Bill was a college football player when a bad injury sent him in a different direction. He became a disc jockey, and while taking college classes at the University of Miami went to work at the many nearby race tracks. He quickly worked his way from being a bet runner to teller and later department head at Hialeah Park; he was appointed assistant to the mutuel manager at Gulfstream Park and eventually Senior Vice President at Flagler Dog Track. Bill was chief administrative officer for the four race track conglomerate of the Hecht/Havenick family for a dozen years.
Along the way he had stops at a variety of venues where he encountered many of these railbirds: the Great Barrington (Mass) Fair, Merv Griffin’s Teleview Racing Patrol, NYRA, the legendary Miami Beach Kennel Club, Tampa Bay Downs, Oaklawn Park, Tropical Park, Calder Race Course, Naples Fort Myers Dog Track--- to name a few.
During his career Bill Hutchinson was instrumental in the implementation of technology into betting, thereby helping separate the money from the customer as quickly as possible. He helped champion the introduction of cross track betting and out of state(simulcast) wagering in Florida; introduce live poker rooms in race tracks and commission the research which ultimately led to slot machines at South Florida tracks and frontons. He was a long time board member of the Greyhound Hall of Fame.
Co-author Baird Thompson’s Miami based PR and Marketing firm represented various racing companies over 25 years including the Flagler, Naples, Corpus Christi, St.Croix Meadows(Minneapolis)tracks.
Legend has it that he snuck out of a sleep away camp (age 13) in Rutland, Vermont and hitch hiked down Route 7 to Green Mountain Greyhound Track-- where he cajoled a degenerate to make a Quiniella bet for him. Shortly thereafter he frequented Bowie, Laurel, Marlboro, Freestate, Rosecroft, Timonium, Pimlico, Dover, and Charlestown Race Tracks from his home in Washington, D.C.
Clockers and hot walkers at the “ol’ hilltop” at Pimlico can vouch that he never missed a Preakness Stakes between 1967-71 while studying at Johns Hopkins. After earning a Masters degree at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, Mr. Thompson began a career in show business including acting, radio talent, rock n’roll promoter, television personality and producer and the voice of the New York State Fair. He continued his gaming interest at upstate New York Monticello and Batavia harness tracks, Woodbine in Toronto, Ruiodoso, Santa Anita, Maner, Aksarben, Sam Houston, Delmar, Apache and Yavappi from his second home Tucson, Arizona. He eventually ended up in Miami. His marketing firm became nationally involved in the racing industry along with real estate and hospitality and entertainment.
He first met Bill Hutchinson in the early 80’s when his agency was selected to represent the Flagler Dog Track and its associated gaming and retail interests. The agency/client relationship continued nearly 20 years and their friendship remains as they, together, are independent consultants to the casino, hospitality and racing industries known as THE CASINO DOCTORS.
Have a trip back in time to the racetracks and greyhound tracks of the past and enjoy the zany true stories of the characters that spent their time seeking the next winner. The stories are happy and sad and always with a twist. Learn a bit about how the entertainment side of the business also and those special folks who make that happen. Sit back and be a railbird too.
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