Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thank You Mr. Minor

Yesterday I posted an open letter to Halsey Minor. I questioned his plan to turn around both Laurel and Pimlico racecourses without slots. Mr. Minor was kind enough to answer my questions, and offer up some information. Below you will find his response that was posted in our comment section. I like everything he said, and I am ready to buy into the program. Thanks Halsey, and I hope you succeed in transforming not only the Maryland racing scene, but the national level also.

Lets start with the fact that Pimlico and Laural are in deplorable condition. I know you probably think Laurel is OK but you have accepted the presence of trash everywhere and a ceiling that's so stained from roof leaks it looks like its going to come down on you. I wouldn't even get out of the car with my kids if i saw the condition of the parking lot. Have you been to Camden Yards or Pac Bell Park lately?

These are not the horseman's fault. They are product of management failure. If we did NOTHING MORE than improve the facilities we would go along way torwards turning around the sport.

How about a $90 mm renovation? That's what I was planning in a public private partnership with the town of Hialeah for Hialeah Park. Each track is different but lets start with the goal of building facilities that aren't disgusting and instead belong in Disney World and not skid row.

This is an industry that started with disdain for the fans as Lord and Kings raced against each other and has continued that practice right up to today. The sport needs to begin a reformation where the participants are accountable to the fans. A novel concept I know.

The truth is no one has invested anything in this sport for decades and every dollar Stronack has invested has gone into malls, slots, training facilities etc and not the facilities and has only WEAKENED the company and the sport.

I can proved racing works in nice facilities, go back to 1959 or visit Saratoga, Keeneland or Del Mar today. Show me one place that has slots that has advanced horse racing? If Maryland gets slots the track owners won't care if you're racing pigs or thoroughbreds so long as the casino get the biggest cut possible. You guys have been saddled with bad management and now that same bad management is going to make out like bandits as you, the horse owners, are made to push the button of our own demise out of desperation.

Slots are a mirage. You are grasping at something that will bring about the inevitable destruction of your livelihood.

Lets rebuild the sporting of racing by starting out doing the basics right. When I can walk alongside the track at Laurel in front of the clubhouse and not fill 5 trash bags with 2 year old garbage and its still not working then you can say we need to try a new high risk way. Until then lets clean up the sport and the management of the sport and see what happens.

I have a million other things that I think need to be done but when the basics are so poorly executed its easy to know where to start.
- Side Note to Halsey Minor - I am a marketing guy in Baltimore that would love to work (with you) to achieve your goal of fixing the problems with racing.


John said...

Kudos Baloo,

Mr Minor articulates a vision for the sport not based on piggy backing on slots. The sport can stand on its own, the business model has to change.

Just go to Philly Park to see everything he says is true!!!

Kevin Stafford said...


Somehow I think it was lost on me that you were a local as well (we live in Hanover, but Laurel and Pimlico are "home" to us - it's where our fanship began and our hears will always be).

Very interesting post. I went into the "slots debate" thinking they were the key to reviving horse racing in Maryland, but I've now come a full 180 on this.

I think he's right - slots could be the death of horse racing rather than a savior. I see it as an artificial band-aid, and one that won't solve any of our long term problems.

I know I'm in the minority as no matter how bad the situation gets at those tracks, I'll always love 'em - but they could indeed use a solid renovation.

Count me among the belivers in what Mr. Minor is saying. The sport has to be able to survive without slots. It's the only way.

I'll be pulling for Maryland racing as well - and god knows if there's anything I can do to help, it shall be done.

Excellent post

QQ said...

Bug Boys - Thanks so much for this. I've gotta admit that my local tracks MNR and PID) have slots -- and my un-scientific experiments have proven that these tracks do not respond to e-mail unless they appear to be from a slots player. Pretty much in line with Mr. Halsey's observations that tracks with slots aren't accountable to the racing fans.

Ernie said...

Good job, Baloo!

Takes courage to go right to the top

Rebecca said...

Mr. Minor does have some great ideas but if slots don't pass, and Mr. Minors offer is not accepted by Mr. Stronach (who runs MEC with his ego and not business sense) then Maryland racing will end that much sooner. Slots buys time. A facelift will help but it won't be enough. I would love to see the rest of Mr. Minors proposal....what of marketing; what of educational ties to racing; what of community participation....and most of all, how do you rise above this industry's infighting? I am all for new ownership and TLC but we need more than a stump speech here too!


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