The Thoroughbred Racing Fan Association (ThoroFan) is a new membership fan club for racing enthusiasts, launched in Saratoga in July 2008. Their tagline, "giving the fan a voice," emphasizes their three main goals to educate, advocate and excite. Here we sit down with Board of Directors Chairman Michael Amo for a 10 Questions interview.
1. What defines a racing fan?
According to an NTRA/ESPN survey there are approximately 29 million racing fans 18 years of age or older in the United States.
The Thoroughbred racing fan is the ultimate customer of the sport. Without their support, there would not be a reason for races, racehorses, horseman, owners, breeders or track operators. A fan of Thoroughbred racing ranges from the occasional player or viewer to the person who plays the game daily. They enjoy the sport for its beauty, intrigue, strategy and complexity.
2. What is the Thoroughbred Racing Fan Association?
The Thoroughbred Racing Fan Association (Thorofan) is a not-for-profit, membership-based corporation designed to foster growth of the Thoroughbred racing industry by providing racing fans with an organization that will actively support their interests.
Our goal is to enhance fan enjoyment and knowledge of thoroughbred racing and skills in handicapping. Thorofan, in cooperation with other organizations in the thoroughbred business community, seeks to retain existing racing fans and develop new ones for the industry by creating membership benefits.
We are independent and focused on serving our members interests. We are in our infancy and need all the input we can get from fans to move forward. It must be a grassroots organization to succeed.
3. What are the benefits of joining?
There are many benefits. We like to think about them in three categories:
- Voice of the Fan The fan of thoroughbred racing needs a voice in the direction of the sport and industry. We are not ancillary customers, but are active stakeholders in the sport. Every fan and the sport will benefit by having a collective and independent voice.
- Fan Community Fans have much in common. However, the nature of our pari-mutuel sport seems to encourage isolationism. Thorofan hopes to break down that barrier by providing online forums, educational events, membership meetings and sponsored events at racetracks.
- Tangible Benefits We are constantly working at securing benefits for membership. It is our goal to ALWAYS provide benefits in a dollar amount well in excess of any annual membership. Essentially joining Thorofan is a sound financial decision as well as a good bet.
4. How did ThoroFan get its start?
A small group of Thoroughbred racing fans observed that during the NYS franchise negotiations, the fans were rarely, if ever, asked for their opinion. However, other stakeholders were. That seemed like a misalignment. Research of other racing entity operations suggested the same, fans were not routinely involved. So we set out to create a mechanism that could be the voice of the fan. Thorofan was born.
5. Can race goers find you at the Track this summer?
Yes! We will have a Thorofan table in the grandstand area just off Union Avenue, facing the backyard.
6. Is the organization active only during the summer racing season in Saratoga?
No. We became official in July and wanted to take advantage of the huge fan turn-out at the Saratoga meet. Our plan is to be active at Belmont and Aqueduct to the degree the fans want us to be. We are planning a trip to Keeneland in October to talk with them about partnering with us. We have members signed up from Michigan, Virginia, Florida and Kentucky. If ever a critical mass of fans emerges in a geographic area we will pursue establishing a chapter there.
7. Is this fan club for anyone... or only the rich and famous?
All fans are welcome to join, regardless of their level of participation in the sport. We have owners, breeders, gamblers, casual fans and industry professionals participating in our working committees.
8. How would you respond to someone who says, "I could never be a racing fan because I don't know the first thing about the sport!"
Most of us who have been fans for years started out with that same thought. "With a little help from our friends" and studying we became knowledgeable and excited fans. Thorofan wants to promote the introduction of the new fan to the sport through our website (www.thorofan.com), orientation meetings and education.
9. How can racing fans learn more about your organization?
- Go to the website: www.thorofan.com
- Drop by our Registration table at the Saratoga Race Course
- Ask others who have joined for their recommendation and testimony
10. Finish this sentence, "Saratoga is..."
"Saratoga is the best place in the world to see and play Thoroughbred racing during the 6 week Saratoga Race Course summer meet."
A Final Plea...
We can only be successful if we have a large membership base to magnify our voice.
ThoroFan is an independent, non-for-profit membership organization offering a voice for Thoroughbred Racing Fans. The organization is recruiting volunteers to help with registration and fan education during the Saratoga racing meet. Please visit their web site at www.thorofan.com for more details.