Tuesday, September 23, 2008

NTRA Marketing Task Force: Sept. 08 Report

Click title above for on-line pdf report;

NTRA Online
Marketing Task Force
Context - Communicate – Close
September 22, 2008
Dana Byerly • Jessica Chapel • Norma Jean Fullmer
Lisa Grimm • Alan Mann • John & Bev Passerello • Patrick Patten
Dr. Troy Racki • Derek Simon • Kevin Stafford
About the Report
The following report is collaboration between the NTRA and its fans. In July,
SocialSphere Strategies, through its “Idea Mine” methodology, worked with the
NTRA to assemble a panel of fans that have demonstrated passion for their
sport and unbridled enthusiasm to make it better. The panel was tasked with
an assignment to develop a strategic marketing plan to position the sport to
new and emerging audiences. What follows is the work of this “task force.”
One hundred percent of the content is theirs and we hope it ushers in a new
approach to marketing thoroughbred racing.
Table of Contents
About the Authors………………………………………………………………… 4
Context ........................................................................................................... 6
Take Back Saturday – TV ............................................................................... 7
Win & You’re In 2.0 ....................................................................................... 10
TBS – Virtual & Fantasy Sport ...................................................................... 16
TBS – Merchandise....................................................................................... 18
Communicate............................................................................................... 20
Continuing the Context at NTRA.com........................................................... 22
Beyond NTRA.com ...................................................................................... 23
NTRA.com – Next Generation ...................................................................... 27
NTRA – Sports Calendar .............................................................................. 32
Tools of the New Trade................................................................................. 33
Close............................................................................................................. 35
VP of Offline/Online....................................................................................... 37
VP – Communication/Motivation................................................................... 39
VP – NTRA Ambassador .............................................................................. 42
VP - NTRA Certification ................................................................................ 43
VP – Social Networks.................................................................................... 44
Big Brown at Monmouth Park ....................................................................... 45
VP – Charity Organization............................................................................. 46
What We Can Do Today ............................................................................... 48
About the Authors
Dana Byerly
When not blogging at greenbutgame.org, Dana Byerly, co-creator of Self Appointed Fan Committee,
spends her days making web-based applications look and work better. In her own words "I'd rather
be handicapping".
Jessica Chapel
Jessica Chapel became a racing fan at Suffolk Downs in Boston. She is the proprietor of Railbird.org,
the longest running thoroughbred racing blog on the web, co-creator of Self Appointed Fan
Committee, and former webmaster for Daily Racing Form. She is currently at work on a new racing
web site, Raceday360.com.
Norma Jean Fullmer
Norma Jean Fullmer was first introduced to horseracing when she went with her family to the
Haskell Invitation…”I was hooked from that day forward.” Her favorite track is Monmouth because
it is family oriented, and hasn’t she missed the Haskell once she first went eight years ago.
Lisa Grimm
Lisa Grimm has been a fan of racing since age five. Currently Lisa lives in Haverford, PA, but has
lived all over the world. Her first “big”trip to the race track was to the 1989 Kentucky/Oaks Derby,
and she has been an avid fan ever since. Lisa has a popular blog dedicated to this sport,
About the Authors (cont.)
Alan Mann
Alan has been a horseplayer since he got hooked on the trotters at Roosevelt Raceway in the mid-70's,
although he lost his first-ever bet at Aqueduct when his horse fell over the last fence of a steeplechase
with a five length lead. You'd think I would've taken the hint, eh? Alan started Left at the Gate in
January of 2005 when he had nothing else to do during the National Hockey League lockout. Alan is
a lifelong New Yorker living in Rego Park, Queens, and he owns a few shares of a few thoroughbreds
in partnerships.
John & Bev Passerello
John and Bev were first introduced to this sport at the 2000 Kentucky Derby and have been
enthusiasts ever since. They spent one week in Kentucky in 2000 and now are there for eight months
of the year. They enjoy going to the races with friends – “the track is a destination place where we
can visit and watch something we all enjoy.’ John and Bev are partners in Passerello Thoroughbreds.
Patrick Patten
Patrick Patten is a life long horse racing fan who is a total homer for Monmouth Park, he loves it. He
spent four years at Wake Forest, with no tracks in sight and drove everyone crazy in Baruch turning
every MBA project into a horse racing one. He's been dreaming about this opportunity for about 7
years. He now works with his local gas company on their financial desk and is proud they went as a
group to the BC last year.
Dr. Troy Racki
Self-taught enthusiast, handicapper, and owner Troy Racki is volunteer director for the NTRA
Ambassador Program. Currently he trains G2 winner Chocolate Miss in addition to 85 other digital
Kevin Stafford
A 30-year-old father of one (with another on the way this January), Kevin is an avid history buff that
can often be found giving tours of the Gettysburg and Antietam Civil War battlefields. He works for
Toyota/Lexus Financial Services implementing process improvements and helping to redesign core
system functionality to meet the demands of an ever changing market place. He also has a ridiculous
sense of humor and is fond of cheaply made so-called "B-movies."
NTRA Online Marketing Task Force
What is racing’s best product? The Kentucky Derby
The race owns the First Saturday in May, a few Saturdays in April, May, even February. Why?
History – First, it’s been around long enough to ingrain itself into the everyday sports fans’
conscious: You may not consider yourself a horse racing fan, but you’ll watch the Derby. You pick a
random horse or not so random horse and follow. Second, you’ve seen it for so long you know how it
unfolds. You watch the best horses moving from the Gr III Risen Star to the Gr II Louisiana Derby to
the Gr I Wood Memorial onto the Gr I Derby. You know that the Derby winner will come from one of
these races you’re watching every weekend. You know you’re watching a star in the making. That is
Continuity. The context of each individual race comes from the continuity, and both keep people
coming back the following week, and feeling comfortable with the product. Come May, the casual
fan can spot Todd Pletcher in a crowd, maybe Mr. Chapman or the Jacksons. We all know about
Dick Dutrow! They may have identified with a particular jockey who they admire, and in some
instances are even able to pick out their favorite horses from a crowded post parade. Casual Fans and
long term fans are on the same page during this Road to the Roses. From an industry perspective
rolling out that “context and continuity” of the Derby to the road to the Breeders’ Cup is paramount,
we must
Take Back Saturday!
Why is the Stephen Foster not important enough for TV?
It’s likely not many outside of the most serious fans have any understanding of why the race is
important. The NTRA rightly realized that it needed Curlin to be the main story to elevate that race
in awareness. With so much money on the line you can’t guarantee a horse will start, and TV takes
Read into that reason why it wasn’t on TV again.
Curlin was the star the NTRA could not guarantee, but isn’t a Gr I like the Stephen Foster an
important enough race to take a chance on? What’s the worst-case scenario? Being stuck with a Gr I
on TV that will most likely have BC starters? The true problem is that they could not explain why the
Stephen Foster was important enough to the casual fan to encourage them to watch on television.
Long-term racing fans understand the implications of the Gr I Stephen Foster, but to a casual fan
flipping channels it has little context, and there is no continuity to next week. How then do we
communicate this importance to the casual fan? How do we make them care?
Take Back Saturday! – A Marketing Platform
The NFL effectively turned Sunday into a weekly football holiday; doing the same with Horse Racing
can be done given a quicker context, more races to choose from, and a quality jump in footage.
Implementation: Laying out a series of shows from the beginning of July to the Breeders’ Cup that is
each a mini-BC every Saturday. Regardless of the channel, each episode should also be available
online as Podcasts or on Hulu after being run.
June/July Start: These are the abandoned months of sports: No football, basketball, hockey, and
baseball in its summer doldrums. There is a lack of content on ESPN proved by the use of Titletown
this year, and last year’s Who’s Now, both were ridiculed in sports media and by sports fans. ESPN
has many channels and needs content.
Stars in Place to form mini-BCs - Every graded stake is important, not just one track on one day.
