We Need A Game Changer

Published: February 7, 2011 09:17 am EST

We are unbelievably fortunate in Ontario right now. OSS purses, breeder's awards, overnight purses, and open stake races are the best in North America, and are adequate enough to keep harness racing alive as a sport and a business


Racing in Ontario appears to be safe for at least the next few years. All tracks have signed their revenue sharing contracts with the slot money for the next five years. Woodbine is putting in a substantial number of new slot machines which should help us. The new Woodbine Entertainment Complex is planned for the near future and is very exciting.

Randy Waples and Allan Pootoolal have formed an entertainment co. and plan on launching a new TV and internet series featuring harness racing. I think this is fantastic. Bold and innovative ideas like this are what we need.

The recent report from Rod Seiling of the ORC was very encouraging with the message being that the government is our friend, the industry is very important, and provides a lot of jobs, economic activity, etc. throughout a vast area of Ontario. This is probably our biggest strength right now in that there are so many people involved in the industry, especially the rural aspect (feed, vets, trucks, trailers, farming, insurance, etc).

WEG has accomplished their goal of producing full fields by guaranteeing $300 to all starters. Their handle appears to be up since this incentive has been in place.

The ORC has developed and is fine tuning an initiative intended to help racing.

Tracks are starting to experiment with lower takeouts. I am sure that all tracks are monitoring the results of this, so it will be interesting to see what transpires. Catering to the gamblers that we have now and in the future has become an increasingly important issue for the tracks.

The most exciting development to me with regards to increasing wagering is the legalization of exchange betting in New Jersey. It seems to me that this new type of wagering is our best chance to revolutionize horse racing. The possibilities of new types of wagers are numerous, interesting, and quite exciting. We will be hearing a lot about the pros and cons, problems and possibilities of exchange betting in the next little while. Right now only
parimutuel wagering is legal in Ontario but this exchange betting could be a key to our future.

Several positive things have been done in the last year or so and it appears that the steep decline in wagering has stopped for now but our gains are very slight.

The troubling and possibly game ending fact is that we are playing to an empty grandstand and a dwindling customer base. I can't see how we can survive past these next few years unless we increase our fan base and customer base substantially. The vast majority of people know almost nothing about harness racing. We absolutely have to change that for us to survive, and we in the racing business are the ones who have to do it.

To accomplish this - WE NEED A GAME CHANGER - something substantial.

As in any business you need a good product, and you must advertise and promote that product.

I believe we do have a good product. Horse racing is exciting to the participants and it can be just as exciting to the fans if they place a wager on a horse. Just as in baseball and other sports we have to promote our stars - the horses, drivers, trainers, owners, etc. We have a huge advantage over other sports, in that we have legal wagering. We need to entice people to come to the track or watch our races on TV, and wager on the races either at the track or from their home. In this 21st Century we are in that position - we have to re-educate the public about harness racing, and promote our sport.

Standardbred Canada's recent initiative opened up the possibilities of us doing something on a large scale that would have a big impact. It also proved once again how tough it is to get anything accomplished in our business. Many in the industry want something to be done but they want specifics, where the money will be spent and how much it will cost.

The following is my opinion on one specific project that we could try that has a chance to be the GAME CHANGER that we need.

I am going to go out on a limb using this forum to make a very simple and straight forward proposal that I think would be substantial enough to start drawing new customers to harness racing. I propose that we hire a high profile celebrity to be our spokesperson to attract new customers to this sport that we love. This has to be a very high profile person, and the one I propose is 'The Great One', Wayne Gretzky. I have no idea if he would do it or how much it would cost, but the point is we need someone of his stature.

We need a massive advertising blitz. Continuous TV commercials with a Wayne Gretzky promoting harness racing along with our star drivers, trainers, etc. Internet advertising featuring Gretzky, billboards splashed with his face along with our top stars - human and equine.

