SOMETHING TO SAY
Sarah K. Andrew photo
Horsepeople are a wonderful, often bizarre breed.
I have been one, many years ago, for a spell.
Years and years of working with horses whether it be at the track or on a farm has an impact on the way a person looks at our great sport and industry.
Certainly everyone wants the industry to flourish - more people will come to bet, wagering goes up, purses go up and the ripples extend to everyone.
Ontario racing and breeding has come a long way since it was near rock bottom just over a decade ago.
Folks are making tons of money in the Ontario racing and breeding thanks to breeders' awards and the enormous purses.
But there is a long way to go.
One aspect of helping attract attention to the sport is the media, whether it be the press offices of racetracks, a newspaper, a magazine, the radio, television or the internet, for instance, a personal BLOG.
As someone who has covered racing and breeding in Ontario for more than 20 years, the horsefolks have not changed much.
The constantly complaining to each other, or me, about no coverage in the papers, still exists even though racing battles some fairly significant sporting events in the great city of Toronto.
And, when there is coverage (i.e. the mention of a horse, a trainer, an event, an issue regarding the industry) it is often that people still are not happy.
Do you want coverage of racing or do you not?
It is ridiculous to think that the media's job, whether it be a newspaper or a PERSONAL BLOG is only going to write happy and fluffy things about an industry that has lots of good stories to offer, but lots of bad ones too.
Does the media only report good things about the Toronto Maple Leafs? The Raptors?
The Ontario racing and breeding industry has NO IDEA how good it has it with media.
Most of the time, the coverage it gets (print and TV!) is so syrupy, more resembling a love-fest, it comes across as phony and, frankly, preposterous.
For instance, jockeys at Woodbine would not last a second in the locker rooms in various other sports. Write one thing they don't like and you are shunned for life.
Therefore, much of the press given to Woodbine folks is just that - a love-fest so that when they need to talk them again, they won't be mad.
But as far as a personal blog goes, it is just that.
It is a journal of racing at Woodbine watch day that I started to give myself an outlet to write about this great game - the good things and the bad. It is hard to get coverage in the papers and what better way to write about the folks and the great horses than to have a blog that I can write on?
If I give some interesting bits to people out there who also love the game, that's cool. And over 2 years, it looks like that has happened.
I am up to over 400 people checking it out a day.
I also invite people to write in their comments about the business, whatever they may be. That has been a challenge. There are people out there who just have nothing good or productive to say.
I try to keep a lid on that stuff. I have employers I have to mindful of but most of them are intelligent folks who have allowed me to express myself.
People are allowed to speak their mind in this country.
And people are allowed to have their opinions and can make up their own minds what they want to read or not read.
I have a great passion for the sport, I want to keep it that way.
But it's sad when one gets ton of grief for writing a for the Toronto Star or the Daily Racing Form that people might not like, "too harsh", "wrong day to print it," "oh that guy is not very nice", "oh he didn't tell you the whole truth about when he did this..". etc. etc.
And the complaints never end.
I believe that any coverage or attention to the sport is good coverage. Some people in racing, the smart ones, used to think the same way.
I will not write light anf fluffy all the time. I will not only print light and fluffy comments from people who have something interesting to say.
I will not write this blog the way people want me to write it. You are free to start your own blog at any time.
If people want to discuss how horses warm up in post parade and what they think goes on in that respect - so be it. Freedom of speech kids.
So, this industry better make up its mind.
Do you want people to write about the business and take notice - the good with the bad?
Or do you want to sink into the background so that no one every notices or cares?
ALONG THE SAME LINES...
GULFSTREAM PARK MEDIA OFFICE writes to paper to be more fair when it writes about it...
"Gulfstream Park wants Sun-Sentinel to be more fair and balanced when reporting about them"
By Mike Mullaney
Gulfstream Park recently concluded its live-race meeting and, despite what you have read in some reports, we will be open for a very, very long time.
As management within the South Florida Sun-Sentinel will attest, financial pressures do, from time to time, force belt-tightening measures. Like the Sun-Sentinel, Gulfstream Park has not been sheltered from the economic climate.
