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Anthony MacDonald's Blog


One speech becomes two

Published: March 2, 2016 12:18 pm ET

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Last weekend I spoke at the annual USTA conference in Columbus, Ohio. I planned to speak about the benefits of fractional ownership, the hurdles it still faces and show how, if done right, it can be an immense tool for our industry across the board.

My speech ending up being two speeches.
This blog, ending up being two stories.
Both important, both connected.

As I sat and waited to speak at 9:00 a.m. in Columbus, I was saddened to hear how close racing is to being over in the entire state of Florida. I, living in Ontario now and previously living in Quebec understand fully the finality of racing being over.

Ontario felt the chill of its possible extinction, but not quite the sadness and depression the horsemen from Quebec felt as the mighty Blue Bonnets was shuttered in 2009.

Think about what would happen if private enterprise lobbyists got away with convincing the government they didn't need racing.
Convincing the government that the state was better off without horse racing.

Luckily our casino operators and racetrack operators would never do such a thing, right?
I think just to be sure, we as an industry should commission third party economic impact statements (we have here in Ontario) to be presented in an open fashion so everyone can see just what our province or your state would look like without horse racing.
How much of an impact our industry has at a governmental level and help each other show why it is imperative that horse racing remain under a gaming umbrella.
(Would we be where we are, had we ourselves as horsemen commissioned our own report prior to Drummond's?)

That's an institutional issue: what can we do as horsemen? How can we make our industry stronger?

Hard work and diligence is always a good place to start. Here is the state of our industry seen through the eyes of

As we work to get this industry on both sides of the boarder forwardly placed, we (horsemen) find ourselves taking a look at the customer service offered at tracks.
But we rarely turn that microscope on ourselves.
We rarely look to see if we are doing all we can.

We have often wondered if there is investment "out there", outside the walls of our industry.
Finding ourselves short on owners, investors, and gamblers here in Canada, The Stable was born out of fear and necessity as much as forward thinking and business sense.

But in six months my wife and I have proved one thing:

Irrefutably there is investment all around us, all over the world.
We have owners and perspective owners from England, Ireland, Belgium, Florida, Missouri, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Manitoba, Alberta, British Columbia, and on and on.

People of all race, age and gender buying percentages of horses from someone they have never met.
They may never see these horses in person, or may see every week.
The majority of these people having one thing in common:
They are all first-time owners.

Some of them are looking for a return on their investment while others are looking for something to be excited about for the summer.
But they are all looking to be included in something.
Something they can see, smell and touch.
This, ladies and gentleman, is our way back in.
Back into society, back into entertainment, and yes, back into gaming.

How can something so dead, be so alive?

We are one stable, one website.
What would the landscape in North America look like if we have 500 fractional stables or 500 websites?
Would our fan base grow?
Would our racetracks' handle increase?

You tell me.

These people come out to the farm and bring droves of friends and family with them.
They will come to our racetracks, they will eat, drink, and yes, gamble there too.

We can offer something much more monetary for our clients abroad, 70 cents on the American dollar.
So next time you hear someone complaining about our weak dollar, just think to yourself thank you, because the US may poach our horses and some of our investors, but now we have a tool to grow new investment. Our weak dollar is a great way to help owners from many states invest in our province and country.
This is how we build back up our breeding sector.
With more fans, comes more revenue.
If we have more revenue, we race for more money.
If we race for more money, we have a stronger industry.
From the breeders, to the horsemen, from the racetracks, to the province, we grow.

We need to focus on these main areas going forward:

Horsemen need to begin to open their doors to the general public and focus on their own customer service.
They need to aggressively pursue investment through their own advertising and marketing initiatives.

Racetracks need to begin to truly put on full competitive fields and race cards.
Design tailor-made condition sheets for our patch work horse population.

We need to continue to strengthen our position in government on both sides of the border, fight decoupling and other destructive practices that spawn from greed and ignorance.

If we can start to do all these things, we will be well on our way to building a new industry.
One that we can once again be proud of rather than trapped in.

Here is my speech from the USTA floor in Columbus, Ohio.

The views presented in Trot Blogs are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Standardbred Canada.

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