What Would You Fix First? Mark Toothaker

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Mark Toothaker | Spendthrift Farm

For the past few weeks, we have been running a series of responses to The Jockey Club’s proposed cap on a stallion’s book at 140 mares. Many people expressed the feeling that there were more pressing problems to which the industry should attend. So we asked a group of respondents, `What would you fix first?’

I think that we do not do a good job of promoting our product. It seems like we are always on the defensive instead of on the offensive. The one thing that I’ve learned being around Mr. Hughes during my time at Spendthrift is that you can never promote enough, you can never market enough. You have to constantly be talking about your product. I feel like that’s one of the things that we have lacked, and it may be the fact that we don’t have a commissioner like so many people have talked about that other leagues have like the NFL and NBA and others. I don’t know what the affiliate would be for us to have to do that, but we certainly need to be able to promote our product better.

This sport hooked me from the time I was 15 years old. I went to Oaklawn with my dad, I walked in the door, and a friend of my dad’s said, “Son, you ought to bet a daily double.” And I said, “Well what’s that?” And he said, “It’s the winners of the first two races.” I said, “What would I bet?” And he told me to bet my age, a 1-5 daily double. So I did and it came in to pay $375. So I’ve been ruined ever since. I feel like we have a great game. Ever since I was a young teenager I have loved the horses, I love all of the action and being around it. There’s nothing like Derby week, there’s nothing like being at the Breeders’ Cup. We have a great sport and we need to figure out how to translate that to the public. If they’ll take time to bring their wife, bring their kids, come to the race track, and see what we have to offer. It’s a magical place. So I think we need to do a better job of getting more people to come to the races, experience it. Any chance we can to get more people on the backside. I know that D. Wayne Lukas wins a race and picks a kid or two out of the crowd to take in the winner’s circle. That’s all stuff that we can do, small things, that those kids will remember for the rest of their lives. Their parents will probably buy a win picture. We have got to do a better job of promotion.

We get to arguing and fighting over all this stuff, these hot-button issues of Lasix and a little bit of everything else. We get going and get to arguing about points that people can take different sides on, but the biggest thing that we all need to do is pull together and tell our story. We need to figure out a way to do that on a national level of promoting better than what we are doing.

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