Courtesy of Patrick Patten
Whether I was listed as being there or not (Esther
what did I say for you to forget me? ;-D ), I was in fact at the NTRA annual
marketing meeting. A group of fans put
together what we believe to be an easy first step (NTRA
marketing report) in helping our sport become viable in
today's "connected" world. I've spent
the last week writing
about my experiences, and mostly gushing over how great it was. It's been said I'm now in the NTRA pocket,
and I can't disagree too much. I was
bowled over with their enthusiasm and interest.
If it was an act, there aren't enough Oscars to go around, and if it
isn't, well one weekend isn't the end of this
Alex wants us to hold the industry's feet to the fire. So, I wanted to list here, specifically, what
I'll be looking for and (when).
The best idea that came from the package was the idea for a
VP position for online/offline marketing.
I know this is the best idea, because so many other forums from
the weekend could have been helped by a person we described. If, as John
Della Volpe said, "the smartest people are outside your company" then it
flows, there should be someone in the company watching that all the time. Tracks are singularly attacking some of the
issues that face the sport on a national level: after
racing care, take-out,
and safety, safety,
safety. Our group hopes that what being done at the
grass roots level can be brought up to the national level with more observation
and a point person to motivate things. I'd like to see a VP position by Feb 1st.
"Take Back Saturday" was our rallying-cry to the industry to
do more to make Saturday must see viewing.
It is a first step in changing the image of our sport. One of the easier changes we hope to see in
the new year is "Charity-capping." Pair
up Hank Goldberg with a celebrity at the track, give them real money, and have
them wager. The largest bankroll at the
end gets both bankrolls and a check from the NTRA. The camera needs to be over the shoulder as
both parties make their wagers.
Furthermore, we'll be looking for tracks tying in their online/offline
communities to coordinate an event for the winning charity that could air on TV
weeks later. Charity Capping I'd like to see in the new ESPN shows NEXT YEAR.
"Take Back Saturday" also means a retooling of "Win and
You're In" which is creating small islands of races, but little continuity to
bring people back. For example, Presious
this weekend, but he was already in the BC Turf. What did this race mean for him? Isn't Einstein our American star this
year? We're proponents of standings to
affect gate choice or create year end bonuses.
We're not in favor of the NTRA taking over or telling tracks what to do;
we're just for getting everyone to relate the meaning of all the stakes
races. With the additional categories
the NTRA can also act quicker to create context than others. I'd like
to see an announcement to get members to weigh the stakes after this year's BC
and before the Eclipse awards.
I need schwag. The
merchandise needs to change. We all
agree that the stars of the industry are the horses, and yet when you show up
to the big days of racing much of what is on sale has the track name or the
event name; much of which is 50% off the next day. If horses are the stars, then the owners are
our teams. I'm hoping phone calls are
being made right now to the Phipps', Reddam's, Overbrook's, Ramsey's, and other
camps with famous silks. I want t-shirts, golf shirts, mugs, hats as
soon as possible.
I left the easiest thing for last. It's easy because it's already
happening. Include us fans more. Our ideas are sometimes out-there;
unencumbered by laws and budgets, but given the right setting we can produce
concrete analysis and suggestions, and think outside the box.