Darryl Kaplan and the crew have added some heavy hitters to the schedule. I see Mr. Bissett there from Delaware North as well as Paul Lavers, founder of Sports Direct Inc. Nice lineup.
Now, here are the ABC's. I went last year so I am using this whole one year's experience to spread that vast knowledge.
No Holds Barred
Bettors take on racetrack execs and tell them like it is as a customer of harness racing. What do horseplayers want from racetracks? Are they getting what they want? What can racetracks offer to keep horseplayers satisfied with the product, facilities, wagering opportunities and more?
Peter Gross – Editor, Down The Stretch and Morning Sportscaster, 680 News
Erik Potek – Founder, Canadian Horseplayers Advocacy Group
Jamie Martin – Senior Vice President Racing, Woodbine Entertainment Group
Dennis Dowd – Senior Vice President Legal and Governmental Relations, New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority
Kevin Koury – Horseplayer and Horse Owner
Erik is there. He reads the blog sometimes, so that's cool, although I hope they don't hold that against him. Jamie Martin is back, and I hope Erik is nice to him. No word if CEO Nick Eaves is paying Jamie any danger pay, like a raise miner in my home town. Apparently Kevin is a younger dude who plays the Meadowlands quite a bit. This could be kind of interesting.
Show Me The Money
A look at a new funding model that invests 10% of purse money to revitalize the industry. How could this model help Standardbred racing and are there other racing jurisdictions that use this model? What would be the best use of this money to reenergize racing and benefit both racetracks and horse people.
Dean A. Hoffman – Owner, Hoffman Communications LLC and former Executive Editor of Hoof Beats magazine
Moira Fanning – Director of Publicity, The Hambletonian Society
Tom Brodhurst – Director, Standardbred Horse Owners Panel (SHOP)
Kathy Wade Vlaar – Manager of Industry Marketing, Standardbred Canada
Using some of the billions of slot cash to do something radical like help grow the sport? Say it ain't so! Go get 'em Moira.
Next one, which is a good one:
Think Customers First
What can harness racing do to keep customers happy in terms of racing products? How harness racing can regain former customers that have turned to thoroughbred racing. A discussion about what thoroughbred racing offers that appeals to the customers and what customers would change about harness racing.
Kathy Parker – Editor, Horseman & Fair World
Jamie Erickson – Horseplayer
Harvey Weiner – Horse owner and racing fan
Jcapper, HTR, HSH, Formulator 4; all fine thoroughbred products that allow customers to work to get an edge and make the game fun. For harness racing? We have an ink program and a relatively new invention - the pencil. This will be a good session and hopeful Erickson will have some good things to say. I don't know Harvey. He might be a Woodbine runner player.
Next interesting one:
Life After Pari Mutuel Wagering?
Is there room for other wagering platforms aside from pari mutuel wagering. Could there be a Canadian Betting Exchange and what would it take to develop one.
Jeremy Pierce – General Manager, Harness Racing PEI
Mark Davies - Managing Director Corporate Affairs, Betfair
Michael Lipton – Member, Dickinson Wright
Dean Towers – Secretary, Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA)
Very cool. Getting Mark Davies on this panel is a coup. No word on if Jeremy Pierce is bringing live lobster and a couple of cases of Keith's from PEI, but everyone can hope.
Last my fave:
4:00pm–4:50pm Racing’s Own Family Feud…Survey Says…
Find out what bettors, fans and non fans say about harness racing in this interactive game that pits Customers against Racing Execs. Who knows our customers better?
The early betting lines have "Fans" at 4-5 and "Execs" at 5-1 (should be lower odds but the takeout on the exec side must be taken into account). We'll see if we are in store for a pari-mutuel puzzler.
In all seriousness, this is a good line-up, and the "Innovation" theme is something that needs to be spoken about, from both a fan and gambling perspective. Things like the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance, Raceday 360 and more have just in the last 12 months helped this sport. We need to keep doing these things at a grassroots level, but more importantly racing itself must move forward with a funded mechanism of embracing change for new markets. I hope these panels make some headway.