by Richard E. Glover, Jr., National HBPA Director of Communications
I haven't gotten to say this very often lately, but the last week has been a really good one for the horse racing industry. There have been not just subjective, but empirical positive signs.
First, more people watched the Kentucky Derby on TV last Saturday - 16.5 million - than had watched any Derby since 1989. Yes, that is 21 years. For a little perspective, that 16.5 million figure was up a full 81.3% from the 9.1 million that watched the race just a decade ago in 2000. Moreover, the telecast drew a 23 share, meaning that almost one in four televisions that were on during the Derby were tuned to the race.
Then on Tuesday, Equibase released its monthly "Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators" that track handle, purses, and race days. While all categories continued to show decreases compared to the previous year, there seemed to be a marked lessening of those decreases in April. Wagering was down 2.52%, purses were down only 0.25%, and race days were down 2.04%. Compare those to year-to-date decreases in those categories of 8.40%, 7.33%, and 7.21%, respectively, and you can see that the decreases in April were much lower than those in January through March. Of course we would have rather seen increases, but it was a significant enough improvement to encourage the idea that things might just finally be turning around.
Add to those the annual increase of attention (from the public and the media) experienced by our sport thanks to the Kentucky Derby and the increasing visibility and popularity of jockey Calvin Borel with mainstream sports fans after he rode to his unprecedented third Derby win in four years, and racing seems to be a little more relevant to the general public right now than it has been in a while. Moreover, the stage had been set for that return to greater mainstream relevance thanks to the popularity of Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra.
We can all hope that the current increased interest in and enthusiasm for racing will translate into healthier bloodstock sales (the story of Noble's Promise was exactly the kind that could drive some new faces into our sales) and a continued upswing of wagering on our races.
All these positive factors should give consumers confidence to open their purse strings a little and start spending more again on racehorses and their care, which make this a perfect time to catch the wave of enthusiasm and ride it by advertising your racing-related products and services to as many racing horsemen and women as possible. The best way to do that is by putting your business in front of the members of the National HBPA through its magazine (The Horsemen's Journal), website (www.nationalhpba.com), and sponsorships of the association and/or its semi-annual conventions.
The National HBPA and its affiliates represent over 30,000 active owners and trainers of racehorses, so The Horsemen's Journal reaches far more racing decision makers than any other racing publication. Despite that greater reach - and one that is more targeted to the decision makers you want to reach instead of just casual fans - advertising in The Horsemen's Journal is also much more economical than advertising in the industry weeklies.
The deadline to submit advertising for our Summer 2010 issue that will be mailed in early June is next Wednesday, May 12th, so don't miss out on your chance to ride the current wave of racing industry enthusiasm.
For more information about advertising or sponsorship opportunities with the National HBPA, contact Jennifer Vanier Allen at (512) 225-4483 or firstname.lastname@example.org.