Personal appearances by a Wayne Gretzky at all the tracks would have to be a tremendous draw. The tracks themselves could have great promotions on the days that 'The Great One' is there. Having a Wayne Gretzky interacting with our horses, drivers, trainers, fans, etc., gives us instant credibility. The possibilities seem endless.

To sign a celebrity of Gretzky's stature will take a lot of money and we are lucky enough to have enough money within our industry right now to do it. I think it would be a great investment for us. A small percentage out of the purse pool can provide millions of dollars that would allow us to make this investment. Financial support and cooperation from all industry groups, racetracks, and especially WEG would be fantastic, as we would all benefit.

It could be a one or two or three year promotional contract, so we would all know the dollar amount that we were investing and it would be for a limited period of time. At the end of the investment period, the results could be analyzed.

I suggest that SC would be the best organization to initiate this if they are willing. They have the infrastructure in place to administer a project of this magnitude. The thing to remember here is that SC (or anyone else) would need some money to do the work necessary in developing this project. Interviews and discussions would have to be entered into with promotional experts, advertising companies, agents, etc.

I will make this proposal to SC, ORC, racetracks, horseman's associations etc., in the form of this open letter.

I hope I am not overstepping my boundaries on this, because there is no guarantee that it would work, but the SC Website provides such a great forum for discussion. Please take advantage of it to give your thoughts, ideas, and criticisms.


In reply to by jack darling

Hi Jack, I don't know if it is even possible but, we need to re-tap into the only game in town philosophy. Unfortunately I still smoke. Do you have any idea how frustrating it is in the AM to be standing behind all age groups (running late) while people in front of me are buying: scratch-offs, quick picks, encores,Lions to win (HA-HA) ETC. Sorry, I am not very well versed in Lotto jargon.

Point being, WE NEED THESE PEOPLE BACK!!! Why can't we have a rolling pick 10 (JUST A THOUGHT) be it province wide, country wide, NA wide. Make it a 10 cent ticket. When it got to be a big pay-out, they will come!! Jack by the way this took me a long time to type with 1 finger, Bill

In reply to by woody219

I am sad to say Fergie passed away afew years ago. But you are absolutely correct, he would have been a great ambassador, when you talked to him you could sense his passion for our sport.

In reply to by Wm Keeping

Hi bill. I agree with you that Windsor raceway is a digrace. The last time I was there I couldn't believe it. The Windsor raceway controlled tracks are hurting our image. Only the government through the Orc can force them to make improvements but that isn't happening for some reason. The good news is that grand river, weg,wfr.Clinton,Hanover, Georgian are making good efforts. Flamboro needs to do more and I am just not familiar enough with the northern tracks to give an opinion. And yes six dollars is way too much for a bottle of beer!!!!!

Jack, I don't think spending money on a spokesperson is neccesarily the way to go. Why can't we give them a place to go first. No $6 beers & then bore them to tears. Windsor Raceway went all summer with no air conditioning in the simulcast area, (3rd floor), how long would this have been acceptable in the slots area?

Re: "We Need a Game Changer"

There has been a lot of good constructive criticism venting and the generation of ideas is an essential step in effectively changing the game. What is lacking is the opinions of drivers and trainers. Jack Darling's idea of this blog is for people to have their say and it's a good way for people to vent their frustrations. I am sure most of the drivers and trainers with money in their pockets feel compelled not to complain and turn a blind eye when things aren't fair.

The ORC does not represent the voice of the horse people and has no right to turn a blind eye on the horse people in changing economic strategies. The way they run their business is a complete conflict of interest. You need to make money off of the horse business to keep the horse business alive. Neither one of us voted them into there, they shouldn't be able to tell us what to do.

People with a passion for this business, a love for horses and other animals need to speak up now if they want the business to continue to be sustainable. The Racetracks, ORC and Standardbred Canada will not and do not speak in the best interest of horse people as a whole. Without horse people, there is no horse business. We need to get ready to innovate or to pack it in. Your choice, horse people.

Put up or shut up.

