The media is abundant with stories of industry events and fans love the atmosphere. If we all believe that the fans are as important to racing as are horses, owners, breeders and tracks, then why are we not recognized and the fan experience celebrated? There is no logical answer.
Unfortunately, the economics of racing have relegated fans to a revenue source, the handle, the take-out. Some tracks are even calling us customers or guests. It is time to change that paradigm. We are more. We are stakeholders.
ThoroFan is trying to do just that through a number of initiatives. Newsletter, meet-ups, handicapping corner and news stories are important. But our signature effort is the ThoroFan Annual Awards Brunch held during Eclipse Week. The brunch is missioned to recognize for fans everything 'fandom". Different from many other industry events the brunch is a collaborate effort. In 2013 we began considering have a Fan of the Year Award, an obvious a basic. However, we quickly learned that Horse Racing Nation
had their Fan of the Year Award. Rather than compete we asked them to join us. They did and continue to present their award at out brunch.
Disappointed that the fans do not have direct input to the Eclipse Awards, we thought about ways to collect fan input for the best of the best in Thoroughbred racing in the previous year. Polls and surveys were created and then we noticed the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's (NTRA)
Moment of the Year [in racing]. Initially part of Eclipse Awards ceremonies we thought it would fit better at a pure fan event. The NTRA was ahead of us on this transition when they suggested that they move the awards presentation from Saturday night at the Eclipse awards to Friday morning at our brunch. In 2014, they first presented the Monument of the Year at our brunch. 2015 was a topper when California Chrome won and their connections showed up at the brunch. That added value to our fan event. It shouldn't be too difficult to guess what fans will select for their Moment of Racing in 2015.
Since the involvement of fans in the racing experience is critical, we wanted to have an award that recognized someone or some entity that epitomized the importance of the fan to our sport ---a message that can never be forgotten. The ThoroFan Board struggled with how to identify the award recipient. First a draft list was assembled then the tested. Which one on our list did the most to preserve and enhance the fan experience and add to the future of the sport?
Wolfson Meeting With Fans.In 2013 the list was topped by Mrs. Patrice Wolfson, owner of Affirmed -1978 Triple Crown winner, because of her commitment to race Affirmed even after his historic accomplishment. In 2014, Cot Campbell
Cot Campbellwas at the peak because of his innovative idea of horse owner partnerships. With this idea he brought thousands of new fans to our sport and made the connection between the horse and the fan closer. Last year Old Friends
Michael Blowenfounder, Michael Blowen, was the clear selection. So many fans are warming up to the importance of taking care of our heroes after their careers on the track have ended taht Michael was the right choice.
The ThoroFan Annual Awards Brunch will be held this year on January 15, 2016 at Frankey's Sports Bar at Gulfstream Park and brings these awards front-and-center during Eclipse Awards week. However, it is only a show until fans participate, then it is an event. When we do, we show the industry our strength and commitment and make it an event. It will do much to recognize the important people in our sport, but more importantly it will elevate fans to center stage with all others in our sport.
Tickets are on sale on the ThoroFan Website
. If you are a ThoroFan member huge discounts, savings as much as 60% are available because of your loyalty to "Fandom". Thank you and please join us. If you do and need a hotel room at the best price closest to the track, check out the block of rooms
held for attendees at the Hampton Inn across US 1 from Gulfstream Park.