Feb 03, 2006
AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD
By: JOE GIRARDI
If you tuned into NBC at 4:30 on Saturday to watch the Sunshine Millions races that were to be broadcast you got a nice surprise. As the end of the New York Rangers blowout win grew closer most felt that NBC would make the right call and switch to the races considering they advertised their coverage of the Sunshine Millions and many people made bets and went home to watch them on TV. Well NBC did make a switch to the Dallas/Detroit hockey game that was late in the third period and tied at 1. As the game ran past 4:30 the game now went into overtime. The whole overtime session went without a goal being scored and then we had to watch a shootout which went on for another 10 minutes. When all was said and done NBC made the switch to the Sunshine Millions regularly scheduled broadcast at 5:01, just 31 minutes late. Not bad considering they already missed one live race that they were supposed to show and all this for a hockey game in late January that has no bearing on anything right now and on top of it, it wasn’t even a local game. Just another totally ridiculous situation when it comes to racing, the coverage is subpar, the bettor is always left guessing was the result official, what were the prices.
I’m glad that the Breeders’ Cup will be moving to ESPN this year and I hope that they will do a better job, give more insight, give you some betting information, prices, etc. Let’s face it, this great game we all love is fueled by the bettor, without he or she it would have folded up a long time ago. Yes the slot machines are today’s new savior but for how long, the bettor will always be there, if they are treated right. I said I hope ESPN will do a better job with the Breeders’ Cup and they should, they do things right but I recently went to their website as I often do and was appalled find the section for HORSE RACING, at the bottom of the website under the heading More. It didn’t even warrant its own section on the website. This is the company that will be covering in essence the Super Bowl of horse racing. Soccer, Women’s Basketball and even NASCAR have their own section. People wonder these days why has racing fallen so far, well first off the big networks that have the rights to the races, don’t show them on time, they preempt them for a meaningless hockey game and then the new network doesn’t even give it preference on their website. It’s appalling.
Another problem the racing fans have to deal with these days is the myriad of different racing networks that show races. TVG, which I have had for the last 10 months now, has been very rewarding. Although they only have one channel and only have rights to certain tracks they give preference to the bigger tracks and their feed of the race is very good. It comes in very clear and you can easily find where your horses are. However, in the New York area there are a few racing channels for those who have cable. The Nassau OTB channel and the New York City OTB channel. In Nassau their television feed is sent from NYRA. What this means is that be prepared for watching a race on a screen that is split into four screens. For example, last week was the start of the Magna5 a bet that encompasses five races from Magna tracks with a guaranteed pool of $500,000. This bet was offered at Nassau OTB and was advertised on their network and in the branches. When the first leg of the bet came up, the 9th race at Laurel on Saturday, many of the same people that had to suffer through the NBC debacle watched four screens of racetracks showing horses in the paddock, post parade, etc, as the Laurel race ended. Tough luck for those who wanted to watch that race, it was over and if you bet the Magna5 you were out of luck. Last year a similar situation occurred, I called the Television person at NYRA and I had to tell him to switch to the Laurel race, the start of the Magna5. He eventually did I was able to watch part of the race. The point here is that there are too many channels that aren’t on the same page. I shouldn’t as a bettor have to call someone and tell them to switch to a certain race; I have enough to worry about trying to get a winner. The problem, at least in Nassau is that they don’t run their own channel. New York City has a different feed and it seems that there aren’t as many problems. At six o’clock during the week the Nassau OTB channel turns off, you get a feed from RAI International, a foreign channel that is on for a few hours before OTB takes back over and gives you the calls of some races at night. Now I know there are some circumstances to prevent them from showing races, but how about developing their own channel. Give the bettors a reason to bet with Nassau, watch the races at home, uninterrupted without having to watch on four screens, without having to miss big races in a sequence of bets without having to try and figure out what was going on without the benefit of a race call when the screens are so small.
The NTRA, which is in place to help racing, needs to get together and figure out what to do. There are too many channels, some don’t take certain tracks, some aren’t run right, and some only show during certain times — get a universal network that allows for a more uniform situation. Give back to the fans, the fans who have given to this game for the longest time and especially now through the rough periods.
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