Do more to include the entire industry. Help those tracks turn out fans in their areas. Instead of 2
hours 4 races at one track, casual fans want action: 2 hours 6 races at 3 tracks. Show races from last
week that were exciting or educational that did not make the big show. Strike a balance between the
big main events and their necessary run up and the under card.
NTRA Films: Some of the credit for the NFL’s resurgence is thanks to NFL
Films that portrayed the sport in a way that was said to “mimic ballet, opera,
and battle”. NTRA films could focus on not just the race replays, but workouts,
human-interest stories, and behind the scenes information on the owners,
trainers, jockeys, and fans. The NFL films focused on sound, and the sounds of
horseracing compare and are better than football. There is present day context,
and historical context.
History: Showcase the history of the races being broadcast; show profile pieces on legendary horses
that have won the current race, and explain why it was important then and is important now.
Providing historical context and significance engages potential fans with our great tradition. Part of
the appeal of the Kentucky Derby is its tradition and that it’s the longest running sporting event in
US history.
Change the Visual Image of the people who wager on horses: Charity-capping on TV: There are
several high profile attractive young Hollywood types that are racing fans and players, Terri Hatcher
of Desperate Housewives, Adrian Grenier of Entourage and Christina Ricci of Speed Racer to name a
few. Show accessible, relatable celebrities (including racing celebrities such as the Hennegan
Brothers, makers of the First Saturday in May or trainers and owners not racing that day) playing for
charities with the money coming from sponsorships (e.g., Today’s Charity Capping Sponsored by
Example: Terri Hatcher vs. Adrian Grenier, each selects a charity and gets a set amount to wager
with the ALL the proceeds going to the winner’s charity. OR, have Christina Ricci vs. “the house”
(Hank, or the Hennegan Brothers or rotating racing industry person) and the house’s charity is
always an NTRA charity.
Each “team” could talk about their choices both in what horses they’ll be playing and how they
constructed their wagers. The camera follows them to the windows to make their bets and have
insets of them routing as the race goes on.
Reasoning: Making Saturday a destination TV place on any “single” ESPN platform keeps people
watching, talking, and looking forward to next weekend. Launch stars in multiple race categories,
and the races themselves.
Continuity: What can be done to have the same continuity the Risen Star has to the Derby for the
Stephen Foster towards the Breeders’ Cup. Expose the story lines and people who are part of
racing every week.
Reason to tune in: Use more tracks (cooperating on their schedule to get an attendance &
wagering bump) to fill in as many BC categories as possible. Mic’ed up owners, trainers, jockeys.
Context of wagering: The stereotype of a degenerate gambler is false, and more importantly a
turn off to many potential fans. Horse racing is an industry that embraces charity work and
volunteerism. Combining the two highlights what’s good about our sport and changes the image
of wagering.
Consequences: By resolving to “Take Back Saturday” we can facilitate the creation of the next
generation of horse racing fans, as well as create a new generation of our own equine and human
stars: Give people a first-class product, a reason to watch, and increased accessibility to our sport and
its stars and you will get a larger gambling base. Take Back Saturday can be the image changer that
gets many new eyes watching our sport and embracing it.
Take Back Saturday. That “Saturday” isn’t singular, it means every Saturday from June/July to
the Breeders’ Cup. This group was chosen in part because we see racing slightly different than
most. Getting casual fans to embrace the sport the same way we do means explaining it in a
way that most casual fans understand, but not at the expense of our rich history and heritage.
Standings or Win & You’re In 2.0
Providing casual fans easier access to our season, stars, & stories
Implementation: Work cooperatively with members from all aspects in the industry to weigh every
stake in the country and assign points as an expansion to both “Win and You’re In” and the points
system used by the BC Selection Committee. The reward can be two fold: We can augment automatic
wins leading to entry into the BC by granting gate choice based on standings. A second incentive
would be bonuses earned by top category and overall point leaders.
Reasoning: “Win and You’re In” is a great first step in creating context, because it does so without
sacrificing the heritage of our sport. We all know the winner of many of these prestigious races
chosen would move on to the Breeder’s Cup. However, W&YI does not relate to the casual fan why
every week there is another race, and why any race can vault a horse to stardom.
The “casual fan” grows up participating in football, baseball, and basketball. Not many grow up
racing horses. That puts horseracing at a large disadvantage. However, we are dealing with a sport,
just one that’s a little more nuanced to understand.
Conceptually, a race is far simpler to understand than a ball game but what’s at stake and how it rolls
into the bigger picture are not. When a casual fan turns on any ball game they can quickly
understand the contextual of where that game falls within scope of the season as the announcer will
discuss it and the general rhythm of any ball sport season is known. When a casual fan turns on a
race there is no such context.
There have been several attempts to start standings, but there is a germane reason why they have had
difficulty. Past attempts try and change something that doesn’t need changing. Standings are already
in place in this sport when it comes time to choose runners for the BC, standings are also in the minds
of all our fans when it comes to end of the year awards. If we want fans imagining they are watching
a favorite horse go to post in a pressure filled situation, where concrete items are on the line, that
matters enough to capture their attention, we’d be wise facilitate that relevance that already exists,
and make it as transparent as possible so that not only the most seasoned fans “get it.”
What do standings need? Authority, Integrity & Consequences
Consequences: Perception of horse racing changes while the underlying sport does not.
Season: The stakes tally from Jan 1st to the BC giving a contextual fit to every stakes race. Any
race can be quickly important due to either entrants or value of race. This also creates a starting
point in July where W&YI can dominate the sports landscape with stars already in place. The
season helps the NTRA better market the sport on ESPN, home of the casual fans we’re trying to
Multi-division stars: Stars, to horse racing fans, like Zenyatta, Einstein, Street Boss, Intangaroo
will get a platform to better represent their accomplishments, and gain notoriety. The standings
are a jumping off point to discover new horses, trainers, & owners.
Advertising: More opportunities for brandings and placement, and in the future larger purses.
Leverage: This change is only in perception; the overall sport does not change. The winners of
Graded Stakes are our top stars; the move to standings only highlights that and makes it more
transparent to the casual fan.
Standings Creation: What’s it Worth?
Implementation: Invite people to a group document to give points to every open stakes race run in
the country broken down into the categories run on Breeders Cup Day. Average those weights to
create the points used in the standings.
A roll out of 14 categories seems excessive, but by saying that, is the industry saying that many BC
races is excessive? A smaller approach would be limiting it to the Eclipse categories.
Reasoning: In no other sport can an unknown win a championship. The same is absolutely true in
racing, if we show people that it is true. The horses that compete in our year-end championships have
proven themselves over the course of the year in stakes races across the country. They have compiled
a record that distinguishes them as champion-caliber. As a group we can assign that caliber.
AGSC problems: With new categories being added the AGSC cannot act fast enough to grade
All Gr I’s II’s & III’s are not created equal, and this group can more acutely define the importance of
There are also not enough graded stakes to fill some of the newer categories where tracks are carding
new races every year, and this group can weigh foreign races.
Consequences: We all have our opinions on what makes a Horse of the Year, and yet there is no set
road to that honor. By creating standings we fulfill the meaning of the Breeders’ Cup day; to crown
champions. And, we create standings in a way that is familiar to older fans and easier to grasp for
newer fans.
Money: There is not enough money currently in the industry to keep horses who have reached their
highest level of value around for another year. We are lucky to have owners, like Mr. Jackson, who
see the sport in a context much greater than profit potential, he is an exception that proves the rule.
So, what can the sport do when our fans say they want to keep 3yo around racing longer? What the
fans are really pointing out is there are not enough stars in this sport. If standings are in place the
industry can reward racing at the culmination of a campaign. A horse who is deserving of a bonus
isn’t one that wins one time, but the horse who regularly shows up and excels. At its core shouldn’t
rewarding racing (emphasis on the multiple times aspect of that word) be the purpose of any
This group is mostly made up of new fans. All brought to this “old” sport from different avenues,
but looking to interact the same way. Today many sports are embracing old fans in new ways.
