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Anthony MacDonald's Blog

 

Looking to the past for a positive future

Published: September 5, 2016 10:10 am ET

Last Comment: September 6, 2016 3:10 pm ET | 5 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

When you look at our ailing industry these days, you will very little has changed since the turn of the century.We continue to look for new ways to entice people to gamble on horse racing.

But I believe we are fishing in the wrong pond. Most big bettors don't actually come to the track to gamble anymore. If real gamblers are going to wager on horse racing, it will most likely be on off-shore websites that offer kick backs. And racetracks never see a dime of that money.

If our provincial, state and federal governments can't do anything about this, I have a sneaking suspicion horse racing can't either.

So if we are losing our on-track gamblers to online gaming and they are not being replaced, how are we ever going to survive?

Well this may shock you, but racing wasn't built on gambling. It was built on competition. It was a sport first and foremost, and the wagering followed.

Over the past 30 years, gambling on horse racing has dropped significantly because of increased gaming competition, but the only reason interest in the actual sport of horse racing itself dwindled was because we forgot to market what we were actually doing.

The pursuit of Triple Crowns was slowly replaced with triactors, and decades later this is what we have: empty grandstands and government handouts.
We certainly have lost our way.

As every business has been forced to find new ways to market themselves in the 21st century to become more appealing to potential clients, we have stuck to the old-school Field-Of-Dreams method . . . "If you build it, they will come".

Well it might have worked for Universal Studios and Kevin Costner but it sure as hell hasn't worked for the racing industry.

So what do we do? And more importantly, is it too late?

Some observers with their ouija boards and dusty Mayan calendars have predicted our industry's demise, but I believe they are wrong.

The biggest problem we have is that we are the only business I know of that has decided we should market something other than our best, most unique feature.

Imagine if McDonald's only marketed their apple pies or Tim Hortons only advertised their mochas? How would their revenue stream look?

Horses are our biggest draw. It's something casinos will never have. The experience this industry can offer is unmatched on a casino floor. Horse ownership is unique, the experience is exciting, and the entertainment value for our new owners has been immeasurable.

Look at the testimonials in The Stable's investment package. We had to leave plenty out because of the sheer volume. Even with our industry under funded with a questionable future and no real leadership, we found a way to bring in new owners.

Not all our horses made money, and in my experience owners are rarely happy and excited with meager returns. But dealing with our groups, I was shocked at the positive outlook our clients would still have.

That is because their enthusiasm was not often tied to monetary returns. They budgeted, and it kept their expectations near par within reality.

The beauty of attracting new owners to the sport is that as we grow our fan base and expand ownership investment, that will in turn expand wagering revenue, which should increase our purse accounts. (that's a discussion for another time.)

Rather than racing for roughly a quarter of what the government gives our industry here in Ontario, we may find our partners at the tracks and casinos more hospitable as we also grow their on-site attendance with our newly generated clients.

I know that many people reading this won't believe me. They don't believe there is that kind of investment out there. To them, the general public just isn't interested in horse ownership.

But the sad truth is that the general public just doesn't know what possibilities there are out there for ownership.

You may laugh, but it's true, I witnessed it first hand while canvassing for two years when I ran for political office here in Ontario. What I heard on the doorstep is that people don't own horses because they believe it is "too complex" and "too expensive" an endeavor.

Well if you're telling me you have never thought about horse ownership because it's expensive and too difficult to understand, and you have never attended the races because you haven't had a good enough reason to, I guess fractional ownership has a real chance to fix horse racing.

Investing with thestable.ca is easy, affordable and has no strings attached. For a minimal investment, we can offer you a bird's eye view of how horse racing works, you can be involved as an owner, participate on race day and come to the barn whenever you want.

The Stable gives the general public an opportunity to budget and be a part of something for whatever amount they feel comfortable with. All our industry is missing is an abundance of fractional stables like ours that can market, procure, and accommodate these new clients.

