Ambassador job perfect way to lure young fans


If I were 30 years younger, I’d be tempted to send in a resume to be a brand ambassador for America’s Best Racing, sponsored by The Jockey Club.

I’ve been watching the ABR program from afar and applaud its efforts to reach a younger demographic. The program’s organizers now are recruiting new members as brand ambassadors sign up for two-year paid terms.

The qualifications for the job appear to be simple: social media skills, an outgoing personality and a love of horse racing. The ambassadors are based out of four markets but travel extensively to racetracks and national events selling the sport.

I’ve long maintained that growing racing fans is a grassroots process — sometimes as basic as a one-by-one relationship.

But like the Alec Baldwin character in “Glengarry Glen Ross,” it sounds as though the brand ambassadors do “ABC” kind of work: Always Be Closing.

A lot of us got interested in horse racing via family or friends. Perhaps someone experienced took us to the racetrack for the first time. The complexities of the sport often create a mentor/student-type bond.

I hear the complaints of old-time horseplayers that younger people aren’t being marketed to. However, it’s not that simple.

Perhaps 50 years ago horse racing was a more viable gambling option. But now there are so many choices that a near monopoly scenario is a distant memory.

However, horse racing remains a great gamble because of the pari-mutuel system. You are competing with all other horseplayers, so the more skilled you become, the better your chances of winning.

Bottom line, I see being an ABR ambassador as a dream job for a 20-something not yet settled into a career. Imagine getting paid to go to racetracks and certain national events.

■ TAMPA BAY BONUS — Tampa Bay Downs announced it will pay a $1 million bonus to any horse that can sweep the 2014 Sam F. Davis, Tampa Bay Derby and Kentucky Derby. The last big bonus payoff I can recall was in 2004. Smarty Jones earned a $5 million bonus from Oaklawn Park for winning the Rebel, Arkansas Derby and Kentucky Derby.

■ BREEDERS’ CUP ADVANCE — The Daily Racing Form Breeders’ Cup Advance edition will be available in race books on Oct. 25. It will contain all horses pre-entered in the 15 Breeders’ Cup races. You’ll need a full week to preview the lifetime past performances of 160 or so pre-entered horses.

■ KUDOS TO KRONE — Congratulations to retired rider Julie Krone for her induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, N.Y., on Saturday. Krone, 50, was among nine women inducted, along with Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and the late first lady Betty Ford.

■ LVH CONTEST — You still have time to sign up for the LVH Pick the Ponies contest held on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, the week of the Breeders’ Cup. The early-bird deadline is 4 p.m. Monday.

Richard Eng’s horse racing column is published Friday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He can be reached at rich_eng@hotmail.com. Follow him on Twitter: @richeng4propick.