Raj Mutti - Regional General Manager of British Columbia Racing
(Photo : Paulick Report)
SYMPOSIUM ON RACING AND GAMING
Presented by The University of Arizona’s
Race Track Industry Programme
5 - 8 December 2011
The 38th annual Symposium on Racing and Gaming opened yesterday at the Westin La Paloma Resort in Tucson, Arizona with a panel discussion entitled “Racing’s Young Guns” writes Nicole Mattei-Lince.
Panelists, from tracks in the US, Canada, and France, represented what moderator Joe Harper called the “passion involved in youth” through the successes they have found as racing executives.
Describing the racing industry of his youth as one that “got handed the golden egg-laying goose,” Joe Harper, president and CEO of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, gave an account of a time when racing was not seen as a struggling industry, but as an invincible one. “When my generation started in racing, we were lucky, because the guys before us invented it,” Harper explained. “The entrepreneurial spirit was put together for us.” In today’s struggling market, Harper believes it is racing’s youth, the “young guns”, that will save the industry.
The young panelists, two of whom were listed in Thoroughbred Times’s ‘Top 40 Under 40’, shared an overall emphasis of the importance of community involvement and the incorporation of a new marketing model for racetracks. Raj Mutti, regional general manager of British Columbia Racing, explained how doing so helps ‘promote business and promote yourself’. Axelle Maitre, Secretaire General of Clairefontaine in Normandy, France, shared Mutti’s belief that community involvement and marketing are extraordinarily intertwined. As Mutti explained, British Columbia Racing ‘stepped out of traditional horse racing marketing and went viral’. Clairefontaine also took part in the innovative marketing trend, teaming with local bakeries and restaurants to add the racetrack’s logo to napkins, sugar packets, and bags for baked goods. The campaign promoted local businesses, while also branding the Clairefontaine name within the community.
Racing’s long-term future was also addressed, and panelist Erich Zimny, director of racing operations at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town, reassured the audience that he remains optimistic. “While we have obvious shortcomings, they’re fixable if we choose to fix them,” Zimny said.
Andrea Young, president and CEO of Sam Houston Racetrack, ended the session concurring with Zimny’s optimism, explaining that “racing will be here, but racing will look very different”. This different vision includes the potential of consolidating race days, less dependence on the wagering dollar as revenue stream, and investing in new technologies,” according to Young.
Continuing with the theme of innovative strategies, an afternoon panel discussion entitled “Unique Computer Applications and their Uses in Racing” also addressed the need for evolutionary marketing. Race Track Industry Programme student, Alexis Garske, introduced the quick-response (QR) codes and how valuable they can be for a lower budget marketing scheme, while still attracting new and younger fans of the digital age.
The RTIP Awards Luncheon was also held in the afternoon, where the Big Sport of Turfdom Award was presented to trainer Graham Motion for his professionalism in dealing with the media during Animal Kingdom’sTriple Crown campaign. Simply put by Turf Publicists of America president, Bill Knauf, “He is a class act”.
Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News