Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission hears marketing presentations

Harrisburg, PA — The Standardbred Breeders Association of Pennsylvania on Jan. 25 reported that 2020 marketing efforts were successful despite the impacts of COVID-19 on the racing industry at large.

The organization made a presentation to the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission, which oversees roughly $2 million in annual marketing funds for four horsemen’s groups and two breeders’ associations. Mike Simpson, a vice president at Hanover Shoe Farms, said the industry “benefited from creativity” in marketing given “the unique challenges of 2020.”

Stu Kirshenbaum, owner and executive producer of Keystone Films, said the marketing plan for the SBA of PA had two goals: to speak to the Standardbred industry at large to underscore Pennsylvania’s place at the top of the industry, and to engage with the general public and educate people on the economic impact of the breeding and racing industry in the state.

The plan included earned media such as leveraging relationships and contacts to pitch story ideas; on-location shoots at Hanover Shoe Farms and Diamond Creek Farm; videos geared toward the Standardbred Horse Sale, which this year was held in Timonium, Md., because of COVID-19 restrictions; and 30-second commercials that aired on TVG and CBS Sports Network in connection with the Hambletonian and Breeders Crown.

In addition, the SBA of PA social media platform was overhauled as was the organization’s website (, Kirshenbaum said.

Ashley Eisenbeil, marketing director for the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Association, discussed the “Wager Warriors” program, which in 2019 featured many on-site visits during live racing programs but in 2020 had to shift gears because of COVID-19 restrictions on attendance.

The PHRA, through a contract with TrackMaster, offered free past performances for specific tracks on a weekly basis and allowed users to sign up for email links to the information. The program will continue through at least March. There also were Facebook Live programs with special guests to discuss handicapping, she said.

Eisenbeil said the digital components of the marketing plan will remain in place. It was stated earlier that the digital aspects will remain in place and work in conjunction with on-track events when they are eventually permitted.

Details on marketing plans for individual organizations and the state for 2021 will be discussed by the PHRC at a later date.

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