Len Campbell Jr.

Mr. Irving states in 13 words better than others including me can in 100,s. If you were to ask sports followers what they would prefer to watch harness racing or nfl football, I would wager less than 1 in 100 would prefer harness racing. Along with that in the recently concluded Superbowl the Las Vegas Sports Books handled $87,500,000 in betting action and returned $86,650,000 to winning ticket holders. It cost the bettors less than 1% to bet into the pools and harness racing thinks they have a viable competetive product with ther 20%+ takeouts? Oh how right you were and are Mr. Carter!!

We always talk about ways to get the younger crowds to the racetrack and we try to come up with all kinds of plans. But we never talk about reaching our younger crowds to ask them what would make it fun for them. We should do a survey and go outhere to not only promote our sports but to get new ideas from the younger generation.

I beleive that activities have to include the family. The younger crows lovs events that brings to hole family. Rideau Carleton, and other racetracks, are great for adults that wants to enjoy a meal and go to the casinos and make a few bets, but the parents have to pay more money to have their kids taken care of.

Make this game a family affair and the younger crowds would enjoy it, look at all the festivities in Ontario that relates to family and they are all successfull. it's time to think outside the box. Build a place for kids with enough keepers for the kids while their parents are spending their money and the whole family will be happy with the outing. The kids might ask the paretns to go at the racetrack every week.....TO HAVE FUN!!!!!!

I am a horse owner and have split custody, like many, and I go to the track every second week cause there is nothing to do for my kid who is 10 years ols. Built it and they will come.....:)

My thoughts.

to me if you want to promote the industry you have to have somebody that played in the NHL like a John Ferguson who played for the Montreal Canadians. John has had a few good horses through the years and understand the sport. I would think he would be a very good spokesperson for the industry. Wayne Gretzky on the other hand might bring in more consumers. if you had John Ferguson by his side to explain the industry to him i think it might work.

Dave Gilders in regards to you're reduced takeout comments you offer a false alternative in that simulcast partners wouldn't take the WEG signal if the takeout was dropped. I am sure if you made a more gradual take out reduction and dropped the takeout for all bets to 15% most simulcast partners would take the WEG signal. As a marketing ploy you could brand WEG signal as the lowest takeout in the land attracting players who are price sensitive to lower takeouts.

I am convinced that racetracks executives are in complete denial of the devastating effects that 25 per cent takeouts have on any prospects of attracting new customers and growing the track handle. When you factor in inflation we have had 30 years of decreasing handle in real dollar terms. Most racetrack executives are happy with increasing revenues of their slot franchises with new parlor table games (blackjack, poker, etc) and keeping the status quo for racing with 25 per cent takeouts and empty grandstands. Until the high takeout issue gets addressed racing will NEVER attract new capital and have the engine to grow its revenues. Ultimately, talking about hiring new personalities and other short term marketing gimmicks is like rearranging the chairs on the Titanic.

Game Changer or Guardian Angel?

A lot of people talked about a Cesar to call the shots. Standardbred Canada said we needed a sustainability plan; now the Ontario Racing Commission says that they will take over the reins and decide what's best for all of us. A Game Changer sounds right to me.

There is a theory called the Nash Equilibrium. It has to do with game theory. John Nash was awarded the Nobel Prize for this theory. The theory essentially was to level the playing field in a sense that all participants in the game would never totally lose or totally win either. It was a very useful tool in judging economic stability in certain areas of the economy. Using the formula would give the horse business a good base to start from because it seems we are between a rock and a hard place when an organization like the ORC can take horse people's money and move it anywhere they want. I would like to know which horse people's group authorized this because I received no notice in the mail about district 10 losing part of its' pool. The goal that was set in the beginning was to level the playing field and to this day, every person in the business (trainers, owners, drivers, ORC, standardbred canada) knows that it's not a level playing field. Post position is probably the biggest complaint that the industry hears about day in and day out. We all know that it isn't fair to give a horse the 7 hole at Western Fair Raceway and expect the public to bet horses out of that position or have the horse do well out of that position. It is a fact that this isn't fair.

