Thursday, 29 May 2014

Harness Racing: Canada vs. USA

Take a look at Standardbred Canada. Then take a look at USTA Racing. I don't think it will take you very long to determine which website is better. A look at the two sites also shows you which country seems to be more interested in growing the sport.

     Standardbred Canada is exactly what a good website should be. Clean, organized, aesthetically pleasing. USTA Racing, on the other hand, is cluttered and bland. Advertising wise, Standardbred Canada is geared more towards breeders, owners and trainers, which is understandable. I would like to see some more betting related ads. Woodbine/Mohawk, Grand River and Western Fair all have good products and promoting them more would most likely do good. However, I appreciate the focus on breeding and understand that the onus is on the tracks to get their advertisements out. Hop on over to USTA, and you see six advertisements. For horsemen/breeders, there's a rotating ad for some feed or drugs or whatnot, and a link to a video for online entries. No breeding ads. Then for fans and bettors, you've got a picture for the USTA Strategic Wagering Guide, which does not link anywhere, a link to the new Harness Racing Fan Zone (which is a bit cluttered in my opinion), and two tracks advertisements. The first track ad is for the Meadowlands' Handicapping Challenge. The second is for Mohawk. The best part about the Mohawk ad is that when you browse the site a bit, looking at entries or results or what have you, it is always there. Mohawk, a Canadian track, has the most prominent advertising on the United States Trotting Association of any track. Anyone else see the irony in that?

     So the only American track that seems to care is the Meadowlands. Nothing new. Let's see how not caring is working out in the handle department.
Everything is down. Even the big slots tracks are slipping in purses. Here's how things are looking in Canada.
Due to a cut in race dates our handle is down, but thanks to well promoted, improved products, people are betting more on our races. Bettors are taking an interest, and that's what we need.

     Social media wise, Canadian tracks are doing a very good job. Take Western Fair as an example. The Molson Pace is coming up tomorrow. It's a $150,000 Invitational featuring some very talented horses, including big name Foiled Again. Here are some tweets from Western Fair and their track announcer.

Last week at Harrah's Philidelphia, there were a pair of $250,000 races. I saw one tweet regarding either of them.

 I'd show you some tweets from Harrah's Philly, they like to talk up the casino on Twitter, but they took May 25th off from social media.

     It's pretty tough to get excited about American harness racing (aside from the Meadowlands) when no one seem to give a crap. At least a good few Canadian tracks are making an effort to promote and grow the sport.


  1. Doug - thanks for your comments. As you may know, the USTA -- working with key partners and hopefully canada at some point -- is in the midst or a significant marketing effort that is only now beginning to scale. It's still early days but the potential is quite compelling. A new harness racing promotional video for example, released last week, has reached more than 780,000 people and more than 50,000 views. The harnessracingfanzone and social ambassador program will, over time, help reposition the sport through social media. But it's a journey and it will take everyone working together. Love to talk to you more about all of this, and what's in works. I think you'll find the sport is actually headed in the right direction and there is a growing group of people and groups - including the USTA - that cares deeply. Cheers.

    1. Thank you for your response, Rob. I am always encouraged when people in the industry reach out to inform me that there are positive steps in the works. Perhaps, as a Canadian, I am a bit biased. If you would like to talk to me, please email me at