Keeneland to Launch Facebook Racing Game

Keeneland will expand its social media presence this spring with the launch of a non-wagering racing game on Facebook.com.

The game, developed by Cornett Integrated Marketing Solutions, was beta-tested for four days during the 2010 Keeneland fall meet. Positive feedback led Keeneland to plan for a spring 2011 launch, officials said April 1 during a media briefing.

“It’s another piece of the pie for catering to new fans,” said Vince Gabbert, executive assistant to Keeneland president Nick Nicholson. “This is another small step to build that base.”

The game, called "Play Keeneland,” allows players to select horses for each race in real time. If they select the right horses—win, place, show, exacta and trifecta boxes—they are awarded points that accrue through the live race meet. Daily prizes include Keeneland merchandise, with the grand prize a trip for two to Keeneland in October.

David Coomer, chief creative officer at Cornett, said the company spent the last five months trying to improve the racing game in time for the spring meet. He said it draws upon other social media Facebook games such as Farmville.

“We love to be an incubator of sorts to see what works,” Coomer said. “It’s meant to be a fun, educational, engaging game.”

Julie Balog, director of e-marketing for Keeneland, said Keeneland has about 80,000 Facebook friends. The track has experimented with offering free admission coupons on Facebook for Wednesdays and Thursdays during live racing, and that about 200 a day are redeemed.

Balog said Facebook followers are more casual—“the Disney World type of follower”—while Twitter users are more geared toward handicapping.

Equibase is providing online information for the new game. Keeneland as usual will video stream its races live on Facebook. The game can be played via smartphone, desktop, and tablet computers.

A YouTube.com tutorial is available at keeneland.com. The spring meet begins April 8.

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