It gives me great pleasure to once again welcome Mr. Del Mar, otherwise known as Matthew Galbreth, for another guest author piece. When we last left him, Matt was galvanizing some ideas he’d been kicking around in his head about how to generate renewed interest for the game. Now he’s returned with another idea for how to connect with the younger generation that the sport so badly needs.
Without further adieu, take it away, Matt.
The horse racing world has never seen a talent like this and probably never will again. Bolt Speedman rode a promising young talent aptly named MEGA HORSE, who he also owns, to victory at Hollywood Park June 30th only to retire that same day with a one for one undefeated record. Maybe some of you have never heard of Bolt Speedman, but many of you probably have heard of Pro Skateboarder and MTV star Rob Dyrdek. Mr. Dyrdek has many talents and goes by many names, some of you may know him as R&B sensation Bobby Light. I think his most impressive performance yet came on the day the man wore the soon to be legendary DC silks.
The entire horse racing industry knows the importance of attracting new fans, horseplayers and owners to our sport. Recently the industry has been on the right track by trying to attract more youth to our sport. With Mr. Dyrdek involved and the beach culture that Del Mar happily attracts every season we may just get some new youthful fans that challenge the notion that horse racing is a sport for the wealthy and may not be the sport of kings, it’s a sport for everyone. This is evident in TVG’s Pick 4 Posse and has always been a main staple of my favorite track’s marketing strategy, Del Mar. Horse racing has been called the sport of kings, long before that and still to this day surfing is also called the sport of kings. The battle for this namesake finds neutral ground under the white California Flag of truce where the surf meets the turf at old Del Mar.
I’m sure some of you are wondering, surfing the sport of kings? That’s right. When Captain James Cook first discovered the Hawaiian Islands in 1778 he found what seemed to him some rather strange behavior from the natives. He saw them standing on strange wooden planks and moving effortlessly along the face of breaking waves. He was even more shocked to see the royalty of this culture take part in this activity and be for what seemed to him inappropriately dressed for monarchy. The ancient Hawaiian royals even had surfboards shaped to give them an edge on their subjects and special locations where only royalty could take part in this strange activity, hence he deemed it the sport of kings.
I’m on the wrong side of 25, but still hold the tag of a 20 something. Most of my friends are around my same age and most of them have very different and usually negative opinions about my pursuit of being a true professional horseplayer and my love of the game. They change their tune when Del Mar is open and ask me for handicapping advice on a daily basis. Why is this? It’s because they are not going there for horse racing they are going there for dollar beers, a chance at meeting the lovely ladies in attendance and a day of enjoying the view of the Pacific. Many of them, especially those who made some money off my plays, end up fans of our sport simply by getting in the door and having a chance to see these amazing equine athletes. I wish Del Mar was open more often as it seems to be our best chance at making horse racing cool and bringing in some new fans.
Bolt Speedman AKA Rob Dyrdek may have done just as much for our sport in just one episode of his hit MTV show “Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory” as all the top horse racing marketing researchers have in a year. I would hope all of you try to watch this episode, maybe use the old DVR as a way to return the favor he has done for all of us tune in on Thursday nights and fling this man some ratings, I started doing it for Jim Rome for the same reasons.
I have another idea that goes beyond just Mr. Dyrdek. When the many celebrities that love horse racing attend the track let’s roll out the red carpet, let’s treat them like royalty and let’s try to make them more visible and more vocal about our beloved sport. Maybe have a Rob Dyrdek day where we invite many action sports superstars to watch MEGA HORSE trounce the competition. If there are concerns about having so many young people there on one day, I think that can be resolved by giving them a place to go. Maybe set a section aside for the 20 somethings where they can all hang out in the same area and have a different place for families to go, maybe the infield, here’s another one… how about pony rides for the kids in the infield, a strong presence of security and a daycare facility where the parents can drop them off for an hour or two and enjoy some time as a couple.
It can be done my good friends and I think the time to hesitate is through, let’s see horse racing break on through to the other side. The side of major network coverage, the side where the newcomers don’t feel intimidated, but welcomed, the side where there are many different ways to enjoy the track and everyone has a place just for them. If you see someone new at the track or online at sites like the TVG Community help them, I promise you it won’t cut into your win odds much if any at all and you may have a lot more fun, I am. This may not be the sport of kings stateside, leave that for the Europeans, we are democratic and united baby. Let’s see that California Flag and the DC silks more and more, and let’s all give a big hand to Bolt Speedman a brave man who climbed on one these beasts and rode it to victory in his very first start as a jockey.
Mr. Del Mar AKA Matthew Galbreth