Following the release of a comprehensive report by consulting firm McKinsey & Company, The Jockey Club has announced a multi-million-dollar, nine-part plan for the betterment of thoroughbred horse racing and
The recommendations, released during a round-table conference in Saratoga Springs, NY, stem from the report titled 'Driving Sustainable Growth for Thoroughbred Racing and Breeding.'
According to the Daily Racing Form, The Jockey Club will commit approximately $10 million over five years to the projects, including the costs of the initial report. The projects will be funded, on the recommendation of the McKinsey report, in an attempt to reverse an erosion of racing’s fan base.
The nine recommendations involve better television coverage; fewer, but improved race days; new wagering platforms; integrated rewards programs; free-to-play online games; social games; safety improvements; new ownership tools; and best practices at racetracks.
The comprehensive study, which began earlier this year, considered 600,000 races over 11 years and included about 1,800 interviews.
Two of the areas the study did not make any major recommendations on were the issues of takeout and the on-track experience.
According to the Daily Racing Form, “the report did not offer any recommendations for improving the on-track racing experience, aside from citing a litany of complaints offered by survey respondents about their negative experiences at the track, with the top three complaints being dirty bathrooms, poorly maintained facilities, and low-quality food and beverage service.”
On takeout, the report acknowledged that 26 per cent of core bettors consider pari-mutuel takeout a “top-two concern,” but that fewer than 2 per cent of most fans know about takeout.
The Jockey Club hired McKinsey after major declines the past three years in handle, yearling prices, and the size of the foal crop. The report’s recommendations were largely focused on small measures that could help stall the slides. The report acknowledged that “capital constraints” facing the industry’s racetracks eliminated the likelihood of more expensive undertakings such as large-scale improvements to racing facilities or national marketing campaigns.
The report’s authors, Dan Singer and Mike Lamb, contended that racing’s low visibility among the general public was related in part to the sport’s television coverage, citing a decline in the number of national television broadcast hours from 175 in 2003 to 43 in 2010.
Because of the recommendation, the Jockey Club said it was exploring a number of ideas for a television series in 2012, ranging from a reality-type show to a series of televised races.
The Jockey Club will commit five years’ worth of funding to implement the recommendations with McKinsey & Company remaining involved in the efforts
According to the study, thoroughbred racing suffered a wagering drop of 37 per cent in the past decade, as well as a 30 per cent decline in attendance.
The study authors claim that if the industry were to continue going at its current pace, it would see a 25 per cent drop in total wagers over the next decade, as much as an 18 per cent decline in foal crop (next year’s is projected to be the smallest since 1971) and a 50 per cent increase in owner losses.