Executive corner: Jeremy Clemons on Horseplayers and Optimism in the New Year
TwinSpires.com Vice President of Marketing and Product Development Jeremy Clemons crashes the TwinSpires.com blog and shares his optimism for racing in 2014.
Anyone else measure the year by how far we are from the Kentucky Derby?
Derby feels forever in the distance before the holidays but is seemingly right around the corner just a few weeks into the New Year. But that’s OK with me as I love this time of year; there is so much hope and optimism in the air. Thoughts of what “could be” permeate every facet of the horse racing industry from the breeding shed, to the sales grounds, to the backside of the racetrack and yes, even the offices of the industry’s largest online wagering site, TwinSpires.com.
I am especially optimistic about Tuesday night’s premier of Esquire Network’s reality show Horseplayers. Produced by Go Go Luckey Entertainment, the same crew that brought Jockeys to Animal Planet; Horseplayers chronicles the journey of eight handicappers on their quest to qualify for and compete in the DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship (NHC).
Click here for a preview of the Horseplayers.
The Horseplayers team was wise to feature 2012 NHC Champion Michael Beychok in the show. The most electric moment I experienced in horse racing wasn’t at the track, but it was in a ball room at Treasure Island witnessing Beychok and his supporters root Glorious Dancer home to win by a nose in a dramatic photo finish earning Beychok $1-million and an Eclipse Award as Handicapper of the Year. It was one of those experiences that just stay with you. The moment moved me so much that I have since been trying to figure out the best way to share that experience and Beychok’s story, which doesn’t just end with him winning the NHC.
Check out the new video at BeychokStory.com.
While I have been a little underwhelmed so far with the amount of attention (or lack thereof) Horseplayers has received within the horse racing community, I don’t dwell on it because I am hopeful the show will reach a new audience. I am optimistic NBC Universal can use its breadth of properties to bring new eyeballs to the show. Esquire Network has distribution into roughly 60 million households and is available on Hulu.
Hopefully Horseplayers will be engaging enough to peak viewers’ interests about participating in horse racing handicapping tournaments. Tournaments, which are growing in popularity, can be a simpler point of entry for new players coming into horse racing. Most tournaments challenge its competitors to select the one horse they think will win a specified contest race. While not discounting the in-depth strategy and nuance necessary to be a successful tournament player, learning to get started in tournaments can be a lot less intimidating than getting started with traditional pari-mutuel wagering.
Viewers watching Horseplayers are able to jump right into tournaments at TwinSpires.com with buy-ins as low as $10. Every Saturday at TwinSpires.com, we offer a tournament with a $10,000 Guaranteed cash prize pool. We also offer several satellite tournaments into our major NHC qualifiers.
While I don’t expect Horseplayers impact to be as significant to racing and TwinSpires.com as the World Poker Tour’s impact was to poker and specifically Party Poker, I do think similar mechanics are in place.
Television reaches a broad audience and generates awareness about dynamic personalities competing in high stakes tournaments for the opportunity to win life-changing amounts of cash. Viewers can immediately go online to participate in similar tournaments, hone their skills, and ultimately qualify for the very same tournament they see on TV and maybe be the next star of the show.
That was pretty much the formula for success with the poker boom. Here’s to optimism that in 2014 Horseplayers can drive awareness and peak interest in horse racing tournaments.