But even before the new interactive plan is up and running, changes to the existing good old boy and girl network have been made. Today, ballots are due for the first polls of 2012 and the number of media voters
has been expanded more than three-fold. Secondly, for the first time since the system was created way back before the NTRA existed, there will be an open window. What that means is that now it will be revealed for all to see which turf writer ranked what horses from No. 1 to No. 10 in both polls.
The idea comes from Stephen Panus, the NTRA’s vice president of communications, who has been charged with bring racing’s message to the masses and with utilizing ever-changing technology and social media to grow the popularity of the sport. And it’s a fine idea.
This is where technology and social media enter the picture. There will actually be two types of polling: one still exclusively for the media, with more voters and more openness, and the other reserved for the fans. Panus said that the Fan Index poll, which will launch in April or May, will give those who are new to the sport or the casual fan, as well as those who have long been passionate about racing, the opportunity to be engaged and voice their opinions. Moreover, they will be heard across the social media universe.
The technology is being fine-tuned and when the fan poll is launched, they will be able to go to the NTRA website to view the media members’ selections of the top 10 horses and then click and drag the picks into a ranking of their own. Facebook, Twitter and other platforms will be incorporated to allow and encourage what should be spirited conversations about which horses deserve what position.
“I feel that this gives the fans a voice they deserve. They are the ones who go to the track or through an ADW and wager on the races. This is a way we can recognize and honor the fans and make it fun for them,” Panus said. “The forums are a way for people who love racing to connect and talk about it.”
This new and more egalitarian polling procedure, which the NTRA hopes will serve as a an entry point to get people thinking and talking more about Thoroughbred racing before and after the Triple Crown, is a good step toward that aim. But like the college football and basketball polls, the only ones that really matter are taken after the BCS game and the Final Four. Just ask Alabama and LSU or Kentucky and Syracuse.