A Marketing Fund For Racing

Published: September 21, 2014 10:15 am EDT

In light of the recent fundraising campaign within the harness racing industry to broadcast some of the major races on national television -- including this past week's Little Brown Jug -- the latest Standardbred Canada video features trainers and drivers discussing the idea of a marketing fund for the sport.

Trainers and drivers were asked to complete the following sentence: The percentage of the province's purse pool I would be willing to allot to a marketing budget is...

Horsemen were then asked if there are any conditions they would like to apply to an agreement if one were to be made.

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We both know that if the industry continues the way it is, it most likely will cease to exist in the very near future. Can I guarantee you the 2 million back in handle in a year, no. Is it possible sinking 2 million into advertising could net you 10 million in handle over a year if its done right, yes. If the industry stays status quo what chance do you see it having in the next 5 years? Do you see more Government handouts?

The lack of comments here shows to me that the majority may appear to care about this industry but are not willing to sink a dime of their own money into trying to advertise it to a new generation of gamblers, which is very disappointing to say the least.

Whats that say about this industry?

Nobody can afford these entry fees?

Is this an industry that does not believe in their product?

Nobody is willing to think outside the box here?

Sit back and think about how poker or Nascar became so popular. They both became popular because of advertising and getting their product out to the masses on TV. They put money back into their product and look where it has taken them. TV exposure all over the world. Millions in endorsements. Recognizable personalities. Thats how its done.

Oh and by the way they both have entry fees to get into races (a lot more than $20) and into tournaments and I am quite sure a portion of that money goes towards advertising.

Ontario Horse Racing - if your reading this. Implement the entry fee plan, hire the best marketing firm. The money will be there each and every year to do it. For this industry to survive in the future it must be marketed to a new generation, with gambling as the focal point.

Will spending 2 million a year on marketing generate a fresh 2 million in handle? Will we get our money back? Handle is the only track revenue stream that we currently get a piece of - I like most track owners but don't feel like spending our dough to make any of them money.


Its been 2 years since the Government announced they were scraping SARP. Whats been done to try and move this business forward? All kinds of we will do this, we will do that, we should do this, lets do this and so on and so on, but the bottom line is, nothing has been done. No revenue sharing, no industry related lotteries, no marketing, low handles that cannot come close to funding daily purses paid out, etc etc etc.

Now a video comes out asking how much % of purse money should be taken from the owners to help market the industry. As you said, why is it the owners who have to take yet another hit? Many have left the business and many have moved their stables to the USA.

I say why not everyone be a part of something better and each individual do their part for the industry that employs them to try and better it. The plan I laid out is there for the industry to have the money to market itself, without Government handouts.

Instead of take take take, like this industry has done during the SARP era, its time now, to give instead.

Gary you are 100% Right.

No disrespect to trainers and drivers, but the ones that are talking about 10 to 25 percent of the purses do not understand what today's owners are facing. if you reduce the purses who will pay the bills? Who will buy the yearlings, who will pay the vets, blacksmith, equipment, paddock ect....You can not have a game with only trainer/owners.

Trainers know how to train, drivers knows how to drive. You have to have business people run businesses.....somewhere down the road, horsepeople decided they were all experts in running businesses. The marketing needs to look at, and Gary's idea is a very good one.....we need to attract a younger crowd to secure our future. Then we have to look at the way the purses are distributed between tracks and conditions. A new structure for the whole province needs to be implemented and followed by all tracks. Need to look at introducing sport books, new bets, new distances.....AND SOME FUN AT TE TRACK FOR PEOPLE... At the travers (in Saratoga) there was bout 45,000 people having fun with coolers and lunches with music....the younger crowds were having a ball...that's the future...we need a business person to drive it.

But every time a committee is formed, it is trainers, drivers track operators and government people, never hear about a businessman or woman that can bring new initiatives and their expertise.

The wheels on the bus go round and round.

For the life of me when is this industry actually going to do something to promote itself instead of talk about it.

Heres a surefire way to raise 2 million dollars a year to promote the sport and every person that has a vested interest in this industry in Ontario will be a part of it.

Drivers - $5 fee for every horse drive
Trainers - $5 fee for every horse they race
Owners - $10 entry fee for every horse they race (if 4 people own a horse its $2.50 a piece)

Heres what we missed out the past 7 days if this plan was implemented.

1777 races were raced from Sept 14-21 in Ontario

If these entry fees were implemented they would have raised $35,540 towards marketing this sport. Thats a pretty nice chunk of change for one week.

These fees will raise an estimated $140,000 a month which equates to an estimated $1.68 million a year.

Each racetrack in Ontario should also have apart in this and could be charged a fee of $5,000 per year to help towards the marketing.

Each industry organization in Ontario, Standardbredcanada, OHRIA, OHHA etc could be charged a fee of $1,000 per year to help towards the larketing of this industry.

You may also wish to go further to ensure that every person involved in this industry does they're part in it by charging them a set fee of $200 per year. These would include.

Tack Shops
Licenced Vets
Feed suppliers
Supplement suppliers
Shipping companies
Race Secretary's

$2 million dollars a year for marketing this sport would allow it to have a campaign like none other this sport has ever witnessed.

I am surprised by the answers given to the question of how much a development fund for marketing harness racing should actually be.
At the present time owners are racing for forty percent of a total purse which is of course after five percent is taken off for the trainer and driver. I can't believe that some people are proposing another ten to twenty percent of the forty percent they are now racing for.
How many owners will be left if that percentage comes to fruition? I would predict a huge drop in ownership if this was to be implemented. Sure the big stables would survive but one has to ask what about the little guys? Has stall rent gone down in the last couple of years? Have the price of hay and oats gone down for that same period? Has the cost of having a horse trained gone down? Have the costs of shoeing horses gone down? Has the price of having your horse paddocked gone down? Is it cheaper today to have your horse trucked? Are vet fees reducing because there are fewer owners in horse racing today? Regardless how badly horse racing ownership has gone down in the last few years there is one constant. The owner's are still paying the same or in many cases more. No one offers those owners any deals due to the hardship they have had to endure.
To hit small owners with another ten to twenty percent decrease is really going to cause a drastic drop in ownership.
The final question that begs to be answered is how do track operators get away with not providing any of the funding being proposed by horsemen interviewed in this SC piece? Why should they be exempt?

Very nice to hear that trainers, owners, and drivers talking about marketing. We need to start at the bottom and that would be the smaller tracks. This smaller track needs more exposure and they need to be incorporated in to off-track wagering and to bring up their betting handles. Each time we lose a small track, it weakens the industry as a whole. Dresden raceway benefited from this last season with Greg Blanchard. He brought a different side to racing that I believed the fans liked this and felt more apart of the track. TV exposure would be good, only if the revenues would be shared among all the tracks. We also need to focus on bringing new fans to the track. We need to create more handicapping contests that would involve all the tracks. And have an annual event where we could bring all these winners together so we could have a grand prize winner.

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