Monday, January 30, 2012

Shake, Rattle, and [Heads] Roll

Next Sunday is the Super Bowl. And if you look closely, you’ll see that the Cowboys aren’t playing. In fact, further inspection shows that the Dallas Cowboys have only been to the playoffs once during the past 713 seasons, or something to that effect. Regardless, there is suffering and angst here in Texas; teeming millions are calling for owner/general manager, Jerry Jones, to fire himself and hire a real GM.

It’s a popular business model: When business is crappy, it’s time for a shake-up. Change management. Change strategy.

I bring this up because a few days ago Lone Star Park announced its 2012 Spring Thoroughbred Season. It will feature 12 stakes. That is not a typo. 12 – yes, count ‘em, 12! – stakes, down from 19 stakes in 2011. Lone Star Park has effectively obliterated its best day of racing, Lone Star Million Day.

"We took a long hard look at our purse structure and felt the best way to support local horseman was to make some difficult cuts to our stakes program," said Lone Star Park President and General Manager Drew Shubeck. “Eliminating stakes from our calendar was a difficult but necessary decision in order to preserve overnight purses as we attempt to remain competitive with tracks in neighboring states that have purses supplemented by gaming.”

Oh, like this is going to increase handle???

How did Lone Star Park go from its horse racing glory and crowning achievement – hosting the 2004 Breeders’ Cup – to crap in 8 short years?

It’s time for somebody to do something because doing nothing is not working. A shake up is in order; horse racing at our premier racetrack is officially crappy. Eliminating great stakes such as the Grade 3 Ouija Board, and supplanting them with an assortment of cheap claiming races is not going to lure bettors. Using this business model, the 2013 season should feature about 4 stakes!

Don’t get me wrong: I like Drew Shubeck. He’s a nice guy and snappy dresser. But he originally landed his position as part of Magna brass. You remember Magna Entertainment (MEC) whose claim to fame was a swan dive into bankruptcy. It seems to this horse racing fan, each year Mr. Shubeck just brushes off his usual doom-and-gloom speech, never offering up even the slightest shred of optimism.

Lone Star Park has new owners this year and a nice, bright, shiny updated simulcast facility. Additionally, Global Gaming is making some sort of attempt to “improve” Texas racing by introducing the Global Gaming Triple, a three-race series linking the Grade 3, $200,000 Texas Mile, Grade 3, $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap, and the $200,000 Governor’s Cup at Remington Park. There’s incentive for horsemen to enter all 3 races but is it incentive for the wagering public?

New vision is needed. New strategy is required. It's time to get shakin'!

No comments: