Back in my very first post, the opening line was a quote about how little informed people my age are about the sport of racing. The line was, “I like that one’s name; he’s my favorite.” Today, a week before the William Hill Haskell Invitational, a similarly uninformed conversation was struck up between yours truly and several other excited 20-somethings.
“You have to go! It’s so much fun; we dress classy and then drink all afternoon." Now, being in the same age bracket as these lovely friends of mine, I have grown accustomed to the word “classy” being thrown around like a Frisbee at a summer party. However, as many as my friends and all the other countless young Haskell-goers will soon see, the classiest event they’ll be going to is work the next morning.
Here in the heart of central New Jersey, the Haskell spells summer just as much as the beach; everyone from Long Branch to Middletown and in between marks their calendars every year to attend the $1 million race. Unfortunately, the race takes a backseat to the afternoon of drinking, socializing and eating. In taking a closer look, though, is that such a bad thing?
The race attracts upwards of 45,000+ people, and at $5 a head for a grandstand ticket and $8 for the clubhouse, Monmouth Park will take in a considerable amount of cash next weekend. When all those tickets are paid for, do the businessmen of the sport really care if they’re watching the race or not? In their eyes, couldn’t it be said that they have already won, getting the money out of the spectators’ pockets and into the cash flow of the park.
While 50,000 people isn’t even close to what the Triple Crown races attract, the well-known park in Oceanport handles the crowd well, with games and activities abounding. This year, in what may be seen as a direct grab to attract more young people, Monmouth Park has teamed up with Lily Pulitzer and Tommy Bahama. The “Best Dressed” couple will receive a $200 gift card to both stores, and I can only describe it as a marketing ploy toward the many 20-year-olds who would love to get $200 for looking “fresh.”
|The Great Gatsby|
Let the racegoers get drawn to the track for reasons other than racing, if that is what works (and after my conversations, it is) and let the grandeur of the sport in person work its magic. There is no use in trying to market the race, while as some people would say it is extremely important, without the title of Triple Crown hanging overhead, the vast majority just won’t find it captivating. But that is alright! Let them be convinced otherwise AT THE TRACK, not before they get there. Even to the casual fan, there are recognizable names that ran in the Triple Crown races, so the level of pedigree will be acknowledged. Wildcat Red, Social Inclusion and Bayern are some of the horses that I personally remember seeing over the last couple months.
The lure of the track is unavoidable; don’t hinder its magic by over-advertising. Let the day speak for itself, and fans will come to watch, drink, hang out and spend money. Heck, I know I will.