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Want to know more about Uncle Mo? Twice a month, Mike Repole will be authoring an Uncle Mo Diary as part of Jason Shandler's Triple Crown Talk blog. Look for Derby Mo-jo starting in February.
Ron: This is
Ron Mitchell with the Bloodhorse.com Talkin' Horses podcast. Today, our special guest is Mike Repole. As many of you know, he is the owner of Uncle
Mo, the champion 2-year-old of last year
and the favorite for the derby. Welcome,
Ron. Thanks a lot. I really appreciate it.
for taking your time from your busy schedule. We've had a lot of questions for
you. Some were repetitive, as we expect,
but mainly everybody wants to congratulate you, first of all, on success for
your stable, especially your work with Uncle Mo. As we go through the
questions, we won't read all of those compliments and congratulations; we'll
just try to stick to the questions themselves for the sake of brevity, if
that's okay with you.
definitely okay and I definitely appreciate it.
It's been really nice that the fans have not only just reached out to
Uncle Mo but obviously, to me personally and the Repole Stable connections and
it's a good feeling. Mo's got a lot of
fans out there and it's nice to see. I'm
just fortunate enough to own him.
Ron: I think a
lot of that is based upon your excitement level as an aggressive young horse
owner and certainly everybody's
embracing that. Let's go ahead and get
started with the first question and what
everybody really wants to know, how's Uncle Mo doing and when he will have his
first workout in preparation for the Tampa Bay Derby?
Mike: Uncle Mo
is doing great right now. He's galloping
a mile and a half a day. His first
workout can be as early as tomorrow, as late as probably Monday. Todd is down in Florida right now and he's
just going to go by the weather. He'll
probably just breeze three furlongs, probably gallop out in four. Obviously, we want to work him on the dry
track and it could be anytime this weekend - Saturday, Sunday, Monday,
depending on the weather.
Ron: I got a
question from Jonathan on Facebook. Were
you close to selling Uncle Mo? And then
also, he has two questions -Why only two preps before the Kentucky Derby?
after Mo won his maiden race, I was offered a lot of money for him. After he won the Champagne Stakes, I was
offered even more money for him and then after the Breeders' Cup Juvenile win,
I was offered a lot more than both the Champagne and the Special Stakes. It's been a dream of mine to own a special
horse like this. Todd Pletcher gets a
ton of calls from people that want to know if the horse is for sale. Jim Martin, my racing manager, gets the
same. The horse is not for sale. To me, it's like a child; I would never sell
a child and the horse is not for sale. I
will own Mo throughout his racing career, so be it. In this game, it could be one more start or
it could be 25 more starts. We don't
Ron: So we
should tell those agents and big time horse owners from overseas just quit
Mike: I beat
you to it, Ron. I've already told them
to stop calling me.
Ron: Back to
the second question there - Only two preps before the Kentucky Derby? Any concerns about a lack of stamina with
that kind of a schedule?
Mike: I'm not
concerned at all. In fact, lately, if
you watched the last - I think either four to five Kentucky Derby winners - it
seems to be the norm nowadays. Boys at
Tosconova is going to have two preps in the Derby. To Honor and Serve is going to have two preps
in the Derby. Obviously, when you're
trying to do more than just win the Derby, possibly maybe even win the Triple
Crown, you're talking about a race two weeks after the Derby; three weeks after
the Preakness is the Belmont Stakes. We
know he's good. We know he's fast. He basically had two races at Churchill Downs
in which he ran 108 Beyers. We want him
to grow up a little bit and we're looking for a long campaign, but it doesn't need
to start so early. I'd rather have his
campaign go from March to November than go from January to May.
Ron: It makes
a lot of sense. Next question is from
Mr. Glassoniongirl. What is it that really attracted you to Uncle Mo?
Mike: I really
have got to give the credit to my racing connections. Jim Martin, my racing manager, and Jim Crupi
from Newcastle Farm who not only buys
most of my yearlings, he also breaks my yearlings. I don't go to too many sales. I do look at the pedigree books and I go
through that, but I put together a really solid team. Sometimes Todd is involved, sometimes Todd is
not involved, but Uncle Mo was really a combination of Jim Crupi and Jim
Martin, basically finding a horse at the yearling sale in September. There was over 6,000 horses. Mo was hip #1193-a number I'll never forget--and they really put
me on to this horse. I wasn't super
excited that he was an Indian Charlie, but I'm definitely a guy who listens to
his team and they said I had to have this horse and I paid for it.
