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68th Round Table Conference to Feature Anti-Doping, Achieving Integrity, and Diversity

The Jockey Club announced today that its 68th Annual Round Table Conference on Matters Pertaining to Racing will highlight the importance of reform in medication rules and testing, challenges faced by the Thoroughbred industry, and insights into the claiming system. This year’s conference will be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will be streamed on The Jockey Club’s website at jockeyclub.com on Sunday, August 16, at 10 a.m. EDT and be aired on TVG and Racetrack Television Network’s respective platforms. The Jockey Club Chairman Stuart S. Janney III will preside over the conference.

“While we are disappointed that we cannot host an in-person event, we are excited by this year’s lineup of speakers and the perspectives they will share with the conference’s virtual attendees,” said James L. Gagliano, president and chief operating officer of The Jockey Club.

Gagliano will interview three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond about anti-doping and the importance of clean competition. LeMond has been outspoken about performance-enhancing drugs for more than 30 years and has testified before the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

Trainers Mark Casse, John Gosden, and Jessica Harrington will discuss training and competing in different jurisdictions in a panel moderated by Matt Iuliano, executive vice president and executive director of The Jockey Club. Casse was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame this year, while Gosden has trained champions in both the United States and Europe. Harrington, based in Ireland, has trained top horses on the flat and over jumps.

Bob Costas, former sportscaster for NBC Sports and current sportscaster for MLB Network and contributor to CNN, will discuss covering the Triple Crown races and the challenges faced by sports in 2020. Prior to leaving NBC Sports in 2019, Costas co-anchored or hosted its coverage of baseball, football, basketball, hockey, golf, NASCAR, boxing, the Olympics, and horse racing. Costas co-hosted NBC’s coverage of the Kentucky Derby from 2001-2018.

Sal Sinatra, the president and general manager of the Maryland Jockey Club, will present on America’s system of claiming races and recommend changes that would benefit the sport. Before joining the Maryland Jockey Club, Sinatra spent 15 years at Parx Racing, where he was the vice president of racing and racing secretary.

Katrina Adams, the immediate past president of the United States Tennis Association (USTA), will discuss the importance of diversity. She previously served two terms as the USTA’s chairman and president and was an accomplished professional tennis player on the Women’s Tennis Association Tour for 12 years. Adams was the first African American, first former professional tennis player, and youngest person ever to serve as USTA president.

Jason Wilson, president and chief operating officer of Equibase, will deliver a report on the activities of The Jockey Club.

The full agenda and bios of all speakers will be posted on jockeyclub.com in advance of the conference.

The Jockey Club Round Table Conference was first held on July 1, 1953, in The Jockey Club office in New York City. The following year, it was moved to Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

The Jockey Club, founded in 1894 and dedicated to the improvement of Thoroughbred breeding and racing, is the breed registry for North American Thoroughbreds. In fulfillment of its mission, The Jockey Club, directly or through subsidiaries, provides support and leadership on a wide range of important industry initiatives, and it serves the information and technology needs of owners, breeders, media, fans and farms. It founded America’s Best Racing (americasbestracing.net), the broad-based fan development initiative for Thoroughbred racing, and in partnership with the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, operates OwnerView (ownerview.com), the ownership resource. Additional information is available at jockeyclub.com.

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Sports Wagering Symposium Outlines Changing Landscape

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In a gravelly voice that clearly has spent many hours cheering teams and horses, race and sports book legend Victor Salerno offered racing some verbal encouragement as it prepares for fast-emerging legal sports wagering.

Salerno, a 40-year veteran of the race and sports book industry in Nevada, offered that encouragement at the Sports Wagering and Impact on Horse Racing Symposium presented by BloodHorse and Breeders’ Cup Sept. 6 at Keeneland. Three panels at the symposium outlined the opportunities and potential challenges for racing, as legal sports wagering comes online throughout the country. Racing relies on pari-mutuel wagering as its economic engine.

