• Racing is cool

    POSTED Dec 22, 2011
    Through the misfortune of my son being sick I've had the good fortune of meeting a lot of great people.

    Small talk with nurses, therapists of various sorts (respiratory, occupational, speech, etc.), social workers, doctors, security guards, Ronald McDonald House-mates, and a whomever else happens to be in proximity helps to pass the time and has introduced me to a world of different backgrounds and experiences.

    And I'm happy to say that I return the favor by sharing my zest for horse racing. Even better, though, is that many seem genuinely interested in the world in which I work, including several who told me how much they enjoy going to the races (including at nearby River Downs), how they wish they could go more often, and how they dream of attending the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (no one actually said "presented by Yum! Brands", but I gotta help those who help pay the bills).

    I'm willing to allow that certain social constructs require people to humor the dad with the sick kid, but as someone who delights in reading people's expressions (how great was Lie To Me?), I don't think people were merely being polite when the topic shifted to horse racing. I saw eyes light up, big smiles, and more eye contact when we talk about my passion.

    I spend my day in a place dedicated to healing sick kids, yet many people have told me how cool it is that I work in horse racing.

    I mention all this because it's often said that racing has an image problem and has trouble attracting new fans, and while that may be true day to day, there is clearly an audience willing to enjoy the sport. How to get the dozen or so people who are interested in what I do to actually experience it is definitely a tough question to answer, but at least we know these people exist.

    There is a market for new fans and a possibility for growth, and that is because horse racing is cool. Much has already been written about whether Luck can get people interested in racing, and based on what I've experienced in Cincinnati the past three months I think the more apropos question is not whether Luck can interest people--they're already interested--but whether it can actually get people to spend a day at the races.

    Luck can make horse racing chic in the same way that Man Men made viewers want to inhabit its world of philandering and backstabbing. And the good news is, the world of horse racing isn't only limited to big events.

    My aunt lives in Tucson, and she said there is a huge amount of cache associated with running horses at Rilito Park. A nurse who has only been to the races at River Downs said her son loves the pageantry of each race with the call to post, announcing, people scrambling to bet, etc. Being introduced to racing at Thistledown, I can relate. I was 19 years old before I ever saw a graded race live, but I was still drawn in by the excitement of live racing, the glitz of the clubhouse, and the glamor of being in the paddock (or even better the winner's circle!) with your horse.

    Insiders certainly know of its ills, but for all the problems out there, spending a day at the racetrack provides some of the very best in live entertainment (especially at the price point) for friends and family. Not only spreading that word but also encouraging others to do so as well could grow the sport.

    The take away of my experience talking about racing and the success of Mad Men is that word of mouth is a powerful thing, and one of the best marketing tools horse racing has at its disposal.
  • 1 comment:

    Anonymous said...

    Nice work Ed and gl with your son.

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