Racing Future is determined to inspire a new generation of fans to enjoy the sport of horse racing.

Re-building the Sport of Horse Racing

Racing Future is continuing to find the best ideas in the world to market horse racing and grow the fan base. Over the past week, we have showcased a number of commercials/TV promos from around the world including the video created by Go Racing Ireland to advertise the National Lottery Sweepstakes at the 2010 Irish Derby. In response, Racing Future has received a number of ideas and commentary about re-building the sport. These are collected below. Please feel free to share your own any time.

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I disagree with racings concentration of the 20-40 demographic.  Why? Because people in that age group are working on their education, mating, getting married, starting families and purchasing homes, cars and businesses. They have no money available to consistently gamble at the races much less the time to learn the intricacies of handicapping.  It is the 50 to 90 demographic that has the time, the interest and available money to spend.  You need to establish a comprehensive mentoring program, one which gets these people out to the track, helps them to learn handicapping fundamentals, and reward them for bringing young people out to the track with them.  Look at the people who are actually at the track, but not on the big racing days that attract the casual fan.  I mean Tuesday through Thursday.  You will find upper middle age and retirees looking for something to do, find a bit of companionship and for some, a retirement day care.   How did they get interested?  If you ask, they will tell you it was their father, uncle, cousin, etc. that brought them out and continued to bring them, while teaching them how to read the form.   Adjust your advertising to focus on the audience that is available and interested, and you will see racing grow again.  (From G Graminski)

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I really, really like the National Lottery format. What kind of cut would our government take - I would hope that it would be nowhere near what they were getting under the SARP. (Purely vindictive of me to say.)  But do our current rules and regulations create any obstacles?  And what about beyond the one big event, how to create excitement for each race? Or would the big one create enough income to cover the season?  Would it benefit the racetrack owners - or how would it be shared so that those who have been hit so hard with the cancellation of SARP will benefit. (From J Mowbray)

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I'm a freelance writer with a life-long interest in horses and equestrian sport. Last year I penned a few articles for Down The Stretch (Canada's most informative and entertaining horse racing newspaper). It's a fun gig, but my writing background is rooted in the entertainment/movie business (when we had a thriving Canadian film industry), so I see the racing industry from a different angle than a die-hard sportswriter like my editor, Peter Gross.

I was very disappointed by yesterday's lousy coverage of the Queen's Plate preliminaries: five minutes of air time of RE-RUNs of the Plate trial and the Oaks, due to "technical difficulties!" What gives?!

If WEG is so intent on attracting racing fans, why can't they get their act together in the broadcasting department?

As you have Woodbine connections, you may want to raise the issue of (the lack of) televised coverage to one of the head honchos in the marketing department.

Also, special events designed to attract a new crop of racing fans are non-existent. For city gals like car-less moi, the commute to Woodbine is brutal. In town, the Turf Lounge is testosterone dominated and pricey (closed on Sunday), and the other OTBs are scuzzy and even less dame-friendly.

If you've ever watched an episode of Steven and Chris, you may have observed that the audience is 95 % middle-aged women, who own homes, are semi-retired, have a large disposable income and just want to have a little fun.

How about Woodbine for "Dames' Night Out," or "Fascinator Fridays," of just "Hat Day." I have lived in the "Fashion District" for three decades and young hipsters here love to wear hats.

So does everybody at Churchill Downs, Belmont and Saratoga and every other racetrack I've seen footage of.

Anyhow, those are my suggestions for better marketing a sport that is need of a makeover, if those who run and profit from it want it to survive.

My concern is for the horses and, of course, the owners. Many of them have really been pushed to the wall by McGuinty's reckless disregard for human endeavour in all horse-related livelihoods. (From L Hunt)

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A suggestion - for great creative marketing ideas the Victorian Racing Club {Victoria,Australia} and Ellerslie in Auckland, New Zealand are very good at promoting their product.
 
Also the 'investment' system for the off-track bettor in both of those countries is far far superior to anything we have in North America.
 
Just an aside - I had horses for some years at Woodbine but am now based in the States with horses at Penn National. I am also the North American correspondent for NZ Thoroughbred.
 
Good luck with your pursuit of a better deal for Canadian racing!
 
