SBD/Issue 13/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Van Clief Pledges Change For Both The NTRA And Breeders’ Cup

Van Clief Jr. Wants To Reevaluate
The NTRA’s Strategies

In his first public appearance since his status as NTRA Commissioner was changed from temporary to permanent, D.G. Van Clief Jr. said Monday at the NTRA Annual Meeting & Marketing Summit in Las Vegas that there will “be a re-evaluation of strategies that were core to the organization when it launched in 1998,” according to Tom LaMarra of BLOODHORSE. While the NTRA’s logo and “Go Baby Go” slogan have remained in place since ‘98, Van Clief said that the “branding effort wasn’t that successful,” adding, “We’re not so sure that has worked as well as we would have liked. We’re not sure we have the critical mass of dollars needed to be effective.” Van Clief also noted that the NTRA’s corporate advertising program has not met expectations, as creative materials “have been used extensively by some members but hardly at all by others.” Van Clief: “We don’t think we’re getting a uniform bang for the buck. We may deploy those resources elsewhere going forward.” Van Clief, who also serves as Breeders’ Cup President, indicated that selection of future host sites for the event “would be ‘pushed out’ in an attempt to assist sponsors and facilitate [TV] coverage,” with a five-year window now being the minimum for choosing host tracks. Van Clief: “The initial reason is to become more effective and efficient in sponsorship sales. Ultimately the goal would be to know where we are going and avoid dates conflicts. It would be easier to line up [TV] clearances with selected host sites. ... [We] should be sophisticated enough to extend the selection process” (BLOODHORSE.com, 9/27).

GIDDY UP: A survey by SDS Research found that horse racing “has picked up a potential 13 million new fans in the past 12 months.” The survey was based on the question: “Are you interested in going to the racetrack?” In ’04, those who answered “yes” represented 48 million people, up from 34.8 million in ’03. SDS Partner John Della Volpe credited the “Seabiscuit-Triple Crown effect” for the increase (THOROUGHBREDTIMES.com, 9/27). Meanwhile, a TNS Sport-ESPN Sports Poll found that the number of people ages 18+ in the U.S. who said they were interested in horse racing increased 3%, from 36.6% to 37.7% during January-July of this year compared to the comparable year ago period (NTRA).

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