Somehow I have an email subscription to Monmouth Park's weekly news and promotions. Regardless, I do take a few moments to peruse over the upcoming weekend's happenings, and there's always some sort of shtick going on - barbecues, beach parties, hurricanes, and so forth. Monmouth Park's promotions always look hip and inviting; the place to be on a Saturday afternoon. I know that I'd go if only I didn't live 1,384 miles away.
But closer to home, Lone Star Park is perfectly capable of assembling its own set of unique and wondrous promotions. And Friday night was the pinnacle of shtick: ostrich and camel races.
Yes, you read that correctly. Jockeys raced ostriches and camels down the main track. And as crazy as this whole event sounds, it brought out swarms of people, crowding five deep along the rail as if they were jamming the stage at a Bruce Springsteen concert, holding their iPhones, Smartphones, camcorders, super 8's, firstborns aloft, all to secure footage of the big "event".
The Ostrich Derby:
The Camel Derby:
(Thanks to the well-positioned lizbethbeadles who promptly shared her videos. For her generosity, she'll receive a free copy of Lone Star Today and a dictionary).
I don't have the statistic so I'm unsure as to whether this rather unusual "promotion" - all for charitable causes, by the way - increased attendance and handle significantly, but I can ascertain that the $1 beer sales were robust.
As fun as it was, this whole ostrich/camel shtick and the circus-like atmosphere got me to thinking, "What does the horse racing purists think about all this stuff?" It's not as though I saw Gary West wedged along the rail, or anything like that. Do they just roll their eyes, exasperated? Why can't horse racing just be horse racing? Why do we need casinos and/or exotic fowl to attract people to the racetrack?
Spending an evening at the races can be fun. But throw in a little shtick - ostriches, camels, dancing guinea pigs - and it can be really fun!