I know it took me a long, long time to finally go to my first race.  And, when I did and found out what a great time everyone had, I couldn’t wait to go back.  It really is fun to see the other fans having such a fabulous time.  It makes for a great experience for everyone.  But, “gotta go that first time….”  Need to have that “hook” to get them there to see what they’ve been missing.

  • donnyess

    SA has become fertile ground for reality TV.

  • donnyess

    SA has become fertile ground for reality TV.

  • Geri M

    If Verge had been let go, I would have bought Breeders’ Cup tickets.  Considering the complaints and concerns of other trainers and many fans, he should have maintained a neutral attitude towards DO.   The biased management is just another factor that adds to the momentum as horse racing increasingly becomes its own worst enemy.

  • Geri M

    If Verge had been let go, I would have bought Breeders’ Cup tickets.  Considering the complaints and concerns of other trainers and many fans, he should have maintained a neutral attitude towards DO.   The biased management is just another factor that adds to the momentum as horse racing increasingly becomes its own worst enemy.

  • CS

    The many legit reasons Verge should go starts with how he was hired.  Stronach is
    to be ‘credited’ with that.  Untl that process is improved I don’t think we can expect any different. Clearly Vege was not qualified. On another note, having been present when the situation with Jill Baffert and Verge occured – it showed the lack of style, presence, and
    any inclination of polish for either for them.  Some people think money makes them right,
    others think it is the position.  In all aspects Jill’s actions showed blatent disregard for
    the Baffert training business and for Bob – what ???Bob cannot stand up for himself?
    And for Verge – he can’t put his professional position ahead of his personal? I guess not.

    So when looking at is wrong with racing, or rather what needs fixing, this could be
    a starting point.  These two people with such visibility  are part of a much bigger picture and their petty, small mindedness has just added to the downward spiral of SA racing.

     

  • CS

    The many legit reasons Verge should go starts with how he was hired.  Stronach is
    to be ‘credited’ with that.  Untl that process is improved I don’t think we can expect any different. Clearly Vege was not qualified. On another note, having been present when the situation with Jill Baffert and Verge occured – it showed the lack of style, presence, and
    any inclination of polish for either for them.  Some people think money makes them right,
    others think it is the position.  In all aspects Jill’s actions showed blatent disregard for
    the Baffert training business and for Bob – what ???Bob cannot stand up for himself?
    And for Verge – he can’t put his professional position ahead of his personal? I guess not.

    So when looking at is wrong with racing, or rather what needs fixing, this could be
    a starting point.  These two people with such visibility  are part of a much bigger picture and their petty, small mindedness has just added to the downward spiral of SA racing.

     

  • MSD

    This is awesome. #6 made me LOL 

  • Ernie

    Well as it turns out. Michelle Yu is sticking around. She’ll be the Paddock Host at Santa Anita on the weekends. So she’ll be doing more handicapping than what she did during the Autumn meet.

  • Ernie

    Well as it turns out. Michelle Yu is sticking around. She’ll be the Paddock Host at Santa Anita on the weekends. So she’ll be doing more handicapping than what she did during the Autumn meet.

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