“Gentlemen; Start your Horses”
The quest to compete with NASCAR – by Richard Henley
According to Mark Twain there are “Lies, damn lies, and statistics” so I’m not going to quote any figures, just suffice to say that while the attendance at Thoroughbred race tracks has declined over he years, the crowds attracted by NASCAR have consistently increased. Let me tell you folks, we have been out-marketed, but luckily they have invented the wheel, all we have to do is roll with it.
Our problem is a lack of sponsorship money, imagination and pizazz, so now is the time to make some changes. Think about it; we both have fast fields racing around an oval track and we can run eight races in the same time it takes NASCAR to run one. We should be able to compete.
Spectators love noise: The only auto-racing event I have ever attended was the ‘Vancouver Indy’. I was there for two days and thinking that NASCAR must be much the same, I observe that the present day sports crowd appreciates a venue where it is impossible to hear anything but the competitors, (it took me another two days to recover my hearing); so my first suggestion is that we equip the horses with sirens. Very loud ones!
Race cars are colorful. They are covered in so many logos it’s hard to identify the original paint job: While
driving in downtown Toronto the other day I saw a young couple strolling on the sidewalk. They had a hairstyle much like a horses’ mane and had colored it bright orange; her hairstyle was much like a horses’ tail and was colored florescent blue: I had an epiphany.
Whatever stuff these kids use to achieve those rainbow hues would probably work on horse hair. Ergo, we do away with the owners silks and actually color the horses! Imagine it, Thoroughbreds going flat our in ‘Ferrari Red’, ‘OSHA yellow’, and ‘British Racing Green’, past winners could have white racing stripes and every stable could design their own visual effects – the possibilities are endless.
What of the Jockeys? – I’ve thought that through as well.First off they need bigger helmets; we need to build in a headset and one of those little digital video cameras. Now we could listen to them chatting with the Trainers before and during the race and
actually see a close-up of the horses leading the field. It occurs to me that the view would only be of the horses rumps and the jockeys’ butts, that OK though; all we have to do is sell advertising on both and the resulting revenue would be amazing.
Come to think of it I must call up TOBA and find out how long it will take to breed Thoroughbreds with wider rumps, they could become the racing industry equivalent of a two-page spread. As for the jockeys, they all wear white from the waist down so all we have to do is logo their butts in the same style as teenage sweat pants and we will be ‘in the money’.
I’ve given some thought to their boots too; those shiny black Knee-highs have to go. What we need is some type of ankle number that would appeal to every adolescent on the planet, the revenue from ‘Nike’ alone would be a gazillion dollars.
Finally, the current silks have to be replaced by drivers racing jackets, preferably matching the new color of the horse and then we can get a whole bunch of logos on them as well. Are you catching my drift?
Moving along with some random thoughts, we have to do something about that out dated bugle call. I suggest we hire Keith Richards to come up with a new riff on the guitar and then we canreplace that even more outdated fox hunting uniform with an outfit that appeals to people under the age of eighty.
Our finish line is too mundane, just a couple of posts containing a camera; we need people waving flags and jumping up and down, we need to spray a bottle of bubbly over the winner, graded stakes victors could do a lap of honor; we need pre-race tailgate parties all over the parking lot and we need picnic tables and beer tents all round the course and throughout the infield; I’ve lots of other revenue producing ideas along the lines of ‘Goodyear’ making the horse shoes, ‘Ralph Lauren’ designing the saddles an ‘Cartier’ looking after the clocking, but they can all wait for now.
So there you have it – problem solved: All we need are a few basic changes. Very soon the entire racing industry will be rolling in advertising revenue and hundreds of thousands of new spectators will be flocking to the track; In the unlikely event of my ideas not working there is no cause for alarm. I have a back-up plan stolen from the PGA Tour. I need a little more information to complete it an I’ve told his public relations people what I’m doing and how important it is to the future of horse racing, but for some inexplicable reason Tiger Woods doesn’t return my calls?