The Hoarse Whisperer
by Jenny Ortuoste
for 25 May 2007, Friday, BusinessWorld
Racing sales revive
During April and May, horseracing sales hit a decline which continues until June or July. This trend has been observed over many years, and industry analysts have racked their brains trying to figure out why this is so, and how to reverse – or at the very least, minimize – the impact of this trending.
First, the reasons for the dip. These summer months are when many households spend on vacations and/or cut back on unnecessary spending to allocate available funds for tuition and other education-related expenses.
Summer is also when most racing operations “spell” their runners, sending them to ranches for a rest during the hottest months of the year when horses are more prone to injury and epistaxis (nosebleeds).
Likewise, sales slump because many bettors are off on their vacations and are not around to enjoy the races.
Sales usually revive around June and July, when two out of the three Triple Crown championships are held, which draw a huge fanbase. In years past, June was the month for the Gran Copa de Manila races of Manila Jockey Club (MJC), an event which has lost its luster in recent years when no other corporate sponsor stepped in to fill the gap left by San Miguel Corporation and Asia Brewery.
But wonders will never cease. This year’s dry spell seems to have lifted early with the arrival of showers cooling the city this past week.
Last Sunday, the sales at Santa Ana Park (SAP) picked up to over P38.5 million, way over the average of P35 to 36 million, signaling an end, perhaps, to the summer’s sales drought.
The shower has spilled over into this raceweek at San Lazaro Leisure Park (SLLP) in Carmona, Cavite, when both Tuesday and Wednesday sales were over P25.5 million, against the usual P22 or 23 million.
Admittedly there were three major stakes races held at SAP last Sunday, with the attraction of seeing the best horses in the land boosting in-track sales at its accessible Makati location, while SLLP’s lineups since Tuesday have seen more horses than usual on the racecards, making the races more difficult and more interesting for fans.
Which just goes to prove the old industry truisms: that the more stakes races there are showcasing good horses, and the more horses there are to make the races even-steven and a puzzle to handicap, the better the sales.
But it is an inescapable fact that consumers have a limited amount of funds and have to pay tuition, vacation, and other seasonal expenses. These are factors all business people have to live with and plan for accordingly.
The racing industry should consider a united effort to implement effective and professional marketing programs and classier and wider broadcast coverage to support this sport instead of relying upon luck and chance to save it – the same kind of luck that dealt three major stakes races for SAP last Sunday and chance that poured a plethora of runners on SLLP’s recent racecards.
The proposed new racetrack, Metropolitan Manila Turf Club (MMTC) of Mr. Raymund B. Puyat (himself a horseowner), is slated to open within the year in the cooler clime of Silang, Cavite. It too will fall prey to these vagaries in sales when it does open, unless its management has already prepared a counterattack plan.
If this new entrant has learned from the lessons of its competitors, then it stands a good chance of surviving and thriving despite being on the roller-coaster ride that is the business of horseracing in the Philippines. ***
Photo: Horseman Raymund B. Puyat, president of MetroTurf.