Ron: So now
you're a big fan of Indian Charlie's, huh?
Mike: I would
buy Indian Charlie tomorrow if he was for sale.
Yes, I'm a big fan of Indian Charlie.
question comes from Ace Spradling - I'm very interested in following an
entrepreneur such as yourself and Rob Dyrdek.
You are proof that young people can have fun with horseracing ownership,
be involved and use it to your advantage in marketing. Have you used horseracing to grow your
personal ventures and found value beyond your joy of racing?
Mike: That's a
great question. Being a young
entrepreneur, I use a lot of the same business philosophies with horseracing
and Repole Stable that I do with Pirates Booty or Energy Kitchen or
Vitaminwater when I co-founded that.
It's all about working hard, having fun, being passionate, doing things
that you love. I really think that all
my businesses kind of leverage each other.
The one thing about an entrepreneur being Mike Repole, if
you're going to get involved with something, and the advice I've given young
entrepreneurs, is make sure you're passionate about it. The one thing I find is that when I'm
passionate about something like horseracing, really the sky's the limit and
also it just makes it more fun. I see
too many people get into businesses where it's something they're not interested
in or something they don't like. I've
always advised young entrepreneurs, college kids even high school kids, if you
love what you do, it's not really work, it's just life.
Ron: And in the
end, it ends up working for you and you have been very successful and made a
lot of money, so that's a win-win.
Mike: I think
at the end of the day, if you have a passion, you love what you do, the money
is not really the strategy. It's just an aftereffect of just doing something
that you're passionate about and you love and it comes when you're passionate
about something, whether you're a baseball player, whether you're an actor, or
whether you're an entrepreneur. If you
really love what you do, money is not the primary goal. If you love it and you're passionate about
it, a lot of times it's the end result.
would kind of go hand-in-hand with this next question from Anthony Roberts - As
a first time owner, what kind of advice can you give me and other first time
Mike: Go into horseracing
with training wheels on. Do not go in
there and try to conquer the game day one.
I could have spent $3-4 million a year six years ago when I got into the
game. I could have bought high-priced yearlings. Start off with maybe a small private
purchase. Start off with one of the
great partnerships that are out there.
There's a bunch of them out there.
Start off slow. Put your toe in
the water before you dive in head first.
See that it's something you enjoy or you like. There are racing fans that love the ownership
side and there are racing fans that the ownership side is not for them, it's
just better to be a racing fan. And I
would definitely become a percentage owner of a horse with four partners or
maybe be in a partnership, one of the syndicated partnerships. Just start off slow. Learn the game. Ask a lot of questions.
Man, I mean every time I interviewed a trainer, I asked him
a ton of questions. Every time, I spoke
to jocks and jocks agents, or racing officials, the more questions you ask, the
more answers you'll know about this game.
It's a tough enough game when you don't know much about it, but it's a
really tough game when you don't know enough about it.
Ron: Would you
say it's a pretty steep learning curve?
might be an understatement. Yes, it's a
very steep learning curve because in this game, luck plays such a factor because you can almost do everything right
here and have the best principles and the best strategy and the best game plan
in the world and maybe the horse just might not cooperate. Unfortunately, sometimes there are injuries
that play a big role in this game and the best one on the farm gets hurt or
your best yearling gets hurt or your best hero gets hurt. There are more lows in this game than there
are highs, but the highs are so much higher than the lows.
Ron: Is there
any one word of advice or cautionary word you could give to potential owners?
ask a lot of questions. Be very careful of
who you do business with. Ask trainers
if they have references, farm managers if they have references. Call other owners that are doing business
with these people. Make sure that
they're telling you the truth. Sometimes
if you ask the same question 10 different ways, make sure you get the same
answer because if you get 10 different answers, I'd be very cautious. You need to do your homework. In any business, you have some people with
great morals and you have some people that are going to lie to you and it's not
just horseracing, it's any business. To
me, do your homework, do your research, and then choose somebody that you think
fits your needs and you're comfortable with.
good advice because I'm sure you've heard the tales. We've had quite a few people who have been
very successful in one field or another come into horseracing and they seem not
to apply the same attributes to the horseracing that they did to their other
business and sometimes it doesn't work out.
