Thoroughbred Racing Fan Association, Inc.
GUIDE TO SARATOGA RACE COURSE TRAINERS' SADDLE TOWELS GOING DIGITAL FOR 2020
We opened the E-Bay site this past summer and were shocked at what we saw. An educational tool for fans which is distributed free throughout Saratoga Springs and mailed to all our members with active ThoroFan accounts was offered for sale. Further exploration uncovered that the tool has become a collectable. The inaugural editions first appeared in 2009. Most will have already surmised that we are referring to the ThoroFan Guide to Saratoga Race Course Trainers’ Saddle Towels.
In the early days of ThoroFan we were searching for a purpose. We knew Thoroughbred racing fans wanted and needed an organization that represented their ideas and gave them a voice in their sport. We appreciated that through media and advertising racing is associated with gambling. But fans of Thoroughbred racing know that it is much more, much richer. The race is one thing, but preparing the equine athlete to race is often misunderstood by most racing fans. The Guide was designed to help each fan better appreciate the morning works and how they lead to a horse’s readiness to race. With this knowledge the sport is more exciting and, yes, sometimes more profitable.
In 2009 we produced an eight-page Guide showing a close-up of the trainer’s saddle towel. The towel fits under the saddle and identifies the trainer of the horse working out. This is necessary so the official workouts of a horse can be accurately clocked and connected to the right trainer. The Guide, also, brings the fan closer to the sport. It figuratively transports the fan to the backside of the racetrack where the horse lives and the trainers works. It offers a peek into the part of race few see.
In the eleven years of existence the Guide has grown from a skinny 8-page booklet to a 64-page pocket guide that can be regularly seen protruding from the back pocket of fans as they watch the morning workouts at Saratoga. It is a useful reference for professional photographers who shoot hundreds of morning workout shots and need to connect the right trainer to the right photo. On the average 5000 of these are distributed free through Saratoga Springs each year. That’s right over 55,000 have been given out as a free educational tool for fans since 2009. In the last five years ThoroFan has explored adding a digital Guide to this distribution so more fans from places could benefit. However, the cost to transition prohibited our advancement. Until, now.
COVID-19 changed racing. It changed ThoroFan and the fan experience. 2020 Saratoga meet expects to be fan-less. So, producing a paper Guide would be useless without fans watching the races or the workouts live. This has forced us to digitize the Guide and make it available to all fans from our website. Access will be available on smart phones. ThoroFan Guide will now be accessible the 25 million fans across the country as they watch live racing from Saratoga on their televisions or devices. In the event that racing with fans occurs at Saratoga fans will be able to see the Towel Guide on their Smart phones as they watch the morning workouts.
Usage data will tell us if this approach works for fans. If so, we will be on path to improve our digital presentation for the 2021 Saratoga Race meet. Perhaps, it will engage ThoroFan to create a digital one specific to their track. Many things will change for the better because of COVID-19. The “Glass Is Half Full”.
NOTE: Look for the Guide on our website in July of 2020.