Last Saturday, of course, was the Belmont Stakes. The final jewel in the coveted Triple Crown. And we all know the drama that unfolded: I'll Have Another scratched and retired; Union Rags squeaking along the rail, edging out Paytner in a thrilling win; a teeming horde of 85,811 in attendance, wagering over $13 million; all-sources handle in the neighborhood of a gazillion dollars, or something like that.
All this Belmont excitement! And Lone Star Park sends out its press release that very evening:
Nothing about the Belmont Stakes?? Union Rags??? Even some kind of little, impromptu Triple Crown fiesta on the patio???
Well, if I wasn't discouraged enough with the state of horse racing at Lone Star Park, I only had to crack open my Sunday morning edition of the Star-Telegram (motto: "Leading the industry in printing corrections!"). Directly above the Belmont Stakes recap was a short article of how I'll Have Another's scratch took a toll on the local racetrack's attendance; they were anticipating a crowd approaching 20,000. Instead, attendance was a 10,586. And then, in a quote that can cause serious heartburn for the avid horse racing fan, Vice President and Assistant General Manager of Lone Star Park, G.W. Hail says,
"Who needs I'll Have Another when you have Eli Young?"
That's enough to discard my morning coffee and reach for the vodka!
Well, I could very easily go off on a rant and tirade about a some dumb obtuse remark - menopausal women are very good at doing that. However, I shall just stick to a few numbers.
Racetracks are usually in the business of racing horses. Horses race for money. Money is funded by handle. 26,519 people showed up for the Eli Young Band concert and the on-track handle was $332,835. Belmont Stakes Saturday's attendance was 10,586 with a on-track handle of $477,635. Without the use of pie charts, calculators, or any other kind of visual aid, I can reach a simple conclusion: Concert goers do not bet. They do not contribute to handle. However, they contribute to excessive alcohol consumption and a trashed parking lot. Horses are not impressed.
Look, I understand that Global Gaming is in the "entertainment business" and they are very successful using the facility as a concert venue. That's not a bad thing. What's bad is being negligent and indifferent to the very reason the racetrack is even in business.