Part of the Game Changer should be a new racetrack design that ensures equal start and finish opportunities regardless of post position. A next generation type racetrack is needed to level the playing field. Every sport in the world seems to have more understanding in terms of what is fair and what isn't fair. Hockey players are put in the box, Football players are given yard penalties. We give no reasons at all as to why we race unfair races other than "it's the luck of the draw." I have submitted my concerns about this to the ORC. I ran on the OHHA board with this same goal: to level the playing field. I've talked to all kinds of people in the industry, and they agree that the outside position is unfair.

What are your thoughts on this Jack? I would really like to hear from you and some of the drivers.


Len Campbell Jr.

WELL,it is a real pleasure,, to finally agree,,, with the interest of all the STAKE HOLDERS,congradulations now if you put your words to paper and write to the minister of finance regarding all the policies of the ontario racing commission, that you feel are not in the best interest of racing.they will make the changes neccesary,,,,for the mutual interest of all.and any other concerns as well.there is no sence complaining if you are not willing to do something about it. put up or shut up go to the right people for results it is election time call your local member of parliament can one man make a difference MARTIN LUTHER did

Mr.Gilders, i respect your opinion when it comes to takeout but the direct opposite is the truth. They cannot increase the handle any worthwhile amount with out a large drop in takeout. Gamblers like myself and generation next have soundly rejected the excessive takeout rates of the race game. No amount of gimmicks tracks can come up with will change that. Tracks like Weg will soon find out that 10% of 1.5 million is an awful lot better then 20% of a 100 to 200 thousand. That is where the wager is headed with the current takeout rates. They may do things to slow down the progression but in 10 to 20 years it will be there. Think it can't happen just look at the situation in quebec and alberta and look at where the wager was some 20 years ago at tracks like weg.

Increasing the amount wagered is needed before there can be anymore discussion of lowering takeout rate. The levies etc. in the takeout pay for services and taxes and other fees to operate live racing, maybe if the ones collecting this money would operate with less there would be a chance at instant rate reduction, but I don't see it. I know for example at our track we toyed with the idea of a takeout rate just to pay the taxes and levies and go with nothing else so effectively the rate would be 5% try it to see if we could grow the handle. When asked whether this might be permitted the first thing we were told is none of our simulcast partners would take our product at that rate, they would only offer it to their customers at their own existing rates, therefore no simulcast no handle. It's complex and would be great to offer lower rates if there was less regulation this might be possible is my argument since ultimately the takeout is still revenue for each track.

I'm convinced several things need to take place to increase wagering amongst those are the product and it's presentation, like was mentioned platforms for smartphones etc. to wager from and marketing as well, it's a combination. All of the above take investment by the industry and as we have seen that's not an easy proposition. My proposal for a funding formula and executive group to manage it would be equal representation from each of the various horsemens' associations plus racetrack operators (several to represent the various tracks)and take 1% each from the horsemen & racetracks share of the slot revenue to fund initiatives including marketing. This group would be responsible to make decisions about RFP's for services etc.

2% of the slot revenues from the 12 harness tracks and the horsemen would be enough to start a program that is 10 years too late but still needed to stimulate growth. I said 12 tracks keeping in mind that from what I have seen WEG would not be part of this since they feel they can sustain,promote and grow their product without anyone's help.

Jack, I totally agree we are on the brink of extinction if something isn't done to stimulate new blood in this business. The competition is steep with casino's and all the offers of free food,car giveaways, and one promotion after the other. It takes no skill or logic to hit play max on a slot machine and hope for the hundreds or thousands of dollars you could win with your 75 cent investment. Much different to read a race program and handicap a race where your 2 dollar show bet can net you a profit of mere cents on your dollar. I think we need to figure out what has gone so terribly wrong and work our way from there. What attracted us to this business so many years ago would be a good place to start.