Next question is from Fran - There's so much talk about the
fans of Zenyatta and a lot of trainers, owners, and horses now have their own
Facebook pages. Just how important is
the fan to the industry as compared to those who are just bettors?
Mike: To me,
whether you're a bettor or you're not a bettor, you're a fan. I mean there are people who are just racing
fans who don't bet and I think that they play a huge role in the marketing and
the future of this sport. They are the
backbone of the industry, but there are a lot of people who bet that are also
racing fans. So I don't really separate
racing fans on whether they bet or they don't bet. To me, if you go to the track just to watch
races and you're there just to have lunch and watch races, you're as important
to this game as somebody who goes to the track and bets $200 or $2,000. The more people we can get into this game,
the better off we're going to be. So to
me, I treat all the fans the same whether they're betting $500 to win on Uncle
Mo or they're just there to watch him win a race by five lengths. The fans are the backbone of this industry
and without the racing fans, there is no sport.
I've said this many times and it's our job as an industry to do a better
job accommodating in making the fans more accessible and I plan on doing that
on my part and hopefully, others will lead by my example.
Considering that, for example, you got Uncle Mo with Todd Pletcher,
whose stable is run very, very tightly, how are you going to make Uncle Mo
accessible particularly working within the confines of a stable like
Todd's? I love Todd. It's not a knock on him, but he has a lot of
horses and it's a very business-like operation.
The access has really not been there for a lot of horses.
Mike: I think
at the end of the day, the first thing people have to understand is that mostly
trainers just like Todd Pletcher start their day at 3:30 or 4:00 in the morning
and are really busy until 11:00. I mean
they work through a full day. Then a lot
of post times are anywhere between 12 and 1 o'clock, and it's a seven day a
week job. I mean there's no
holidays. There's no vacation time. It's really, really a tough job. I think Todd, for the number of horses that
he has, is probably one of the most
accessible trainers out there. He has
over 150 horses. I think if Uncle Mo
keeps doing what he's doing, I think he'll have a lot more access to fans than
you can imagine. But fans do have to understand, if Todd Pletcher went to go
watch them work every day, it'd be a distraction and at the end of the day, the
horses are there to obviously stay healthy, be taken well cared of, and
training to get better. But Uncle Mo,
there's going to be a lot of access to Uncle Mo. It's not going to be a petting zoo, but
there's going to be plenty of times that fans are going to be able to meet
Uncle Mo, see Uncle Mo. There's already
been a couple of special requests that we've already met, but I mean he's got
over 2,000 fans on his Facebook page and people I think that want to see him
and meet him, and it is kind of overwhelming.
He is focused this year on, I'm trying to do something really, really
special; something that hasn't been done in 32 years and that is win a Triple
Ron: But we
will have some access?
Mike: Yes, there
will be some access. In fact, there
already has been some access.
question is from equination.net - Far too many fan favorites are retired
immediately following the 3-year-old campaigns.
Provided he stays sound and competitive, will Uncle Mo continue to race
in his four-year-old season?
way too early to tell. I did say that if
it was up to me and not my connections, I would geld Uncle Mo and run him until
he's 10 years old. So obviously I'm a
racing fan. I'm not going to get a big
thrill of owning him as a stallion. With
this racing game, it really is one race at a time. My biggest concern and priority is the health
of all my race horses whether you're Uncle Mo or you're a $10,000 claimer. It's hard to predict what's going to happen
in the future. I'm just trying to get
him to his first spot. After his first
spot, we'll try to get him to the second spot and then after his second spot,
we will get our fingers crossed that he will be in the Derby on May 7th. Next year is way too early to talk about it,
but to me, I'm a racing fan first. I
want him to race as long as he tells me he can race.
anything else is really speculation, really.
Next question is from Ed - Any kid growing up in Queens has got to want
to see his horse win the Wood Memorial.
I'm guessing you'll go from the Tampa Bay Derby to the Wood?
Mike: First of
all, we're targeting the Tampa Bay Derby, but that's really not set in
stone. There's other races on March 5th. There's other races on March 12th. When Mo goes into training, I'll have some
say, but at the end of the day, Todd Pletcher will make the final decision on
where Mo's first start is going to be.