However, there are “new” sports looking to do the same thing.
Beyond Facebook
Creating a structure to bring new fans out to live racing
There are many laudable efforts to get fans out to the track via Facebook reminders (e.g. the very
active Thoroughbred Racing in New York group), but there is an overall lack of cohesive structure to
get those potential fans together on a regular basis beyond those big events.
Much of the difficulty in getting new fans to the track for the first time lies in the lack of recognizable
stars beyond the Triple Crown (an ongoing issue that has been highlighted a number of times). But
other sports have created (or inherited) an organic fan organization without benefit of even a team –
one that keeps fans connected to the larger organization and to one another through its own efforts.
Sons of Ben is an example.
Sons of Ben
The Sons of Ben are a ‘superfan’ organization for a Major League Soccer team that does not yet exist
– yet there are now over 3,000 fans (as of August 2008) who meet regularly for ‘away’ games, US
national team games and general social events. There has been considerable press coverage, both
locally and internationally; here is an excerpt from Philadelphia Weekly:
Meet the Zolos—the crazy fans of Philadelphia’s yet-to-be-named American soccer club.
They’re better known as the Sons of Ben (SOB). They’ve got a club crest, flags, a Latin motto, a
customized bass drum, six different scarf designs, thongs, mouse pads, aprons and mugs. Lord
knows how many songs and chants, and—at last count—2,010 members. (Hence Zolos. Get it?)
They’ve also got bitter rivalries with Major League Soccer (MLS) teams D.C. United and New
York Red Bulls. And the New England Revolution hate them too. As do fans of the Portland
Timbers and Toronto. Already. Despite the fact that Philly doesn’t actually have a team yet.
How Philly is that?
The Sons of Ben have experienced exponential growth in just one year, as this selection from The
Guardian notes:
At half time during the USA/Mexico game in Philly's Dark Horse soccer pub, SOB founder
member Bryan James makes a short speech: "Last year for this same game there were 15 of us
huddled around one television. Now there's over 1,200 of us". A lot of the best Sons of Ben
songs won't get sung tonight - mostly because the Brotherhood has grown too damn fast for
everybody to learn the words.
Major League Soccer itself took notice of the Sons of Ben when choosing a city for the 2010 expansion
– and partially as a result of the existing fan commitment, Philadelphia was awarded a franchise.
Since then, the Sons of Ben have gone from strength to strength – holding regular meet-and-greets
with the new team’s owners, creating merchandise (for men, women and children), organizing bus
trips to games in other cities and generally keeping avenues of communication open for fans old and
new to express their views – the current memes tend to swirl around the team’s name and the team’s
Core SoBs at the official announcement of the Philadelphia franchise
The Sons of Ben have also become involved in the community in which the stadium is to be built by
volunteering for projects related to cleaning up the area, food drives and similar charitable goals.
Fans of the Sport, not Fans of …
A major reason the Sons of Ben have been so successful thus far is that they have targeted fans of the
sport – not fans of any individual teams or players. Using the internet to link up with other local
soccer fans was only the first part of the process – working in conjunction with Major League Soccer
and the eventual team’s owners, the Sons of Ben have been able to create ongoing fan interest
through regular social activities. These may have begun as online clubs, but they have turned into
large, catered, well-attended events. The group itself relies entirely on volunteers (thus far) and
encourages more new fans to join through media exposure and continued cultivation – e.g. by
offering web content in Spanish and English, creating activities for the whole family and by generally
getting a reputation as people who enjoy having a good time.
American soccer suffers from many of the same problems plaguing thoroughbred racing: it gets
limited media coverage, it is viewed as a second- or third-tier sport by many and its stars are often
little-known beyond the hardcore fan base. Nevertheless, cultivating a group with a handful of
potential fans has paid off – team owners were willing to put up cash for the team, the industry took
notice of what the fans wanted out of their new team and stadium and the buzz around the eventual
team continues to grow – largely through nothing more than some yeoman’s work on the part of a few
The NTRA can help to grow similar fan-run organizations by offering them a place to connect both
online and off with fellow fans and by giving group leaders (inside and outside of the industry) access
to tools and contacts that can help organize similar events. Individual tracks or groups of tracks on the
same circuit (e.g. So Cal circuit) can act by serving as host sites for meet ups for organizations created
through the NTRA or by local efforts. Growing the fan base requires some effort from existing fans,
but the NTRA can assist in that effort by ensuring that fandom doesn’t end when they leave the track –
regular social events and continued communication is the glue that holds a new fan group together.
”Philly's football-philes looking for their field of dreams”
”The Sons Also Rise”
Sons of Ben
Sons of Ben (MLS supporters association)
Sons of Ben on BigSoccer
Sons of Ben on Facebook
Sons of Ben on Flickr
Sons of Ben on YouTube
Thoroughbred Racing in New York on Facebook
These fans started at a grass root level and were embraced by the larger sport & industry. This
group is proof that same situation exists in racing. The context of racing has to extend beyond
the finish line of every race to find fans where they already exist.
Take Back Saturday! – Virtual & Fantasy
Implementation: Create a Fantasy & Virtual horse racing product to support the reemergence of the
graded stakes.
Reasoning: Stronger attempts should be made to engage patrons in avenues that are natural to
sports fans and a younger generation. Horse racing has the same positive qualities that led fantasy
football to be a dominant on-line game. Horse racing is predominantly on the same day, has multiple
categories to measure and earn points, and horse racing has the added layer of value.
Fantasy (General): Fans, instead of filling “position” players draft category runners (F&M Sprint,
Sprint, Turf, etc) filling out their own team at the beginning of a season. Points are equitable to the
standings done by the AGSC. Promote auction style drafts where horses are valued differently or set
different tiers of runners. Weekly newsletters to participants can include recent workouts, video of
jockey, owners & trainers making people aware for other ways they can follow their horses. Leagues
could be structured around tracks’ online fan base to have a more local feel and promotion. Fantasy
games should be split into two: a season of Jan1 to the Belmont & a season from the Belmont through
the Breeders’ Cup in October.
Leagues could be run through the NTRA website, or in an effort to reach more fans could be pitched
to sites such as CBS.sportline.com. A limited # of “owners” will be allowed in each league. Owners
will begin with a set amount of “points” that can be spent on top thoroughbreds. To complete their
“stable” they will need to have active runners in each category (F&M Sprint, Sprint, etc.). The need to
fill a complete stable will help balance out the competition when monsters such as Curlin or Big
Brown dominate a specific division.
By forcing owners in each league to have an “auction” style of draft, we will further prevent some of
the least favorable situations that have resulted in previous fantasy attempts from reoccurring. Think
of the “Road to the Roses” last season – a fun game, no doubt, but virtually every stable in the league
had Big Brown. In an auction style of approach, every owner has a chance to acquire a runner like Big
Brown – ultimately it will come down to who wants to spend the largest portion of their overall
points total to acquire him, and who wants to be more efficient and fill out solid runners in multiple
categories as opposed to one dominant monster horse in one category.
Fantasy (Pick’em): There is a second avenue of fantasy based on the pick ‘em leagues and survivor
pools that are also gaining popularity. Many tracks have online “show”-downs (a quasi-survivor
pool) and pick ‘em could be equated to straight win wagers. We suggest focusing on the main
product of the Graded Stakes and we suggest points be used in lieu of fantasy dollars.
Note: This style of “pick ‘em” game is perfect for future facebook/myspace widgets. Let folks not
only make picks, but publicly display their clairvoyant capabilities to family and friends alike. This
should generate some interest (or at least curiosity) amongst other people they socialize with
(especially when they get to brag about picking right).
