Shannon Castagnola: Two EASY Ways to Get More People Into Racing
I love to travel. Visiting new places, enjoying new experiences, looking for new adventures always broaden a person’s view of the world. You see, if the only track I ever visited was Keeneland, I would have a rather limited view of what it’s like to be at a racetrack. My consistent personal experience has been of a vine covered stone facade, dogwood trees blooming in the spring, acres of green, green grass and lots of young people DRESSED UP for their day at the races.
Lexington, Kentucky is a University town and going to the races at Keeneland is the thing you do on Fridays and Saturdays during the limited meet. It’s a place to see and be seen. Girls spend hours considering what to wear -- which often means a visit to the mall for a new dress, new shoes, or both. Guys come dressed in suits or at the very least a sport coat, wearing designer sunglasses and sporting a “I’m here to have a good time” attitude. It’s a place to have fun!
So, this got me thinking as I went out to California a couple of weeks ago. At the Enterprise rental facility I had a super pleasant young guy making small talk and asking why I wasin town. I have to say, he had a look of surprise when I said I had flown in for a horse race. I guess a woman in her mid-30s traveling alone to Los Angeles isn’t what you think of as your typical race track goer. I asked him if he had ever been to the races -- Santa Anita is about 40 minutes away plus they just completed the Breeders’ Cup in November. Surely he knew what Santa Anita was, right? Nope, he didn’t.
Friday night I had dinner on Huntington Avenue in Arcadia. The place is maybe two blocks from Santa Anita, you could definitely walk if you needed to. Owners from Louisiana and I asked our young waitress if she goes to the races. Nope, she works Fridays and Saturdays. We explained they have racing on other days -- but that really didn’t seem to make much difference.
Saturday morning I went to the mall which sits on basically the same grounds as the track. I made an appointment at the local Aveda Salon to have my hair done so it would make it through the day and into that evening as I had another event to go to that night. There was an absolutely adorable young lady who helped me look presentable. Of course I asked her if she goes to the races. Nope, she hasn’t either. I took some heart in hearing her say she always wanted to go bet on the horses but hasn’t.
So...this brings me to my idea for all owners of box seats at the track. As you are out and about in your day to day life, ask those around you, those you interact with, those who you wouldn’t normally see at the races, if they ever attend?
THEN offer them your box seats for the day -- give out these random acts of kindness to introduce new people to the game. Not everyone who is a fan has to become an owner -- they don’t have to have that kind of dough -- but you never know, someday they may. If we want to continue to enjoy the sport, we have to bring new fans in and although this may be simplistic, what could it hurt? I know many of you aren’t using your box every single day of the Thoroughbred racing meet. Consider what a thrilling experience you could provide to someone who will never forget their day.
Don’t have box seats? You can still promote the game you love. Buy a few $5 betting vouchers and give them to people who have never made a bet. Tell them to get back to you and let you know how much fun they had.