I pick Justin Beiber, at least the demographic we should be chasing will know who we are talking about.

If you want to attact the next generation of betters, you need to enable them to watch, and bet on line using their Blackberries or iPods. Watching the races live or on television is way to slow and does not provide the instant gratification that they crave. While Wayne Gretzky was the "great one" in my day, he is no longer the face of the future. The question is how do you steamline the races to interface with the electronic framework of today. Secondly, you need to believe that you can win if you place a bet, yet when you bet the favorites you loose, how much fun is that. It is hard to develop a fan base to play if they don't thing that you have a chance to win.

Harness racing can be a great product. Unfortunately those under 50 don’t seem to agree!
To suggest that a spokesperson can be a ‘game changer’ is a rather simplistic approach to the problems that plague the industry.

The game changer needed is an understanding of why younger generations have not taken to horse race wagering and a plan as to what changes are required within the game (not the sport) to attract them.

In the ORC’s Aug 31/11 Back on Track document, they asked, ‘how much does the industry know about its customers or potential customers’, acknowledging that, ‘little useful market information has been brought forward’.

The game changer needed is a redefinition of the game and a repackaging of the product so it becomes relevant to the younger generation. A start would be conducting ‘professional’ market research to better understand the industry’s current and potential customers. Then based on such research a strategy where the game becomes CUSTOMER DRIVEN as opposed to the ‘horseperson driven’ model currently employed.

Ontario is incredibly lucky or as Jack say's 'unbelievably fortunate' to have the lucrative slots deal. However if Ontario does not learn a lesson from our neighbours to the south, we will end up in the same position as NJ, Illinois, Indiana etc in 5 years time.

Jack i appreciate your comments, you are one of a select few in the industry who recognizes the trouble the industry is in and things have to change or in 20 years or so the fan base will be almost nonexistent. I have my doubts if the great one being a spokesman would change things.

You touched base on one very, very important thing and that is takeout. No amount of promotion is going to attract the next generation of gamblers at the current takeout rates. Like it or not they have to start competing with other forms of gambling by reducing the takeout rates in every pool to a max of 10% and if they don't do that the next generation of gamblers will continue to play games with a fair house take such as sports and poker plus there is all kinds of former big players such as myself who would love to play the ponies again but won't until the takeout issue is addressed. Tracks dropping the takeout rate a percentage or two is a waste of time. They are either willing to compete with other forms of gambling or they are not. Sadly it appears they are not yet ready to compete.

Didn't the Great One and I believe Mats Sundin already own horses and show up at a track from time to time along with other celebs? Did it increase the handle then or the popularity of racing? If it did I think we missed it and where are they now? I don't think they are still involved?????

Grand River does a great job of promoting races and involving the fans on race night, why can't other venues? and don't say bet night live, if it was a regular tv show it would be cancelled by now.

Everybody talks about how to cure the problem but I see no meaningful perscriptions being written to move the process along, why is that? Don't the people in charge read through these blatherings and walk away with ground work for good ideas? There really have been some over the last couple of years and they come directly from grassroots horsepeople and bettors, why don't you listen?

Greg Parke

Here's a great idea for WEG...

With the imminent arrival of the hottest standardbred horse in North America, St Elmo's Hero coming to compete in the Cam Fella Pacing Series, how about tying it to the 25th anniversary of the "Man In Motion" tour. Nothing could be more natural and obvious than having the top driver in harness racing, Tim Tetrick, who himself overcame physical challenges to reach the pinnacle of his chosen craft, and a humble rags-to-riches story challenging the "Pacing Machine's" own 28 win streak.

As one of Canada's favourite sons, Rick Hanson has inspired so many of us, and I would be proud to attend the races and donate to the cause of finding a cure for spinal cord injury and accessibility to all. It would be nice to meet our hero.

How about giving away some "Elmo" dolls to the fans for a donation?