Don't worry, we have that covered also. We have five to seven fractional cooperative stables being built as I write this, including the first trainer to partner with thestable.ca, Tony O'Sullivan.

Many people asked me this week, why Tony? Why share what you are doing? Well I'll tell you why, because this has never been just about Amy and Anthony MacDonald, it's about all of us.

We know that one fractional stable can't even begin to fix this industry, but fifty or one hundred can. At thestable.ca, we have already shown there is keen interest from people all over the world in what we do and how we do it, reaching across every demographic.

If we market to the general public in this affordable, transparent way, focusing on the entertainment value in our industry, we will change this game forever. Don't take my word for it, give us some time and watch what we do from here with 7 billion potential clients.

Fractional stables will ensure more new owners, which over time will drive up demand for horses. Which means we will helping both staples of our industry, racetracks and breeders.

Through fractional horse ownership, our industry can grow all streams of revenue.
Gamblers may not come to the races very much anymore, but we now have a way to get people to the tracks all over North America as owners and fans of a sport we all know is exciting.

Wanna bet they will gamble when they get there?

Of course they will. After all, this is how "betting on the ponies" started in the first place.

Anthony MacDonald


The views presented in Trot Blogs are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Standardbred Canada.

September 6, 2016 - 3:10 pmAnthony, I love your passion

Anthony, I love your passion for this sport and how articulate you are in your blog's. I don't think fractional ownership is the answer. On the surface the idea has merit and sounds appealing but 1% of a horse or yearling doesn't amount to much. I saw Tony O'Sullivan's ad for people willing to invest 20,000 to 40,000 in horses primarily yearlings that is more in line than 1% fractional ownership. Of course, the more shares the more expensive the venture and it's hard to find people that are willing to invest the kind of money that Tony is looking for. The costs involved in staking, training, vet work, shoeing, travel, can be astronomical. All never knowing if that yearling will ever make it to the races. Not to mention the costs involved in breaking the yearling with no income for 8-12 months and no return on your investment.

I owned horses some good but mostly were bad and never made money but I did enjoy watching them compete but after a while the novelty wears off and the expense too much. For all the success stories we read about there are thousands of stories of non successful ventures. I look at it this way, a 1% stake in a yearling that ends up making 100,000 as a 2 year old entitles me to 1,000 gross when we take out all the expenses how much money am I really left with? I wish you and Amy all the best in this venture and I praise you for not just sitting back but trying to do something constructive.

September 5, 2016 - 8:41 pmFractional ownership is good

Fractional ownership is good for the trainers, the drivers, and of course the Government (tax revenue), but it is not for those who participate (financially), and it certainly doesn't do anything for the "fans/bettors!"

September 5, 2016 - 8:30 pmI don't think you'd be

I don't think you'd be singing the same song if your industry was privatized like it once was in Montreal. And when it was privatized, in Montreal, the horse people
weren't too happy. You're very lucky to have the Ontario government supporting the horse racing industry.

And there is just one more reality that you seem to ignore every time you write an article, Mr. Jeff Gural said it best, "stop asking people to help your industry".

September 5, 2016 - 6:21 pmAnthony The sport was built

Ted Decker SAID...

Anthony
The sport was built on competition and the wagering for the most part did follow but that was different time. A time when racing was a hobby and not a business as it is today.I think the challenge with fractional ownership is just that. The people involved own such a small piece of the horse and are using it as entertainment. A Saturday outing to watch the horse train or race but the trick will be to get them involved in ownership on a larger scale. The industry needs new blood. I would bet 100 new owners in on full ownership,of a horse will generate 100 times the revenue that a 1000 at 1%; Fractional ownership takes us back to the hobby days and that is not sustainable.

September 5, 2016 - 11:48 amAnthony, you state that horse

terry gudz SAID...

Anthony, you state that horse racing was built on competition than don't except the horse owners to pay all the freight for carrying the industry, revenue revenue $$$$$$


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