James L. Gagliano:
Thank you, Stuart, and good morning, everyone. As is our tradition, yesterday The Jockey Club announced the projected foal crop for 2017, and the number is 22,500 for the second consecutive year.
The 22,500 foals marks a 2.3 increase from the 22,000 projected from the two previous foal crops, and we're pleased to see this important statistic stabilize after a substantial decrease earlier in this decade.
As Stuart just mentioned, over the years, The Jockey Club has strategically invested in new technologies to bring reliable and useable services to our customers. More than 20 years ago, we first introduced interactive registration to provide breeders with a fast and convenient means to register their horses. Since then we have continued to invest in this platform to meet the demands of an increasingly mobile customer base.
So how have these investments benefited our registry customers? The number of names approved on the first attempt has increased substantially. The majority of live foal reports are now submitted electronically, and with the popularity of digital cameras, most photos are, in fact, submitted this way.
Last August, our Board of Stewards approved amendments to The American Stud Book to phase microchips into the registration process. We're encouraged that even in this voluntary stage microchips have been requested for nearly three quarters of the 2016 foals, and, beginning in 2017, microchips will be mandatory. We envisioned a day when a scan of the chip will unlock much more information on a horse than just its identity, and all of it can be delivered to your PC, your tablet or your mobile phone, or maybe someday even to your watch.
Traditionally the registration certificate has served as a vehicle that captures a horse's pedigree and identification information, and it also serves as proof of eligibility to participate in competitions and in breeding.
Today we're announcing a planned introduction of a digital certificate of foal registration. This will enable owners and breeders to move papers with just the touch of a button, and to attach other important documents. The Jockey Club will transition to digital certificates starting with the foal crop of 2018.
Our Thoroughbred Safety Committee continues to meet on a regular basis to identify areas to improve the health and safety of our equine and human athletes. To date, the committee has issued 22 recommendations, and I'm pleased to add two more today.
The first pertains to the use of the riding crop. The Safety Committee calls for all regulatory authorities to prohibit jockeys from raising the arm above shoulder height when applying a riding crop and to limit the crops used to not more than three times in succession until the horse has had an opportunity to respond.
The second recommendation pertains to a national uniform vet's list.
The Safety Committee calls for all regulatory authorities to better manage and mutually enforce rest periods for horses featured on any official vet's list. Our subsidiary, InCompass Solutions, will enhance its software to facilitate these efforts, and racing jurisdictions will be notified when a horse on a vet's list in one jurisdiction is attempted to be entered in another.
Before I leave the area of safety, I'd like to say a few words about The Jockey Club's ongoing efforts in the area of medication reform.
Specifically I'd like to thank and acknowledge the organizations and individuals for the Coalition of Horse Racing Integrity. They all share our perspective that this sport needs uniform standard when's it comes to medications, drug testing and penalties. That comes through repeatedly in polls of our fans and of the general public.
As an aside, I might mention at Tuesday's annual Albany Law Conference here in Saratoga Springs, the former Indiana regulator, Joe Gorajec, made the point that while he's been a supporter of the National Uniform Medication Program, as has been The Jockey Club, he believes it doesn't go far enough.
He stated that "the issue with NUMP is not what's in the program but what's been left out." As he pointed out, there are still no standards for an out of competition testing program. There is no mandatory uniform labs testing standard, and there is no mandatory double blind proficiency testing in our labs.
He went on to explain the RCI model rules can take years to be adopted by states, if they're adopted at all, saying "no other professional sport regulates their business in such a manner, and we shouldn't either."
The members of our Coalition agree, and that's why we support the legislation introduced by Congressman Barr and Congressman Tonko, we thank you, whom you'll hear from in today's program.
At this conference five years ago, McKinsey & Company presented its comprehensive economic study of our sport. Among many points was one that stood out that the fact was losing 4% of our fan base each year. One of the ways in which The Jockey Club responded was the creation of a multi-platform fan development program known as America's Best Racing, or, as we like to call it, ABR.
ABR provides a rich mix of original stories, video content, photos, contests and various other events. Beyond its very successful campaign on Facebook, the ABR team has greatly expanded its social media and successfully placed content on mainstream and alternative news outlets and digital platforms, covering everything from business to travel to technology and pop culture.
