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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Attracting New Owners

Recently I had written about the need to emphasize the fun of owning a race horse in an effort to attract new horse owners to the business. The question is how do we get new people to take the plunge and try horse ownership? Like finding employment, networking is the key. So how does those in racing network with potential owners? Many of the ideas listed here, while not new, are worth repeating.

As a trainer, how do you show appreciation to your owners? Ray Schnitker hosts a barbeque during the races every year during the Fourth of July holiday at Goshen. In attendance are stable employees, friends, acquaintances, and owners who enjoy the day socializing and watching the races. This annual tradition is a wonderful way for the Schnitker stable to thank everyone connected to it and show appreciation to the owners that pay the bills. You may not be able to throw a four day extravaganza, but you better do something to make sure your owners know you appreciate them. Have a barbeque one day at your training center or racetrack and invite your owners to attend; even if you need to partner with a fellow trainer or two. While you are at it, make sure you let your owners know they can bring a friend along. Since we all tend to associate with people in the same socio-economic group, odds are their friends can afford to own a horse as well. When a potential owner sees their owner friend being appreciated and treated with respect, it leaves the potential owner with a positive impression.

If you are a racetrack or training center operator, do you make it easy for potential owners to be exposed to racing behind the scene? If a trainer wants to have a thank you barbeque on your grounds, try to accommodate them. If someone wants to bring a non-licensed friend with them, don’t block that person from gaining access to the backstretch and paddock. No one is expecting you to let someone in who shows up unannounced that day, but if the trainer or owner lets you know who their guest(s) are going to be three days ahead of time, there is no reason why you can’ t let them in.

The best way to get someone into horse ownership is to let them try ownership before they go all in. Offer limited partnerships on a middle level horse or group of horses where for a specific commitment of money, a new owner can experience horse ownership with limited risk. At the end of the partnership period, the new owner can remain a full partner on the horse or group of horses or they can get out. The key is to get them in the door.

Also, partnerships are wonderful, but if you are trying to introduce someone to racing, try to limit the size of the group owning a horse. A new owner is going to have more invested in a horse where their name is listed in the program versus a generic “Horse Name Racing Stable”.

Ever think about offering a discount on a training bill for someone who introduces you to a new owner? I know you’re a professional, but let’s face it; a little incentive may be the encouragement your existing owner needs to introduce their friend(s) to you.

If you are an existing horse owner, it will also help if you make the trip to the track to see your horse race. What kind of encouragement are you providing a potential owner if you don’t bother visiting the track when your horse races? Sure, it is more comfortable being home on a cold or rainy night, but it is not the same as being there. It is the sounds and smells of racing which sells it; not a picture on a screen. Again, racetracks can help by having open house days where current owners are welcomed to bring friends along. Is it too expensive for a racetrack to have a proper open house for existing and potential owners? Partner with your local horsemen’s group. After all, you both have an interest in attracting new owners to the business.

As a racetrack operator, are you appreciating your owners or ignoring them? Horse ownership is part ego. Are you helping feed the ego by treating horse owners well or are you ignoring them? No one is going to bring a friend along to see them being treated poorly and if a friend sees their buddy being treated well as an owner they may want to take the plunge. Treat the owner well and not just when their horse is racing. Ownership should have its privileges. Being many owners lose money on their horses, is treating them well too much to ask?

As racing comes out of the winter doldrums, some of our renowned horses are in the final stages of getting ready for their eturn to the racing wars.  Today at the Meadowlands, Lucky Jim, Dr Mcdreamy, and Hypnotic Blue Cup made their seasonal debuts in qualifying efforts.  Lucky Jim won his qualifier by over eight lengths in an easy 1:54.4 (:26.4 final quarter) victory.   Dr Mcdreamy kicked off his season with a workman-like 1:57.4 qualifiying victory while Hypnotic Blue Chip finished second in his effort.      

The Meadowlands has cancelled the Strada Memorial for aged pacing mares.  It is never a good thing to see a race cancelled.  While no official reason was given for the cancellation, most of the times it is a sign of conserving the purse account.

The final of the $1 million (AUS) Inter Dominion is this Sunday, March 7 at 5:00pm local time.  For those on the East coast, the race will occur approximately at 1:00AM on Sunday.  My selections are Blacks A Fake, followed by Monkey King NZ and Changover.

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