Friday, February 5, 2010

A Little Creativity Goes A Long Way

There's really no excuse for not knowing how to use the Internet these days. The myriad joys of entertainment at your fingertips make the Web, undoubtedly, the number one time waster in the world.

Just look at the possibilities. With a few clicks on the keyboard you can make virtually free global phone calls via Skype, download films and television series on Ninja Video and, of course, you can watch and wager on the ponies via your favourite web-based bookie.

Horse racing fans have no shortage of options when it comes to online entertainment.

The New York Racing Association really impresses with their vast array of online tidbits. A recent email I received from the NYRA press office announcing a text message service that will alert fans to Pick 6 carryovers and live racing cancellations (just text the keyword “NYRA” to 84700 to sign up) ended with the following sign-off:

NYRA boasts a vast library of online offerings, comprised of the following:

NYRA is earning bonus points in an effort to engage its audience. Here's a few of my favourites from their pages:

The Inside Blog goes behind the scenes at Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga to discuss the horses and people making news on and off the track.
A recent video about 13-year-old gelding Cool N Collective, one of the oldest thoroughbreds to race in New York, demonstrated the caring side of the industry as owner Mike Repole discussed his love and admiration for the old warrior. If the name sounds familiar, this is a horse who got his start with trainer Reade Baker and has raced at Woodbine.
Cool N Collective on The Inside Blog

The Backstretch Buzz takes fans behind the scenes for a close-up look at the hours of work that lead into the two minutes of excitement on the track. The video below examines Apprentice v. Journeyman Riders.
Journeymen or Apprentice: Discuss the benefits!

On The Record is a series of interviews with leading New York trainers. The videos offer a candid, off-the-cuff look at life in the game of horse racing. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the piece below on hall of famer Allen Jerkens.
The Chief speaks out!

(Click here to watch Part 2 of this Interview.)

At any rate, my goal here is not to promote the brilliance of the NYRA Media Dep't. (And no, this post is not a paid promotion!) I just happen to be a big supporter of this type of marketing and believe it to be of huge benefit to growing the sport.

The tools put forth allow new racing fans to do more than just wager on the product, it adds a personal touch and continues a connection to a sport I feel is not getting enough mainstream coverage in daily print media.

Locally, I am encouraged by the recent Youtube channels created by Woodbine Entertainment Group that provide replays of recent races and also select historical footage.

I wrote about these new channels in a post entitled, International Acclaim: The Race That Brings All The Stars to Woodbine as I was hopeful of seeing earlier installments of the Canadian International made available online.

I'm not trying to rush the good folks at WEG, or look over their shoulder while they work, but I was quite happy to see that the 1973 Canadian International is now posted on WEGReplays. (Now how about posting the fantastic filly All Along galloping home in 1983 or maybe the George Royal back-to-back victories in 1965/66!)

Secratariat Sizzles in the Canadian International

The other recent development is the launch of WEGFeatures. For now, the site features clips of the 2009 Sovereign Award speeches which may only be of interest to a select few, but the potential of this channel to host all of the in-house produced specials is certainly exciting.

Juddmonte Farms manager Garrett O' Rourke accepts Horse of the Year honours for Champs Elysees

(O'Rourke hits the podium at the 3:30 mark of the six minute video and gives a fairly funny speech.)

There are many ways for the racing industry to reach out to its fans and I hope that all tracks will continue to explore the unlimited potential of online options.
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Woodbine fans who have checked the SnowBirds tab at the top of the page will already know that Roger Attfield trained Lady Shaekspeare is entered in the Suwannee River S. at Gulfstream on Saturday. Also entered in the 1 1/8M turf tilt is Chiefswood Stable's Indigo North.

Josie Carroll sends out the talented Southern Legend in Race 10 at the Fairgrounds on Saturday. The horse has come close to breaking its maiden on a few occassions and this blog hopes that Saturday will be the day.

Sam-Son Farms Ontario-bred Happily tries a 5.5F grass sprint on Sunday at the Fair Grounds. The Frostrad trainee will compete with fellow Ontario-bred Shizuka who is owned by the Jim Dandy Stable.

Frostad also sends out a pair of runners in Gulfstream's fourth race on Sunday - Dubai Calling (ON) owned by Anderson Farms and Ontario, Inc; and Rule One (KY) owned by Earle I. Mack go to post as an uncoupled entry.

TGIF readers. As always, the SnowBirds and Woodbine News tabs will update over the weekend. Happy Wagering!

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