12/07/2015 4:59PM

Symposium on lookout for new ideas


TUCSON, Ariz. – It is no secret horseracing is a mature industry. In fact, in the sports and entertainment market, it is one of the most mature in the world. So it’s not a surprise that an industry that began showing its age decades ago is on the lookout for some fresh thinking.

The organizers of the annual Symposium on Racing and Gaming obviously share that perspective. This year, the two-day conference, which begins on Tuesday morning at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort here, will feature four panels centering on new ideas, including a reality show-styled contest which will award the winner with $15,000.

The contest, called the “Innovator’s Circle,” is the first of its kind to be held at the Symposium, which is put on each year by the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program. Applicants have been encouraged to send in outlines of their ideas to the program’s administrators for the past several months, following the announcement of the contest this summer. A final winner will be selected by a panel of judges on Wednesday. (DRF is a sponsor of the contest, and its chief executive, John Hartig, will be one of the judges.)

One day earlier, in the opening session of the Symposium, six panelists from various racing capacities will be asked to provide “45 ideas in 45 minutes,” as the panel is called. Later on Tuesday, a workshop is scheduled asking participants to agree to be assigned to teams that will be charged with coming up with ideas that could positively impact racing, and those teams will gather again on Wednesday to deliver pitches about their ideas.

Aside from the idea panels, the Symposium organizers have also scheduled sessions on fantasy sports and data mining, two issues that have generated plenty of attention both inside and outside the industry. The issue of daily fantasy sports took on even greater urgency just last week, when the Stronach Group, a large racetrack operator, filed a lawsuit against Derby Wars, a daily fantasy site offering horseracing contests. The suit quickly generated debate across the sport about its legal merit and its potentially chilling effect on the sport’s increasingly popular handicapping contests. (DRF is a sponsor and administrator of handicapping contests, including the National Handicapping Championship.)

Also on the agenda for Tuesday and Wednesday are panels on the recruitment of new owners; the implementation of digital marketing strategies; the increasing cost of workers’ compensation; and the effort by racing regulators to catch cheaters. For write-ups on the Symposium, check in frequently to DRF.com on Tuesday and Wednesday.


