Del Mar Racetrack, Reinventing the Horse Racing Fan Experience

By George Foster, David Hoyt
2012 | Case No. SPM49
Thoroughbred horse racing was in decline at the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st century. Nearly all metrics, from number of horses and races, to attendance, and amount wagered, was falling. Studies indicated this was likely to continue. Horse race tracks made their money from wagering—where once racing had a monopoly on gambling in the U.S., now there were a wide range of options for gamblers. Del Mar racetrack in California was suffering the same fate as other tracks. In 2001, it embarked on a radical new marketing strategy, appealing to a young, hip demographic, families, and couples, rather than older, male gamblers. The case describes the situation facing the racing industry and track management, the rebranding strategy, and results. It challenges students to determine whether the strategy used by Del Mar is applicable to other tracks, or if it is limited due to unique circumstances at Del Mar. This case focuses on horse racing from the perspective of tracks. A companion case, SPM50: Stonestreet Farms: Making a Business in the “Sport of Kings,” focuses on the industry from the perspective of race horse owners and breeders.
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