Come one, come all
When you work in the Thoroughbred industry for a living, sometimes it is easy to forget that information you take for granted can be overwhelming to someone who is new.That is never more clear than when I go to the racetrack with friends who are only casually interested in the sport. More than once I have had a friend who wanted to bet but was intimidated by the process. Getting the lingo down can take time, and fumbling over your wager cannot only result in the wrong ticket but restless and angry crowds in line behind you.
Usually I coach my friends on what to say and help them when they are in line, but for the more timid ones, I occasionally just place the bet for them.
“"We are going to be at signature events," said Panus. "It is the same reason the NBA focuses on its best teams and doesn't put the Hornets on TV on Christmas Day, they put the Lakers on. The NBA, the NFL focus on the best teams. That's what we need to focus on. We have great events, but mainstream doesn't know that. They see the Kentucky Derby and maybe the Preakness and that is about it. Most don't even know about the Breeders' Cup." In order to make racing easier to follow, America's Best Racing is presenting it as two seasons each year: races leading up to the Triple Crown in the spring and races leading up to the Breeders' Cup in the fall. Anyone who has been in the Thoroughbred industry for any significant length of time is aware that this is far from the sport's first attempt to grow its fan base. But one thing this new initiative has going for it that others did not is use of modern technology, especially when trying to attract the younger fan. "With the advent of digital and social media, you are able to reach a lot more people in a much quicker, cost efficient manner," said Panus. "You can generate a lot more word of mouth. If our strategy is pure TV, we are going to lose the battle." America's Best Racing is only four months old, and whether it will be a successful venture in the long run remains to be seen. That said, it is working now and tracks seem to be enthusiastic about partnering up with the initiative. In an industry where getting one person to agree with another about practically anything can be a chore, almost everyone can agree that drawing in more people and helping them become passionate, educated fans is a good thing. The next time Racing 101 will make an appearance is the weekend of Aug. 18-19. The initiative will be represented at Arlington Park on Arlington Million day, as well as at Saratoga to coincide with the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes. If you are curious about America's Best Racing, you can also visit and check out videos, tutorials and more. Amanda Duckworth is a freelance journalist who lives in Lexington, Ky. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is the same reason the NBA focuses on its best teams and doesn't put the Hornets on TV on Christmas Day, they put the Lakers on.” -- Stephen Panus, NTRA VP of Communications
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