This Week’s Issue: Video Displays
First in a series of guest posts on the business of Horse Racing.
By Vic Harrison
Greetings from Virginia. There are two things about Virginia that Californians are likely unaware of and may be surprised by: Like you, we make very good wine and, unlike you, our thoroughbred meet is 90% turf racing.
But, no matter how much wine we’ve imbibed, where the grapes were grown or where we race in North America and upon what surface, we might share some similar observations about horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering. How about stepping back from our daily grind for a more objective view of our industry? I don’t claim to have the answers – I’m taking the easy road by asking questions – but, I do believe these to be valid discussion items. During the course of my blogging, and if Mary allows it, I will try to address a few of these issues one or two at a time.
My one disclaimer is: I know a lot of people in this industry, many of whom work in the segments listed below, and I like them all. No personal inferences should be taken.
My overarching observation about the business of horse racing is: There is not enough focus on the betting product and the presentation of that product – we could have 100% compliance on all medication and wagering integrity and monitoring issues (and I hope we will) and still interest would wane and the industry would decline until, perhaps, only a few racetracks remain standing…unless we effect change.
This week’s issue: Video Displays
Am I the only one who thinks it’s laughably bad and almost sad that many race tracks, at the top of the backstretch, completely obscure the viewing of the race by showing a few seconds of blurry Infield Tote Board? The announcer is trying to build drama and you think you can spot that your horse is making a move, and suddenly the horses (and your interest) are interrupted by the scanning camera whizzing across the tote board. Now the horses show up again and you’ve got to try to relocate your betting choice.
Perhaps it would make sense, if you’ve a large infield tote board or other infield obstruction, and if the cost isn’t too dear, to put a camera on the backstretch – one that your video guy could pan to when the horses reach the obstruction point. If not, at least use the pill system on your video display (that a bettor can pan to on his own). Every race has a start, middle and a finish and it all should be shown without exception and without interruption.
I also read recently that technology may exist to highlight each horse in the race with a specific onscreen color a la the yellow yardage stripe on a televised football game. This would be a boon to every racetrack’s video presentation regardless if there’s an infield obstruction – the saddle pad colors and numbers and jockey’s silks are often, currently, indistinguishable on a TV screen.
Until next time… and I hope you bet the Preakness winner (don’t overlook Terrain).
For information about Vic Harrison, see Contributors on the About tab.