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What Makes A Race Playable To You?

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LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 07:  A detail of a fan holding a racing form during the 137th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 7, 2011 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 07: A detail of a fan holding a racing form during the 137th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 7, 2011 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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We had a good deal of discussion the last couple of days of things that many of us feel need to change about the game in the future.  All of us have our own ideas of things that we think will benefit the game (and perhaps we might not agree on all of them), but one thing is clear: we all want to see the sport grow and be successful.  We watch and play the horses for a variety of reasons - whether we went to the races with our parents or grandparents, were lured by handicapping and betting, or just happened to watch a race one day that hooked us for life - and at some point, horse racing grabbed us held on.

When we talk about growth within the industry from the players side, I think we come to two distinct areas where that can happen: 1) Increased handle from current players, and 2) gaining new players.  Gaining new players to the game is something talked about a lot, but I want to focus on the increasing play from already established players.

Several factors go into how frequently we play the races, and I'm sure economic issues are a major concern for most of us (got to have the bankroll to bet), so we'll put that to the side for right now.  What I want to focus on is the factors that determines whether someone plays a specific race/track or not.  Once you decide you are going to invest whatever bankroll you have in a particular day, week, month or year, how do you decide where to allocate your dollars?

I would simply put a poll up with a bunch of options but 1) there's usually more to the answer than simply "big fields" or "small take" (although that certainly could be an answer), and 2) I'm interested in the decision path that people go through. Do you have a set number of tracks that you scan the entries looking for certain races and/or fields?  Do you look for particular wagering menus or takeout situations? Do you only like the big stakes events? Only races where you can find a vulnerable favorite? Or are your choices simply a matter of tracks where you are successful and familiar with?

Once you decide to play the races, what makes a specific race playable to you?