10/25/2013 4:05PM

Jockey Club abandons two trial games, will test Lil' Horses


The Jockey Club has abandoned its efforts to produce games designed for social-media platforms, the organization said on Friday in a progress report on its ongoing five-year effort to promote the sport.

The Jockey Club launched two games last year, Major League Horse Racing and Thoroughbred World, but both games were taken off-line within months of debuting after attracting a small core of regular players. The games were longshots to succeed in the casual gaming market, where thousands of games are launched every month and even designers admit they have no way to predict what will catch on.

While both games are being abandoned, the Jockey Club is also throwing its support behind a mobile game called “Lil’ Horses,” also for the casual gaming market. The game is  based on “Lil’ Birds,” a moderately successful casual game that allows users to “feed and pet” bird avatars and “breed” the birds to create new combinations, and will be beta-tested in Canada before being launched in the United States, the Jockey Club said.

“A small percentage of social games reach expectations after they are launched,” said Jason Wilson, the Jockey Club’s vice president of business development, in a statement. “Based upon our research, however, we believe the Lil’ Horses game is a lower-risk way to enter the mobile gaming market and attract a large audience.”

The progress report said that the Jockey Club continues to work with Fox Sports 1 on the details for a 10-broadcast series of live races to air beginning next February. The progress report said the Jockey Club expects to announce the schedule for the races by the end of November.

The Jockey Club has embarked on a number of initiatives since the release in mid-2011 of a report it commissioned from McKinsey & Company, a consulting company. The report recommended that racing expand its presence on the Internet, on television, and in the mobile and social-network communities to stem declines in its fan base.