ThoroBros Business Review

After indulging in stories of spilled sushi and perusing pictures of the lovely Beulah Twins (RIP Beulah), its time for the ThoroBros to focus their attention on the business of the sport.  This post is the first in a series of posts about the state of the live on-track experience and a critical analysis of what we think can be done to have thoroughbred racing regain a foothold in the year-round national sporting consciousness.

Continue reading ThoroBros Business Review

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Throwback Thursday: Belmont Stakes 2008 — Of Realized Dreams and Flying Sushi

Throwback Thursday last week was about failed Belmont dreams. This week’s is about Belmont dreams coming true. The year is 2008. Most of you will wonder: why 2008?  Didn’t Big Brown get routed and basically pulled up in the stretch of the Belmont, failing to achieve Triple Crown glory? So why is it a year of dreams coming true? Because at a racetrack, and with gamblers, one man’s defeat is another man’s victory. Continue reading Throwback Thursday: Belmont Stakes 2008 — Of Realized Dreams and Flying Sushi

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Marketing Mix: Promotion of the Week—Los Alamitos and the California Chrome Good Luck Card

Most horse racing fans would agree that race tracks, especially smaller market tracks, need to improve their marketing campaigns in order to attract fans.  How the small market tracks achieve marketing success, however, is debatable.  Every Tuesday, in Marketing Mix, we will analyze a race track promotion from the week before, examining why it worked or why it failed, and whether it furthers the goal of promoting the sport.

No race track is enjoying more positive PR right now than Los Alamitos.  Much like Philadelphia Park benefited from Smarty Jones’ 2004 Triple Crown pursuit, Los Al’s is receiving similar attention as California Chrome’s home base.   Los Al’s marketing department has recognized this unique opportunity and is capitalizing. Continue reading Marketing Mix: Promotion of the Week—Los Alamitos and the California Chrome Good Luck Card

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Throwback Thursday: My Belmont Heartbreak, Smarty Jones

Having lived through eight Derby-Preakness winners, and attending four of those Belmonts, I had choices for my most heart-breaking Belmont. However, one stands out as the most devastating to myself and the sport. In 2004 Smarty Jones took America and the first two legs of the Triple Crown in a tour de force. But before that, he dominated the trio of traditional preps at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas (the Southwest, the Rebel and the Arkansas Derby). He came into the Belmont undefeated, the first horse to do so since Seattle Slew. Continue reading Throwback Thursday: My Belmont Heartbreak, Smarty Jones

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Hold Your Horses: Advanced Deposit Wagering, The Dormant Commerce Clause and New York’s Market Origin Fee

The New York State Legislature passed a bill last year, which requires “multi-jurisdictional account wagering providers” (MAWPs) to pay a “market origin fee” on all wagers made by New York residents who use the MAWPs’ wagering services, regardless of whether the wager is made on a New York track or a track in another state. The market origin fee requires the MAWPs to pay 5% of each wager made by a New York resident who has an account with the MAWP to the “market origin account” maintained by state racing commission. The question remains: is this constitutional?  Continue reading Hold Your Horses: Advanced Deposit Wagering, The Dormant Commerce Clause and New York’s Market Origin Fee

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Is Racing Heading for a “Big Day” Only Business Model?

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When does thoroughbred racing capture national media attention?  Fundamentally, it is four weekends per year:  Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont and the Breeder’s Cup.  Beyond that, there are some secondary meets and weekends that garner television coverage and some wider interest:  Saratoga, Keeneland, Del Mar, and the key Kentucky Derby prep races.  Though there are precious few times when racing obtains the national spotlight, tens and hundreds of races are run throughout the country on a daily basis, 365 days a year.  Increasingly, tracks are highlighting their significant days, and seeking to capitalize more than ever on the modest national media attention that is directed to the sport.  The Triple Crown races are perhaps the best example of this trend, and NYRA’s decision to fill Belmont Stakes day with other major stake races is the most recent (and perhaps starkest) example.  But, in our minds, the most important question remains to be answered – is this model both sustainable and good for the sport’s long term interests? Continue reading Is Racing Heading for a “Big Day” Only Business Model?

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Want to Run a Meet? The Colonial Downs Saga Continues

ELUSIVE_GIFT__The_John_D_Marsh_Stakes

Talks between Colonial Downs and the Virginia Horsemen have broken down just four days before the deadline the set by the Virginia Racing Commission for the parties to reach an agreement.  While the “deadline” may be more of an attempted motivator than a “hell or high- water” cutoff, the two sides continued inability to reach a compromise increases the likelihood that Colonial Downs will be without thorobred racing this summer and fall.   That is unless another group of horsemen form and answer Colonial’s offer.  Continue reading Want to Run a Meet? The Colonial Downs Saga Continues

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The Kentucky Derby Point System: Two Years In, Has It Been Successful?

From the time it was announced, the point system devised by Churchill Downs for determining Kentucky Derby entrants received a significant amount of attention, discussion, and criticism. In its inception, the switch from graded stake earnings to the point system had a few goals:

1. Emphasize the prep races closer to the Derby so that horses “on form” are more likely to gain entry;
2. Eliminate the influence of prep races that were shorter than 1 mile, but nevertheless yielded graded stakes earnings (i.e. the Hutchison Stakes at Gulfstream; the Bay Shore Stakes at Aqueduct);
3. Eliminate the influence of graded stakes races run on turf (i.e. the Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream;
4. Eliminate the possibility of a filly qualifying by running in restricted races only;
5. Screw Hawthorne Race Course and the Illinois Derby.

Fundamentally, the purpose of the system was to try to get the 20 best three year old route horses as of the first Saturday in May into the gate at Churchill Downs. But now that we have completed two years of the point system, is the system working?

Continue reading The Kentucky Derby Point System: Two Years In, Has It Been Successful?

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Critical analysis of the business, marketing, legal, and leadership aspects of the Sport of Kings