Edited press release
Changing consumer standards will be the theme at the 14th International Simulcast Conference Oct. 16-18 in Philadelphia. The conference will feature sessions on the impact of Internet wagering, the disparity between commercial television and simulcast signal quality, and heightened concern about equine welfare issues.
Seen as both a blessing and a curse by racetrack operators, the Internet's disruptive technology is not unique to the pari-mutuel industry. The distribution models in the news, movie, and music industries have had to change to meet the challenges presented by the Internet's vast reach. University of Akron professor William Shanklin will moderate the Oct. 16 opening session on disruptive technology, along with a panel of experts from related industries to report on their challenges and remedial courses of action.
Public tolerance for equine injury and death has shifted after Barbaro was injured during this year's Preakness Stakes (gr. I). Since then, similar incidents have placed the spotlight on better racing surfaces, the soundness of runners, and new medication policies. ESPN television personality Jeannine Edwards will moderate a panel featuring Philadelphia Daily News
sports writer Dick Jerardi; Kent Stirling, executive director of the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association; and Michael Dickinson, one of America's top trainers and inventor of the Tapeta racing surface, to discuss the change in customer perception and the demands likely to be placed on racing's stakeholders by the public to better address the issue.
On Oct. 17, morning sessions will conclude with racetrack executives discussing their ideas on keeping and attracting simulcast bettors in today's competitive wagering environment and in the future.
The issue of media rights and jockeys' compensation will be discussed by a panel of industry leaders the afternoon of Oct. 17. Thoroughbred Racing Association's executive vice president Chris Scherf, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association president Dan Metzger, National HBPA president and chairman of the board Joe Santanna, and Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association chief executive officer Alan Foreman are confirmed participants on the panel, with others to be announced in the near future.
The Oct. 17 general sessions will conclude with a panel on the technical quality of racetracks' televised product. The panel will include Amy Zimmerman, executive producer of HorseRacing TV and director of broadcasting at Santa Anita Park; Todd Roberts, president and chief executive officer of Roberts Communications Network; and David Snyder, vice president of International Sound Corp. The panel will be complemented by the addition of simulcast bettor perspectives.
The conference wraps up the morning of Oct. 18 with a focus on tote issues and technology. In light of recent acquisitions, the landscape of tote-company ownership has changed, and tote company leaders will take the stage to present their vision for the future. Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau director of wagering analysis J. Curtis Linnell will complement this session with an update on the latest developments in Wagering Transmission Protocol.
The conference again will present the popular session on simulcasting basics, Simulcasting 101. The course will be led by Lorene Heninger, who has served as Hawthorne Race Course director of simulcasting since 1995.
The conference will be held at the Society Hill Sheraton and is co-sponsored by the TRA, Harness Tracks of America, and American Quarter Horse Racing, in conjunction with the American Greyhound Track Operators Association. The deadline for registration with the TRA is Oct. 6. More information is available at www.tra-online.com.