Laurel Park hosted its inaugural Fantasy Owners Day Saturday, giving registered participants the chance to gain paddock and winner’s circle access, as well as a total prize pool of $50,000. Presented jointly by Maryland Jockey Club, Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and Maryland Horse Breeders, the event was designed to introduce fans to Thoroughbred ownership and attracted 300 prospective owners.
“The attendance blew us away,” said Sal Sinatra, President and General Manager of the Maryland Jockey Club. “We were expecting maybe 100 people, so 300 was incredible.”
The event began with an optional morning training session on the Laurel apron, followed by a 10 a.m. sign-in period where participants were randomly paired with a horse for the day. A prospective owner’s seminar held at 10:30 a.m. featured a Q&A session with top racing partnerships, racing officials and horsemen, followed by a luncheon in the Terrace Dining Room.
As a bonus, the participants were all enrolled in a year-long contest based on the results of their fantasy horse. All fantasy horse earnings in U.S. races would be tracked from Saturday through Dec. 31, with $30,000 awarded to the participants assigned to the first-place fantasy horse, $10,000 for second, $5,500 for third, $3,000 for fourth and $1,500 for fifth.
“This was our way of giving people the experience of being an owner without any expense,” Sinatra explained. “It will now be our job to treat them like owners, inviting them to events and making them feel a part of our group. This day was a success, and it couldn’t have been done without the help of horsemen and breeders.”
Participants will be invited to the paddock for the saddling of all starts of their fantasy horse at Maryland tracks through the end of the year and to be part of the winner’s circle photo should their horse win. Final awards will be distributed during a luncheon at Laurel in January 2018.
Contestants can follow their horses through e-mails and a weekly blog at www.fantasyownership.com.