Experts Gather In Saratoga To Predict That Thoroughbred Racing Is Unlikely To Relive Glory Days

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News flash.

The Schenectady, NY Daily Gazette reported on a gathering of industry professionals at the swanky Gideon Putnam Hotel. I can remember many halcyon August evenings after the racing at the Spa spent in that place. I felt as if I had died and gone to the special section ih heaven reserved for those handicapping horse races.

The dire comments talked about the viewership numbers, and how NASCAR has a race a week, while there are 70,000 thoroughbred races around the country each year.

I know, I publish past performances for each and every one of them (, publishers of the original online racing form).

Steven Crist, publisher of the Daily Racing Form said that tracks had been trying for a quarter of a century to increase attendance, and, as he tersely, if not optimistically stated, “It’s not going to happen.”


Yet, here I sit in Las Vegas, having just made a nice hit at a race at Mountaineer Race Trace, having watched and wagered the race in a Vegas race book. Who am I to talk? I’m not in Saratoga Springs.

Yet, I was sad to note that attendance at the picturesque and storied Saratoga was down almost 60,000 for the first two weeks.

Yes, I know it’s hardly shocking. It’s an easy call to say that something difficult is not going to happen. I don’t mean any disrespect to that august group, but I’d suggest that perhaps the root of the problem lies in the attitude of resignation as much as demographics and metrics.

So it goes.

There’s an Latin maxim that goes, Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis. It’s been much too long since my high school Latin, but it’s close. It means ‘Times change, and we change with them.’

It doesn’t mean that I have to like the change. Give me the crowds on a steamy August day, the longshot romping home, the roar of the Saratoga crowd, the swells in their finery, and the knowledge that the Gideon Putnam and an evening of good food, good drink and the subtle joys of handicapping horse races for the next day’s races awaited me.

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Copyright 2008 By Michael Pizzolla

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