Trendy. Just saying it out loud all by myself makes me think of the Sixties – the Swinging Sixties. Petula Clark singing Downtown, Anthony Newley’s bell bottoms, Sidney Poitier in To Sir with Love, Mary Quant’s make-up, and of course Twiggy – the racehorse lean model.
So, what in the world does this have to do with off track Thoroughbreds? Allow me one more digression and I’ll spill all.
I am totally non-uniquely qualified to write this column. You are totally non-uniquely qualified to read it. We are both totally qualified. We are card carrying members of the twenty-first century world of consumers, readers, and horse-centrics (you can interpret centrics as either meaning eccentric or meaning centered and preoccupied by). I feel like I am a sponge for middle of the road trends in North America. Neither a trend setter nor a total trend laggard. I mean, I like something on Facebook or on the web and look at the hits and see that millions or mere hundreds of thousands of me-like creatures are piqued by the same thing.
So, I have to ask all of you something. Do you feel like there is a rising tide of references to off track Thoroughbreds? More accolades for off track Thoroughbreds? More purchases of off track Thoroughbreds? More attention being paid to off track Thoroughbreds? For instance, the growing popularity of blogs such as this one or of Susan Salk’s wonderful Offtrackthoroughbreds.com?
Or, the totally viral response to Steuart Pittman’s Retired Racehorse Retraining Challenge. A cyber phenom that translated into a live bodies on the ground phenom at the PA Horse World Expo in Harrisburg. See for instance, Sassy Grey blog, Sarah Andrew blog.
How many off track thoroughbred lovers were tuned into Sarah Andrew’s wonderful shots from Camelot? How many of the $37,000 plus in charity donations from sales of her calendar (that’s approximately 2500 purchases at $15 a pop) were fueled by OTTB driven dollars? Plenty, I’d imagine.
How many people who bought copies of Raja Racehorse are far above the targeted reader age of 10-12? C’mon fess up. I know you’re out there believing in him.
I’ve even clambered onto the band wagon on behalf of CANTER New England and the New York Chapter of ReRun. Both are volunteer driven organizations. Both are in great need of funds to sustain the work they do. So, tapping into the spirit of doing good by looking good we created two cool caps with five dollars from each sale going to help CANTER NE and five dollars to help ReRun NY.
The doing good by looking good award in the equine couture category goes to Caitlin Taylor with her OTTB Designs. Individually made by Caitlin each luxuriously embroidered saddle pad (and now coolers) has thousands of gold stitches celebrating the regal heritage and athleticism of the OTTB. Caitlin has had huge demand from enthusiastic riders who want to show their OTTB pride. And did I mention, Caitlin donates a percentage of the price of each pad or cooler to the Thoroughbred charity of the buyer’s choice?
The Chronicle of the Horse seems to have beefed up its coverage of Thoroughbreds. For instance Allie Conrad of Canter Mid-Atlantic has been contributing wonderful blog columns. Is this déjà vu all over again for decades long subscribers of the Chron?
The Jockey Club’s Thoroughbred Incentive Program may be the lever needed to move mountains. Its Thoroughbred Connect has proven enormously helpful. These two initiatives each deserve their own blog entry. In the meantime, check out the informative websites.
Another initiative from the racing side of the aisle, the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance deserves a blog entry of its own. What its effect will be is still an unknown.
Thanks to the suggestion of a reader Ray Paulick recently began devoting part of his report to off track thoroughbreds.
Three Chimneys Farm, where Seattle Slew last stood, where Dynaformer, Smarty Jones and other horse-centric household names live, is calling attention in its advertising to lesser known Thoroughbreds and lauding their off track accomplishments and value. Sadly, this is not immediately evident on their website homepage.
The New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, NYTHA, is seeking video footage of OTTBs performing over fences in post-racing careers. However, neither the home page, the benevolence page, or elsewhere in a quick search of their website was there any mention of off track Thoroughbreds. We are waiting with bated breath.
Eaton Sales, a company that makes money by selling young Thoroughbreds for racing purposes, is showing an interest in OTTBs. If this market savvy company, wants to be seen with OTTBs, is it trend time? Is this Business Time as Flight of the Conchords might say?
This is just what I pluck out of the air. Air increasingly humid with OTTBs. So, it’s time to get scientific (or at least organized and persistent).
In the spirit of Steuart Pittman’s retraining challenge. I am mounting the Thoroughbred Trend Tracking Challenge. I am going to track via Google alerts key phrases like OTTB, retired racehorse, off track Thoroughbred, and Thoroughbred. I’ll report back to you in five weeks on what the tracking reveals. Will it be the usual suspects floating repeatedly across the screen? Will new references come up? What will the content consist of? What enthusiasms will go viral? Will interest translate into any changes in conditions for off track thoroughbreds? The market for them? Opportunities for them? What new and surprising developments will emerge?
I’ll report back during the week of April 2, 2011. Until then, Happy Thoroughbreds!