Obviously, we're going to do what's best for the horse. There is no doubt that the second start is
going to be the Wood Memorial if everything stays on course.
The Wood Memorial has been a race that I've gone to as a
kid, when I was13, 14, 15 years old.
I've gone there the last five years from Eskendereya to I Want
Revenge. It's the biggest 3-year-old
prep before the Kentucky Derby from New York racing. I can't fly 5,000 friends and family over to
Kentucky, but I can drive them in to the Aqueduct racetrack and get all of the
Queens and half of New York City to watch Uncle Mo at the Wood Memorial. That would be a very, very special day.
Ron: So what
you're saying almost is that the second start is more set in stone than is his
first start this year?
second start is more set in stone than the first one, absolutely. If all goes well, the second start will
definitely be the Wood. If on the first
start, the Tampa Bay is definitely the leading logical target, but it's not set
in stone whatsoever.
Ron: I think
Todd's phone is now ringing from racing secretaries all over the country to
have a decent race on or around the first weekend of March.
been ringing for the last two weeks.
Trust me, Ron. J
Ron: This is
from our own Jason Shandler - Mike, is your Eclipse Award speech still going
and if so, when will it be over?
Mike: As long
as Jason is not speaking, I think most of the horseracing fans are pretty
happy. So anytime I can speak and keep
Jason out of speaking to the racing fans, I think it's good for racing. Todd said the under and over was 30 minutes. I timed it, it was under 30 minutes, so I bet
the under, so I thought it was okay. I
think that's why they put me at the beginning of the night because they were
afraid that I just might take until 9:30 and they're just going to go to Horse
of the Year Award.
great, that's great. David C asked - how
is it different from being an owner of primarily a claiming stable to one of
the champions of classic contenders?
Mike: To me, I
always said that my goal was one day to win a Grade I and a $5,000 claiming
race on the same day. I love
winning. I love horseracing. I'm a huge fan, always have been. The day that Uncle Mo won the Champagne, that
was such a special day. I had three
horses in that day. The first race, I had
won the Grand Avenue. As a kid, I couldn't go to the track and I used to walk
to the Grand Avenue OTB. I had 65
friends and family and we won the first race.
And in the fourth race was a horse named Gerard Loves Beer which is
named after my brother. It's no secret,
I can tell you just by the name, you can tell what he loves - and that horse
won. So all of a sudden, here it
is. Grade I Champagne and I've won the
first race and I've won the fourth race.
I said, "Oh my God, if I win two $12,000 claimers and I wind up losing the
Grade I Champagne, I'm just going to throw up."
A lot of people know that I won the Champagne that day but they don't
know that I actually won three out of nine races that day and I only had three
horses in. You want to talk about one of
the best days of racing, that was it.
Winning my first Grade I, winning my first graded stake, Uncle Mo
proving to everybody he's the real deal and on top of that, I get two other
horses to win the same card with all my friends and family. That was one of the best racing days ever.
that's exciting! We're going on now to
more of the other kinds of questions.
Mary P - I know Uncle Mo loves Pirate Booty snacks and I was wondering
if he washes it down with a nice dark Guinness.
Zenyatta washes her snacks with Guinness.
Uncle Mo washes his Pirate's Booty down with Vitaminwater Power-C.
Ron: Boy, just
total marketing all the time, aren't you?
Another Pirate's Booty question here from Kelly - Did you pose for the
pirate on Pirate's Booty bags? It kind
of looks like it.
Mike: No. The pirate was a character and that's been
there for a while. I don't think he's
the most attractive person in the world so obviously the person that asked that
question probably doesn't think I'm that attractive.
Ron: So not a
not a compliment. Actually, I think I
look more like the parrot than the pirate. J
Ron: Will we
see Uncle Mo or any of your horses on the Pirate's Booty package on Sunday?
Mike: I kind
of keep my businesses separated.
Pirate's Booty has its own marketing plan. Mo's got his own marketing plan. Vitaminwater has its own marketing plan. Energy Kitchen, the one thing I'd probably phrase,
we always say all 3-year-olds love Pirate's Booty and Uncle Mo is 3 years old,
so even champion 3-year-old race horses, but I think they'll be separate.
Okay. Next question is from
Michael Blowen whom you know at Old Friends.