Virtual: Provides players with compete control of fictional horses competing parallel to the real life
product. Virtual racing has a strong correlation with individuals becoming involved with live racing
because the game immerses them into the sport as an owner/trainer with minimal expense. Virtual
racing is an educational tool that is best harnessed through collaboration. The industry can partner
with existing properties (e.g. HorseRacingPark.com) to help grant licenses including their related
sponsorship to names (e.g. the ‘KYD’ becomes the Kentucky Derby – Yum!) and images in return for
the ability to reach those users. Cross linking industry sites and virtual sites with promotions can lead
consumers to live racing events and merchandise.
Consequences: People will be given more reasons to follow & have a rooting interest in the live
product become more knowledgeable about the product and the sport. Additionally, since the
fantasy concept covers more than just 3-year-old male dirt racing, fans will have more reason to pay
attention/be aware of some of the undercard races going on across the nation each weekend.
One side effect we may expect would be increased interest in the Breeder’s Cup races beyond the
always popular Classic. Also, many of the individual horses will become much better known to the
fan base. Again, think of pro football in relation to fantasy sports. 20 years ago, did all of your friends
know who the Bengals 3rd string tailback was? I highly doubt it. Nowadays that information is
virtually household. This is precisely the type of fanatical following that our sport needs to capitalize
Player Info
Horse Last Race Fin Next Wins Place Show Total Buy Now
Big Brown Haskell 1 4 $5,250,000
Curlin Woodward 1 JCGC 4 1 $4,335,000
Student Council Whitney 2 1 1 1 $2,700,000
Colonel John Travers 1 3 1 $2,550,000
Go Between Pacific Classic 1 1 2 $2,500,000
DaTara Travers 5 1 $1,800,000
Well Armed Pacific Classic 2 2 2 1 $1,500,000
Take Back Saturday! – Merchandise
Implementation: Create more merchandise based around the “teams” of our sport. There should also
be a focus on women’s fits and cuts and multiple items from t-shirts (shown) to golf shirts and polos.
Talk to clothing makers and pitch them “silks designs” that look good no matter what the cut: A Paul
Reddam golf shirt, a Diamond A Ranch rugby. Go beyond creating race-specific merchandise for
major events (e.g. Triple Crown races, the Travers, the Del Cap – any locally-important race day) so
that the merchandise is valuable all year long. These one off items still matter of course, and used
more. Shirts with all entrants could easily be finalized and printed the week of the race.
Reasoning: What is your favorite sport? Who is your favorite team? Do you wear that jersey to the
games? Do you wear that jersey while watching? Do you feel more connected to the sport? What do
fans look like?
Furthermore, non-verbal signals are very popular amongst the younger generation in clothing. The
“silks” designs themselves are cool and unique which can allow for multi-purpose wearing and
transmit this non-verbal cue. Only the wearer and other fans will know the connection. Once given
an image many on-line product producers can mass market the object the fan wishes to own. From
baby bibs to golf shirts.
Examples: Edgier designs than those typically available at tracks (not to mention a greater variety of
merchandise) are already being produced quickly and cheaply (usually on demand) by fans on places
like CafePress and Spreadshirt (see below), as is true for many sports. Overseas, racing fans have
access to a variety of high-quality designs (e.g. these Makybe Diva shirts):
Consequences: A rooting interest is a strong connection to a certain brand inside the sport.
Monetizing that connection is something every sport does. Focusing on the year round entities of the
sport will lessen the after-even sales that cheapen the brand and products.
Makybe Diva Merchandise
Big Brown on CafePress
Eat, Sleep, Horse Racing
Handride Clothing:
Lava Man on CafePress
OTTB on CafePress
NTRA Online Marketing Task Force
More fans watching & participating. What can we tell them
to keep them interested?
Communication is not just newsletters, mass emails, and content overload. Really, it is none of those
things. Communication is conversation.
What can the NTRA, and individual tracks, do to communicate with fans in an efficient, enjoyable,
and understandable way?
We were challenged with marketing racing to the” new generation.”
How many people have a grandmother who emails?
How many over 40 year olds blog?
How many people are at least intrigued when they hear Facebook?
Communication isn’t only changing for the younger generation,
but for everyone.
Bloggers are in press boxes. Do you think there might be some room in tracks’ press rooms?
Fast breaking news is going out on social platforms in real time delivered in first person accounts.
There are people at the track that could do the same; there people at home who would like this
Passionate people are moving communication is modes that aren’t confined to the younger
generation. And that’s proof that the new way is a better way.
Does horse racing have passionate people?
That’s an easy one – yes, and then some.
When people search “Thoroughbred Horse Racing”, NTRA.com is the first result. This means
that NTRA.com is an initial touch point for new fans and our first communication opportunity.
Next Steps – extending the
Take Back Saturday platform
Standings - Continuing the Context
Implementation: Use the standings as an interactive platform to launch stars from other divisions.
Link horses to their Bio/Stats page.
Reasoning: Extending the Standings to NTRA.com and tying them to the individual horse Bio/Stats
pages gives fans more to sink their teeth into. When a casual or new fan sees the Standings on TV
they get a better understanding of the context of the race. When they see the Standings online, they
have the opportunity to digger deeper and learn more.
Additional information on the Bio/Stats pages should include recent works, pedigree, status (in
training, retired, injured), widgets, mobile alerts, links to fan groups on Facebook and user generated
content such as photos and videos, all of which can be automated.
Beyond NTRA.com
There are a number of things that can be done to extend the product beyond NTRA.com.
Implementation: The NTRA should create Horse/Division/Trainer/Jockey widgets to help market
the sport and assist in creating more stars. Widgets should display stats, connections, headlines,
racing career and pictures; much of the content that already lives in the Bio/Stats page. In addition to
being housed in their own Widgets section, the horse, trainer, jockey widgets should live on their
Bio/Stats pages as well.
Division widgets would include top horses in the division, standings, news, pictures, upcoming
division races and links to race replays.
The NBA does a great job with widgets:
Reasoning: Widgets provide fans with access to the
information they want, when they want by pushing
content to them. Widgets also provide the same kind of
marketing that merchandise does in that fans will
display widgets for their favorite horses, divisions,
jockeys, etc on their Facebook/MySpace profiles and
blogs. This potentially puts racing in front of people
who may not otherwise encounter it.
Mobile Alerts
Almost all major league sports offer some kind of mobile alerts to their fans:
NHL Txt alerts for scores & stats ($.15/msg)
Video alerts ($2.99/month – Verizon wireless only)
NBA Player alerts – send stats either after the game or after each quarter. (free)
MLB Team video alerts – end-of-game summary, homeruns, lead changes after 7th inning,
breaking news + video alerts ($3.99/month)
Player alerts – end-of-game summary, fantasy news homeruns, RBI's, runs & stolen
bases + pitcher specific data ($3.99/mo)
Teamtxt – score & news updates, game day weather (free)
NFL No alerts, but has a mobile application
Implementation: Create a series of mobile alerts that include general news alerts, horse specific
news alerts, division news alerts and results for specific tracks.
Reasoning: Major league sports, news and stock portfolios are just a few are things that potential
fans are already accustom to receiving via mobile alert.
Mobile Applications
MLB recently released a second version of a mobile application for the iPhone called “At Bat.”
Some features include:
 Gameday: Full pitch details (as it happens) with location, count, mph, etc.
 Field: Shows the ballpark’s layout, defensive assignments and who is on base.
 Boxscore: Full box score optimized for the iPhone.
 Summary: All scoring plays and a full inning-by-inning archive of every play.
 Videos: Features a count that updates when new videos are loaded.
Implementation: Create a mobile application that displays results from any track, final times,
fractions, odds, chart comments, and video highlights, as well as historical data on horses, jockeys,
trainers, etc. and simple stats.
Reasoning: Fans will LOVE it! It also allows fans to connect with racing anytime, anywhere.
Implementation: Question, what would make the best ringtone of all times? Answer, the call to the
post! NTRA should also create a series of “Classic Moments” ringtones that includes some of the best
race calls of all times. Users could even vote on and submit calls for inclusion.
