NTRA's $1-Million Mystery Mutuel Promotion to Expand

The $1-million Mystery Mutuel Voucher, one of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's most successful promotions of 2000, will be offered twice this year, it was announced on Tuesday during the NTRA's Marketing Summit in Las Vegas, Nev. The first promotion will be July 28, with the second giveaway scheduled in late fall on a date to be announced.

Mystery Mutuel Vouchers are coded tickets, worth from $2 to the grand prize of $1 million, which must be redeemed and cashed at participating sites on a single day. They are distributed in a racetrack's local markets via direct mail, accompanied by customized brochures, with over one million pieces disseminated nationwide. Last year, more than $3.7 million worth of vouchers were circulated, including a $1-million voucher that went uncashed. The redemption rate for the vouchers was 7.7%, which the NTRA said is more than double the national average for similar programs. Last year's promotion resulted in significant increases in attendance and handle at participating tracks.

"This year, we'll offer the same level of turn-key services, plus the NTRA will pay the initial cost for tracks to supplement their existing mailing lists with model lists," said NTRA vice president Keith Chamblin. "We want to encourage tracks to grow their fan base."

In addition to a second Mystery Mutuel Voucher this fall, the NTRA said it will add the same promotion during the first quarter of the year in 2002. NTRA member racetracks, OTBs and sports books are eligible to participate in the Mystery Mutuel Voucher promotion.

In other news from the Marketing Summit, the NTRA announced that it has contracted with e-Dialog, a Massachusetts-based marketing firm, to produce and distribute a monthly e-mail newsletter, which the organization said will be customized for fans in local members of member tracks. The newsletter is targeted for a May debut. Fans can register online for the e-newsletter at the NTRA Web site, ntra.com, at the Web sites of its participating member organizations, or at breederscup.com. Chamblin said the cost of the newsletter will be substantially less than what individual tracks would have to pay to produce their own product and that it will help the NTRA build its database of horseracing fans.

E-Dialog provided services for the NTRA $1-Million Breeders' Cup Challenge, an online contest linked to the Breeders' Cup Championship that last year attracted more than 30,000 players. E-Dialog's clients include Ticketmaster and the National Football League.

The NTRA also announced on Tuesday plans to promote a new book, "The Female Fan Guide to Thoroughbred Racing, written by Betsy Berns, who has authored similar Female Fan Guides on the NFL and auto racing. The book is being published later this year by Daily Racing Form.

According to ESPN Sports Poll research commissioned by the NTRA and unveiled at the Marketing Summit, females comprise 45.9% of an estimated 19.5 million "light" users, who actively follow horseracing but attend less frequently than so-called "core" users who wager regularly and go to the
racetrack several times a year. Among racing's 10.1 million "lapsed" users, women are in the majority, representing 54.2%. They also represent 51.6% of racing's 4.2 million "social" fans, who do not wager but
have attended a horserace in the last two years. They also represent 59% of the estimated audience of 38 million inactive fans who have an interest in racing but do not actively pursue that interest by attending or
wagering on racing.