The Jockey Club, an organization dedicated since 1894 to the improvement of Thoroughbred Racing, held its annual Round Table meeting yesterday on August 14.
The outcome of this tradition was a decision by the club to start implementing changes in the Thoroughbred racing industry.
These changes are based on recommendations from a large-scale study titled "Driving Sustainable Growth for Thoroughbed Racing and Breeding."
The study examined several perceived problems in modern-day racing, looked for correlations and suggested solutions.
These recommendations included increasing television coverage for the sport, the creation of a free-to-play fantasy sports website, running fewer races with more talented mounts, and creating a social media game.
The main purpose for these changes is to expand racing's outreach to bring new crowds to racetracks across the country.
The free-to-play website will work very much like a "fantasy football" league online. Fantasy sports in football, baseball and other athletics have millions of players, and the Jockey Club hopes this creation will generate interest in the races.
In the same vein of online gaming, one recommendation suggested creating a social media game a la "FarmVille" that would be based on Thoroughbred racing.
Online games like those on Facebook easily reach high numbers of people who might not otherwise be exposed to or interested in Thoroughbred Racing.
Along with attracting new crowds, changes will endeavor to make these newcomers feel more welcome and less confused.
Videos at the Round Table meeting showed the frustration of two new betters trying to bet at the window, at an automated machine, and online. Reforms that will simplify betting hope to attract more revenue from an easier process.
The study also recommended that the racing industry hold less races. This may sound counter-intuitive, but the reasoning is that fewer races, with more talented horses, will encourage greater spending per race.
Even eliminating as few as one race per day at one race course saw a substantial increase in the amount of money that was bet at each race.
While there were many doom and gloom stats about the current trend of Thoroughbred Racing across the U.S., I was pleased to conclude that few of the problems sounded familiar, and so the Saratoga Racetrack must exceed the national average.
I read the top three complaints from people who would not want to visit race tracks: dirty bathrooms, unkempt buildings, and lack of food.
Our Racetrack certainly has pristine and constantly attended bathrooms, clean and well-maintained grounds, and no shortage of good food.
It's good to know that the thriving racing atmosphere at the Saratoga Racetrack will only benefit from these new changes, bringing new crowds and more excitement to the classic sport.
Do you think these changes will be successful? What changes would you like to see in the Thoroughbred Racing industry? Let us know your opinions.