Access to the paddock and winner's circle, as well as a total prize pool of $50,000, were among the features that awaited registered participants for the inaugural Fantasy Owners Day Saturday at Laurel Park.
Designed as an introduction to prospective Thoroughbred owners, Fantasy Owners Day was presented jointly by the Maryland Jockey Club, Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and Maryland Horse Breeders, and attracted nearly 300 prospective owners.
“The attendance blew us away,” said Sal Sinatra, President and General Manager of the Maryland Jockey Club. “We were expected maybe 100 people, so 300 was incredible.”
The event began with an optional morning training session on the Laurel apron, followed by a 10 a.m. sign-in period where participants were randomly paired with a horse for the day. A prospective owner's seminar held at 10:30 a.m. featured a Q&A session with top racing partnerships, racing officials and horsemen, followed by a luncheon in the Terrace Dining Room.
Before going to the luncheon, Maryland Jockey Club President and General Manager Sal Sinatra surprised the participants by telling them they would be competing for cash prizes totaling $50,000 at the end of the year.
Sinatra announced all fantasy horse earnings in U.S. races would be tracked from Saturday through Dec. 31, 2017, with $30,000 awarded to the participants assigned to the first-place fantasy horse, $10,000 for second, $5,500 for third, $3,000 for fourth and $1,500 for fifth.
If multiple participants are assigned to the same fantasy horse, the share of the prize will divided equally among the number of participants. Published earnings by Equibase.com will be the source of determining earnings for each fantasy horse.
“This was our way of giving people the experience of being an owner without any expense,” Sinatra said. “It will now be our job to treat them like owners, inviting them to events and making them feel a part of our group. This day was a success, and it couldn't have been done without the help of horsemen and breeders.”
Participants will be invited to the paddock for the saddling of all starts of their fantasy horse at Maryland tracks between Saturday and Dec. 31, 2017, as well as being part of the winner's circle photo should their horse win. Final awards will be distributed during a luncheon at Laurel in January 2018.
A weekly blog with updated news, entry information, results, race video, photos, current standings and more will allow participants to track their horses at www.fantasyownership.com. Participants will also receive regular e-mails and be invited to a fantasy challenge group on Facebook.
Also on Saturday, all fans will take home a long-sleeve Maryland Jockey Club T-shirt free with purchase of a racing program, while supplies last.
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