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|Through social media, trainers such as Doug O'Neill have found other ways to get their messages out.|
“"Racehorses having a Twitter account is becoming extremely popular," Sanders said. "We were on the early wave of things with Lava Man and I'll Have Another, but toward the beginning of this year you started to notice, almost anyone who thought they had a Derby hopeful had a Twitter account." Sanders said knowing the horses in O'Neill's barn gives her the ability to create a certain voice for each Twitter account. She tries to key in to something unique to each runner. "It gives you a really insider perspective; you have the immediacy of knowing what's going on around the barn," she said. "If you actually know the horses and are around them, you can create a personality for them. That's what the fans connect to, the voice you create for that horse. "Lava Man, other than just being a seasoned racehorse, carries himself with a certain air," Sanders said. "To this day he looks like he could go run on the track; he knows he's something special. Goldencents right now is just like a little boy trying to figure everything out. He's learning that interacting with people is a good thing, getting to know his owners, not trying to nip at them, learning his manners. The first time he ever took a peppermint as a treat, he had the silliest look on his face. I snapped a picture and tweeted that out, and people reacted to it. The next thing you know, they're sending peppermints to the barn."
We were on the early wave of things with Lava Man and I'll Have Another, but toward the beginning of this year you started to notice, almost anyone who thought they had a Derby hopeful had a Twitter account.” -- Sharla Sanders, social media manager for trainer Doug O'Neill
@tonycbadabing I am fine, ate up well and gathering up a game plan.Two choices for me, think everyone has to talk & decide.— TheGoldencents (@TheGoldencents) March 11, 2013
Thx stricks for the great putting lesson, and congrats on 2nd :) Great weekend at Doral all around. Thx for the support! See u in Orlando.— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) March 11, 2013
"These horses are athletes, just like Michael Jordan or Michael Phelps, and they deserve to be thought of as athletes," said Steve Herik, who manages the Twitter account of 3-year-old contender Dewey Square (@RunDeweySquare). Although the Dale Romans trainee has faltered somewhat on the Kentucky Derby trail, Herik continues to utilize the account as a way to promote the horse and his owner/breeder, Siena Farm (@SienaFarmKY). "It's been a huge learning curve as to how to make things work PR-wise, how to get the word out there that there are some horses to be looked at and followed as well," Herik said. "First of all, it's a fun way to connect with the fans who will say 'Wishing you well, wishing you luck in your next race,' and second of all, it helps to use social media to call attention to a great sport with some seriously impressive athletes." Also like major athletes, some horses are represented by unofficial fan accounts. Highly regarded Tampa Bay Stakes winner Verrazano (@VerrazanoColt), for instance, has an account that is not affiliated with his ownership group, Let's Go Stables (@LGSRacing). Lecomte Stakes winner Oxbow actually has two accounts, neither of which is official. For the most part, however, even the pseudo-accounts seem to benefit fans as those who run them tweet information on workouts and retweet links to articles about the contenders.
Good team win and better post game. Had a chance to meet a big fan. Thank you Tess for the love and& instagr.am/p/WdjniNFCDR/— Way of WADE (@DwyaneWade) March 5, 2013
“The sport of horse racing itself has found an ideal medium in Twitter, a social media network tailor-made for racing's fast-moving and communal world. Top events in horse racing dominated discussions leading up to the 2012 Triple Crown, with prep races such as the Bluegrass Stakes, the Florida Derby, the Spiral Stakes, the Santa Anita Derby, the Wood Memorial and others all trending. "With the nation's thoroughbreds captivating social media, horse racing has proved that it has a robust hold on the national psyche and a special place on Twitter," said Stephen Panus, vice president of communications for America's Best Racing. "Horse racing's high-profile events and the horses who compete in them routinely trend on Twitter. The sharing of key data and information via Twitter plays a key role in raising awareness and appreciation for the sport and its big race-day events." Horses aren't the only ones on Twitter -- top jockeys, trainers and owners are using the platform to communicate with fans -- but they may be the most fun to interact with. "It just shows how easily you can create a personality for a horse," Sanders said of Goldencents. "He gets asked if he has a girlfriend, people want to send him cookies and peppermints, they want to know if he likes his groom, what he does when he's not racing. They ask him, 'How do you type on a keyboard?'" For a list of 2013 Triple Crown contenders on Twitter, click here. Claire Novak is an Eclipse Award-winning turf writer who covers horse racing for The Blood-Horse magazine in Lexington, Ky. Follow her on Twitter @bh_cnovak and read more of her work at www.bloodhorse.com.
With the nation's thoroughbreds captivating social media, horse racing has proved that it has a robust hold on the national psyche and a special place on Twitter.” -- Stephen Panus, VP of communications for America's Best Racing