Frank More than 1 year ago
No idea -- Now that horse racing has serious competition for gambling we need to use the same regulations and rules and eliminate the mass corruption in this sport. Horse racing cannot compete against casinos since it is so much more corrupt then any casino game period.
John Boyes More than 1 year ago
NEW IDEAS ?...................I dont want to just bad mouth racing but its obvious that decisions being made are not in line with what is happening to the industry ! In business, you have to adjust the cost of the product to the sales and raise or lower accordingly, or you suffer loses and eventually go out of business ! Take out has driven many a big player along with people like myself out of the game ! Im certainly not a big player but every weeekend I would have a bankroll between $200-$500 and play both Sat & Sun if I had some luck . Now, Ive realized, due to take out, alot of my exacta's that used to pay maybe $50-$75 are reduced due to the take out to the $35-$40 range . This return is unaccepatble to me as a life long player . Over the past 6 months Ive begun to leave out racing excursions and found enjoyment doing other stuff. This also means not taking co-workers (new players) out to the races for a day , thus , compounding racings greed and its non caring attitude towards its core players . Prime example , DRF"s making it cost to read is ludicris , no other news organization makes its readers pay, they know what happens . Wake up NYRA & especially CHRB, you are the ones killing horse racing !
Bob More than 1 year ago
The problem with the racing industry and its "symposium" is that the only people who ever attend are the wealthy patrons of the sport and the entrenched industry figureheads who just keep propagating the same tired, worn out ideas which results in the same miserable racing "product" being offered year after year after year. Just look at the venue and timing of this event: It's being held in the middle of the Arizona desert three weeks before Christmas; far, far away from 99% of the racing industry's participants, whether those participants are serious horse players, casual fans, trainers, jockeys or the myriad of other people who work in the racing industry. I suspect that even most wealthy owners do not attend this event, leaving it attended mostly by mid and upper level management personnel and racing commission bureaucrats looking for an excuse to high-tail it off to Arizona in the middle of winter for some R&R on the taxpayer's dime! I've been following the sport of racing seriously for well over 30 years and I've never met ONE person who attended this event. Not even some of the track management people I have come to know over the years. Never met a trainer, jockey, horse player or anyone else who ever attended.....not a single person! So, if they want to fix what's broken I suggest that the industry's leadership start thinking outside the box. Their little Mickey Mouse contest idea is a pathetic attempt to look like they are hip to what's happening in the real world when the fact is that the entire racing industry is lined from top to bottom with people who are so far removed for any sort of reality other than their own insulated view of the world, that they have no idea what is happening "out there" in the "real world." To save them some time and money I can give them some salient advice in a brief synopsis. What is needed to save the racing is industry are the following: 1. Fewer racing dates in total throughout the year. 2. More high quality racing and far less cheap racing. 3. Larger fields of better horses. Even if that means fewer races on fewer dates and even if that means the race tracks and state treasuries have to accept less of the revenue stream from the sport in order for there to be enough purse money distributed so that there is an economic incentive for owners and breeders to breed and race better horses. 4. Lower takeout on ALL forms of wagering. By lower takeout I am talking significantly lower. At least a 25% reduction across the board like NYRA and California have done with the Pick 5 wager. 5. Serious reform and standardization of medication rules with stiff penalties for offenders. I'm talking STIFF penalties. No more hand-slaps and looking the other way. Get caught violating the rules, you pay the price and you pay BIG time! 6. Better treatment of the horses. If a horse is lame they are not in the game. Period! 7. Less 2 year-old racing. It isn't good for the horses and it would provide an incentive for owners to race their horses once the are older, which in turn would provide an incentive for trainers to learn how to keep a horse sound until it was an older horse and eligible to race at the most lucrative level of the game. This can all be accomplished using economic incentives that award racing of older horses at the expense of 2 year old racing. 8. More turf racing. Less dirt racing. 9. Fewer sprints. More distance races. 10. Eliminate uncoupled entries. If any owner or trainer has more than one horse entered in the same race, they race as an entry. Period! Just like in the old days. The appearance of impropriety when a trainer has two or more wagering interests in the same race, only to have the horse at the longer odds win is simply too damaging to the game. Even when there isn't anything improper happening, the appearance of chicanery is enough to justify banning the practice. 11. Limit racing to Friday, Saturday and Sunday. At least at the major venues. When you have an item to sell its scarcity adds value and it adds interest to obtaining the item. Why do you think the NFL only play 16 regular season games during an entire year? And why do you think there are only four tournaments on the PGA Tour that are classified as "Majors?" because scarcity adds value to the product you are trying to sell! 12. As far as major venues go the concentration of the racing dates that are awarded should go to major venues. Fewer dirt league tracks and more racing and the major tracks. For one thing any track that doesn't have at least one turf course shouldn't be considered a major racing venue. The major venues are easily identified: 1. Belmont 2. Saratoga 3. Keeneland 4. Churchill Downs 5. Gulfstream Park 6. Santa Anita 7. Del Mar 8. Woodbine 9. Arlington Park That's it! A twelve-point program to save the racing industry!
John Boyes More than 1 year ago
HERE is someone who should be sitting on the board of one of these tracks, seems like alot of common sense ideas, and pretty simple solutions Ill wager dollars to donuts.........................................this symposium doesnt integrate one of them ! RIP horse racing headline in 2025 !
Helaine More than 1 year ago
Just go to next months NTRA in Vegas.Look around the room.The average horse player has to be 60 or better.We are getting older and the fixed races and druged horses is getting old like us.The young want fast action like poker, casino gamesetc.Waiting 30 minutes between races is not for them.I have played this great game for 50 years and have no ideas.HELP HELP HELP.
Cliff Amyotte More than 1 year ago
Have less wagering propositions.......remember when daily double pools were big or trifecta payouts were great....now a $2,000 tri pays $500 or less because the money is spread so thin when you win it is below par....only the track makes money because they collect on every wager no matter how badly it pays......wps, exacta, pick 4, pick 5 and trifecta pools only.....then handicapping is a challenge and payouts are generous. Why are we handicapping horses to run 4th and 5th in supers and hi fives.y
lahearey More than 1 year ago
How about having the odds not change when the race is over? Usually the odds plummet on the winner and the exactas get crushed. how is this legal?
Joel Firsching More than 1 year ago
Arizona, new mexico and california are the leaders in breakdowns. Why would an arizona schooll allow horses to be purposely dehydrated in its hot arid arid climate ? Dont allow lasix to be used on hot days.
Michael Griffiths More than 1 year ago
Eliminate the "Place and Show pools" and create an exact order of finish . Say there are 6 horses in a race, sell all 6 placing. So there would be 6 individual betting pools and each would operate like a win pool. e.g horse #4 in 1/2 to WIN BUT IS OFFERING 30/1 to finish last. The total pools combined, would be 4 times the current WIN PLACE SHOW
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
This is too funny. An industry that missed the boat on every good idea like encouraging tv coverage, having live feeds from tracks online, taking care of its customers at tracks ,enforcing strong ethics and expelling dishonest people. All this they missed but the nonsense like reality show ideas they like. What a joke. They have symposiums on how to attract new fans and new owners and at the end of the day miss the point completely. People need the sport to be honest if they are to take an interest in it. People need racing to be fair with ethical oversight if they are going to invest their cash .that goes for both for fans and future owners. Nobody throws money into a pit.
Chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Simple... Let the racegoer feel that he or she has gotten a square deal.