What a year. 2013 brought plenty of new challenges to the table and now I am happy to be back again with ABR for 2014 but this time I am back in my home state of California.
I feel like a free agent that just got re-signed to his home team. You can read my intro blog from last year here.
With our new team, we will focus on numerous markets all year long instead of week-long visits throughout the year. We had great success with last year’s tour, and now I am looking forward to building on that foundation on a year-round basis for California racing.
Working events like South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, OC Auto Show and sporting events like NFL and MLB games were just a few of experiences that gave us the ability to target fans that racetracks typically don’t have the resources or the time to engage.
One of the biggest takeaways of the year would have to be that we realized the majority of millennials did not have an opinion toward racing.
It’s not that they didn’t like it, they just didn’t know about it.
CONTRERAS AND HIS WIFE, KARINA
There is so much more to racing than just the Kentucky Derby, and I think we need more television and media exposure to get that ball rolling. When it comes to showing horse racing to a new fan, first impressions are very important and that is the reason why we focused on big race days at some of our best racetracks across the country with the tour.
A nice venue, a great experience, and a little bit of education on how to read a program and place some bets goes a long way when trying to create new fans. The intimidation factor is a big deal for a new fan.
I was lucky enough to have experienced going to the races as a child with my parents, and that is how I fell in love with the sport. In contrast, there is a big generation gap of racing fans that we missed throughout the years, and now we need to find a way to gain those fans.
CONTRERAS AT THE BELMONT STAKES
There is no single solution or overnight fix to making horse racing as popular as it once was, but we all (the entire industry) need to work toward that goal for years to come.
I estimate we have about a 10- to 15-year window to make an impact and make this work before a large amount of our current fans leave the sport. I am very excited with our new racing calendar here in California, and I see lots of opportunities for growth.
Hope to see you out at the races!
CONTRERAS MAKING AN APPEARANCE ON TVG