How the Web Has Rebuilt Manitoba’s Horse Racing Trade

by Scott Taylor (@staylorsports,

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Assiniboia Downs

A pc display screen displaying the web site for (Scott Taylor/

WINNIPEG – It was a quantity that’s unattainable to disregard. On August 1, 2022, a small racetrack in central Canada positioned $3,523,260 on its eight-race card.

It was undeniably a document one-day deal with at Assiniboia Downs, and to be truthful, all that stakes was on Manitoba Derby Day, crucial day of the racing season in Winnipeg.

Nonetheless, Manitoba Derby “Day” this 12 months was scheduled for Monday evening and the massive race, the $100,000 Manitoba Derby itself, to not publish till 10:10 p.m. CDT (11:10 EDT in New York’s Racing Capitals). Went. , New Jersey, Maryland and South Florida).

In fact, when you think about that lower than a decade in the past, Downs CEO Darren Dunn Set Derby Day’s whole wager at over/below $500,000, the truth that an astonishing $3.5 million wager this 12 months was a little bit of a blow to the system.

“In that day we’d by no means have anticipated that quantity,” mentioned Dunn, nonetheless nodding his head two weeks later. “Our measuring stick, just a few years in the past, was ‘If it is over $500,000 it was day and if it goes down it should be disappointing.’ Now, to do $2.5 million final 12 months, a quantity I informed you on the time was a document I believed would by no means be damaged, after which coming again the following 12 months to beat it by one million {dollars} that is nothing I’ll predict responsibly.

“It is good to have desires and it is even higher when these desires come true.”

These betting numbers, numbers that now enhance with nearly each race, wouldn’t have been doable a decade in the past. Three issues have occurred prior to now 10-12 years which have modified the fortunes of a racetrack that just about broke down within the Nineteen Eighties after which struggled mightily in the course of the Nineties and 2000s – racing solely The battle precipitated every little thing from a interval of falling curiosity within the 2008 recession to Manitoba governments that weren’t sympathetic to one of many province’s most necessary agricultural industries.

Now, nevertheless, the situation is totally completely different than it was just a few years again and that is primarily as a consequence of three world-changing developments:

  1. The worldwide COVID pandemic in March of 2020 shut down nearly every little thing on the continent, nevertheless it didn’t cease horse racing in Winnipeg. Crowds weren’t allowed on the grounds of Assiniboia Downs, however the crew was allowed to run in entrance of an empty grandstand – and a wide-open TV digicam.
  2. As a result of followers weren’t allowed on the sector, Dunn was then in a position to current a plan he had been selling for years, towards pushback from an getting older business which believed that racing ought to solely be held on weekends. – They introduced that ASD would use Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evening racing as a result of nobody was allowed on the sector. He did this to maneuver away from the face-to-face competitors with the massive tracks – Santa Anita, Gulfstream, Woodbine, Churchill Downs, Belmont Park, and so forth., which all ran on weekends. Going into the Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday race, their little observe might be crowded with TVG and all that the Web is nearly completely at stake for itself.

He crossed his fingers, hoping he had made the appropriate determination, after which noticed his racing deal with rise excessive sufficient. In 2020, within the midst of the COVID pandemic, Assiniboia Downs set a meet document. In 50 days of racing, because of whole handles, new schedules and a sudden explosion of web betting, the 2020 handlebar was a document $63,263,947.

Dunn downplayed the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday determination a bit, saying, “It takes extra than simply setting a schedule after which forgetting about it.” “It takes numerous work to verify individuals are conscious of your sign. A whole lot of racetracks have been tried and never profitable in these days, however I might say that our schedule is a strategic a part of our success, for certain. “

Whereas the schedule is necessary, it’s only necessary due to the earthquake that utterly modified racing endlessly.

Rumble started within the late 90s with the arrival of in Canada. Began by Woodbine in 1997 as a telephone-interface service, improved annually as expertise improved. From 2005 to 2008, and lots of different types of Web betting started to change into a fixture all through North America.

That historical past will not be misplaced on Dunn. In opposition to the wall in 2020, he is aware of that if there was a worldwide pandemic within the Nineteen Eighties, Assinibio Downs may not be round at this time. As an alternative, the COVID pandemic pressured Downs to embrace new expertise with each side of its operations.

“There have been three strategic selections that modified every little thing,” Dunn defined. “To scale back competitors we needed to change our schedule, transfer our native market to after which open as many new markets exterior Manitoba as we might. We partnered with the key web betting websites, TVG, a betting platform. which additionally distributes TV racing alerts to 30 million US properties; the New York Racing Affiliation; Twin Spiers, which is the Churchill Downs Group; Xpressbet, which is the Stronach Group that runs Maryland Racing, Gulfstream and Santa Anita; and on the way in which. A couple of further teams. It was necessary to outline methods to enhance our publicity and presence with all these platforms.

“The Web modified the world of racing, however extra particularly it utterly modified the Assinbioya Downs. Earlier than the arrival of Web betting, we relied totally on transferring visitors. We additionally had phone bets and eventually It reached a plateau. However with it got here Web playing. Web betting is what introduced the Assiniboia Downs product to the world. We have been an area enterprise promoting inside Manitoba and swiftly, we have been the identical enterprise, however Amazon With entry to a fantastic service like this one that might promote our product to the world.It was a recreation changer for publicity.

“After I took over as CEO in 2010, the very first thing I needed to do was reap the benefits of web betting. There’s a restrict to betting inside Manitoba however the world is limitless. Effectively, if something The great factor that got here out of COVID is that it put us ready to maneuver Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday to scale back our competitors by way of worldwide web betting. That is the distribution referred to as 25 years in the past might by no means have been understood or predicted.”

Apparently, Downs’ determination to maneuver to a Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday schedule had one other benefit. The weekends have been now devoid of racing which meant that manly chanDowns’ meals and beverage director can hire the Grandstand and all of its super areas, from commerce reveals and pastime and craft gross sales to social and in-person weddings.

“It is extremely busy now that the weekend is extensive open for occasions,” Chan mentioned. “I’m booked for the following few months. We’ve change into a really busy, thriving occasion centre.”

Because of revolutionary scheduling, a worldwide pandemic, and the expansion of the Web, Manitoba’s little sprawling observe is at this time extra profitable than anybody might have imagined.

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