We've returned at last from our road trip to the Belmont via Baltimore, and as always, we had a wonderful time enjoying Maryland's hospitality. Sadly, after days of seafood and champagne drinks, it's time to return to the real world.
I've been trying to catch up with all of the racing world news that happened while I was computer-free, but this bit from the end of Steve Crist's "Grass sprints become tiring" (DRF+) caught my eye:
Crist is right that it was smaller crowds made the day more enjoyable for those at the track. But even with the "lowest attendance in a decade," there was one line that took forever:
Speaking of too much of a good thing, is it possible that massive turnouts for the Triple Crown bids of Funny Cide and Smarty Jones a few years ago may have hurt rather than helped attendance at subsequent editions of the race?
This year's turnout of 46,870, the lowest in a decade, was surprisingly thin given perfect weather and the presence of Rags to Riches. This was bad for the house but good for those who did attend: You could get on line for a hot dog or an exacta with two minutes to post without getting shut out. The dominant chatter was about how surprisingly pleasant a day at the track it was for a major event.
Most of the hordes who turned out amid the six-digit crowds of 2003 and 2004 probably weren't coming back to Belmont until another Crown was on the line anyway, but the next person who says he had an enjoyable day at the track for those events will be the first. Horrific episodes of traffic and cargo-style train travel were enough to discourage almost anyone from returning, even though any other day of the year offers a far more appealing experience. (emphasis mine)
Yup. That's the line for the ladies' room. Keep in mind that this is outside the ladies room. There are at least a dozen more women in line inside. Keep in mind there's a line of the same length at the other entrance to this restroom. If Crist thinks "cargo-style" train travel will discourage visitors, what do you think cargo-style restrooms will do?
While I hesitate to call this sexism, as Belmont is an old facility, the lack of adequate facilities for women does seem a mite short-sighted. If racing were serious about attracting female fans, it seems to me that they'd change a few signs on a few men's rooms for the day. But as Railbird recently pointed out, racing doesn't do a very good job at recognizing women in the industry or the stands.
Strangely, this sort of thing is apparently not a problem for casinos, as hard-core slots players have ways of dealing with this issue.