10/06/2013 11:57AM

Mark Simon: New look takes DRF to the next level

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By Mark Simon, editorial director, Daily Racing Form

Those that have been in racing for awhile (quite a while) may remember the old Eastern edition of Daily Racing Form, which was called the Morning Telegraph before converting to the name of its parent company in 1972. The Eastern edition was a massive broadsheet, and to make it handy to handicap and carry around the track, you had to fold it at least two times, and sometimes three. Unless you were sitting at a dining room table, you could not spread it out to read – your arm-span would not be wide enough, unless you were Wilt Chamberlain – and no one read the Form like that anyway.

Past performances then were printed in two sets across a page. That was possible because they did not contain anywhere near the information per running-line as they do today. There were no Beyer Speed Figures, conditions of allowance races, beaten lengths in the company line, and other important tools that readers now take for granted.

Daily Racing Form has undergone a number of changes through the years, implementing these for the benefit of its readers as well as for the changing times and reading habits. We’re sure there were those in the 1990s who were furious when the Racing Form abandoned the broadsheet in the East and went to a tabloid. The question, of course, was why did it take so long to get rid of an antiquated size when the act of reading past performances was not enhanced or aided in any way?

With that in mind, on Oct. 7, Daily Racing Form is launching its new, handier, contemporary publication. It will be saddled-stitched and trimmed, printed on heavier, brighter paper for a clean, modern look, and will include more color pages and editorial features from news to history to human interest. Most importantly, it will be easier for readers to carry around – and read.

Past performances, the core of our existence, will remain the same great tool as ever, but offered up in an easier-to-read, easier-to-handle format. We know our readers will appreciate that. The popular Closer Looks, which previously had been put in the outside margins next to past performances, are now underneath the running lines for each horse.

New features will be added, including more photography, most notably that of multi-Eclipse Award winner Barbara Livingston, principal photographer for Daily Racing Form. Fans – and she has legions – can enjoy more of her work, often in full color . . . a touch we think will be appreciated by anyone who loves horses and racing.

With the Oct. 7 issue, we are also adding an additional handicapping feature. For most major tracks, we will offer a page to help handicappers get a “read” on the card at a glance, with some important new tools. Called Quick Sheet Angles, it provides succinct information on the best jockey-trainer combos on the card, the most profitable trainer angles, and horses exiting key races, among the features. The page will appear immediately after our analysis of the day’s card done by one of our expert handicappers, and will be provided for Belmont Park, Santa Anita, Keeneland, Gulfstream, Fair Grounds, Aqueduct, Churchill, Oaklawn, Del Mar, Hollywood, Saratoga, and Monmouth, as well as other tracks.

In an era when many newspapers are reducing editorial space and content, Daily Racing Form will be expanding in that arena, to include many of the compelling stories and personalities that populate this great sport.

Innovation has long been a hallmark of the Form, and even as the sport moves further into an online sphere, with online betting and online racing experiences, we remain committed to print and to our readers by providing them with a better, cleaner, more comprehensive hands-on publication.

Good luck at the races. And good reading.