Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like you to meet the new mascot.....
Auggie Belmont! For some reason, NYRA has decided that the best way to increase attendance at the track is to have some poor sap dress up as a frumpy 2-legged horse and walk around to badger the 70-year old simulcast players who are trying to concentrate on the late double at Arlington. But worry not, according to this interview, Auggie's quite the humorist:
Q: Who was your favorite major league baseball team?
A: The Phillies.
Q: Do you have any special filly friends?
A: Well, I recently went on a date with Rags to Riches, which made my good friend Curlin very jealous. No matter what he says, he has a big crush on her.
With banter like that, track attendance and wagering is sure to....well, not change at all. This is embarassing. Not only have they named this ridiculous thing after the great August Belmont (who's flipping in his grave as I type this), NYRA actually employs someone to come up with ideas like this. And they're taking it quite seriously---it was buried so deep on the track's website that not a single media outlet like the Racing Form even commented on it.
Look, I get that racing needs to try to market the sport to people outside of those that have been coming to the track since the days of Kelso, and wants to try to hit my generation and those younger. Fine. Right idea and laudable. But this type of stuff is not only pointless and a waste of money, it's embarassing. You want to increase attendance? Sure. Focus on things like improving the quality of the food and beverage options at the track, dropping grandstand attendance, holding events and functions that would attract Gen X and Gen Internet, and get a rebate program going that helps people who bet in the range of $10-$100 per race. Any of those would do more to boost PR and attendance than having some poor summer intern dressing up as a disheveled Mr. Ed.