Gulfstream Park has been good neighbors and a major component to the South Florida economy for nearly 70 years. Another Gulfstream tradition, until recent years, has been spring closure. The gates to the old facility annually were closed by May 1.
Our new facility has no gates to close, appropriately, as we now are open 365 days a year.
This past year we tripled our advertising expenditures with the Sun-Sentinel alone, reminding readership that we are open. Yet a startling number of Broward County residents believe we still close in the spring.
It's our fervent hope that money spent advertising with the Sun-Sentinel is not in vain.
Yet, last summer, the Sun-Sentinel food editor wrote a story on dining at area casinos, and the story omitted Gulfstream entirely. Had a phone call been made, not only would the newspaper be reminded of the 1,200-seat Ten Palms buffet, but it would also have been told of our plans to house Christine Lee's, a restaurant of some repute in area food circles.
Along those same lines came a Sun-Sentinel story on our closing day, April 20. We've grown accustomed to the objectivity, interest and knowledge of the sport exhibited by beat writer Tim Dwyer. What we got was an all-too-tired story from another "reporter" headlined "Horse racing doesn't seem to be Gulfstream's focus anymore," which gave a dismissive glance to our free admission, failed to mention our free, general parking and failed to mention anything about the thousands of free seats, most of which put you close-up to the horses, either in the paddock or near the racetrack rail.
No racetrack of Gulfstream's stature offers those amenities.
Another omission from that story was mention of the track president's weekly, face-to-face meetings with local and out-of-town horsemen.
Racing no longer in focus? Is the Sun-Sentinel serious?
Our latest disappointment with the Sun-Sentinel came accompanied by the clever headline "All Bets Are Off!" on Kentucky Derby Day, May 3. The story claimed that South Florida may have no venues on Derby Day that could legally take a bet on the nation's biggest horse race. Yet, had a call been made to local horsemen or to Gulfstream, the Sun-Sentinel and the same "reporter" would have been assured that, indeed, we were always on firm legal ground and that we would provide both venue and opportunity for area sportsmen (Something indicated, by the way, in our ad with the Sun-Sentinel.)
Racing is, indeed, in focus at Gulfstream.
Gulfstream's president has worked in the racing industry since his return from the Viet Nam War. The vice president of security recently graduated from the Groom Elite Course taught by the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association. The vice president of operations has worked at South Florida racetracks for nearly 40 years, learning the craft from his father, who worked there before him.
The chairman of the corporation that owns Gulfstream has won a slew of national awards as owner and breeder of racehorses.
Yes, racing is very much in focus at Gulfstream. At least as much, we hope, that fair and balanced journalism is in focus at the Sun-Sentinel.
(Mike Mullaney is director of media for Gulfstream Park.)
*SIX ALLOWANCE RACES OF NINE RACES!
*PICK 7 CARRYOVER $24,985.
The day kicks off with a strange little 5-horse field, an allowance race. The interesting part is that FATAL BULLET was recently nominated to the Ohio Derby (along with Bonanza) and he is going for his 3rd straight win at Woodbine.
Lots of good tilts on the card and the weather is beginning to get nice.
(The Pick 7 has been carrying over since opening day, it's at $24K. Might be time to ditch the Pick 7)
The 4th race, the start of the Pick 4, is one of the features.
COOL SELECTION, the really old guy who keeps going, drops from a 4th place finish in a stake to $77,500 claiming. He meets a tough field however and GOTAGHOSTOFACHANCE, disqualified from a win last time, can make amends.
Ontario-sired guys are in race 5 at 7 furlongs. TACITO gets back to sprinting and off the Plate trail to try non-winners of 3. He's been busy this year but the Centennial Farms team and trainer Alec Fehr have been on a roll.
Others in the race - ones that anyone would love to own for the money they make - include TREE RINGS, CAN B VALID and D BOLD RULER.
The finale is a turf maiden allowance and features the grass return of FIONN, a nice one by Mizzen Mast from the hot Mike Doyle stable.
Another Mizzen Mast offspring, Kings Highway is a longshot prospect and A P VALOR is long overdue for his win and trainer Joe Walls had a layoff winner on Wednesday night.
SUPER STORY ON BIG BROWN and his people from TIME MAGAZINE!