Embracing Change - by Eric Mitchell

Change in Thoroughbred racing may come slowly in some areas, but it is no stranger to Blood-Horse.

The nearly 100-year-old print publication-turned multimedia company crossed yet another threshold May 29 with the launch of a new tablet edition of the weekly magazine. Not only will subscribers get free access to the  magazine’s content on their iPads or Android tablets, but they will discover a more engaging experience enhanced by bonus content, immediate access to race replays, and always-available access to the latest news from BloodHorse.com.

The tablet edition is a significant milestone on a twisting road that Blood-Horse has traveled, balancing the changes in publishing with the needs of Thoroughbred racing professionals and enthusiasts.

Originally a simple 7x10 newsletter, Blood-Horse would not use color until May 2, 1936, when green first appeared on its cover. The American Thoroughbred Breeders Association owned the publication at the time, and the purse for the Belmont Stakes was $25,000.

Growth in the Thoroughbred industry pushed the next major change in 1947 when the page size increased to 81⁄4 x 111⁄2.

“Instead of planned expansion and directed growth, the little one-horse magazine just went on doing what came naturally,” wrote editor Joe Estes at the time. “Then racing expanded, bringing a subsequent expansion in breeding. During the last two years The Blood-Horse staff has been hard pushed to cover even the most important developments for the simple reason that there have been more developments than usual.”

Estes goes on to explain that the change in page size is not “fixed and final,” noting that much of the type and equipment needed was still being shipped. The larger paper represented a significant risk to the company, which hoped that subscribers and advertisers would embrace the new format. They did, and the larger format remained.

The cover, with its black and white photo framed in green, did not change appreciably until the Feb. 17, 1962, issue that heralded a period of experimentation. A new cover with a white background and name Blood-Horse (no “The”) appeared, with the magazine’s name run in a three-week rotation of blue, red, and green. On the Feb. 24 issue’s cover that year, a photo filled the entire cover-—a radical departure at the time. Tradition apparently trumped innovation, however, and the green frame wrapping a black and white photo returned for the June 22, 1963, issue and remained until April 1967. The magazine’s first four-color pages appeared as a Fort Dodge advertisement in the April 15, 1967, issue. A four-color cover image first appeared two issues later, an image of the Calumet Farm trophy room. Color would not become standard on the cover until 1968 and even then most racetrack photos were run in black and white.

Twenty-eight years would pass before the most sweeping of changes would come. In November 1995 Blood-Horse announced the launch of Blood-Horse Interactive, a rudimentary website offering news, virtual farm tours, and a forum where readers could post comments. Since then our digital world has exploded and continues to change at an ever-accelerating pace. BloodHorse.com now attracts more than 550,000 unique visitors who make more than 1.6 million visits each month.

Blood-Horse welcomes these changes because it recognizes that along with the challenges of keeping up with the rapid developments in publishing come opportunities.

The new tablet edition of the magazine is a prime example. This format frees the magazine content from the confines of a printed page. The high-quality writing we pride ourselves in can now be enhanced with expanded charts, slideshows, or supplemental information that enriches the understanding of the subject.

Advertising opportunities expand, too. A remarkable performance by a sire’s offspring can be appreciated immediately through instant access to a video replay.

And these enhancements are only the tip of the iceberg. Our mission is to improve continuously the depth and quality of the information required by Thoroughbred industry professionals and desired by fans—next week, next month, and the next 100 years.



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