Mike, thanks to Uncle Mo for his generosity toward Old Friends and many
other thoroughbred nonprofits. Explain
your relationship with Cool N Collective, the 13-year-old claimer you donated
to us last spring.
Mike: Now Cool
N Collective is just a special horse to me.
I mean, he's even in my top five favorite horses of all time that I've
owned and I've owned probably over 500 horses in my life. He's just a claiming horse that I claimed for
the first time when he was 9 years old.
I reclaimed him back about six different times. At 11, he won a race at Belmont Park probably
one of the oldest horses to ever win a race at Belmont Park. When I got him back when he was 12, I really
wanted him to be the oldest horse to ever win on the New York Circuit at
13. So we trained him. We gave him two races. He came in second at his first race which was
almost as devastating as losing a great welcoming because I really do love the
horse more than anything. And I gave him
one more try because he was very sound, very healthy. In fact, he could be still winning today and
after he came in fourth in that race, I decided to retire him before somebody
claimed him and I wanted to make sure he was in good hands. So I donated him and gave him to Old Friends
and Michael does a great job with Old Friends.
I'm very close with Michael, the staff, and he's up at Cabin Creek with
Joanne up there and she sends me an e-mail at least once a month just giving me
an update. When I go to Saratoga, especially during the meet, I go visit
him. He won 20 wins, 20 seconds. But any horse that's 13 years old and is
competing versus 3 or 4-year-old horses that could be his grandchildren, I just
cannot fawn over that horse. I mean,
he's just a hard knocking, he wears his hard hat, and I was so happy that I got
to have him last and make sure, now I know that he's taken care of the rest of
his life. And I know that when he's 25,
I can still go see him on Cabin Creek's Farm.
Ron: I'm sure
he appreciates the fact that he ended up with you and with Michael. He could have ended up in a lot worse hands,
that's for sure. Michael also asked - If
you could speak for Mo, why is he such a generous athlete?
Mike: Mo is
just a generous athlete because he's good and he knows he's good. There's one thing I've been around a lot of
horses and any time I get a little nervous, I get stressed out about the
pressure of having the Kentucky Derby favorite.
In business usually, I'm the guy that calls the shots. I'm the guy that makes decisions. I'm the guy who takes the shot when we're
down two points with two seconds left.
Here, it's really up to Uncle Mo.
So sometimes having him in the hands of somebody else and such a
wonderful animal, it's nerve wracking.
All horses have unique personalities.
The one thing about Mo, he's a monster on the racetrack but
when he's in the stall, he'll just lay there or he'll just be at the back of
his stall and I'll just say, "Hey Mo," and he comes over as friendly as
anything; he might put his head on my shoulder.
Whether I have a treat or don't have a treat, he's always willing to
come over. He's just a model teenage
kid. He does everything right. He has no flaws. Even Todd is amazed and it's just like every
time he does something for the first time, you look at him and you say wow,
it's like he's been doing it like a hundred times. No matter how difficult or how easy the task
is, he's just a special, special horse and I really believe that the special
horses know they're really, really good and Mo knows he's good.
Absolutely. It's like Zenyatta,
if you spend any time around her, you can just see that she knows, she
absolutely knows. Next question is from
Paul from Lexington. When will we get an
Energy Kitchen restaurant here?
now, Energy Kitchen healthy fast-food restaurants are really in the metro
area. There's 12 of them now, there's 60
in the contract anywhere from Boston to Miami and as far west as Chicago. My vision for Energy Kitchen is really to
have a thousand stores in the next 10 years.
The food tastes great. It's all
steamed, grilled, and baked. It's under
500 calories. There's only low calorie
beverages. I really think it's the
future of fast-food and again, it's low calories. It tastes great and fast and there's so many
unhealthy fast-food options out there and Energy Kitchen, you can only get good
tasting healthy foods. So within the
next 10 years, it's going to be a national brand just like Vitaminwater was and
I'm not sure how fast in Lexington but I do know that we've gotten a request
from Neville, Lexington, so there are people out there that are looking to bring
Energy Kitchen to Lexington.
Great. Smartbid09 asks - Hey
Mike, who would you have voted for as 2010 Horse of the Year?
