The 2018 Jockey Club Roundtable featured a cogent “situation analysis” of the American horse racing industry—based on findings by the consulting firm McKinsey & Company—followed by an overview of recommendations from the firm pertaining to strategic and tactical initiatives.  McKinsey & Company has been retained by The Jockey Club over the years and periodically makes a presentation at the annual August-held Roundtable.

Having a background in consulting myself and as an emeritus university business-school professor who had a few former McKinsey & Company associates as graduate students in Executive MBA and doctoral classes, I am familiar with the kind and quality of the work the firm does.  The Jockey Club Roundtable had the feel of an MBA case-analysis presentation, commencing with a situation analysis, followed by alternatives, and concluding with recommendations.  (I’d give it an “A.”)

Without a doubt, McKinsey deserves the stellar reputation it has for management consulting.  It combines objective in-depth data analysis with realistic recommendations based firmly on what the data indicate should be done.  Individuals in the horse racing enterprise are fortunate to have some of the best minds from McKinsey working to improve the competitive position of the sport/industry and are doubly fortunate to have The Jockey Club fund the effort.

The horse racing industry is in a stronger competitive position because of McKinsey’s involvement.  While The Jockey Club cannot require racetracks to implement McKinsey suggestions, it can provide such valuable strategic insights that tracks will (and have) want to do so.

At the August 12, 2018 Jockey Club Roundtable, McKinsey offered guidance pertaining to several issues.  Here are verbatim excerpts of four recommendations:

“First of all, theme one, innovations in venues.  We think racing should invest more in improving the racetrack experience to meet fan expectations that are set by venues in other sports.

Theme two, digital content, data, and marketing.  We think racing has to invest to create more content for digital distribution, especially social networks.  Racing can use the interaction around that content to generate data on fans and then create highly targeted, personalized digital marketing to get casual fans or new fans out to the track, which is still a critical step in fan development.

At the same time, we think racing still has upside on television, building on the successes of the last seven years.  And as sports networks start to program studio shows towards new sports bettors, it’s a golden opportunity for racing because those shows need racing video every single day to round out the coverage.

Theme three was advanced analytics.  We talked about scheduling to avoid running major races within five minutes of each other, takeout optimization, new trainer metrics, and simple handicapping tools for novice bettors.

Finally the last theme, legalization of sports betting.  We think racing needs to work on cross-selling racing on digital sports books, innovating bet types and experimenting with fixed odds for Win/Place/Show bets.”

Beginning sometime in September, I’ll occasionally discuss these recommendations.

Copyright © 2018 Horse Racing Business

Click to access the 2018 Jockey Club Roundtable transcript.


  1. I believe that the regulation of horse racing betting should be separated from traditional sports betting. We in Sweden have had a great system with ATG that is going to disappear after re-regulation of gambling market 2019. This is a terrible news for Sweden and horse owners, but this set up should still be considered as an alternative worldwide