The Greatest Game, which seeks to match prospective Thoroughbred owners with bloodstock consultants that have agreed to follow a code of ethics, held its first lottery March 25 in Lexington. There were 16 prospects from across the country and a pool of 75 consultants.
The industry program, which began in earnest last year, derives most of its funding from the Keeneland Association. The Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association provides staff support and some funding, while the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and Breeders' Cup offer media support in the form of advertisements.
The consultants include bloodstock agents, farm owners, partnership principals, and even trainers. Tom Amoss, Vladimir Cerin, Michael Dickinson, Phil Hauswald, and Ken McPeek are among the trainers that signed up for the program.
Originally, there were four regions: East, Midwest, South, and West. The Midwest and South were combined because most of the consultants are located in the South, which includes Kentucky.
Four of the 16 prospects wanted to be included in other regions for the lottery, with the fewest number located in the West. Of the consultants, nine are located in the West, 12 in the East, and not unexpectedly, 54 in the Midwest and South.
The prospects will be notified of the three consultants drawn for them, and then they will have the opportunity to interview and hire them. A very important aspect of The Greatest Game is the code of ethics: Consultants must agree to disclose all fees and commissions as well as conflicts of interest.
"I think it's wonderful because consultants will be monitored," said Catherine Parke of Valkyre Stud near Georgetown, Ky. "That's extremely important. I'm all for longevity. When I read the guidelines, I became interested (in being a consultant). It's important to protect new people getting involved in the business."
The lottery was held at the offices of Dean, Dorton & Ford, an accounting firm. Lotteries will be held each month, said Gay Fisher, who administers the program for TOBA.
Fisher said an advertising campaign on CNBC and the Golf Channel would begin shortly and run through the Triple Crown. A letter to the industry explaining the status of The Greatest Game will appear in industry trade publications in April, she said.
TOBA president Dan Metzger said Keeneland has contributed a "strong, strong six figures," and the NTRA and Breeders' Cup have chipped in about $500,000 for media support. Thus far, $1.2 million to $1.4 million has been invested in the program, he said.