'Night School' to Expand Curriculum in 2012

The web-based fan education program has been well-received in its first year.

Fan education in the horse racing industry made some inroads in 2011, with plans to ramp things up in 2012.

“Night School,” one of the new web-based programs launched this year, attracted 214,172 total participants through its first 37 weeks. The program, available via 31 industry websites, is hosted by organizers of Horse Player NOW.

The program, as well as other fan education initiatives, was discussed during the University of Arizona Symposium on Racing & Gaming as part of the Turf Publicists of America forum Dec. 6.

Statistics provided by Joe Kristufek of Horse Player NOW show the 90-minute question-and-answer sessions with fans and industry panelists attract a mix of participants. The largest group, at 35%, is longtime fans of racing, but 25% are “weekend horseplayers,” 13% are considered “newbies,” and 11% are “gaining interest” in racing and handicapping.

The other 16% are classified as everyday horseplayers.

Average attendance for the sessions is 1,232, Kristufek said. Of the newcomers, 31% are under age 40 and 69% over age 40.

Different topics and areas of handicapping are addressed each week, and free materials are available for download. There are four title sponsors and another 10 industry supporters.

Kristufek said plans call for another 40 Monday night sessions in 2012, along with 10 sessions for new and intermediate fans that will be called “Newbie Tuesdays.” Also is the works are seminars geared toward big events in racing and a fan education tour.

This year Horse Player NOW visited Gulfstream Park and Pimlico Race Course, where it offered an infield wagering tent on Preakness day. About 3,000 people visited the tent on Preakness day, and infield pari-mutuel handle was up 11%, Kristufek said.