Kia ora. (From P Hall)
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I think it is a great idea. It gives 200,000 ticket holders access to a great sporting event with a minimal cost involved and a lottery best % of winning some serious money. With a promotion such as this, I would hazard a guess that it could be run on a regular basis, which would see new people become interested in the sport thus enlarging your bottom line and enable you to extrapolate the sport. (From G Manley)

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Catchy commercial. The lottery idea is good. I can't help but think though that there must be a lot of potential fans, unaware of the challenge of handicapping horses. People that like crosswords and word games and challenges that are a level above games of chance where luck is everything. Promote playing horses as an intellectual pursuit above other games where you play against your fellow player and not against a house.

How about the HRL (Horse Racing Lottery). Advertise through all media, a lottery for horseplayers which rewards the most winners picked and bet (any amount through an HPI account) on Ontario tracks over a month, or six months or annually. Make the main prize significant ($200,000 for six months? half a million for a year?) Easy to track and spin off other prizes. Sort of like a regular handicapping contest but over a long period of time. Encourage office pools and special deals for bringing your group to the track. Make it part of the OLG marketing campaign. (From M Parker)

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How about a competition say that you enter your pick for a certain race with the winners getting a chance to meet the horse and jockey of there choice. It seems to me that's why people go to the track because they love the horses and would love to meet there favourite jockey. 

Just a thought. 

Thanking you for all the hard work you are doing for Canadian horse racing. My wife is an avid horse racing lover, and we support you all the way.  (From R and C Volpe)

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I thought the "go racing Ireland " campaign was brilliant !  (From S Mackenzie-Dyck)

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Let me propose an approach to multiply profits from horse racing business via introduction of new products and services for customers, which will guaranty profitable future for the industry.

1. New products

There are many people who would be interesting in horse race betting, but have no time to analyze each race individually. For such people a product that offers betting on a specific horse number during a specified time interval, for example a week or month would be desirable. As shows analysis of such betting strategy (betting on the same number during a specified time interval) it is profitable on many tracks if the right number is chosen. (See for example, Profitability of simple fixed strategies in horse race betting). Some lotteries are using such products, which is a proof of profitability of such products. 

2. New source of revenues

In addition to attracting many new segments of customers this product also would increase sales from traditional products due to opportunities in arbitrage. Suppose for example, that a person bets on number one during a current month, but number one does not appear. In such situation some people believe that probability of appearance number one in the next race will be higher. Other people believe that this probability will be lower. For the reason that expected probabilities diverge people will be betting on individual races according to their believes and this results in increased revenue for a racetrack  offering such products. 

3. New markets

The next step will be creating an online marketplace or exchange where people will be trading this type of products. It is a proven fact that trading exchanges are very profitable businesses.

4. Derivatives.

The next logical step will be introducing derivatives on these products, for example options and swaps. An option is a right to buy/sell a ticket with a specified price in the future. A swap is a right to exchange one ticket on another ticket. The trading volume in derivatives is many times of trading in underlying instruments for financial products.

5. Conclusion

This approach if implemented not only makes horse racing self-supporting and profitable, but also will generate many jobs to develop and support the required infrastructure. (From I Stukanov)

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Was up north looking forward with friends who are racing fans but wanted to introduce them to the sport tuned into cbc for coverage and guess what no coverage how can the sport be show cased during two of the biggest races of the year and the national tv can't get it together next time I will probably stay out fishing. We are going to the Prince of wales in Fort Erie on July 30

for evening racing what a great Idea have already booked our Hotel why isn't some one doing packages from Toronto? (From A Heath-Smith)

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It is very hard to convert these 20 somethings into passionate lovers of the game and gamblers. I have said for 15 years to anyone who would listen we need to expose the little ones to the animals!!!!! We are losing our old guard players! fans, gamblers, breeders, owners from the outside. From our era I would be willing to bet that in 90% of the households from that time there was a picture of a relative with a horse? granddad in a war, an uncle in the field , a neighbor delivering milk or actual farming involvement. That is or has almost has disappeared!!!!  Putting kids around horses is how you instill passion in later years! We should have had a North american model for farm tours exposing youngsters to mares and foals 20 years ago when we saw the race devouring slots and expanded gambling at the door!!!!!!
(From Mike)

