On the heels of a successful debut in 2013, The Jockey Club announced today that it will continue the America’s Best Racing mobile marketing tour with a team of six brand ambassadors embedded in key racing markets throughout 2014 and 2015. The major racing events of the tour will be supported by the 2014 edition of the “ABRV,” a bus that will focus on hospitality and direct fan education.
The two-year fan development campaign will focus on Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and New York, with two ambassadors based in Los Angeles and New York and one each in Chicago and Miami. In addition to efforts in their “home” markets, the ambassadors will also work within the region to reach other racing fans and racing facilities.
America’s Best Racing (ABR), a multi-media marketing platform that is funded by The Jockey Club, is designed to increase the profile and visibility of America’s best Thoroughbred racing events, with a primary focus on the lifestyle and competition of the sport. It was launched in early 2012 with the debut of followhorseracing.com, and with ongoing promotional assistance from NTRA Communications, it has expanded since then.
“One of the most successful components of the 2013 ABRV tour was the intimate one-on-one interaction with new fans, bringing them individually along to a level of comfort at the racetrack throughout a day at the races,” said Jason Wilson, vice president of business development for The Jockey Club. “In 2014 we will continue to recruit individuals and groups to experience Thoroughbred racing at the track and through television and digital media.”
The new cast of ambassadors was selected via a nationwide search that drew more than 200 applicants.
“A common trait among all of the 2014-2015 ambassadors is a true passion for Thoroughbred racing,” Wilson said. “The ambassadors will use that passion to promote interest in America’s top Thoroughbred racing events across the country.”
With entertainment-driven millennials (18- to 34-year-olds) as the primary target, the brand ambassadors will continue to reach out to key local influencers along with social and professional groups to increase interest in the sport.
“The ambassadors will help teach new fans the basics of horse racing, work closely with racetracks to bring new groups of fans to the sport for a day at the track, and host event parties for the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup races and the key events leading up to them,” Wilson added. “They will also continue to reach out to local and national media outlets and engage potential fans on college campuses, in high-traffic areas and at strategic locations within their markets.”
The brand ambassadors also will contribute blogs, stories, video content and slideshows related to racing’s big events and their individual fan engagement on ABR’s website, followhorseracing.com. And in turn, they will be encouraging their hosted groups and individuals to share their experiences as well.
“With the brand ambassadors already in market, the activation around the ABRV will evolve and focus primarily on the races included in our new series on FOX Sports 1,” said Wilson. “Beginning in April, the bus will come into each market during the week before the race to help drive interest and excitement around these events. The new look of the bus will be revealed toward the end of March.”
The Jockey Club previously announced a series of up to 10 telecasts on FOX Sports 1. The schedule for this series as well as the talent for the shows is expected to be released soon.
Two ambassadors — Jose Contreras and Victoria Garofalo — return from the 2013 crew. Conteras will be based in Los Angeles and Garofalo will be based in New York. Joining them will be Ciara Austin (Los Angeles), Dan Tordjman (New York), Michael Johnson (Chicago), and Vince Mathews (Miami).
In addition, 2013 ambassador Chip McGaughey will be working directly with ABR’s agency of record, Cornett-IMS, to direct and coordinate local and national marketing fan development efforts.
· Austin developed a passion for Thoroughbred racing as an undergraduate at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and she produces a blog focusing on the social scene at Saratoga.
· Contreras, a longtime fan and handicapper, was born and raised in Southern California and grew up attending the races at his local tracks. He has extensive handicapping experience and has shared his selections with the public on his blog, losponies.com, since joining ABR. Contreras has appeared on TVG, HRTV, NBC Sports, and various live television feeds at racetracks across the country.
· Garofalo, a Georgia College & State University graduate, vacationed with her family in Saratoga and has been a fan of Thoroughbred racing since early childhood. She was one of the original six brand ambassadors for ABR in 2013.
· Johnson, a graduate of St. Louis University, grew up attending the races at Arlington Park with his family and recently concluded a six-month internship as a marketing assistant at Arlington International Racetrack.
· Mathews, a graduate of the University of North Carolina, developed an interest in Thoroughbred racing on family trips to Saratoga and Oaklawn Park and by attending Calder Race Course and Gulfstream Park as a teenager. For the past three years, he has worked for Premier Events in Pompano Beach, Fla.
· Tordjman, a Syracuse University graduate, is the founder of the horse racing website danonymousracing.com and is a freelance writer, blogger and handicapper.
Visit the America’s Best Racing website, followhorseracing.com, in the coming weeks for introductory blogs from each of the 2014-2015 ambassadors.
The Jockey Club, founded in 1894 and dedicated to the improvement of Thoroughbred breeding and racing, is the breed registry for North American Thoroughbreds. In fulfillment of its mission, The Jockey Club provides support and leadership on a wide range of important industry initiatives and it serves the information and technology needs of owners, breeders, media, fans and farms, among others. Additional information is available at jockeyclub.com.