“You shouldn’t be afraid to do this,” Salerno said of tracks also offering sports wagering, noting tracks that do so will increase their foot traffic, providing opportunities to reach new customers. “Racing’s a great sport; we have to keep it going.”

At the three-hour presentation, panelists touched on wide-ranging topics related to sports wagering, including the benefits and challenges of offering sports wagering at tracks; opportunities for current advance-deposit wagering companies to expand to sports wagering or partner with sports wagering sites to cross-promote one another; an opportunity for racing to provide needed content for wagering in this new environment; the addition of non-pari-mutuel wagers in racing, like fixed-odds bets; and challenges that could include a competitive disadvantage as high-takeout racing in an atmosphere where low-takeout sports betting will be readily available.

Monmouth Park vice president of business operations Bill Knauf offered some firsthand experience since the New Jersey track brought in William Hill to operate on-track sports wagering in June. Knauf said the sports betting crowd is largely male and younger than the typical horseplayer. He noted the sports betting crowd has helped the track improve its simulcast handle as bettors are showing up early and staying late to watch West Coast baseball games.

Knauf said tracks have plenty of available parking, interior space that readily can be used to build first-rate sports books, and through their simulcast operations are familiar with bringing in multiple TV signals. He noted tracks routinely offer more such signals than even a Las Vegas sportsbook.

Panelist Victor Bigio, an online gaming marketer at Sportech, said tracks also have the space to host eSports events that are quickly gaining in popularity with young people. He said tracks should take advantage and offer those events and accept wagers on them.

Many states soon will be making these decisions. Beyond the three racing states that have already launched full sports wagering this year—New Jersey, Delaware, and West Virginia—Sara Slane of the American Gaming Association noted another 19 states have had bills proposed.

William Hill U.S. executive Dan Shapiro noted the planning that went into Monmouth has produced a facility where sports betting and race betting are well-integrated. He said a sports betting facility at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races is in the casino and separated from racing. He thinks the Monmouth model has a better chance of success for both sports wagering and race handle.

“What Monmouth has done with that integrated experience is the model we think tracks should look at in the future,” Shapiro said.

Just hours after TVG (FanDuel Group) announced Thursday plans to add a pair of Sunday morning shows that will largely focus on betting the NFL, FanDuel Group general counsel John Hindman said that variety should bring a more diverse group to the racing channel and its various sports and race wagering platforms.

He said the FanDuel platform will market race wagering, noting it will be presented in a way that will make sense to sports bettors. He also noted the benefits of cross-marketing—millions of dollars have been spent promoting FanDuel, initially a Daily Fantasy site, in recent years.

One aspect of betting sports those customers understand, on some level, is takeout in the 5% or 6% range. Ed Hannah of The Stronach Group said with those expectations, racing will need to thoroughly examine its much higher takeout (the amount of money not returned to bettors in winnings, which in racing is retained largely for tracks and purses) as it tries to attract new customers and retain current players.

“Lesson No. 1 is the takeout rate is too high. We need to figure out a more optimal takeout rate,” Hannah said. “There’s a little more wiggle room on multi-race or multi-interest wagers.”

He noted that in the online atmosphere, sports bettors will quickly notice the difference.

“People putting money in their deposits will notice that difference,” Hannah said, explaining that because of takeout, the average sports bettor can make a $100 deposit last much longer than the average horseplayer. “We have to do a lot of thinking about (takeout).”

Sports betting faces its own battle for customers, many of whom currently wager through illegal bookmakers, local or offshore. Panelists noted that one way legal operators will be able to compete is by offering a greater variety of wagers and events. They said the frequency of races, offered throughout the week, should prove attractive to sports betting sites.

Hindman noted that race wagering routinely is one of the top sports in terms of handle in other countries that already allow sports wagering.

While panelists offered a wide variety of opinions and ideas, all acknowledged the fast-changing landscape and racing’s need to be innovative rather than shrink away.

“We can take (the emergence of sports wagering) and put it toward the enhancement of the racing industry here,” Salerno said. “Don’t be afraid.”

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