Thoroughbred Racing Fan Association, Inc.




In 1970s the American Automotive industry was facing serious problems with the quality of the cars produced. Simultaneously, Japan was becoming a solid competitor in that industry. Over the past 20 years they had been honing their production process that focused on enhanced quality. From this effort came the quality movement. An important part of the strategy was understanding the customers. Quality gurus wrote hundreds of books about this movement. There many levels of customers identified. Some were called primary and secondary customers. There was, also, the “ultimate customer”.

In a recent announce from the University of Arizona’s Racetrack Industry Program released the agenda to their annual symposium. They entitled one panel, “Horseplayers’ Roundtable: What does the core customer really want”? That intrigued me realizing that the journey to the understand the customers of racing evolved from the quality movement of the 1970s. The gist of the panel is to help racetrack managers understand what their core customers want and need from them.

It made me wonder who are all the customers of racing? There seems at first look to be many. The horseplayer certainly qualifies. Do the breeders that supplies horses for the races qualify? Do the owners and partnerships have a customer relationship with tracks? What about the generic fans that attends live races? Do the venders at the track qualify as customers of the track? What about ADW companies and now sports betting companies? What about the employees of the track that delivery the services to all the above?

Before we can start focusing on a core customer, we must determine which of all of the above qualify as “Core Customers”. Alan Gehringer in an article entitled, “What is the difference between a primary customer and a secondary customer?” helps with this question. The core customer can be more than the person or group that purchases your product of service on any given day. The core customer is the long-term customer who contribute continuously to racing’s operations. So, the whale” who bets $100,000 in a contest may be a good customer but may not be a core customer until you determine if she consistently places those type of wagers. Some have argued that core customers are never larger than 20% your entire customer base. Others are 80% of base and must be heard from, as well.

A few years ago, ThoroFan participated in a symposium panel about the racing product. Perspnaly and handicapper, Steve Byk moderates the panel. The focus quickly went to wagering as racing’s primary product. We raised the point that racing main product was entertainment. Since a single product was not agreed upon, it must be ahbefore racing can identify their core customer or customers.

It is exciting that racing through the University of Arizona is beginning to understand their customers and products that they provide. They need to unlock the singular focus on wager revenue and think outside the box. Belmont Park is on an innovative journey to had other revenue streams and support to their products. It has started with the USB Arena which house the New York Islanders hockey team. Recently, the Breeders’ Cup has indicated with the planned improves at Belmont Park a future Breeders’ Cup races could be hosted by New York Racing Associations at Belmont Park.