Great comments. One that really struck home was Mr.Dawsons. As compared to the what he calls "insult" of his and others intelligence of the $50 promotion by HPI take at look at the January promtion by NYRA where if you deposited $100. before Feb.3rd, and bet $100 before the end of Feb. they would deposit $100. dollars in your account and they have a no cost 15 second withdrwal of any amount in your account.

In reply to by ron francis

Sonny Jewitt

To me we have to promote the industry more in the mainstream media and this takes money. Where this money comes from is pretty simple but to actually get some good luck with that. If you drive around Ontario at all you will see signs promoting casinos everywhere if you listen to the radio adds all the time promoting casinos watch tv adds promoting casinos we are bombarded with promotion about casinos. It seems when we do promote horse racing in the media we are successful ie Confederation cup ,Battle of Waterloo, Labatts pace, Frank Ryan, most big races that Weg puts on these days all draw good crowds . To me we have to spend dollar for dollar that the casinos spend on promotions . We should be hiring the top promotion company in North America to promote Horse racing . If we have the money to have 4000 claimers going for 6000 dollars and 5 horse fields going for 60,000 we have money to promote this great sport.

While i am on a rant we need our Governing body to step up and be held accountable to the highest degree . There seems to be a lot of grey areas within this organization and as a governing body this cannot happen. Jack i commend you on your blogs sometimes you have taken some shots below the belt with your comments but you are willing to take a few shots to help this industry . Thanks

Good luck
Steve Jewitt

Have to agree with the general consensus.Until we get the basics right, we would be wasting our time and money employing the Great One. We need some REAL changes in this industry; not the lame,feeble attempts that have been recently made.

Betting the harness races is a truly exciting, engaging, mentally challenging exercise. When people attend the racetrack and teletheatres they are intimidated, confused, and treated like they are unwelcome. How much more basic can you get?

At least in part, I think what Jack is suggesting is a change of image for harness racing. When you bring in a recognizable name, such as Wayne Gretzky, what you are paying for is to achieve a sense of credibility by association. Most "names" would want to ensure that the product is consistent with the image they present. If harness racing is to attract such a celebrity, then the sport will need to ensure that it has the house in order and can in fact project the image that would be consistent with celebrity. The sport also needs to ensure the celebrity is consistent with the sport. It does no good to hire a celebrity to promote the game if that celebrity knows nothing about harness racing. Get the celebrity into the game on the inside and you have a win win situation. The image part is a bigger challenge for racing, especially outside the confines of WEG. Mr Francis paints what I would see as a somewhat accurate picture of single males over 60 (I might argue it is more like over 50) as the key, in person, attendees at the racetrack. I'm sure some will call me a prude and others will say I'm over reacting, but my experience of day to day at racetracks is an image that is not one that is likely to bring in families, nor is it an image that someone like a Wayne Gretzky would want to promote. Profane tirades, people insisting on blowing cigarette smoke in my face, right under "no smoking signs" and we haven't touched the conditions of some racetrack facilities.
Before we try to build the sports image by using a celebrity spokesperson then we need to build the image presented at the race track. As a 50 something, who rarely takes his family to the races, the image and conditions are mildly inconvenient. Trying to make it a family game, and attract new fans - much bigger challenge!

I usually agree with Jacks common sense approach and rational thought. But, not on this one. #99 with cost a fortune, and there wouldn't be credibility. Just don't see Wayne and Janet, leaving Walt's house in Brantford and driving over to Flamboro for an exciting afternoon at the races (even if she has some pretty extensive gaming experience).
Harness racing is part of the hospitality industry. The customer should feel good about the experience. Most track operators are stuck in the "build it and they will come" era of the 50's and 60's. Those single men over 60 who go to the track, will soon be a smaller number of single men over 70. Clock is ticking.