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This sounds like a good idea. I've often thought racing could widen its appeal by combining racing with other forms of gambling -- for example, a game that combined a lottery- or slot machine-type bet with the results of an upcoming race: you'd get a number linked to a horse in the next race, and perhaps a multiplier that determined your winnings if the horse came in. Just a thought ...(From P Marshman) 

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I am so glad that you are reaching out for ideas in the clouds to regenerate interest in horse racing. I have been thinking about the horse racing industry since it came up in the news. I had come to the conclusion that the racing industry got lazy. Gaming profits can do that. While ideas can sometimes be worth a million dollars, it has been my experience that ideas are inexpensive; it’s the details in the execution that costs so much. It will take a lot of hard work to bring back horse racing to the level it was years ago. Horse racing operators have to join the 21st Century. Fundamentally the beauty of horse racing is that it is the same today as it was last year or in another era. Very few sports can make that claim.

Number 1

1. The Irish Derby Sweepstakes

This is a wonderful promotion to develop talk about horse racing and I don’t see why it could not be expanded to run in Canada, unless there is a law against it, I recommend it as a once a year opportunity. To overdo it would kill the thrill of it all.

If I look at sports, people want to know their sports heroes – The Stars of horse racing are the horses, yet we know so little about them. So here are some ideas

1. Fantasy Horse Racing League – Modeled after Sports fantasy Leagues, friends can go online and draft horse’s / teams from several tracks across the world. Properly done, it promotes team winners who need to do out to the Woodbine or their nearest race track to pick up a prize. A corporate sponsor might want to be associated with this type of promotion

This could be done on line. Imagine the stats you could build on horses and jockeys as they progress through a racing career

Grand prize winners could be off to the Kentucky Derby
 
2. Take the family to the Racetrack and get to learn about horses

The closer a person gets to touching and feeling a horse, the more likely they are to become fans of the sport.

Why not set up a once a month event in the summer you can go to the track and take the family on pony rides and to be around horses. You could have demonstrations on how to care for a horse, How to feed and groom them. The more likely the person is to being around the animal, the more likely coming a horse fan.

3. ….. Heritage Day at the Track

Similar to the HNIC Punjab broadcast, create a day at the track for ethnic groups and families to come together and see live horse racing. The aim of this is to appeal to ethnic people who might not go to the track.

This could be expanded to include a large number of cultural groups – March 17th Irish race Day etc.

I have several more ideas and some of them are ideas that I could come forward with to make not just the race day but the actual race a more interesting experience for the new digital consumer. I understand cloud ideas however I am always reticent to just give away all of my ideas, even to a nice fellow like you. Just like the horse racing people, I have to make a
living too. All of these ideas come with corporate sponsorship options. (From D Threndyle)

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I go to Belmont/Saratoga during the summer months. The "ordinary" horse player is treated very poorly. Other than around the Belmont Stakes, Belmont is a "pig pen" Dirty with very few services. We horseplayers are low on the totem pole. Go to Las Vegas and see how customers are treated. They want your business. The NYRA group doesn't care. Take a look at the infield board. It is almost impossible to discern the numbers, the are far too small. Believe me management does not care. People know this and a lot more, and have stopped coming. Your/our sport is dying and no one in power cares. (From R Soskis)

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We would be quite willing to buy tickets or any form of lottery that would support any horse racing in the province of Ontario. Tickets like the former Irish sweepstakes could be implemented since we bought those when they were in focus. We want to keep horse racing in Ontario at the forefront as before since it means so much to farmer, horse owners, stables etc. (From E and S Prince)

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I like the lottery idea. It made me think of the popularity of geo caching as well for that age group. Have cache's hidden around the area and in the area of the racetracks. The cache could be either an item or number to bring in to the track to see what they have won. Have variety of prized from VIP meals or $100 win bets maybe one $500 win bet or whatever that track wants to spend.

I also like the micro-brewery festivals in conjunction with racing. It brings in a very different audience. Have people vote for their favorite brew and a drawing for prizes for both the brewery and the patron. (From T Bagley)

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It is my opinion that one of the best ways the track could improve fan turnout is to make it more family friendly. They should have events to encourage people to bring their kids along like other tracks such as Fort Erie and Georgian Downs. Things like kids day petting zoos and many other such events. Take away the feeling that tracks are a horrible place and should be kept under wraps from the general public. (From S Coleman)