Reasoning: Ringtones are ubiquitous and function much in the same way as merchandising in that
it’s built in marketing and a way for fans to express themselves.
Implementation: Create a toolbar similar to MLB or Google that allows fans to search NTRA.com
from their desktop or navigate to key content types such as race replays or news.
Reasoning: Fans will have another way to interact with NTRA.com.
Implementation: Update the current wallpaper to include Classic Moments and more horses.
Reasoning: Similar to ringtones, wallpaper let fans express themselves and puts racing in front of
more eyeballs.
NTRA.com – the next generation
When people search “Thoroughbred Horse Racing,” NTRA.com is the first result. This means that
NTRA.com is an initial touch point for new fans.
When new fans come to NTRA.com for the first time, major league sports sites such as MLB.com or
NFL.com are more than likely going to be what they base their expectations on. What do these sites
do that NTRA.com is currently not doing?
Competitive Analysis:
Learning from the “other leagues”
1. What do League sites highlight and make easy for visitors to find?
Teams are prominently featured in the top-level navigation of all major league sports sites. Tracks,
the place where people attend live racing events, should also be easy to find, not only in the top-level
navigation of the site but also searchable by zip code.
Fantasy is a top-level navigation item in every major league sport.
Search is prominently placed and available on every page of the site, this makes it easy for visitors to
find exactly what they’re looking for no matter where they are on the site.
The schedule is not only on the homepage, it’s easily accessible from anywhere on the site.
Each of these crucial sections is a stand-alone section in the top-level navigation of all league sites.
2. What kind of content do league sites have that NTRA.com does not?
Leagues Keep Disabled Lists:
All major league sites have disabled lists or injury reports. It should be easy to find out the status of
both horses and jockeys. This item in particular also applies to track sites as well as fans want to
know the status of their local stars after an injury.
Historical Profiles:
All major league sports provide profiles for historical stars in addition to current ones. This would
allow fans to learn about and/or revisit the greats and connect with the rich history of racing.
Enhanced Video Sections:
All of the league video sections are like mini-sites that aggregate all of the different types of videos in
into one easy to use section. NBA.com also has an excellent Video Highlight Mixer allowing fans to
create their own highlight reels or movies. Registered users can store and share their mixes with
other fans.
For racing in particular, it would be great to have the option to view a race replay without having the
winner revealed. In the current race replay template it’s almost impossible to not see who won the
3. What is the League/Team relationship?
In all cases, the major league organizations host their team’s sites and there are varying degrees of
how “templated” or uniform the team sites are in structure and actual content. While this model
would require substantial technical infrastructure and support from the NTRA and buy in the from
the member tracks, it may be a model worth investigating in the future. In the meantime there are
other things that could be pursued to create a more cohesive and rewarding experience for fans.
Leverage Content:
All major league teams have a global navigation bar that appears on every team site. The NTRA
could create something similar that member tracks display on their site that allows the visitors to a
track’s site to easily access NTRA.com content such as Bio/Stats, Videos and Race Replays, Standings
and Schedule.
Embed Content:
Creating a NTRA.com race replay widget for tracks that automatically populates races from a track
on that track’s site would allow tracks that don’t currently have the ability in house to provide videos
to have that content.
Creating a news widget for tracks that includes both national and local headlines would be another
way to provide content to tracks and give visitors to the track’s site one less reason to leave.
Additional thoughts
Create a Links Section:
NTRA.com can help fans connect with racing by creating a links section that has resources such as
interactive fans sites, news sites, handicapping & pedigree sites, stats & data sites, Virtual Stables,
any NTRA assisted Content Sites (Trainers, Farms, etc), select blogs, etc.
In addition to helping fans to find more ways to connect with racing, the NTRA helps content
providers by driving traffic to their sites.
Wire-to-Wire Podcast:
Please bring it back!
“Day at the Track” One Sheet:
Create a handy, nice looking one-page guide for people who have never been to the track to
download, print and take with them. Give them helpful hints about the rhythm of a day at the track
(Paddock, Parade, Race), give them some “quick tips” on things to look for in the program/Form.
This could help people feel more comfortable in deciding whether or not plan a first outing to the
How about Track Sites?
Tracks can and should always be looking to see what other tracks are doing. From Santa Anita’s
Workout Cam, NYRA’s Podcasts and Blogs to CDI site’s Barn Notes, there are plenty of good ideas
already out there. Here are some other suggestions.
Be Prepared:
Create templates for marquee races or when big names run at your track. This makes it much easier
to put together “mini sites” for big events.
Highlight local rescue and retirement organizations as a way to create awareness, reach out to
potential volunteers and possibly connect local people who could adopt an OTTB.
Keep It Interactive:
PDFs are great for downloads, not so great for content that is meant to be viewed online.
Support Your Local Bloggers:
Many circuits/tracks have bloggers who cover them. Reach out to local bloggers and find ways to
work together. This is an easy to implement item that improves communication with a segment of
influential and committed fans and assists in creating interesting and engaging coverage of racing.
NTRA Sports Calendar
Give fans instant access to information they desire with an updated & backdated NTRA calendar.
Implementation: Improving the NTRA stakes calendar to make it a more meaningful and useful
application for fans.
“Mashable” Calendars:
Individual track promotions: volunteer projects, meet & greets, giveaways, handicapping tourneys, trainer
information, workout reports for individual horses. Allow fans to customize information on their calendars to
follow horses/races/horsemen.
Compiling the vast information sources into a nice, neat, centralized location creates a useful application for
new and old fans alike. Widgets could be deployed onto social platforms so fans can share who they are
following and what they are doing.
Also note that the information on the calendar can be for both upcoming events (in the case of upcoming stakes
or track events) as well as historical information (such as past workouts for individual horses, or race results).
Reasoning: The current calendar highlights stakes races and their TV times, but does not do enough to show
what else is happening in horse racing. Further, how many fans even know it exists, where to find it, and how
to use it?
The customization of information available on the calendar would allow fans to filter through information that
most interests them and allow high level, at-a-glance data to be available at their fingertips.
Consequences: The calendar will incorporate new and old fans alike. It will help people coordinate with
local tracks, and integrate them into its community. Increased awareness of the activities of tracks, trainers, and
individual horses will allow fans to keep up with what is happening efficiently.
The calendar can also be an image changer for new fans and a motivator for tracks that don’t put up a lot of
activities. By highlighting major events and keeping fans appraised of upcoming important dates, we can help
ensure that folks build their weekends around racing action.
Communication Tools of the New Trade
Google Alerts
Google alerts allow you to be emailed Google search results anytime something is published about
your search terms. Set up Google Alerts for your track name and marquee races. This helps you to
understand how your current/potential customers view you. If someone came to your track, had a
bad experience and then blogged about it you can find out what that bad experience was and address
it, both publicly by responding to the blogger and operationally by looking into what caused the
Create a profile for your Track and actively reach out to the existing fan base in these platforms.
Create a page or a group and push content such as reminders for big events and giveaways to all
members. If you find a community member who is active in your group, consider having them
administer the group.
This is an event listing sites that people browse by location and/or topic. If someone is looking for
something to do on a Saturday afternoon and your track has a giveaway or an event (such as Wiener
racing!), you might get some new folks through your doors.
This is a site that facilitates groups of people organized around a topic or an activity to create a one
time or regularly occurring in-person meeting. Meet-up users browse groups as a way find like
minded individuals or as way to try new things.
RSS feeds
People may not remember to come to your site but that doesn't mean you can't let them know what's
going on. An RSS feed is a format for delivering regularly updated web content. An RSS feed of news
and events is another way to let people stay in touch with you. If you offer a newsletter, consider
offering it as an RSS feed as well. If you have a news or events section of your site, consider offering
an RSS feed of it.
Flickr is a photo sharing community site. Set up a group for your track, search for photos that have
already posted and invite them to be contributed to the group. You can also showcase these photos
on your site as a way to generate fresh content and promote a fun day. You could also consider
having photo contests in addition to handicapping contests.
