06 September 2008

Quinella Castle: Back in business

Who knew that channeling my inner Ohio Valley Girl would take so much out of me? I must admit, I didn't expect that it would feel so good to share my disappointment and outrage about my once-beloved Mountaineer with the world. After many years working in a public library, where one meets the irate, the frustrated, and the outright idiotic with a smile and an offer of help, I seldom shift into Rant Mode. Turns out, it's kind of fun.

What's not fun is learning that I'm not alone in feeling so rejected. All sorts of folks -- Paulick Report, Equidaily, and Horseplayers Association of North America found something worth mentioning in my little rant about racetracks that ignore their customers. And while some visitors pointed me to other tracks where I might be more appreciated, like Charles Town and Laurel, some readers suggested that Mountaineer's just not that into me because racing isn't all that important to racinos. I was especially depressed by a post from anonymous:

Racetracks that operate with casino (a.k.a: racinos) do so only because state laws mandate they must hold a live racing license and conduct a live racing meet in order to operate a casino.

Period. End of sentence.

Do you think for one milli-second that these corporate concerns would bother running a racetrack if they could get away without it? Of course they wouldn't.

But, since state legislators wrote the laws to protect racing and open space (in most cases), the casino operators must live with it.

Their answer is to inconvenience the racing patrons as much as possible until we go away -- and maybe then they'll get some legislative relief.
Of course. Racinos, like all businesses, are motivated by self-interest, but unlike most businesses, what racino management views as its self-interest doesn't necessarily intersect with the the interests of its racing customers. If racinos themselves perceive the racing product as a drag on the bottom line, then perhaps the failure of the racing product is the goal, as a means to legislative changes. And gee, wouldn't that explain those puzzling decisions some tracks have been making? Sadly, I haven't come across a book (or even a website!) that provides advice on how customers can force a business to succeed.

So of course, after my big rant, I went on vacation. As always, the Quinella Castle packed up the car and headed for the Pennsylvania Wilds. We spent most of our long vacation far, far from the madding crowd in rustic accomodations in Cameron County, PA. No cell reception. No tv. No Internet access. Nada, except the magnificence of Elk State Forest, the Bucktail Path and the Quehanna Trail.

Last year, we saw an elk. Pretty cool, though my attempts at photographing this moment were, well, sad. This year, the King and I found ourselves face-to-face with a rattlesnake in striking position. Not so cool, though after we caught our breath, and from a relatively safe distance, I snapped another of my patented lame photos:

And now I can report that yes, rattlesnakes really do rattle their tails, and it's a sound you'll never forget. I also recommend a good stiff drink after any encounters with venomous snakes in the grass.

Hmmm, maybe this explains why I find myself yearning for a whiskey every time talk turns to racinos.


Winston...not really said...

It's always noon somewhere.