Mike: I was on
TVG and they asked me the question and they framed it up. "Mike, we're not going to ask you about Horse
of the Year," and I said, "Listen, I'm a racing fan, you can ask me any
question you want." And I clearly said
on national TV that I definitely would have voted for Zenyatta, that Zenyatta is
one of the racing all-time greats and it would be a shame if one of racing's
all-time greats didn't win Horse of the Year.
I think Blame and Goldikova are incredible horses. I think they're great horses. I wished I owned both of them. But Zenyatta was something special and she
brought so many new fans to the sport. I
just thought she was amazing, and it's not like she lost to Blame if by 22
lengths. I mean, she lost by less than a
neck. The race could have went either
way. Who knows if the race was 10 yards
further, she might have won and we wouldn't really be having the debate so I
would have voted for Zenyatta no doubt and I would have voted Blame second and
Goldikova. Actually, not Goldikova
third. I would voted Uncle Mo third and
then Goldikova fourth.
Ron: Yeah, a
little bit of a bias against the horse that only races here once in the year.
Mike: Yeah, I
mean the three-peat I think is incredible.
I'm so happy that the connections are bringing Goldikova back. It's exciting but if she only had one race in
North America, so be it, with the Breeders' Cup, but the way Uncle Mo won his
three races in electrifying fashion, at top of the stretch in all three races he just kind of separated himself from the
field without even seeing or with just kind of like a hand ride with
Johnny. He's the most exciting 2 year
old since Favorite Trick or Arazi or even further back. You can almost make a debate that Uncle Mo
probably had one of the greatest two-year-old seasons in history. So in my opinion, he probably should have been
third. He had three races - Saratoga, Belmont,
and Churchill. Those are three pretty
historic tracks and he was by far, the best of these three. Not as an owner but I would have voted
Zenyatta, Blame, and Uncle Mo third.
Ron: The next
question is from Dick Downey - When will we see a workout for Stay Thirsty and
do you hope to get him to the derby?
Also, do you think maybe he's more of a Belmont stakes horse?
question. Stay Thirsty and Uncle Mo have
been side by side throughout their career.
They went to Todd Pletcher at the same time. They both won their maiden in Saratoga. Stay Thirsty was second the whole field. They
both went to Crupis Farms for 30 days of resting and freshening. They both do have a workout this
weekend. They're going to work out
separately. Stay Thirsty is on target,
his first race would probably be March 5th. That would be his first spot. That one is pretty much set in stone unlike
Uncle Mo. His second start is the one
that is in question, we're going to see what he does in the Gotham.
Obviously being a guy from New York, I wanted to win the
Gotham, and Stay Thirsty will be in the Gotham.
We'll keep those two separated out for obvious reasons and our goal
would what a great dream to have two horses in the Derby. I'd be ecstatic to have one but to have two,
I'd have to pinch myself.
As far as his pedigree, his pedigree says that what he did
last year as a 2 year old was pretty freakish.
He's bred to go two miles in a steeplechase. Does he fit the Belmont Stakes better? While
his half-brother Andromeda's Hero came in second in the Belmont. I think Stay Thirsty is going to get better
with two turns and the more the distance, the better I think he's going to
get. I think he's going to be a big
sweeper this year for this Kentucky Derby one. In my opinion, he's a top 10 horse in the
country right now.
brings us to a follow up question from Josue Escobar - You seem to be so fond
of Uncle Mo but how would you take it if it comes Derby day and Stay Thirsty is
the winner? Would that be a bittersweet
Mike: I think
I'd sign up for that right now if you can guarantee that to me. Listen, winning the Kentucky Derby is a
dream. Whether it's Uncle Mo, Stay
Thirsty, or anybody, I love them both the same.
It's like if you have two children, you don't love one more than the
other. Uncle Mo has obviously, what he's
done is something special and there is obviously big talk about some of the
great things that he can do. If Stay
Thirsty happened to be in same race as Uncle Mo and happened to be fortunate
enough to win the Kentucky Derby, I can promise you, I will gladly run down
that winners circle with the biggest smile on my face and it would probably be
one of the happiest moments of my life.
Ron: So it'd
be a sweet smile rather than a bittersweet smile.
Mike: It will
be a sweet smile and I think I'll have to give him an extra carrot or
peppermint instead of Uncle Mo and we'll have to get his Facebook page up to
2000 fans also.
