Actions Speak Louder Than Words

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 story. 

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 Passion ran 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. 

11 Comments

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normajean81258

As a member of the taskforce, I can appreciate this blog very much, thank you Partick! I was not at the Summit, but know that our work was presented and appreciated by those attending. I look forward to a future with the taskforce, and hope to get forging ahead in the near future. Thanks for the update and yes, I did notice that as our manager, your name was not mentioned in the article. But we know you gave 110% and appreciate all of your hard work!! Bravo!!  

30 Sep 2008 4:27 PM
handride

thanks norma. it was fun, and i just kid Esther, she's nice.  We (fans) will only be able to push so much, real leverage comes from those in industry who could benefit from a lot of these ideas.

30 Sep 2008 4:37 PM
LittleGuyBreeder

I agree about the "schwag".  I'm driving 8 hours to get to SA for the strict purpose of watching Curlin show Big Brown what "Horse of the Year" really means! <G>  I'd wear a Curlin shirt, if I knew where to find one.  It's not about the Breeder's Cup, but "who" you get to see there.  I did this trip in 2004 for the strict purpose of laying eyes on Funny Cide.  Everything else that happened was a bonus, but it was "The Star" who brought me out.

Anyone know where I can reach Jackson to beg him to keep Curlin in training just one more year?  We can't keep leaving it to the mares and the Evening Attires, The Tin Mans, With Anticipations and Lava Mans of the world to hold racing together in the public eye.

30 Sep 2008 5:12 PM
normajean81258

LittleGuy, your just what the sport needs! I always say that to prople I agree with!! LOL

Go to this link on eBay... lots of Curlin shirts!!

shop.ebay.com

30 Sep 2008 11:00 PM
Quinella Queen

Little Guy Breeder: It looks like there are lots of Curlin shirts for sale on the GoCurlin.com website. Since it's buried a bit, here's the link to the part of the site featuring shirts:

<a href="www.gocurlin.com/fan-gear-details.shtml">Curlin  gear</a>.  The "Click Here" link takes you even more.  And don't miss the other Curlin Swag under the links for "main fan gear", "accessories" and "specialty items".

01 Oct 2008 1:28 AM
Quinella Queen

Whoops!  Make that link:

<a href="www.gocurlin.com/.../a>.

Or just go to e-bay; it's easier to type!

01 Oct 2008 4:03 AM
MRider

Congrats on your comfy spot in the NTRA's pocket. Let's see....how many years ago was it that we were going to vault back into the national consciousness on the back of our NASCAR-like strategy? Or was it "Go Baby Go" that was going to take us to the bigtime? I forget. Frankly, after years of NTRA's constant search for more funding, and millions spent on salaries (oh yeah, let's get that new VP spot online, pronto), I find myself completely underwhelmed by their latest marketing initiative(s).

Want to see two straightforward ads that get the message across in 60 seconds? Go to the Camererra website and check theirs out. I wonder how many vice-presidents the track needed to formulate them.

Also, while I'm venting, I have a little newsflash for the suits: we want NEW fans, so running your latest brilliant production dozens of times during every race broadcast misses the point, unless the point is to impress the industry with your cleverness. Maybe you could let your ads rip during NFL or NBA game broadcasts, where the eyeballs of sports addicts who like to gamble are found in abundance.

Enthusiasm and interest are great, but the NTRA has had enough time to show something more.

01 Oct 2008 10:58 AM
handride

is there a typo in your camererra website, not sure where I should go.  

01 Oct 2008 12:50 PM
aspradling

I have read through the plan and think there are a lot of good ideas to build upon in it. Any way to educate and draw eyes from general public is a gain to the industry.

With the team aspect, that is a great idea. Many of us at BH have often talked about a NASCAR scenario. What if we put the farms as "teams" since horses are often run for only a few years, that way if people are attached to a great horse, like Curlin, and they are retired. There is still a team to route for.

I would be first in line to buy a Winchell farms polo/tshirt...Pyro!

02 Oct 2008 2:36 PM
Keith

Patrick,

Thanks for the post. And many thanks to the entire online task force for a terrific work product. You have our word that we will respond to each idea the group put fourth. There are a number of programs that I think we can enact fairly quickly. Others may take a bit more time. At any rate, stay tuned and we look forward to continuing the dialogue.

Best,

Keith

03 Oct 2008 1:10 PM
MRider

It was Camarera, but I can't find the ads there now. Try this:

<embed src="blip.tv/.../AaG4H4fhEA" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="720" height="446" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed>

05 Oct 2008 8:22 PM

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