Twitter is a micro-bogging service, allowing users to send out small text based alerts, known as
tweets, to subscribers. Subscribers can receive tweets via Twitter.com, RSS feeds, or by phone. You
can also display your tweets on your site. There are a number of ways Twitter can be used for
business. You can search Twitter to find out what your customers are saying about you and send
messages to promote events, report exciting events such a record being broken or the winner of a
contest, and solicit opinions.
In addition to having local personalities or track employees blog, a blogging platform such as
Blogger, Wordpress or Typepad can be used to publish clockers and steward reports on a daily basis.
Turning the Internet generation into regular players means making your information available to
them on a daily basis.
Ning and KickApps are services that provide a platform on which to build a dedicated social
network complete with profile pages, messaging, user-generated content, video players, discussion
forums, events listings, and more.
Widgetbox lets users create widgets, portable bits of data and information – such as news headlines,
race results, video links, or bios of horses or jockeys – that can be easily embedded within web pages.
Tracks can use widgets to spread information about local stars, local news, or upcoming events and
stakes programs.
Who is ready to implement all of these ideas, integrate them fully and use them to their utmost
purpose? Does every track have someone who knows all the ins & outs of social media? In four
years who will be leading the charge to new ways to interact?
NTRA Online Marketing Task Force
Always Be Closing
What can the NTRA do for the individual tracks?
Internet Stewardship – the NTRA should show the way
To “close” our new fans we have to prove it without a doubt. Our new fans and existing fans must
expect a level of service that is a standard across tracks no matter where they are attending.
This standard includes how people participate in our sport that is outside the regular avenues of the
race day experience.
However, every track is different. Every track has different rules. Every track has different fans.
• How can the industry put out a personal touch to the entire fan community and integrate the
sport more into their lives?
• How can the industry do this with the various tools of communication so many people are today
• How can tracks expect to be knowledgeable about every facet of the new communication, and
know what others are doing at the same time?
Better yet, WHO can ensure everyone has an information source to implement these necessary
VP of On/Offline Community Outreach
Why: A VP of On/Offline Community Outreach will act as conduit of information to help define the
NTRA’s relationships with breeders, horseplayers, jockeys, tracks, horses, & fans. The person will
develop an appropriate communication plan to reach out to each category in an appropriate fashion.
Finally, they will work to get information into the hands of the people that need it. The job is a two
way street: for fans to get in touch with industry and express their thoughts, and for industry to
communicate their message to their fans in a far more efficient and powerful way.
NTRA VP Online/Offline Community Outreach
Company: NTRA Location New York, NY
Status Full Time, Employee Job Category: Marketing Relations
Occupations Marketing Career Level: Mid-Level
Description: The purpose of this position is to more clearly define the NTRA’s role in facilitating
communication between segments of the racing industry and fans thereby improving the product
provided. Through the use of a comprehensive approach that utilizes web, email, print, and inperson
interaction we hope to cultivate new enthusiasts and horseplayers, while better retaining the
current population of fans and handicappers.
Responsibilities: Help racetracks, trainers, owners, breeders and others within the racing industry
improve their online presence and frequency of communication by offering templates, expertise and
access to volunteer site coordinators. Identify potential volunteers and manage relationships.
• Bring together online communities through regular in-person meetings at tracks and other sites
(e.g. farms); coordinate meeting places with track/stable officials and work with other marketing
personnel to create and promote racing-related events to encourage greater in-person fan
• Create a central online presence for thoroughbred racing information that allows for regular twoway
communication (regular blog updates, producing podcasts, Q&As, interviews with industry
figures, etc.).
• Take an active role in online communities as an identified NTRA representative and encourage
feedback from all constituents. Maintain a presence at sites such as FaceBook, YouTube, etc.
• Push information to the fan community through a variety of means; web apps, mobile apps, RSS
feeds, videos, podcasts, television, magazines, track promotions, etc.
• Work with colleagues in other racing jurisdictions around the world to develop best practices and
regular communication standards to maintain existing fan communities and to cultivate new
• Assist racetracks with generating and implementing local programs that help improve the
public’s image of the sport.
Requirements: Sports marketing and/or event coordination background preferred; experience
producing and managing community-based websites, web forums or social networking applications;
experiencing producing podcasts and editing video for the web; deft command of technology but
strong ability to explain and evangelize benefits of that technology to a non-technical audience.
Excellent written and spoken communication skills are key. Thorough understanding of horse racing
industry and media contacts very strongly preferred.
VP online/offline – Communication/Motivation
Implementation: The VP will be an informational source of how to use online tools and roll them
out to offline fans. The person will also have an eye on our individual tracks and other industries that
share the same goals in hopes of sharing common experiences. This will take the shape of a monthly
newsletter on what other tracks and industries have done that could be implemented by others, a
way to discuss some of the more difficult problems the industry faces, and the results (good/bad)
they have seen.
Reasoning: Tracks cannot be treated with solutions that are one size fits all. Tracks have the
independence to learn and repeat what works best with their leaders and patrons. They have the
ability to try new things on their own. What is important is that they then share those results. The
NTRA should be a sounding board that can be looked to for assistance in providing successful tools
crafted by other tracks to help struggling venues get in touch with their local community of fans. By
acting as an information clearinghouse successful and non-successful ventures can be discussed and
improved upon or avoided after being dissected by the industry’s many minds.
Examples for how the VP can share info and tools:
Email: There are plenty of tracks that respond to the great feedback they receive from fans and there
are tracks that don’t have the structure to reply with a resourceful answer. What are some tracks
doing to help this situation? Can this be shared with the community at large? The VP will find out
what track gets the best reviews, research why, and share the results and costs associated.
Google Alerts: Once a track sets up a Google Alert it can share that flow of information on its
homepage. The track can write a newsletter highlighting stories not written from industry. The track
can take a proactive position to many problems or questions facing fans before it becomes a bigger
Upcoming.org – Putting everything out there and letting your fans decide how to find that
information or how to share that information is the plus of upcoming.org. Every day there is
something going on at racetrack. New fans need to know what those things are. Records being
broken, charity events, fund raisers, special horses, tours.
Facebook/MySpace/Social Networks
Create a profile for your Track and actively reach out to the existing fan base
in these platforms. Create a page or a group and push content such as
reminders for big events and giveaways to all members. If you find a
community member who is active in your group, consider having them coadminister
the group. The United States Trotting Association recently
announced the launch of Harnessphere, the “first harness racing social
networking site”. The new site allows users to create profiles and share
photos, videos and stories. The site was built using KickApps and provides fans of harness racing
their very own social network site, such as Facebook or MySpace.
Blogging – Do you know if any of your fans cover your home track? Are you sending them press
releases, inviting them to the press box, asking them to spread the word about upcoming events? The
VP will help put you in touch with local bloggers, or help set up your own.
What members of your track can put out information suitable to a blog?
Clockers – A daily journal of the horses, times appearance, what is was like at the track.
Stewards – Fans want more information on DQ’s and non-DQ’s. These happen daily and a journal
gives a story line for meets and how they were judged and handled.
Minor League Baseball – There is no better industry at promotions. The VP will highlight what
has been done in some communities; copying is the greatest form of flattery. From the outrageous to
the mundane minor league baseball is a success many are already copying.
Greeters – A track could take a page out of Wal-mart’s book and hire some retirees to say hello at
the front door and be a point of information and help. There are more walk-about wager takers at
many tracks: are they being trained to answer patron’s questions outside of gaming? How much did
this cost a track, what improvements did they see? Are there any information pamphlets the national
body can put together and distribute?
Attendance Prize – Currently this is used by the Cal Expo track and was used by the
Meadowlands. Have Cal Expo share their success and talk about it to a larger community. The
Meadowlands used it as a way to get info about their clientele by filling out a coupon. The element of
a prize creates a reason to stay until the last race. It could also roll into large weekly and huge
monthly prizes. Each are great marketing tools to attract people completely unfamiliar to the track.
