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13 Easy Ways to Grow Thoroughbred Racing

December 09, 2013 · By Erin Birkenhauer · Share

I want to share my ideas as a young person in the sport. If you’re reading this, chances are you love Thoroughbreds and racing. I want my grandchildren to experience horse racing like I’ve been so blessed to experience. It sounds simple, but we all really need to do our part to bring in new fans, owners, and young blood into the game.


How can we do that? Here are some ideas in no particular order...


1. If you have access to box seats at any track, not a race day should go by where the seats are empty. Give them to a coworker, family member, or somebody who did something nice for you.


2. Go to the track and buy a few $5 betting vouchers. When your hairdresser says, “Oh my God I’ve always wanted to go to the track!,” whip one out and give it to him/her. Next time you get your hair cut, ask them how much fun they had.


3. Probably the simplest of all, whenever you go to the track, ask yourself “who can I bring with me?” Don’t you agree with most people all it takes is one visit and they’re hooked? I’m biased but if I were new in the game, I’d want to go to Saratoga and/or Keeneland. (Ok Del Mar you’re a close third).


4. Bring someone to a horse sale --they’re FREE and open to the public. There’s Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton in Kentucky and OBS in Florida amongst others. Get them a catalogue and go take them to look at weanlings -- who doesn’t love them? Contact me if you need help finding the closest sale to you.


The Saratoga yearling sales over the summer are HUGE social events.


5. Throw a party on a big race day whether its Breeders’ Cup, Kentucky Derby, or the Dubai World Cup. Put a pool together so people get into it and get competitive.


6. All the teachers out there will roll their eyes on this one -- teach your kid a few math lessons using the racing form! I learned fractions that way (three quarters of a mile or six furlongs is shorter than ⅞ of a mile or seven furlongs) and I turned out okay.


7. Encourage people to attend new owners seminars, handicapping seminars, and other events where they can meet people with the same passion. The Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA) is a great resource as is America’s Best Racing.


8. Know somebody who would love to own a racehorse but doesn’t know what the first step is? Encourage them to join a partnership. I might be biased, but I hear West Point Thoroughbreds is a great organization. :)


9. Encourage the racing fan in your life to get engaged -- the internet is a beautiful thing. There are numerous industry leaders on Facebook, Twitter, etc. There’s never been a better a time for people to find something they’re passionate about and become immersed in it.


10. Talk to people about how racing is a family affair. You can be any age, from any place, and have little or no athletic ability to participate. Click here to read Debbie Finley’s blog about families in racing.


Random fact: Did you know equestrian is the only Olympic sport where men and women compete as equals?


11. I graduated from the University of Kentucky -- they have a great Horse Racing Club. Grab your roommate and find out when the meetings are.


12. Open a betting account and tell a friend to do the same-- there are a number of sites out there. TwinSpires, TVG, XpressBet. Don’t blow your life savings, but have some fun.


13. Beg your spouse to let you add BOTH HRTV AND TVG to the television package. :)


Any other ideas? Leave your comments below and I’ll add to the list.


Now get to work.

P.S. WPT Partners, email me ([email protected]) your story and let me know how you got into the game in 500 words or less. We’ll put them together and share them on the website for others to enjoy.

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Nice article. I think we need more local stars (horses and jockeys) for the new fan to support. Here in N. California, we are lucky to have Russell Baze, but then who? I bet most non-owner fans have few if any local horses to follow for more than a year due the nature of the sport (injury, loss of form, failure to develop, retirement to breed and the like) Interest in betting isn't enough. We need to think of something new. Maybe local tracks could form teams of owners, jockeys,trainers, and horses that travel to compete against other tracks/cities like we have in MLS, NBA, MLB and NFL. (Weekends like Saratoga vs Keeneland Belmont vs Aqueduct Churchill Downs vs Pimlico Golden Gate vs Santa Anita) With conferences, playoffs and a championship. Then, I think, you could generate more numbers and passion from the local fan. Jim Rabago
I was 17 and my Girl's father asked me to take a ride with him now living in Newark NJ we used to have paper men sell the Daily News at night on corners and he asked me to bring him a paper nightly well after two weeks I asked my girl why her father read the paper backwards she didn't know what to say then she told me her father bets on the races. Well any way that Saturday morning I pick him up and take him to the bus depot he tells me we are going to Bowie Maryland he has a tip on a horse,you have to understand it was 1957 there was no OTB. I had never left Newark in my life well we got on the bus and I'm going to a racetrack I had about $12.00 on me well the horse won and he gave me tickets to cash in I never had so much money on me in my life, now I was really scared holding all that money I thought this is easy. Needless to say i have been paying back more than I have won over the years from the so called TIPS.That was my introduction to horse racing.
my ist trip to the track was in 1941, I was 10. I went with my uncle who was an owner-trainer. I watched from the top of a stable barn and it was Preakness day. watching the noise and excitement and the come from behind victory of Whirlaway was all I needed to be hooked. 72 years later, I'm still hooked. hugh2
You bring up some good ideas. Maybe a marketing campaign, based on why folks got interested in racing, much as the comments to the blog posting. These people telling their stories in a light-hearted format. For me, I saw Secretariat on TV as a kid and the fellow who lived behind me worked at the Maryland tracks. I went for the first time (Bowie) when I was 15. I am 54 now, love the sport and live for Saratoga! The problem is, there are too many like me and not enough like you - younger, female who have a life ahead of them to be involved at the track. I think the studies show if you are not a fan by your early-20's you probably won't be. That's not a good sign.
Hi John thanks for posting. Agree, it is important to attract the younger demographic and there is a program Vision 20/20 that has young tbred industry leaders working together to help attract more of their generation to the sport. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Vision-2020/138653802886240 I think young kids are still captivated by horses they see on TV I am encouraged by some of the social media posts that mention kids falling in love with a tbred. I fell exactly like you did, only my Secretariat was Seattle Slew.
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