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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Who is the Face of Racing?

Some of us were having some fun in the twitterverse yesterday, mentioning all of the crazy fans that are recognizable, whether they support/represent a team or a biblical reference (see Rock n Rollen - the John 3:16 guy). We went through a bunch of them, Fireman Ed, Barrel Man, Big Dawg and Freddy Sez to name a few.

So it got me to thinking, who is the face of racing? Unfortunately, there really isn't one unless you count the local OTB'er who smokes like a chimney and spends his afternoon beating his side with a racing form asking his horse to get home. Not very recognizable, I know. So who else? Who is representing racing to the mainstream? What names are the most recognizable? Do we need an recognizable ambassador to makes us more meaningful in the mainstream, or am I just grasping straws here? Look at the folks we have in the forefront (on television). Hank Goldberg? The TVG analysts? Jimmy the Hat?

I guess it begs the question - will horse racing ever become relevant again? We've had some great news over the past 24 hours and we're on the cusp of a historic Horse of The Year announcement tomorrow night at the Beverly Hills Wilshire. But I guarantee you'll probably never heard of the MC at the Awards Ceremony and Billy Crystal won't be doing any stand up.
Maybe we don't need to be relevant, but if we did return to the mainstream, the money and advertising dollars should follow. We actually have some momentum with some extended careers for the first time in a while. Am I all wet here? Who's the guy or gal who should be the face of racing and giving the elevator speech?


Ernie said...

Tough question: Beyer, Crist, even Calvin...yikes! Baffert's better looking, I think.

Not helping here, I know

The Turk said...

I love the fact Jim Rome talks the ponies...With some coaxing I could see him leading the revival.

I don't think the face has emerged yet.

Very relevant discussion as always Geno.

Anthony said...

The face of horseracing...I can think of only one: Mark F**king Ripple and don't F**king forget it.

Steve Munday said...

Geno, this is a worthy topic to consider. Image is everything as that great sage Andre Agassi once said.

When someone in the general public thinks of a racehorse, what do they think about? Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, Barabaro, Smarty Jones, Secretariat, etc. - all positive images.

When someone in the general public thinks of a trainer? Baffert, Lucas, Zito, Wooley. Mostly positive images and likable people.

When someone thinks of an owner: Jerry Moss, Jess Jackson. Positive images of wealthy & successful people.

Jockeys? Bailey, Stevens, Borel, Smith, Sutherland. Positive images.

When someone thinks about a horseplayer who do they think about? Hank Goldberg. Kind of an old out of shape, grumpy, sad sack stereotype of a losing gambler.

But what funds the sport? horseplayers. And how many people are going to be jockeys, owners or trainers?

Bottom-line: Racing needs to promote an image of a horseplayers that non-horseplayers find appealing and worth emulating.

SaratogaSpa said...

Good question-don't really know. Racing is too regionalized to really have one face. On the local NYRA level, I find Andy Serling's acerbic wit to be entertaining. Kenny Mayne at ESPN could be it if ESPN featured him more-he knows more racing than people think.

Wind Gatherer said...

I have to echo (random character commenter). Excellent point.

SS makes the best case for Kenny Mayne. Whoever the figure is, they have to transcend the sport. Jerry Moss could probably rustle up some star from his A&M days. Coldplay?

Kenny Mayne is known outside the world of racing and he would make an excellent spokesperson.

ESPN had the short lived Maynestreet thing going on last year and if anybody at the Crystal Palace had a frigging clue, they would jump all over his ass and do similar promos.

I also hear Conan is looking for work.

My word verification reads like something from an Italian labor union rally (foriza)

Keith - TripleDeadHeat said...

Recognizable commentators include Goldberg and that lambchops guy the UK.

I second the motion re Kenny Mayne who has both the humour and exposure to make people see racing in a positive light.

No doubt there would be a few votes for your first commenter as well - has anyone travelled further or shot better footage than Ernie?


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