Comps – Different tracks reward their players at different levels and with different rewards, while
all are still behind the level of comps set by gaming resorts. What works, what do fans like, what are
the different levels that can tiered?
College Scholarship Day – Keeneland gives free entry with a valid college I.D.
where Full-time college students may register to win one of ten $1,000 college
scholarships or other prizes. What are the costs? What work had to be done with the
local colleges? Can the NTRA form a plan that other tracks can adopt or lean on to
create their own days.
Industry Issues should be given special attention.
ADW mess – There is no way to sugar coat this mess, so we call it as we see it. This group does not
have the knowledge to solve this problem, but we do encourage dialogue and an open forum. What
is the end situation of the California ADW experiment? Can the national body put in place a
moderator/negotiator? Can we generate an X type prize where all the information is laid out and
then fans are given the ability to try and come to an equitable solution?
Drugs - What steps have individual tracks taken? Who has the best detention barn? How can the
vets and drug testers be more proactive? What methods help decrease testing costs while remaining
effective? What methods are best at decreasing type 1 and type 2 errors? What penalties have been
the most effective at curbing violations? Why are rules not uniform?
Takeout – A) Hidden on many websites it gives a connotation of getting one over on the player. Post
take-out, but also post taxes, and where that money goes, and whom that money benefits. B) Takeout
experiments like the one taken by Ellis Park last year should be studied and discussed. Was it a
success? Why? Why not? Would it work better at different tracks? Is there a thought to repeat. C) Can
we generate an X type prize where all the information is laid out and then knowledgeable fans are
given the ability to try and come to an equitable solution.
Retirement – Individual tracks are setting aside money for horses to be retired or retrained. What
effort is being made to roll this out on a national level? Individuals are keeping track of horses, and
the great number we catch still means more fall through the cracks. How can the national level copy
and/or help individuals catch more from falling through the cracks.
The CHRB last December approved to donate portion of purses to equine
retirement programs by coordinating the Thoroughbred Owners of California.
Finger Lakes have created a Thoroughbred Adoption Program and opened a
Track Conditions – With the amount of money spent on new synthetic tracks there appears to be
sensitivity about their pros and cons. There is no industry wide discussion, but mostly press releases
by the sides that can benefit. The sport cannot endure a public battle of opinions that leads to nothing
positive. This goes farther than synthetic tracks as was seen in the “fast track” problem of the NYRA.
Can the NTRA create a Trainers Committee to get the issue of track conditions discussed? The NTRA
can file opinions anonymously and look into any issue brought up by trainers fearing a backlash.
Racing Longevity - Given the economic realities of the sport, the only way to create incentives to
keep older horses in training is to work with other leaders to fully formulate those incentives and to
ensure they are implemented. Is it possible for the NTRA to work with other industry bodies to
create incentives to keep those already-known Triple Crown stars in training beyond age 3, making it
easier to promote other aspects of the sport as the media tracks the careers of horses such as Curlin.
Reduce or waive Breeders’ Cup nomination fees for the offspring of stallions who have competed in
the event (or other BC-sponsored races) for more than one year.
VP Roll-Out #1: NTRA Ambassador Program
Implementation: Give tracks across the nation structural support so that they can create NTRA
Ambassador Programs for each racing circuit.
Reasoning: The Ambassador Program helps encourage new fan
attendance by providing participants a level of interaction in the sport
comparable to owners. An NTRA Ambassador provides an in depth track
tour and handicapping mentorship for our new patrons. By providing a
unique experience participants will return with knowledge and confidence
to further their participation within the sport.
Background/Details: Many first time track goers better enjoy the day and have a greater
appreciation for the sport if accompanied by another who is more knowledgeable than they. Many
fans of racing became fans through word-of-mouth and some level of mentoring. The Ambassador
Program in effect acts as a knowledgeable friend or relative to the general public and provides them
with a unique experience that creates good will, encourages ownership, and increases confidence
with wagering.
The Ambassador Program has completed its pilot at Del Mar. Attendance concluded with 96
participants during 7 sessions. 16 participants identified themselves as having never having attended
the races in their completed surveys. 39 individuals had to be declined participation due to every
session achieving maximum capacity.
The Ambassador Program will be beta phased for the Oak Tree season at Santa Anita. By early 2009
the program will be available for implementation at all NTRA affiliated tracks that desire inclusion.
Promotional Tool Development:
On-line promotion: Gaining friends on Facebook and scheduling times through Meetup.com for
backside tours and handicapping workshops. Using the NTRA.com website to coordinate
ambassadors and provide a social atmosphere for previous participants in order to increase
follow up attendance.
Traditional promotion: Utilizing local press and contacting student groups at college campuses
and offering day at the races events to spread word about the program and build good will.
Provide material from the NTRA in booklet form that includes information on racing, breeding,
owning, and charitable work to be given to participants to increase following of the sport.
VP Rollout #2: NTRA Certification
Implementation: Create a vetting process for thoroughbred partnerships to ensure a quality
experience for new and old fans much akin to the financial rating agencies: Moody’s, S&P, and Fitch.
Monitoring at a national level should take place to maintain integrity, address partner concerns, and
investigate any problems.
Industry Standards - Certification would require that applying partnerships have a previous
history void of gross negligence or outstanding balances due to licensed trainers and owners.
Standards in financials regarding statements and disbursements of money in a timely manner
would also be required. Stables that receive certification would have to maintain these standards
or else lose their status. Certified stables in turn would be promoted at the NTRA.com website,
through an icon on their webpage, and through community efforts among industry volunteers
such as ownership associations, the NTRA Ambassador Program, and race tracks.
Additional Items - Certification could require that some shares in the partnership be available at
an affordable rate or fractionalized. Standards would be set as to the level of communication that
is required when it comes to financial and non-financial aspects.
Reasoning: There have been past attempts at standardizing a level of performance from our
partnerships. However, they have run into legal problems when it came time to pick and choose
certain companies. Our reasoning is based on the rating agencies that perform much the same task
we are looking for and are very legal.
Partnerships should be responsible to their partners and respect their being a part of the sport. They
should have a clean and open financial sheet and a history of their previous endeavors should
undergo review and be open for public comment. Partnerships are the first level of ownership and a
gateway to new owners. One bad experience will not only turn away future owners, but future fans.
The amount of money at stake is a reason this should be tackled at a national level and not just by
state agencies
While the rating agencies do not guarantee a return they indicate the company has been acted
properly in multiple areas to properly ensure a good experience. Certification would be a way to
promote safe ownership, increase the number of new owners, and create a level of necessary
responsibility in partnerships.
Consequences: Certification casts a positive light upon ownership and provides a level of
assurance that would attract new owners and fans to the sport.
Creating confident and comfortable owners immediately creates long-term followers of the sport.
Some may later become major industry players. Everyone has to start somewhere. Furthermore,
owners wager proportionally larger amounts on races in which their horses are entries. These
owners also attract friends and family to racing who otherwise would not follow the sport. This
results in a trickle down effect.
VP online/offline Social Websites
Implementation: NTRA puts together an educational packet on what the social media sites are,
what they can do, and how they can be used. The NTRA lays out what it takes for a successful social
website presence and becomes part of that community. The VP can update the entire community on
what is and is not working, and keep up to date with any new tools or platforms that can be helpful
to the industry.
Reasoning: The current experience is that of a placeholder. The industry realizes it is necessary to
have a presence on these pages but hasn’t made them organic to the overall experience of racing.
Facebook fan pages: Should be put in communication with the horse’s owners and/or a fan
willing to take a more active role. More than one person can run fan pages: Breeders, owners, track
staff all add the important first person experience.
Track Activities: Social Network members want to be treated differently. Social Networks are
where friends talk to each other, so when a track invites a group out, they are inviting over friends.
How do you treat these people?
