Tired of all the bad news? So were we. So, in our new series, we focus on the positive, asking people from non-horse racing families two questions: how they get hooked, and how they'll hook someone else on horse racing this year.
MICHAEL BEHRENS, CEO OF MYRACEHORSE.COM
What was the experience that made you fall in love with horse racing?
I'm kind of typical of those people who are exposed to racing early on. I had a friend whose dad was into racing. When I was 16, they invited me out to Santa Anita after school on a Thursday. Of course, I placed my first bet and hit the exacta. So I thought, “Oh, this is easy, I love it.” I remember thinking there were beautiful horses and beautiful scenery, what's not to like. So after that I was hooked. Right away, I loved the convergence of the competition and the animal and the gaming. But I never got into it much more than going out with my friends every couple months to have a good time. It wasn't until 20 years later that I got into it professionally.
I was the CMO of Casper Mattress Company, and I lived in California. At the time I was really interested in why the sport wasn't flourishing as much as I enjoyed it. If I took my own personal barometer, racing was one of the top sports in the US. But that wasn't manifesting itself into mainstream culture. So I didn't understand that and I was intrigued. I started to read as much as I could to learn why racing wasn't as large as I thought it should be in the states as compared to how it is in other countries. I developed some theories and decided to try it out myself. So my business was an intersection of the business side of racing and my enjoyment as a fan.
Would you commit to creating one new fan this year and, if so, what would be the experience you use to introduce them to the sport?
While I am ridiculously biased, I would say that ownership is the most simple and beautiful way to bring someone into this sport. Gaming is complicated and some of the big day events can be expensive, but ownership captures everything. It captures the excitement of the race, and all the people who love and put attention into the horses. The goal for my business is to bring hundreds of thousands of people into the game by making ownership easy, because it gives you a glimpse into every part of the sport and helps you see what makes it so wonderful.