29 January 2012

Horse Racing Should Explore The Fantasy Phenomenon

Horse racing has been trying to tap into new markets in an attempt to add its fan base (which is dying out quicker than it can be replaced). Biggest problem is that there is a huge learning curve, and the fact that there are few long term winners and virtually no visible long term winners, there is close to no reason for a new gambler to learn how to play, and there is very little motivation for existing sports bettors and poker players to take up horse race handicapping and gambling as a hobby.

I'm optimistic that horse racing will soon wake up and reduce takeout levels to more optimal percentages, and it may take exchange betting (which I believe is inevitable) to get those in control to really see the light.

But for now, horse racing desperately needs to get what it can take in the way of gamblers, and one way that really hasn't been tried is a widespread Fantasy Game that is easy enough to figure out.

Fantasy Sports is huge. It is estimated that over 32 million people in the US and Canada played Fantasy Sports in 2010. If horse racing could just appeal to .5% of that crowd (160,000 people), there would be a huge chance for major growth.

The demographics Fantasy Sports attracts is mouth watering for the horse racing industry.  Close to 25% of males between 18-49 play Fantasy Sports.

I've been playing Fantasy Football for close to 20 years. I used to play other sports as well but found the seasons to be too long, and the day to day monitoring was like having a part time job (This is why each Fantasy Horse Racing game needs to be of short duration, and because of that, can't include horses as some may race only once in a 10 week span, and some none at all, and monitoring horse injuries becomes too complicated).

The focus needs to be on jockeys and trainers. Daily action for most of the roster. Stats are free and easy to access. And newbies can easily understand the stats to begin with, without having any knowledge of horse racing, trainers, or jockeys. The idea of course, is to get them to delve in more and more. They might even start betting:)

Now for my idea of what the new Fantasy Horse Racing game should look like.

The active roster has 10 trainers and 10 jockeys:
Elite trainers (2)
(trainers who made more than $4 mill last year)
High volume trainers (4)
(trainers had at least 250 starts last year who are not elite trainers)
Other trainers (4)
(trainers who had less than 250 starts last year who are not elite trainers)
Elite Jockeys (2)
(jockeys with more than $6.5 million in earnings last year)
High volume jockeys (4)
Jockeys with at least 750 mounts last year
Other jockeys (2)
Jockeys with less than 750 mounts last year
Apprentice jockeys (2)
Jockey must be an apprentice when the contest is announced.

Trainer wins
Jockey wins
Trainers in the money total
Jockeys in the money total
Win %
Total purses jockeys (individual race purses are capped at $150,000)
Total purses trainers (individual race purses are capped at $150,000)

Contest lasts 10 weeks (weekly prizes and Grand prizes)
Substitute Bench consists of 5 jockeys and 5 trainers. Switches can be made weekly (by Sunday night for the following week).

There are also 8 total roster changes allowed as well, where you can switch a trainer or jockey from your current roster or bench with someone currently not on your team.
Points are determined by adding overall rankings in each category. For example, if one is ranked 230th overall in trainer wins, 3rd in jockey wins, 245th in trainer ITM, 18th in jockey ITM, 163rd in Win %, 143rd in ITM %, 111th in jockey purses, and 212th in trainer purses, total points for this player would be 1,125. The lower the total the higher one is ranked.
There could also be league totals where friends can choose to go into specific leagues or a player can be put into a league randomly, and leagues can consist of anywhere between 25 and 100 players (and individual league prizes can be awarded).

Jockey and trainer values: To keep from everyone selecting a Ramon Dominguez, for example, each trainer and jockey has to have a predetermined value. The live roster can have a value cap of $1 million for example. Ramon Dominguez may have a value of $150,000, while another elite jockey, may have a value of $80,000, while another elite jockey may have a value of $110,000.

Values are determined based on a formula (which I haven't perfected yet) that takes into account how points are awarded in this fantasy game taking into account last year’s individual stats. So up and comers will most likely be valuable to have on ones roster.

Jockeys and trainers available to be selected for the game can only show up in one sub group. For example, if an Apprentice is an Elite jockey as well, he or she would show up under the Elite sub group only.

New games during the year, can adjust for current production (in other words, a trainer or jockeys value can be based on the previous 365 days, not the last calendar year).

Cost (Examples): Should be minimal, even free. The idea is to get new interest in horse racing, not cannibalize existing players (this is why an organization like the NTRA should perhaps run with it). If costs are required, no more than a $20 entrance fee. Weekly switches should be no more than 50 cents each, and new roster purchases should not be more than $2.

Prizes need to be as high as possible. $5,000-$10,000 for the overall 10 week winner. $2-5,000 for second, $1,000-$2,000 for third, etc. Payouts to the top 10 leaders. $500 to $1,000 for winning a league if leagues are used.
Weekly prizes of $500 for the top overall player for the week, and $50 for the top league player for the week.


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Scott said...

Australian racing has this for the big spring carnival every year - so rather than one meeting, or a whole season, it's a manageable five-week block. Format slightly different, but enough to cater for regulars and once-a-year players. Considering how massive fantasy sports are in North America, surely someone has tried it at some stage??

Horse Race said...

I love this concept of fantasy horse racing. There is already a game known as Horse Racing Fantasy which is available as a free download at www.horseracegame.com. It has excellent 3D graphics and engaging gameplay which leads to a good gaming experience overall.