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Homeracing

Racetrack touts, but for recommending restaurants

Profile Picture: Ed DeRosa

Ed DeRosa

February 16th, 2016

The tout business has always been a part of the racetrack scene, and it is still as vibrant as ever on track at such historical locales as Saratoga, Oaklawn, and Del Mar, but like a lot of things in racing, a lot has migrated online.

People access other people’s picks and analysis for various reasons. Who to (or not to) bet (selections), how to bet it (wagering strategy), and when to bet it (fair odds). Some are looking for an action play or two while others want “a second opinion” to complement their handicapping.

My employer’s Brisnet.com does a brisk tout business with a wide variety of products for all U.S. Thoroughbred tracks with additional premium content available for top race meetings and race days.

Some wonder how the tout business has survived. It does sort of have a Cockroaches-and-Cher air to it—even after nuclear winter some guy will crow that he had the double.

But as I planned my trip to the Fair Grounds in New Orleans for the Risen Star Stakes on Saturday, February 20, as part of TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby Preview day, the need for touts became crystal clear as I felt the pressure to make the most of my meals on roads I’ve never traveled (Wednesday in Birmingham, Thursday-Saturday in New Orleans).

Yelp, Google, OpenTable, and Trip Advisor (pretty much in that order) are my web-based research tools, but comments from Louisianians like Michael Beychok and Katherine Terrell proved just as valuable.

Touts—whether they’re recommending a horse to bet or a place to eat—work psychologically for two reasons: Before the fact they give you confidence in your own opinion. I can do my research and feel relatively confident in Yelp reviews, but getting that extra push from a guy like The Champ Beychok—someone with whom I’ve shared both bets and meals—makes all the difference. And afterwards, it gives you someone to blame, too!

One of the toughest questions facing marketers of horse racing is how to get people more interested in handicapping and betting the races. The most important element is it needs to be fun. I enjoy reading through the restaurants and learning what makes them special (or not) just as I enjoy trying to figure the same thing out with claimers at Mahoning Valley.

Of course, this is not everyone’s approach. Just as some visitors to New Orleans will go to Commander’s Palace, an Emeril joint, and Ruth’s Chris, and call it a vacation without even thinking of what else might be out there, some racetrack visitors (and even big horseplayers) just want to bet the favorite or box their birthday, or bet whoever Joe Kristufek likes. And that’s OK, too. There’s room in the pools and at the table for all these types.

But I love the research, and I especially love when it pays off. Here’s my tentative itinerary. Please help me fill in the holes!

Day:

Meal:

Restaurant:

Location:

Wednesday

Lunch

Coal Creek Smokehouse

Rocky Top, TN

Wednesday

Dinner

 

Birmingham, AL

Thursday

Breakfast

Waysider

Tuscaloosa, AL

Thursday

Lunch

Mo Pho

New Orleans, LA

Thursday

Dinner

 

New Orleans, LA

Friday

Breakfast

 

New Orleans, LA

Friday

Lunch

Liuzza’s

New Orleans, LA

Friday

Dinner

 

New Orleans, LA

Saturday

Breakfast

 

New Orleans, LA

Saturday

Lunch

 

New Orleans, LA

Saturday

Dinner

 

Hattiesburg, MS

Sunday

Brunch

 

 

Additional reading:

From 2013: Racetrack Joints a big part of industry culture, impact

From 2016: Raceday360 introduces ToutWire

From 2014: Tip Sheets a Colorful Biz [at Oaklawn]

From 1994: Times Are Now Tough For Race Track Touts. Their tips can still be hot; their product isn’t

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