Ron: On to
different non-racing topic kind of, Joan Marie - If you could be in charge of
marketing and racing to the general public in an effort to get people to the
track, how would you do it? Would you
find more money for primetime TV ads, for example?
the last thing I would do is TV ads. To
me, the way you would do it is really focusing on the racing fan and accommodate
them. There are so many people that
would want to get into the game but just don't know how. When I take in new racing fans to watch one
of the races, they have the simplest of questions. Mike, what's an exacta? What's a quinella? They don't even know how to read the Daily
Racing Form, so I think we need to educate the racing fans more about the
horses, about the trainers, about the Form.
A lot of times, these new fans are picking by numbers or names. And listen, if that system works for you, I'm
all for that. That's great but I think that the racing industry has to do a
better job of educating the fans about the sport, about the game. I always said racing for a new owner is
almost like buying a board game with no instructions. How would you know how to play the game if
they don't give you instructions? We
need to do a better job of educating our consumers.
The second thing is we have to make the experience much
better, from how we treat the consumers to how we brand our consumers, from the
program to how they're served lunch, making it an experience where they want to
I always give the analogy of if you go to a good restaurant
and you get great food and great service, not only are you going to probably go
back, you're probably going to tell your friends and family about it. But if you go to a restaurant where the
service is terrible and the food is worse, you're not only not going to go
back, you're going tell people to stay away.
And racing has to make an investment in their brand and their brand is horseracing. And until they make an investment in the
brand, we can't expect the fan base to grow.
In fact, we're very fortunate that we have such a diehard fan base and
we've done a very poor job of accommodating them and we're just lucky that
they're so passionate about horseracing that they're still around. But you know what, five or ten years from
now, if this sport doesn't embrace change or evolve to cater to the racing fan,
you know what, this sport won't exist.
They'll have nothing to worry about.
Ron: Do you
have some ideas on exactly how they can go about that and maybe work with them
in trying to bring it up to a different level?
been in talks with the NTRA. They've been very open about speaking to me. I've been in talks with NYRA. I'm good friends with Charles Hayward. I've been in talks with the Breeders'
Cup. They definitely are very open to
listening to me. To me, you start with
fan first and if you take care of the fan, everything else will take care of
itself. There's a million different
things. These are tremendous venues. It always boggles my mind when I go to
Saratoga and there's 25,000 fans and then I go to Aqueduct and there's 650
fans. New York has 15 million people in
the surrounding Metro New York area; why we can't get those fans to go to
Aqueduct and Belmont? It's just poor
marketing and a poor job on our part.
Ron: I'm sure
they will appreciate any input you might have.
The next question is from LC - Do you believe horseracing needs to have
a national governing body to unite horseracing and implement important things
such as uniform drug regulations, fan-friendly year-round racing calendar, et
doubt. To me, it's probably one of the
top five priorities I would have. You
see it with NASCAR racing. You see it
with National Football League. You see
it with the NBA. There is a David Stern,
there is a Goodell, there is a guy who is the racing commissioner that oversees
the entire sport. One of the things that
I see is a major issue and a major problem with the sport is I'm all about
competition inside the race track.
That's where the competition belongs.
There is so much competition that is outside the race track that I'm against. Whether it's TVG versus HRTV,
whether it's Thoroughbred Times versus Blood-Horse, whether it's New York
racing versus New Jersey racing, we have to unite as a racing community outside
and at the end of the day, there needs to be one commission above all the
tracks with consistency, with different rules and regulations of the different
There are different medications that are allowed here that
are not allowed here. It doesn't make
any sense, and I really think in order for the industry to flourish and
probably be one of the top spectator sport with a growing audience, obviously
other than focusing on the fan, you have to get a governing body that acts in
the best interest of the fan, the best interest of the horses, and most
important, the best interest of the race.
certainly I hope that you can take a little bit of a leadership role in helping
achieve that. I think a lot of people
would like to see that.
Listen Mike, we really have taken a lot of your time
today. I appreciate it. I've got many, many other questions here but
I really do thank you and again, we appreciate it. I understand that starting next month you're
going to be having an Uncle Mo derby diary that's going to be appearing on
BloodHorse.com. Jason Shandler's going
to be helping you with that and we have come up with a name for that called
Derby Mo-jo. We'll be looking forward to
that. And again, I really want to thank
you for your time today.
Ron. I appreciate it.
Mike Repole Bio