Horse Racing Promotes Major Events with National Bus Tour

Marc DocheCorrespondent IJanuary 24, 2013

Brand ambassadors with ESPN's Jeannine Edwards at the Eclipse Awards. From left to right: Jose Contreras, Chip McGaughey, John Cox, Jeannine Edwards, Mary Frances Dale, Hallie Hardy and Victoria Garofalo.
Brand ambassadors with ESPN's Jeannine Edwards at the Eclipse Awards. From left to right: Jose Contreras, Chip McGaughey, John Cox, Jeannine Edwards, Mary Frances Dale, Hallie Hardy and Victoria Garofalo.

Six wide-eyed horse-racing enthusiasts, selected after a nationwide search by the Jockey Club and its fan platform, America’s Best Racing, will travel the nation in a 45-foot-long, visually stunning Streamliner tour bus nicknamed the ABRV. Beginning in March, the tour will promote America’s high- profile events in the Sport of Kings to the next generation fan base via mobile marketing. 

In 2012, the first year of its revamped marketing efforts, the Jockey Club, through its America’s Best Racing initiative, helped draw record crowds at the Kentucky Derby (165,307) and Preakness Stakes (121,300). Similar attendance records were achieved at Keeneland Race Course in Kentucky, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in California and Arlington Park in Illinois on their biggest racing days.

The $133.1 million bet on the Kentucky Derby was the most in the race's 138-year history.

The six young brand ambassadors will journey to major events leading up to and including all three Triple Crown races. The team will conclude its inaugural tour at the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships in Los Angeles in November.

The six brand ambassadors range in age from 21-27 and hail from the horse racing hot beds of Kentucky, California and New York.

Along the way, they will meet with national and local media outlets, appear on college campuses and in high-traffic, strategic locations within each destination city, seeking to attract a younger audience to the sport of horse racing and the big race-day events in each city. 

“The ABRV gives me and my team the opportunity to share our passion for the majestic sport of Thoroughbred horse racing with the Millennial generation,” said Jose Contreras, a native of Long Beach, CA who is taking a one-year sabbatical from the University of Arizona's racetrack industry program to join the tour. “It is a great feeling to know that I am a part of this initiative, and that we can make a positive impact.

“Horse racing has all the things you need to have a great day out with friends and family," he said. "The beauty and athleticism of the horses, the strength of the jockeys, the coaching strategies of the trainers, the fashion of the spectators, the great food and drinks, the excitement and drama of photo finishes and the gambling action are all there to be had.”

Visitors to the bus will be able to watch high-energy videos on racing’s biggest stars, place “fantasy” wagers for prizes, register for VIP experiences and receive free racing gifts from America’s Best Racing and their home track.

On race days, the bus will appear at the host racetrack and change into a “Game Day” type of experience, beginning with a live-stream video preview of the day’s event.

The bus and its brand ambassadors will also appear at mainstream events, such as top sporting, pop culture and entertainment venues, to interact with the target demographic of the Millennial generation. 

Stories, video content and photographs from their journey will be posted to America’s Best Racing’s website at, which launched in 2012 with a focus on fashion, lifestyle, racing, gambling, travel, celebrities and legends. 

To supplement the ABRV tour, America’s Best Racing will again have Racing 101 fan hubs at 15 to 18 major events, starting with the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park in March.

Below is a brief bio for each of the six brand ambassadors along with his or her audition video:

Jose Contreras (CA):

Jose is currently enrolled in the Racetrack Industry Program at University of Arizona. He is taking a sabbatical from school in order to spend the year with the ABRV tour. He has extensive handicapping experience, especially at his home California tracks, and writes a much-followed handicapping and racing blog (

John Cox (KY):

A graduate of University of Kentucky, John has varied marketing experience in the Thoroughbred industry from Keeneland to a private firm marketing specifically to Thoroughbred Farms.

Mary Dale (TN):

A graduate of Sewanee–The University of the South, Mary has grown up riding and loving horses. She has toured and managed musical artists with independent record labels based out of Austin, TX and brings excellent "road" knowledge to the team.

Hallie Hardy (KY):

A graduate of University of Kentucky and tour guide for WinStar Farm, Hallie has spent years studying the Thoroughbred industry and involving her friends in the racing experience. Her personality and vivacious spirit are contagious. 

Victoria Garofalo (NY): 

Raised spending time at Saratoga Racecourse and tracks all over the world, Victoria loved Thoroughbred racing from the start. She graduated from Georgia College State University with a degree in Public Relations, Broadcast & Electronic Media and has extensive experience in the marketing and public relations field.

Chip McGaughey (KY):

Raised in the Thoroughbred horse industry, Chip has an impressive knowledge of all aspects of the racing world from the backside to handicapping. He is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and has marketing experience as well.

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