Stuart S. Janney III:
Chris Kay and his team have guided the New York Racing Association to new heights in the past three years. They've placed a high priority on enhancing the guest experience, and I think that's evident to the thousands of fans who are enjoying NYRA tracks, especially Saratoga this summer.
He's here to tell us more about NYRA's ongoing activities. Chris, thanks a lot for being with us.
Christopher K. Kay:
Thank you, Stuart, and good morning. We have three top priorities at the New York Racing Association. One is to improve the quality of our racing. Our plans are working well as reflected in our racing program at Saratoga. This year there are 69 Stakes races during our 40 day meet with 18,750,000 in purses. We have 18 Grade 1 races.
Another top priority is to enhance the guest experience, both on site and online. We refer to it as the guest experience as opposed to the customer experience. We have such wonderful and revered venues that we must show our respect to those venues and to our sport by treating everyone with whom we interact as if they are a guest in our home.
Turning first to enhancing the guest experience on site, we have created several must see big events, like the three day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, and the Stars & Stripes, a day where America's finest compete against some of the best horses in Europe. Both of those are held at Belmont Park.
We've also built the Travers Day and the Whitney Day into big event days as well here at Saratoga. So, therefore, if you are a casual fan or an experienced horse player, you've got to watch us on these big event days for several reasons.
First, these events are comprised of world class horse racing. For example, on Belmont Stakes Day alone, we ran 13 races, 10 of them Stake races and six Group 1s.
Second, we also provide outstanding entertainment from roaming musicians in the backyard to a presentation by the United States Military Academy at West Point. On our performance stage we also shine a bright light on the stars of Broadway, including the stars of Wicked, Jersey Boys, and Beautiful (the Carole King story).
Before the Belmont Stakes race itself, we have, and sometimes now with a concert thereafter, we have such headliners at LL Cool J, the Goo Goo Dolls and Daughtry.
Third, we provide superior dining options from our new champagne room, where we had such talent as jazz musician Bernie Williams, to a massive food truck village in the backyard. We have something for everyone, which is one of the reasons why the Belmont Stakes Day was selected as the Sports Event Of The Year according to the judges at the Sports Business Journal, beating out Super Bowl 50, the FIFA Women's World Cup Finals, the Fight Of The Century between Mayweather and Pacquiao, and the NASCAR Southern 500.
We take the same approach to creating a great guest experience at Saratoga. Over the years we've made over 30 significant capital improvements to this historic venue. Due to time constraints, I'll just mention three that stimulate your sense of sight, of sound and of soul.
We created the Saratoga Walk Of Fame, a place for fans of all ages can learn, appreciate, and respect the contributions of the outstanding men and women of our sport, the select few who since 2013 have been honored with a Saratoga red jacket.
At the walk of fame, there are individual plaques and videos that chronicle the achievements of our current honorees, as well as two interactive digital display tables which allow users to watch video replays from the two premier races at the spa, the Travers and the Whitney, dating all the way back to 1973. Yesterday we were very proud to announce this year's inductees, including Cot Campbell and Bill Mott.
Immediately across from the Walk Of Fame is the Tom Durkin Replay Center where all can hear 24 of his most memorable race calls. And for the soul, we have provided fans of all ages with a place where they can connect with the true stars of our great sport, the horse.
At Horse Sense you can actually touch a horse between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., and you'll never be the same.
Moving to our objective and enhancing the experience online, we are pleased to announce the launch of NYRA Bets, our national ADW platform. In the past, our ADW market had been limited to New York, but even so, NYRA Rewards was still the fourth largest ADW in the country.
As of last week, our new national ADW, NYRA Bets, is now operating in 22 states, including New York, as all NYRA Rewards members are now part of NYRA Bets.
We've worked with a number of technology partners to provide our new NYRA Bets subscribers with the most technologically advanced ADW and video distribution platform available in the marketplace. Some of these technological advancements include the ability to copy tickets quickly and easily, view all wagering transactions without leaving the wager pad, view multiple live video feeds concurrently without leaving the wager pad, and the ability to customize your wager pad layouts.
NYRA has also demonstrated its leadership in providing an enhanced viewer experience over the last several years. In 2014, NYRA became the first North American racetrack operator to transmit its signal full time in definition to external outlets.
NYRA also developed the ability to produce and distribute high def video streams to both traditional broadcast outlets and also cloud-based IP distribution to all screen, as we would say, including the smartphone, the tablet, the laptop, the desktop, and the television. NYRA was also the first racing organization to have a daily Spanish speaking race caller.
In 2015, NYRA became the first racetrack operator to offer viewer access to several high def cameras located around the track as well as in the paddock. It was the equivalent of having it your way, as they say in those Burger King commercials.
In that same year we also became the first racetrack to have a slow motion camera available at the finish line, which provided clarity and excitement for those, and here I'll try my best to channel my Tom Durkin, "too close to call" finishes.
In 2016 NYRA became the first racetrack to offer definition replays. We also developed the capability to produce two independent live productions simultaneously, which is very important, because dual capacity permits us the opportunity to televise our races not only to our simulcast partners, but now also to a mainstream sports audience.
In May, NYRA launched Belmont Live, and now we are producing Saratoga Live from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily on FOX Sports 2, MSG Plus, and Altitude Sports. NYRA is broadcasting more than 80 hours of live racing on national television this summer.
Additionally, NBC will be here for the Travers and the Woodward, providing their award winning coverage. So let's put this in context. In 2015 there were only 58 hours of live racing on national television. In 2016 there are 132 hours, 97 of which are NYRA's races.
We've also significantly enhanced the graphics for our viewers. Among other things, we recognize the owners in our sport as reflected here in the broadcast of our Winners Circle at Saratoga with the silks. These graphics also provide a reminder that the newest, and some would say the best, national ADW is now available, NYRA Bets. We strive to be state of the art with all the new HD video capabilities, our new national ADW, and now complete technology overhauls at Belmont and Saratoga, NYRA is taking a great experience to the next level with all these technology improvements, and in 2017 we will transform your cell phone into a remote control device for the entire facility.
At Belmont and Saratoga you'll be able to use your cell phone to do a variety of things, including buying tickets, including your season tickets for Saratoga, sending your electronic ticket to another individual, exchanging your seat for other seats as well as for upgrades.
Exchanging your seat for credit with our comprehensive and compelling loyalty program, and buying a parking pass and even reserving a space in advance.
In addition, we will make it easier for everyone to wager. The NYRA Bets mobile wagering site will be integrated into our new phone app, and all your wagering will count towards our enhanced loyalty program.
You'll also be able to customize the way you capture the drama of our races. In addition to watching the traditional TV shots on the video boards on the infield, you'll also be able to select any one of six different camera angles to watch the race at the same time on your phone. This is going to be an exciting new way to create your own duel screen, if you will, to look at the races unfold before your eyes.
In closing, it's an honor to speak with you today, and thank you very much for your invitation.
I also have the privilege to be a member of the board of Equibase, a company that Dinny Phipps and others started many years ago, because he recognized the value that innovative technology could provide to our fans, to our horse players and to the sport.
Inspired by that vision and that same commitment to quality, NYRA strives to continually improve our technology for the very same reason. To enhance the experience for our fans, for our horse players and for this great sport that so many of us love.
Thank you very much.