10/08/2013 7:51PM

Jockey Club pleased with early returns of OwnerView initiative


On a year-to-year basis, the number of new owners entering Thoroughbred racing has fallen 22 percent from a decade ago, with some comparing the experience of getting started to being handed a board game without instructions.

The infusion of new blood is key to the survival of any sport or business, and it was identified as a point of concern for racing by marketing firm McKinsey & Co. in the summer of 2011. In response, The Jockey Club and Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association in May 2012 launched OwnerView, a resource website tailored toward new, existing, and prospective Thoroughbred owners.

Almost a year and a half into the initiative, Gary Falter, The Jockey Club’s vice president of operations, said that feedback for the website has been overwhelmingly positive.

“I think everyone can agree that a strong and growing fan base and owner base are key to a healthy Thoroughbred industry, and to address the ownership issue, OwnerView was developed to encourage more ownership,” Falter said. “In the past 18 months since OwnerView went live, some syndicate managers and trainers are telling us that they’ve seen renewed interest in ownership. One syndicate manager pointed out that in the past 12 months, he’s had more partners join their syndicate than ever in the past, even though as he said, they were having a bad year at the races.”

Falter laid out the basics of the OwnerView initiative and discussed its future on Oct. 8 during the International Simulcast Conference in Lexington, Ky. Since the site’s launch, Falter said that OwnerView has received about 95,000 unique visitors and more than 700,000 page views.
The website features information on getting started in ownership, from licensing and state incentives to selecting the right business partners. The site also explains the different methods of ownership, including a list of syndicates with contact information and racing statistics. Recently, the site further expanded to add sections on veterinary topics and racetracks.

OwnerView also allows owners to find and compare trainers, each with their own page displaying their racing statistics, top horses, reviews from clients, and a list of state rulings levied against the individual.

Trainers may add information about themselves on their profile pages, including a bio, contact information, day rates and insight about their methods and practices.

“We’re reaching out to trainers all over America pointing it out, and most of the trainers have heard about OwnerView,” Falter said. “We knew that the biggest challenge we would have is to get trainers engaged, but more are getting on board. We’ve got about 400 trainers registered, and a lot of the top trainers are registered with the site. With that, I think there will be some peer pressure and more and more of them will get on board.”

Going forward, Falter said that OwnerView would further expand into the bloodstock sector of the business, with sections planned listing stallion farms in North America, as well as information on sales companies and consignors. Other topics in the works include listings of training centers and information on aftercare initiatives.

In particular, Falter focused on a new aspect of the initiative called “OwnerView Hosts,” in which interested parties can receive individual mentoring to get them started in Thoroughbred ownership and plan for the long-term.

“We soft-launched it last week,” Falter said. “This is a service where we’re going to offer for any prospective or new owner the opportunity to have dialogue with us about the fundamental aspects of ownership.

“Some of the topics we’re going to talk about with owners when they reach out to us is why it’s important to have a business plan – something as simple as: ‘Have you thought about what your goals and objectives are? Where you’d like to race. The level of racehorse you’d like to own. What are your ownership options – sole ownership, co-partnership, joining a syndicate, LLCs. We’ll go into great detail on some of the common costs and expenses.”