Meet & Greets: Jockeys, trainers, horses open to the public but a special section reserved for online
fans. Give your friends first notification of any important and unique events. Special Tours: Special
horse on grounds or specific to an upcoming race invite your friends over to see. Not all your friends
are good at handicapping throw a handicapping seminar with small groups and combine it with
dinner and a meet and greet. Movie Night at the track: Play Let It Ride or Seabiscuit in the paddock
on the paddock monitor under the stars.
Don’t start if you can’t continue: Start discussions; keep discussions going, run contests
(handicapping, photo, best caption), outside racing events (charity, meet & greet), and update often.
If something is seasonal coordinate with where your fans can go to next. Be willing to share
administration with your fans.
Consequences: More unified front for keeping fans associated with the sport. First hand accounts
of the industry that are honest will attract a younger fan base weary of anything “big.”
The Monmouth Experiment
Big Brown comes back Sept 13th
What can Monmouth do to increase awareness and excitement on their Facebook Page?
Set a meeting place for that morning before the races which begin. Setup a meet & greet with jockey
Kent Desormeaux should he be willing. Or have a meet and greet w/ Larry Collmus, who saw him in
the Florida Derby.
Invite people to come watch the handicappers preview the card, pick a certain spot for Facebook
members, having Brad Thomas take some questions about Big Brown, or recap his thoughts from
past programs.
Provide free past performances (stripped down versions if necessary) and have people handicap the
whole card with a mythical 2 points on one horse in each race. Highest total gets some special racing
schwag – maybe a t-shirt or Haskell hat, an autographed program from the day by Desormeaux and
Dutrow, or a framed Big Brown shoe with certificate.
Get in touch with AQU (where BB trains) and get someone to take some candid pictures, post a
picture every 3 days have a caption contest. Winners get free passes for the Sept 13th race.
Have people post their own pictures after the day, best picture wins an autographed program from
the day by the rider and trainer and maybe post the winning entry on the home page of the website
for bragging rights (mentioning it was taken by a Facebook member).
Facebook Only Group have a morning tour the week before, but you could highlight where Big
Brown will be staying and maybe get an assistant for Dutrow or Big Brown’s groom out there to
answer some questions. Maybe meet entries whom BB will be running against if those horses are
planning a workout.
Once BB is on the grounds get a list of trainers/jockeys/industry people comment on how he looks.
Post updates daily on the event page.
Do you know how far in advance he'll be there? Just thinking for purposes of video of him just eating
oats would get people to check out the event.
Online capping contest for Saturday's before race. The winner gets special schwag from previous
contests or a signed program or even gets the ability to write one of the race cards blurbs (in the
program you can mention the Facebook group).
On the Facebook page and/or your homepage run an RSS feed w/ key words Big Brown,
+Monmouth, for news and blogs. Or set up email alerts for yourself and then post those news stories
if you're worried about editorializing.
VP Online/Offline –
Community Outreach & Charities
“NTRA Charities' goals are to broaden the scope of community outreach on a national and local level, promote
the sport of Thoroughbred horseracing as a civic-minded industry, and increase awareness for the protection of
our equine athletes and horsemen.”
Implementation: New separate logo for NTRA charities’. The VP will be in charge of logistics,
communication, and coordination of efforts between charities – tracks – online communities. Help the
online communities reach out to tracks and help tracks coordinate with their communities.
Social Networks – Help tracks meet their on-line fans in a non-race setting. Help coordinate a
larger fan response. Events can be put forward by the track, members, or NTRA.
Example – “Pablo Suarez, who co-owned Thor's Echo, the 2006 Eclipse Award-winning sprinter, is
among a group of Del Mar horse owners, including Bob Bone and Scott Guenther, who will be
hosting a group of United States Marines at the track on Monday.” – Buried at the bottom of an
online DRF article
1. Coordinate Del Mar’s online community to raise awareness of the meeting and include requests
for small donations. Set up a Paypal or other way to donate online.
2. Make sure pictures or video are highlighted on the NTRA homepage, and link to any print media
who covers the story independently.
3. Have video of it shown on the next national broadcast.
4. Coordinate w/ another track to possibly do the same thing to compete to raise the most or have
the most amount of fans turn out.
Feedback – Photos on the homepage, thank you emails to those in attendance, free passes to the
event, t-shirts, any type of inclusion into the NTRA brand.
Suggestions: Programs such as Alex’s Lemonade cast the sport in a positive light. Find ways of
having fans directly take part in leaving a lasting impact.
• Organize food drives with local shelters or blood drives and bone marrow registry with local
hospitals on large attendance days. Thank donors with free general admission or in other small
but special ways.
• Cooperate with Habitat for Humanity and have local business such as the Home Depot donate
building supplies. Meanwhile the racing industry provides a workforce of fans, trainers, owners,
and jockeys to create “A Home the Horse Built”. Get traditional media participation in the event.
• Construct a horse themed playground at a local school or at a park in an underserved area.
• Network racing fans and owners who are in the health care industry to put together a health fair
on a large attendance day for inner city racetracks. Attendees can receive free health screenings
and prevention information.
• Find and collaborate local dentists who are horsemen or just want to assist in giving minority
children a “Grade-1 Smile”. Underserved children could be related to backstretch employees or
come from the community. Funds to pay for the cost of materials could be generated by on track
donations. Later a display is placed near the entry gates of all the smiles created through the
Grass-root communities – There are large charity-driven communities in the sport that already
plan and execute their own programs and mission. Build a two-way street for communication:
Integrate their members with new fans by coordinating projects and fundraising. Their online
initiatives should be looked at to roll out on a national level with NTRA’s support.
Example: Top Bunk List – A list of horses that the Fans of Barbaro have put together of horses with
over $500,000 in earnings running for less than a $10,000 tag and working to get them retired. Can the
the NTRA or individual tracks keep their own lists, can they tap their community to raise funds and
Reasoning: Charity work is a big part of Millennials’ lifestyle. The current work done seems
secondary to the sport rather than part of it. By integrating the charitable work into the gaming and
the sport itself we clean up the image of the sport. Furthermore, charity work will highlight the large
economic impact the sport has upon its communities.
Trickle-up ideas – Tracks are combating many of the issues that have national relevance on an
individual basis. The approach would be to use these tracks as incubators and have the national
structure help spread successful ideas and endeavors.
Consequences: The sports image of a degenerate gambler is false, and we can show that to be not
only false but completely opposite the truth. By focusing what is already being done within and
outside the industry we can include more people, act faster, and more efficiently.
What We Can Do Today
Create more online task forces with people associated with specific problems mentioned to tackle
wider problems that can report back to the VP and get momentum in the industry. We see the most
pressing issues as:
• Marketing – Fans, Tracks, NTRA
– What’s working
– What are others doing
• Breeding – Breeders, Buyers, Sales companies, NTRA
– Longevity
– Sturdiness
– Transparency
• Racing – Superintendents, Jockey Club, Jockeys, Owners, Veterinarians
– Track Conditions
– Track standards
– Health information
• Legislative – NTRA, track owners, ADW owners, Veterinarians, Trainers
– ADWs
– Drugs
This group cannot lay out a plan to fix these problems. To fix those things we don't need
weeklong meetings somewhere, or to set up one time specific groups, or a national czar. We
need to watch you guys, the tracks, individuals, who are succeeding at the grass root level and
share that knowledge. Solutions come from the top down so rarely we ask you not to rely on a
magic bullet but look around at what's happening and pick up on anything you see as being
successful and share that with the larger group. Solutions aren't solved at specific moments, but
overtime, at a national level we just need someone ever vigilant. We hope you all see fit to get
behind standings to help tracks market the stars they have and expand the fan base, get behind
a web redesign or a movement to do more with what's out there online, embrace your fans in
ways outside traditional, change the image of this sport so it can do so much more. We hope
you see fit to communicate more with the national office and look for guidance from your peers.
Finally, we hope we've done something here today that doesn't end with this final page, but
that's not up to this panel anymore, it's up to you.

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