The sixth Thoroughbred Owner Conference concluded Wednesday at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Ca., with an emphasis on the various ways the industry has changed and progressed in recent years while acknowledging areas in which the sport needs to improve. The two-day conference, which was co-hosted by OwnerView and BloodHorse and presented by The Stronach Group, was attended by approximately 160 participants, including new, prospective, and longtime horse owners.
The conference coincided with the Breeders' Cup World Championships to be run on Friday, November 1, and Saturday, November 2.
The highlight of the event was the “State of the Industry” panel, which included insights from industry leaders Aidan Butler, chief strategy officer and acting executive director of California Racing Operations for The Stronach Group; Everett Dobson, trustee of Keeneland and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and steward of The Jockey Club; Craig Fravel, president and chief executive officer of Breeders' Cup Limited; James L. Gagliano, president and chief operating officer of The Jockey Club; and Kip Levin, the chief executive officer of TVG and president and chief operating officer of FanDuel.
Topics addressed by the panelists included medication rules, use of the whip, safety, the need for uniformity, sports betting, and creating new fans.
Butler delved into the steps that have been taken to improve safety at Santa Anita and efforts made by groups in California to come together given the tumultuous state of the industry.
“Going toward international standards is something that America should go toward in the future, and it's an issue that goes beyond Lasix,” he said. “We are trying to work together. It's not always easy, but we're trying to pull together. We either hang together or hang separately.”
Levin discussed the need for large events to bring in fans. “We get 60% of our new customers around the Triple Crown events and the Breeders' Cup,” he said.
He also mentioned that TVG has made a concerted effort to tell the positive stories in horse racing. “We have spent a lot more time over the past year telling the good stories, and we are intending to do more of that.”
Gagliano advocated for passage of the Horseracing Integrity Act, which would create a private, independent national horse racing anti-doping authority responsible for developing and administering a strict anti-doping and medication control program.
“The bedrock of the sport is to have the right rules, integrity, and safety measures in place,” he said.
Other panels at the conference spanned a variety of topics including the business of ownership, syndicates, pedigrees, and aftercare as well as insights from successful owners, trainers, jockeys, and veterinarians.
Attendees were also able to attend the Rood & Riddle Post-Position Draw for the Breeders' Cup, watch workouts from Santa Anita's Trackside Breakfast Marquee, tours of Santa Anita Park, and enjoy a wine and dine.
“We were pleased to bring the Thoroughbred Owner Conference back to Santa Anita this year, and the event again delivered on its goals to educate new and prospective owners on the intricacies of the Thoroughbred industry in a world-class setting,” said Gary Falter, project manager for OwnerView. “This conference provides an unmatched opportunity for owners to gain access to the sport's most prominent and successful individuals.”
Tom Durkin, the master of ceremonies, concluded the conference by announcing that the seventh Thoroughbred Owner Conference is planned for the summer of 2020 at Saratoga Race Course.
A video replay of all panels at the conference will be available at ownerview.com within the next week.
OwnerView is a joint effort spearheaded by The Jockey Club and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association to encourage ownership of Thoroughbreds and provide accurate information on aspects of ownership such as trainers, public racing syndicates, the process of purchasing and owning a Thoroughbred, racehorse retirement, and owner licensing.
The need for a central resource to encourage Thoroughbred ownership was identified in the comprehensive economic study of the sport that was commissioned by The Jockey Club and conducted by McKinsey & Company in 2011. The OwnerView site was launched in May 2012.
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