Horse Racing Can Move Forward off a Favorable 2012

Sheena McKenzie has written a very favorable piece for CNN on the sport of horse racing, specifically focusing on racing in the United Kingdom.

In a new digital age, their fame was carefully cultivated. Marketing teams set up Twitter accounts, Facebook profiles, and pedaled merchandise online.

And it seemed to work. Attendance at races starring Frankel were up 20% on last year…

Meanwhile, a record 130,000 punters attended the prestigious Epsom Derby in July, which launched Queen Elizabeth’s official jubilee celebrations, making it the largest sports crowd in Britain in 2012.

Read the full story here

Racetrack Management: Take Care of Your Fans

Who is your team?

Excerpt: “While pondering this, I couldn’t help but think of the difficulty horse racing has faced while trying to maintain and expand its fan base. As an industry, horse racing has been aware for some time that in order to survive it must do this, but that is far easier said than done.

The tricky thing with horse racing is there are no teams to cheer for. Loyalty to a runner rarely can last more than a few years, simply because said horse will be retired. People have favorite trainers and jockeys, but the star of the game has always been the horse.

It’s not like an NFL team that a family will follow for generations, through thick and thin. For instance, my family’s team is the Denver Broncos. While John Elway will always be beloved, our loyalty to the Broncos did not change when he retired. I guarantee that some of the fans Zenyatta picked up along the way retired from racing when she did.

Another unique aspect of the game is the gambling. Getting people in the door simply isn’t enough. The success of a race meet is not only judged by attendance but by handle.

For instance, Lone Star Park ended its spring thoroughbred meeting with a 10 percent increase in average daily attendance, which was the largest average daily attendance increase in the track’s history. But, overall handle was down and that had to be addressed. While pondering this, I couldn’t help but think of the difficulty horse racing has faced while trying to maintain and expand its fan base. As an industry, horse racing has been aware for some time that in order to survive it must do this, but that is far easier said than done.”

 

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California OTB to Close after 23 Years in Business.

The Santa Maria Fairpark satellite facility has shut down after 23 years in business. The reason? Online at-home bettors are blamed for having driven the nail in the coffin. Horseplayers simply stopped coming out to the location, and the off track betting business has been in the red for over two years.

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Pinnacle Race Course closed with little notice outside Michigan

From this newpaper article: “There was absolutely no reason for county officials to believe a new track could sustain itself, let alone become an economic engine. Wayne County would have been better off trying to recruit Amalgamated Spats or the Baltimore Opera Hat Company to western Wayne County for all that it mattered. The reason for this assertion is simple: Horse racing is a dying business.

June 15, 2007, Stockton Record reported: Whatever they expect, it flies in the face of national trends. American horse racing attendance is steadily declining.

Business Week reports on-track gambling fell from $2.9 billion in 1996 to $1.7 billion in 2006 – a 40 percent plunge.”

Read this full story here

Now granted, Detroit is not a thriving area due to extremely high unemployment, but it remains a major city in this country. A brand new track with a beautiful facility should have had a chance of making it.

What is worse is that this new track was so poorly supported within the industry itself, that when it closed, hardly anyone even noticed.

Internet Horseracing Wagering gets new Legislation

Congressman Chris Gibson from NYCongressman Chris Gibson (R-New York) has introduced legislation to clarify that online wagering on horse races remains legal in the United States.

 “This legislation will protect the domestic horse racing industry, preserving the foundation of many local communities. In the midst of another successful meet at Saratoga, I am proud to introduce this legislation in the United States House of Representatives,” explained Gibson.

Read the Thoroughbred Times article

San Diego paper: Horse racing is troubled business, but Del Mar remains one-of-a-kind place

Del Mar paddockExcerpts from this article: Horse racing has problems, needing accouterments such as slot machines to get bodies on site. We’re down to about 100 racetracks in America, and the doomers say that number will be cut in half before long. Del Mar may be an island in a stormy sea, but even those thought to be safe can’t survive without nourishment — in this case, horses.

Hollywood Park has been hanging by its hoofs for years and will go sooner or later, as will the Bay Area’s Golden Gate Fields. Santa Anita, the only other major track in the state, hardly is the life of the party it once was.

Thoroughbred breeders and trainers aren’t going to keep their horses around to just munch on fine California alfalfa.

“Business is good, but I’m not sure I’m not all alone,” says Joe Harper, who is CEO of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. Harper saw a record crowd of 46,588 pass through the gates on Opening Day.

Click here to read the full article and what this racetrack’s CEO has to say about online poker.