This year ABR entered into a partnership with a world famous brand Longines. And ABR also expanded its video content offering tailored video. These videos range in length from 15 seconds to 12 minutes, and we're on pace this year to double our views with more than five million views of these videos expected by year's end.
ABR has also formalized a partnership with the Breeders' Cup where an ABR is the digital content provider for Breeders' Cup, and the co presenting title sponsor of the eight nationally televised Win & You're In races on ABC Sports. Here's a brief video collage of some of ABR film's best work.
Again, ABR is about engaging fans and bringing new ones to the sport, but is it working? The facts say it is. Our audience is younger and more diverse. Our social media reach continues to grow, and our referral sites are largely from mainstream media. Looking ahead, we're in the early stages of developing an ABR mobile app that will feature games and live video. It should be another fun touch point for existing and new fans alike.
A year ago we announced a partnership between Equibase and STATS, the world's leading sports technology, data and content company to develop an interactive handicapping tool. The product has been named Race Lens, and was quietly introduced into the market on July 28th after years of development that included input from more than 200 handicappers. The full rollout began yesterday.
The STATS product design includes four key features, including back testing and predictive modelling. Here's a short promotional video for Race Lens.
We're very excited about that.
In early 2015, The Jockey Club purchased a controlling interest in Blood Horse from TOBA. Blood Horse is the only weekly magazine covering the sport, and in fact last week celebrated its 100th anniversary with a nostalgic special edition. I hope you had a chance to look it over.
While we're committed to produce a quality print magazine, the challenge we face is how to distribute our rich content to readers in the way they like to view it and at the same time provide advertisers with improved ways to reach their audience. We're doing so by expanding Blood Horse's content on the website and we've created two new apps. The magazine app provides our 15,000 subscribers with both faster delivery and interactive content. The new Blood Horse daily app, with dozens of fresh curated stories, already has more than 9,000 downloads, and its companion newsletter is emailed each day to 20,000 readers.
We expect Blood Horse to continue to evolve, especially in digital formats. In fact, we're currently in development of a new stallion register app that will feature the world's best stallions presented in cutting edge formats. Details will be announced later this fall.
The growth of The Jockey Club and its affiliated companies over the course of the past 25 years has been extraordinary, but admittedly caused some confusion about which entity does what.
Earlier this year we commissioned Cornett Integrated Marketing of Lexington to study companies and make recommendations that would unify the various entities under a coordinated theme and brand. Cornett hit the books and did a lot of research, reviewing not only the history of our logos and trademarks, but also of the organization itself.
Today, I'm pleased to officially unveil our new logo and those for our affiliated companies. The design combined elements from the past in a way that feels new. It pays homage to The Jockey Club's heritage, protecting the integrity of the breed, while speaking to its forward thinking nature. We'll begin rolling it out among our companies immediately.
Finally, I'd like to briefly mention our various conferences. Earlier this summer, we hosted our seventh Welfare and Safety of Racehorse Summit at Keeneland. And thank you to the folks at Keeneland for continuing to host us.
This annual think tank involving many of you here has been the launchpad for many, many critical initiatives.
Less than three months from today, OwnerView, the joint ownership development program created by Jockey Club and our partners, TOBA, will hold its third Thoroughbred Owners Conference.
This one will be held at Santa Anita in the days leading up to the Breeders' Cup. And the presenting sponsors are Breeders' Cup, Keeneland Association, and the Stronach Group. The keynote address will be delivered by our friend Eddy Olczyk, the former Olympian and NHL star, and now a horse owner and highly acclaimed racing analyst for NBC Sports.
Lastly on the conference front, along with our partners the Latin American Racing Channel, we're currently in the planning stages for the second Pan American conference. The first one held in New York City in June 2015 was a rousing success with nearly 300 attendees who were witness to American Pharoah's Triple Crown win at Belmont on the final day of the conference. Thank you, Chris Kay, for providing an extraordinary capstone to a great conference.
The next one is planned for Washington, D.C. next May with primary sponsorship from the Stronach Group, and it will conclude with a trip to Baltimore for the Preakness Stakes.
So thank you very much for your time, your attention and your support. On behalf of the Board of Stewards and members of The Jockey Club as well as my dedicated team of colleagues, I hope you find today's conference, the 64th annual Round Table Conference, both interesting and informative.