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SBD/November 2, 2011/People and Pop Culture
Catching Up With Breeders' Cup Senior VP Carter Carnegie
Published November 2, 2011
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Horse: Goldikova as a modern-day horse, and as a kid, a horse that I remembered the most I would say Shergar.
Best bet you've made: Breeders’ Cup '08 in Los Angeles when the European horses won a lot of races. That morning I placed my bets for the day with all I had in my pocket, around $40, and that night when I cashed my tickets I walked away with around $3,000.
Favorite Horse Name: Blushing Groom, his sire was named Red God and his dam was named Runaway Bride.
Q: How did you get into horse racing?
Carnegie: I was working in sports marketing prior to it with Host Communications and a property called Hoop It Up and a joint venture we had with the NBA in Europe. Through Host, which is based in Lexington, (Ky.), they became associated with the NTRA, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, and they asked if anyone was interested in creating a corporate partner program for horse racing on a national level, and I put my hand up and I said, "Sounds interesting." So I decided to do it that way.
Q: What on-site activations are there going to be at the Breeders' Cup this year?
Carnegie: One of the things we’re doing this year is on Thursday night prior to the Championships, a dinner where all the owners and their friends are invited. And it’s going to be a food tasting from countries all over the world and the countries we’re representing are the countries who have in the 28 years of the Breeders' Cup have bred a horse that has run in the championships at some point. We’ll have countries like Chile, Australia, Argentina, Ireland and France, so we brought chefs from all of those places for a food tasting for those owners. ... Other types of on-site activations are special breakfasts in the mornings so the owners can go look at their horses training in the morning. For the fans, we’ll do lots of different things. ... We’re doing something new this year, and it sounds so simple but it really does work ... we’re giving away free programs to everyone that is a ticket holder. We’re giving everyone a free program, and that’s part of increasing the experience for the fans that are at the event.
Q: What do you think the Breeders’ Cup and horse industry can do to create and retain a larger fan base?
Carnegie: Big racing days seem to bring out the public. I don’t know how much Breeders' Cup can do to help make more people go to weekday racing, but what we need to do is create an event and an experience that introduces people to the sport, kind of a gateway into the game, so that they’ll want to get involved in the local or regional level, wherever their track is.
Q: What is a clear and measurable benefit you think a brand will receive being involved with the Breeders’ Cup?
Carnegie: I would say in general the nice thing about our property is that as a company you’re operating in a clutter-free environment where the people have a very strong affinity to this game. The cost of entry is probably less than a lot of other sports, but the quality of the people you’re going to reach is maybe better. So it’s a nice way to get involved where you don’t have to compete with so many other people to try and break the clutter and make sure the fan base recognizes that you’re associated with the game. Once you buy in with us, you’re getting your brand exclusively associated with everything Breeders' Cup.
Q: Last year there was a big increase in wagering and attendance. Are you expecting those kinds of numbers this year, or do you think Zenyatta played a role in that?
Carnegie: Zenyatta was a great athlete for us. She was a breakthrough. I think she brought a lot of people to racing that didn’t know the sport beyond the Derby, and you know how incredible these athletes are. ... I hope there’s obviously an effect of that continuing that we made a lot of new fans. One of the reasons the event was also so much bigger last year is because Churchill Downs is a much bigger venue than some of the other venues we go to, so it allows us to have more people at the event. ... Churchill has incredible facilities.
Q: Any plans to bring the Breeders' Cup back to Kentucky?
Carnegie: Kentucky is obviously the heart of the breeding industry, so we possibly will go back there. Next year we’re going to California and that’s really kind of all we know at this point.
Q: What is the Breeders' Cup doing in terms of social media around the event?
Carnegie: We have a pretty active Facebook page where we communicate with our fans and we’ll post a lot of inside information on there, especially with when the international horses are coming. We’ll use Twitter as well. We have a very good base of celebrities, especially last year with Zenyatta, who were able to create a lot of excitement around her, and we’ll use them again to talk about the Breeders' Cup and get people to tune in and let people know whose horse is the one they like. We have an iPhone and an iPad app that have won some awards. We’re just trying to get people introduced to our property and different horses because we’re so content rich in terms of how many horses are running and even how to wager and things of that nature. We put that out in the marketplace and it has done extremely well. I think (the app) was downloaded in 72 different countries.