Bob Evans, the racing industry's six-million dollar man (that's his compensation as Churchill Downs' CEO), remarked, “I don’t know why I keep investing in this industry,” Evans then said, “but I can’t seem to help myself.”
It must be hard when your trying to find a home for all that money you get paid from the impoverished racing industry.
Even industry apologist Billy Reed acknowledged the unsung problem with the racing industry: it cares more about money than it does horses:
Evans showed again that he is strictly a numbers-cruncher who has little interest in horses or horsemen, but a lot of interest in making money. The romance, tradition, and inherent drama of the sport elude him – and never mind that those qualities are the very ones that racing needs to do a much better job of selling if it is to develop new fans.Fans? Who are they? Are thy the people that had to stand in line for up to 90 minutes at Churchill's first night race because there weren't enough concessions help? Those fans?
These are clearly not people who know how to serve customers.
Not only that, but Reed has a theory as to why the industry seems creatively stagnant:
For as long as I can remember, racing leaders have called for more co-operation and new leadership. But the industry keeps re-cycling the same old leaders who stand for the same old self-interest groups. Real leaders such as John Gaines, William T. Young, and Albert Clay have not been adequately replaced.Is this why the industry has done such a ridiculously poor job at marketing itself? Or is it just because tracks like Churchill Downs are caring less about horses now that they have income coming in from slot operations in other states? This is an industry where the state's premier horse track, Churchill Downs, just discovered night racing. How many years ago was it that football and baseball began playing at night?
Maybe if they weren't so preoccupied with their mechanized gambling operations in other states, they would have thought of this sooner.
The horse industry has made a deal with the Devil in buying into the idea that slots are their salvation.
Reed, of course, buys into the slots strategy. He finds it convincing to argue that it's good public policy to enrich already wealthy race track owners by luring money from low-end gamblers who play slots.