• Generations X, Y well represented at NHC

    POSTED Jan 26, 2012
    Between the Chinese New Year hangover and the calm before the Super Bowl storm, it's relatively quiet in Las Vegas this week.

    A din will surely rise, however, on Friday-Saturday at Treasure Island where the 13th annual National Handicapping Championship will award a $1-million first prize and handicapper of the year to one skillful bettor.

    I've never been to the NHC. Maybe one day I'll qualify, but for now I'm content to make sure those who have qualified have the information they need to put their best foot forward.

    The face time with customers has been great, though, and even more encouraging is that many of the players I'm meeting are of my generation (late 20s-early 40s).

    Much has been written about racing and its (lack of) appeal to a younger audience, and I just don't get it. Yeah, Tuesdays at Beulah Park in January aren't brimming with the glitterati of Central Ohio, and that's OK. Movie theaters on the same day in the same town generally aren't either, and that doesn't make the red carpet outside the Academy Awards any less glamorous.

    That handle is down is a concern, but interest in other ways hasn't decreased nearly as much as the MAINSTREAM MEDIA and other downers would have you believe.
    • *Santa Anita routinely draws large crowds for its marquee events--opening day, Big Cap, and Santa Anita Derby
    • *I've been going to Keeneland for what will be ten years this year, and the crowd is seemingly more vibrant with each meeting with the best crowds on Friday and Saturday.
    • *The Kentucky Derby is more popular than ever as a sporting, gambling, and entertainment spectacle.
    • *Del Mar is more popular than ever. If any track is a cultural phenomenon, it's Del Mar.
    • *Saratoga has become THE meeting for horseplayers to play from start to finish, and all trainers on East Coast point to this event.
    • *The Arlington Million is a class event at one of America's most underrated racing facilities. It routinely draws an international cast of competitors and a spirited crowd.
    • *The Breeders' Cup has become an institution in a relatively short time with gamblers chasing huge payoffs, a $10k buy-in tournament, and many championships on the line.
    If American Thoroughbred racing were ONLY these events, it would be more popular, but racing is not just a sport, it's a billion-dollar agri-biz and gambling enterprise that goes 366 days this year.

    The minor leagues in most sports exist because there is demand, but in some ways the so-called minor leagues in horse racing exist because there is NOT a demand for certain animals where there was before. The hot shot prospect in double-A baseball is trying to make the Major Leagues. The horses and people competing at double-A racing venues are doing so because that is where they are competitive.

    But I digress. Major league racing IS a big deal. The above events are profitable and everyone in racing wants to be a part of them, including generations X & Y despite the conventional wisdom to the contrary.

    The NHC is no exception. This is a big event with $1.5-million on the line, including $1-million to the winner. TwinSpires.com & Brisnet.com are both proud to be involved with 34 of our players looking to win Handicapper of the Year.

    Winning $1-million is cool, but so is racing.
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