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.
What was the experience that made you fall in love with horse racing?
Like a lot of other people who aren't born into the business, my exposure to racing happened when I went to the races with my father, who was a school teacher. When I was a kid, I started working at Colts Neck Farm in New Jersey. As soon as I started working there, I realized how much I loved this world. And that love has not subsided in the last 45 years.
The industry was a lot more popular with American society then, so it was a lot easier to gain exposure and access to racing. Times change and our industry is a lot different now in many ways.
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?
It is incumbent on every one of us to bring in at least one new fan each year, so I feel like it is my duty to give back by bringing in more than one fan every year.
I think it is best to bring in new fans in a very individualized way. We know that marketing programs are good, but there's nothing that beats one-on-one interactions and looking someone in the eye to explain what our industry is all about.
It's important to get the feel of where they are struggling with in our business. Most of the time, they struggle with the handicapping side of it. I've found that when I've introduced people to it, it's so much more effective to do it individually. That way I can pick up on body language to see where they are exhibiting misunderstanding or confusion.
I don't downplay our industry's challenges. It goes a lot easier when you are trying to turn someone on to our game that you put our issues up front. Here are the things we are dealing with. People like authenticity, when you don't sugar coat our sport. We don't live in a fantasy, we live and work in an industry that is currently struggling to keep and build upon its identity to the American public. We can help change that by interacting with the public one by one.
Whatever way you do it, just do it.