Thoroughbred Racing Fan Association, Inc.
TOWEL GUIDE EDUCATES FANS
Fourteen years ago, ThoroFan was just getting our legs. We knew the racing industry needed all the support it could get and we, the fans, wanted to help. Through many brainstorming sessions and focus groups we landed on a grassroots fan group that would bring fans together and offer a voice of the fans to racing. Our desire was to “Educate, Advocate and Excite” fan of this great sport. ThoroFan came to be.
At the behest of our members, we decided to create a companion document for watching morning workouts. It seemed like a good place to start. We wanted it to be simple and easy to use. In 2009 we accomplished this with the release of the first ThoroFan Guide to Saratoga Race Course Trainers’ Saddle Towels. It grew from a 12-page booklet to the 60-page one we release this summer. Over the years we watched its popularity grow.
Bob Giordano is the engineer of the yearly publication. Fans watching morning workouts at the Oklahoma Track, or the Main Track carry the GUIDE in their back pockets. Its use evolved to be a training and orientation tool for some NYRA backside employees. The NTRA Tram Team, as they do their tours each racing day morning, uses it to help fans identify horses that are working out. Anthony Stabile and his colleagues use it and give it out to fans as they watch the workouts from the Clubhouse box seat area. It is everywhere.
This year NYRA agreed to have it available at the Porch Breakfasts. Customers are grabbing them to use as they watch the morning works. They are, also, available at the Morning Line Café on the backside where owners and horsemen watch their horses workout. Overall, ThoroFan with the support of local advertisers invests over $10,000 to produce and distribute over 6000 Guides each year. It has become so popular that they are even being sold on eBay.
Over the years other tracks have been interested in the Guide. The first was Gulfstream Park which engaged ThoroFan to produce one for them to use at their Saturday morning breakfasts and workouts. It was a hit. People from Churchill Downs have contacted us about producing one for their fans. Negotiations are ongoing. We accidentally found a derivative on the Oaklawn Park website. When we reached out to them, they were no longer interested in producing a paper copy. They did tell us that Calvin Borel’s agent saw the GUIDE in Saratoga and brought it back to Hot Springs suggesting they do one. One day the racing industry will see the value of educating fans about morning works and invite ThoroFan to work on a national edition with a digital application. We will see.
The fact the GUIDE has sustained 14 years is a testimony to its value. What we learned in this period is that fans are thirsty to learn about every aspect of Thoroughbred racing. For so many, riding horses or working with them has never been part of their lives. Looking at the world behind a race, a world that is habited by thousands of hard working and horse loving people excites them. Sure, racing depends heavily on gambling revenue, but the success of the GUIDE reinforced the idea that there is more to enjoying Thoroughbred racing than wagering. Understanding this concept will be crucial to the success of our sport.
ThoroFan is committed educating fans about all parts of our wonderful sport. The Guide has grown into one of primary tools to teach fans about our sport, specifically how to watch morning workouts. Everything that we do honors that philosophy. The editorial tone of our weekly Newsletter is educational. Dr. Bryan Langlois regular video segment opens a door to racing for fans that they did not know could open. Our weekly Handicappers’ Corner focuses more on the process of selecting race winners than picking them. Jean Chodkowski’s segment addresses some of the psychological pieces that influence race comes. Everything we do at ThoroFan is guided by the philosophy “an educated fan is a better fan.”