02/16/2016 3:20PM

Giwner: United we stand, divided we fall


If you mention the USTA’s partnership with Converseon and the Harness Racing Fanzone with those involved in the Standardbred industry, you are likely to get some looks of disapproval. Many have criticized the ultimate goals in the USTA’s social media endeavor and I’ve been among them, but after sitting down with Converseon leader Rob Key I’ve had a change of heart.

During a business lunch with Key’s usual arsenal of numbers nowhere in reach, we discussed the state of the social media push to make harness racing relevant and what the future had in store. The fact that the FanZone generated 21 million impressions is all well and good, but how does that help the bottom line for those relying on a healthy industry?

Key nodded in agreement when I mentioned that the only things that mattered were new owners and more wagering. He felt both could and should be part of taking the initiative to “the next level”.

Steps have already been taken on the front of new ownership via seminars. Key felt finding potential owners might be the easiest part of the equation. The crucial missing aspect is where to send these prospects. Perhaps each horseman’s organization could have a representative whose job it is to be the point man—assist people in getting licensed; finding a trainer; answer questions.

The wagering front could prove daunting considering the myriad of ADWs owned by different tracks across the country. That said, Key was hopeful that common ground could be found. With the number of people visiting the FanZone site, wouldn’t we be able to generate more handle if the proper tutorials and links to wagering sites were included?

What sold me on Key’s words this time around versus the numerous other times I’ve heard him speak or had private conversations with him was the possibility of an immensely needed central movement. If tracks, horsemen and breeders get on board, perhaps for the first time in my memory the entire industry would join hands to reach common goals for the long haul.

It is time to stop competing with each other and working as separate entities. It is time for multiple races to stop going off at the same moment. It is time for tracks to stop fighting for the same horses every week. It is time for uniform rules across all jurisdictions. Maybe these famous quotes can inspire the cause:

It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed. —Charles Darwin

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. —Helen Keller

The secret is to gang up on the problem, rather than each other. —Thomas Stallkamp

Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success. —Henry Ford

The last quote is perhaps the most appropriate for our situation. We need a beginning and I urge those who have otherwise turned a deaf ear to what Rob Key has to say to listen again, ask questions and dig deeper. Maybe, just maybe, there is something there that wasn’t there before.

[DRF HARNESS LIVE: Real-time insights from the DRF Harness team this Saturday at 6:35 p.m.]