In reply to by Dr Wayne Robinski

Any idea to generate new fans should be considered since we have to try and re-establish a customer base that's been lost otherwise you might be correct there won't be $1 dollar more wagered. Take a look around our bettors for the most part are aging as well as leaving us to pursue other forms of gaming. Cast a wide net and maybe just maybe we might be able to attract some new money to help stablize and grow the wagering dollars on horse racing through these new customers. Market,promote and encourage them to spend their disposable income on this source of gambling other than the mindless activity provided by the Slot parlours, lotteries etc.

Great idea but it`s non-starter! Ideas / programs requires investment and there is only one place that have sustainable funding - the purse accounts. The horseman`s groups won`t allow it. Their mandate are to support the horsemen which are not always good with long term customer / horseplayer-focused development sustainable programs. Horseman`s groups are also not willingly to work with Standardbred Canada.

Any new business / wagering development programs that are focused on customers / horseplayers will have to be started and supported first by the horseman`s group. That won`t happen. I would be really happy to be proven wrong.

Now I just waiting for Betfair or New Jersey betting exchanges to force changes for better in 5 - 10 years time.

I think this idea would work well at the 'B' and 'C' type tracks, AFTER they fix them up
from the embarrassing shape they are in! (especially Woodstock, Dresdan, Windsor, Hanover). Now, they are depressing and dank; populated by single men well past 60,(like me!!)
I would go a small step further and hire a well known female as well as the male you would start with. Ladies are intimidated by the present offerings, both from handicapping
and from the noise and dirty surroundings, (and swearing!).
As to Woodbine, they themselves need to greatly improve their atmosphere. I was there
last friday- first time in months. The place was DEAD. No sound, no music, no large crowd, no happy people.Just a factory atmosphere, workers on an assembly line, betting...
I've seen more excitement in a church after the service lets out!! I will not be back there this winter.
I do not know who to suggest for Mr. Darling's idea, as long as it's NOT Don Cherry!
His 15 mins. of fame has passed!!.

Wayne G. might help out, but if the Champions OTB could stay in business, more money would be in the pools. In the last two years,I have seen five Champions go under that I am aware of.I have been at these locations and it was really sad to see these outlets fold up and drift away in the last two weeks of their lives.

I don't know what the answer is, but if Gretzky did come live to the tracks, there will be a cost and what do you do for the next nights when he is not there?

Another possible plan that is going away are the so-called "contests" on Monday nights at Woodbine that allow some patrons to take a chance and win various amounts of money. The staff running these contests are extremely immature; so immature that the patrons viewing TV at home do not know how these contests are run. I sit there with my wallet in my pants and have no idea what they are talking about. Then, the next thing I know, somebody has "won" $600.00.The TV viewers are then whisked to a commercial and to the next race where the "contest" is now over.

Another item that hurts the pools is the Horse Player Interactive plan where an HPI member can "win" the sum of $50.00 if they bet $500.00 for two weeks in a row. We are not stupid and will not bet $1000.00 just to get $50.00 added to our HPI account.
An offer like this is an insult to me, and I resent it.

There are a lot of things wrong with the game we love, and indeed, I am losing interest in both the flats and harness races.

He shoots he scores! Jack I like your concept of a spokesperson to deliver the message and appear as the face for Ontario harness racing. Even a bunch of Canadian celebs with our version of NYRA'S "who do you like today?" ads that were running. To get younger people maybe Drake, Avril Lavigne or dare I say Justin Bieber. Pipe dream maybe and the biggest obstacle would be how to finance it but Ontario Horseracing is a product same as any other with the right exposure it might have a chance to survive. By exposure I mean mainstream appeal with 30 - 60 second spots in primetime, web-based ads that are imaginative enough they will go viral. Currently you can barely get entries in any local newspaper without buying ad space and yes everyone involved in this industry needs to realize that we aren't a so-called mainstream sport heck the X -games probably has a bigger following and that's because they are marketed to the demographics we need plus they generate revenue thereby attracting their own sponsorship something needed if we want to ever get more tv programming about racing and everything connected with it. Keep your stick on the ice Jack and as with everything when you say something about racing, your head up as well.