Friday, 29 May 2009

Quarters to Square the Rectangle (And Other Observations)

I was gonna write a piece yesterday about the slightly odd direction the Zenyatta v Rachel Alexandra match debate has taken, but EquiSpace has pretty much said all I wanted say already, kudos!

I would only add that I don’t quite understand why a Belmont-winning RA would be the “challenger” against Zenyatta at all. If she won the “Test of Champions”, the filly would have an Oaks triumph and two Triple Crown wins under her belt. Zenyatta has shown all the potential in the world (or at least the artificially surfaced world), but still hasn’t beaten anyone better than Ginger Punch, especially considering she met Music Note and Cocoa Beach on a tilted playing field. In my understanding of "challenging" a Champion, the one in the challenging position would be Zenyatta. Without the Belmont, I’d regard it a tie, so they may meet each other somewhere half way, like Prairie Meadows (I’m not seriously proposing this, I just desperately needed a segue).

Prairie Madness

When I hear “Racing in Iowa”, the first thing I think about is the tradition-rich Iowa Fairs harness circuit, then comes the tradition of Thoroughbred racing in the Midwest (actually, the first thing to come to mind would be amateur stock car racing, but that’s besides the point).

The "non-profit" Prairie Meadows Racino seems to think otherwise. They plan to shift the focus of their product towards Quarter Horse racing, dropping the equivalent of 10 Thoroughbred racedays in the process, and quit racing Standardbreds altogether.

I feel a bit odd criticizing the switch because I don’t really dislike the result, what bugs me is the method applied, and the logic that I suspect is behind it.

Less thoroughbred racing at PrM is good for the sport (although not necessarily for racing in Iowa), and I guess (really guess, my harness racing knowledge is extremely limited) that Iowa Fair racing is best helped by reverting those racedays to Iowa fairgrounds. Still, this reasoning was obviously not what led Prairie Meadows to propose the change.

What got this non-profit organization to do it then? Well, first of all the fact that non-profit is a clear-cut misnomer, since the racino does make profit for its state and its perpendicularly angled host county. Despite lower handle, the considerably lower cost of QH racing makes it more profitable for the track. So profitable obviously, that they will even change their race dates to Thursday through Sunday, even though their Monday and Tuesday events currently attract more than three times the handle (but probably not enough to outweigh the lure of having a lead-in on the most profitable casino days).

So in essence, what the good folks at Prairie Meadows mean by “promoting racing in Iowa” is to drop the state’s most tradition-rich mode of racing, demote the most popular mode on their track, and concentrate on a mode of racing that has hardly any heritage in Iowa, and has so far failed to gain substantial public interest.

"Non-Profit" never sounded so hollow before. Seems like Iowa is starting to cut off the parasite.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the kudos and the link! Now that she's out of the Belmont, let's hope she goes to the Spa...and I mean Travers, not the Alabama!

    Iowa non-profit racino...who knew?