Friday, 09 September 2016 10:52

Equestricon™: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

By Tom Amello | Sports
The antidote for my post-Saratoga racing season melancholia arrived by way of a well-timed press conference and hopeful announcement from “Equestricon™," Horse Racing’s First Ever ‘Fan Centric’ Convention.” As the New York Racing Association (NYRA) prepared to close the books and declare another successful Saratoga racing season, members of the media, as well as supportive Thoroughbred racing entities and individuals gathered to attend and participate in the announcement. The event is scheduled during the 2017 NYRA racing season from August 13 – 15 at the Saratoga Springs City Center. Three individuals, with different links to Thoroughbred racing but deeply committed to the health and future of racing in America, developed a single idea: “Equestricon™ is committed to creating an extremely fun and unprecedented outlet for any and all racing enthusiasts to engage with the sport like never before.” In other words, “Fan-Centric.” Breeder/owners Kathryn Sharp and Justin Nicholson formed a coalition with racing journalist and Thoroughbred racing Ambassador Dan Tordjman, to forge a plan and bring that plan to reality. Equestricon™ is millennial-conceived, millennial-driven and millennial-centered. That, in and of itself, is great for Thoroughbred racing. The convention program will feature entertainment areas, live music, autograph signings, meet-n-greets, product and technology demos, and rows of exhibitors. More importantly, interactive panel discussions, breakout sessions and town halls will foster engagement between speakers and attendees. Equestricon™ will be the medium for actual engagement between the Thoroughbred industry and its customers, current and new. As watermelon-smashing comedian Gallagher might say, “Totally new concept!” Equestricon™ has my attention. I have been of the opinion that Thoroughbred racing has lost its way, forgetting the business they are in (staging racing for wagering purposes), disregarding, if not driving away, current customers, and failing miserably at attracting new customers, especially millennials. Add the stormy political climate between New York Racing and Governor Cuomo, and the landscape is bleak. Equestricon™ is an idea whose time has come. “On a grand scale, Sharp said, “we’re building the foundation upon which the industry can unite, meet face-to-face with its fans and end-users, and present the sport of racing as a cohesive entertainment industry.” Since the industry is anything but cohesive and thus cannot accomplish this important task, Equestricon™ has emerged to do it. Sharp continued, “Long term, we envision Equestricon becoming the ultimate showcase for – and celebration of –advances in the areas of aftercare, technology, marketing, fan development and more.” Among those in attendance and taking turns at the podium to offer overwhelming support to the Equestricon™ initiative were Terry Finley, President of West Point Thoroughbreds, and trainer Graham Motion. West Point Thoroughbreds (no affiliation with the U.S. Military Academy at West Point) is one of the most successful public racing partnerships in the country. Graham Motion is one of the country’s premier trainers, a consummate horseman and an enthusiastic advocate for equine safety and post-career care. Equestricon™ also announced the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA) as their official charity partner. Given the intention, goals, timing and location of the Equestricon™ press conference, conspicuous by their absence was any representative from the NYRA. What better time to schedule…what better city to host… a convention intended to celebrate and grow Thoroughbred racing and new fans than Saratoga Springs? I’ve marked my calendar and added Equestricon™ to my Saratoga 2017 schedule. I’ll be following the development of the final convention schedule through Tom Amello began his Thoroughbred education over 50 years ago. In 1984, Tom created his own database of New York trainers & horses that became the foundation for the Saratoga selection sheet, Trackfacts. For over twenty years Tom produced and hosted original programming covering Thoroughbred racing for Capital District OTB Television. Tom conducts numerous handicapping seminars and workshops, including participation in “Count Down to…” programs at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame and the “History, Horses and Handicapping” program at SUNY Empire State College’s Academy for Lifelong Learning. In 2013, Tom published Playing the Odds Board: Gateway to the Game ™, a guide that makes betting easier to understand and more fun for those new to Thoroughbred racing. Tom, with his daughter Kate, owns and operates the Brunswick at Saratoga Bed & Breakfast at 143 Union Avenue in Saratoga Springs. Contact Tom at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
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Saratoga Springs Politics


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