Bubbajoe has purchased a dozen tickets for an exciting day at the races at Oaklawn [Racing and Gaming] Park. But instead of being giddy with anticipation, he’s infuriated.
Bubbajoe purchased tickets with expectations to see the Apple Blossom (gr. 1) ... on April 3.
Of course, the Apple Blossom has been pushed back six days in an effort to accommodate Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta, and it is now scheduled to be run Friday, April 9. Tickets purchased for April 3 will not be honored on April 9 nor will they be refunded.
And Bubbejoe is not alone.
I’ve seen numerous comments throughout blogs and message boards written by folks that snapped up tickets for an April 3 Apple Blossom, with hopes of watching the much-anticipated showdown between Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta, only to feel cheated when the race was moved to a different day.
I feel bad for Bubbajoe and all the other individuals that are feeling duped and disappointed. If I were one of those individuals, I’d gripe and protest and hope for some kind of compensation, even though the fine print on the tickets probably simply reads, No refunds. No exchanges. All sales final.
Being the concerned horse racing fan and semi-diligent blogger, I contacted Oaklawn's General Manager, Eric Jackson, and expressed my concern about the ticketing flap regarding the Apple Blossom. What was Oaklawn’s perspective? And would there be some type of “horse racing consolation” for April 3 ticketholders, like really great racing and/or cheap beer?
Mr. Jackson responded with very sound reasoning,
We have been selling seats for the 2010 season since November 1. The primary stakes planned for that particular Saturday (April 3) is always the Oaklawn Handicap. Normally, the Apple Blossom is the undercard stakes (and has not always been run on that day). The majority of seats that weekend were sold well before there was any thought that Zenyatta and Rachel might hook up. In fact, Zenyatta was "retired" until mid-January.
In order to get both those horses in a race, we had to create a new race on a new date. We moved it to our closing weekend to accommodate the two stars. Unfortunately, that is our Arkansas Derby weekend, which has essentially been sold out since late 2009.
So if you have tickets for April 3, Mr. Jackson assures you that Oaklawn “will have excellent racing with the Oaklawn Handicap being our big race that day.” No word on beer specials.
And for April 9 ticketholders, he says they hope to have Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra there but shares this warning: “There are no guarantees that both stars will be here.”