This year the Triple Crown has lost a lot of its luster with different winners in The Preakness and The Kentucky Derby, but Saturday’s Belmont Stakes will still have big crowds and big dollars and the third leg of horse racing’s big spring comes around the clubhouse turn. As horse racing still looks for ways to engage and grow its fan base consistently in a crowded environment, many have pointed to the jockeys, as much as the horses, as a great way to connect with the casual fan. After all, they are amazing athletes driving these massive animals day in and day out, usually with as much drama and much less fanfare than any of the horses that enter the winner’s circle on any given day.
There have been reality shows, science specials and special publications, but the focus always seems to shift back to the horses. Rarely do the jockeys get their due.
Now a digital sports media company, Sports Perfecta, has launched another way to engage with the jockeys, through fantasy sports. The California based company has served up Daily Fantasy Jockey, which will give horse racing enthusiasts and fantasy fans the opportunity to engage more frequently with the sport than they may with fantasy horse racing. Because jockeys race much more often than horses run—often several times in one day, as opposed to a horse, which is one-and-done—Daily Fantasy Jockey provides participants with more opportunities to collect additional fantasy points.
It’s a pretty simple concept; players start by drafting six jockeys from a list of the top 50 money ranking jockeys. Each contest is based on a variety of jockeys and horses competing at different races on different tracks, and winning is based on points earned by each jockey on a team.
Contest types include: 50/50: Cash prize is split equally amongst the top 50% ranked participants, Winner Take All, Head-to-Head and Survival games, all similar to what goes on in traditional fantasy games. The games are simple, easy to play and can make for an easy engagement tool. Most of all they accomplish what the sport is really trying to do; give casual fans a reason to follow and engage on whatever device they choose on any given day. It helps fans identify with the jockeys even more so than the horses, and sets up a scenario where when the big races come around, the engagement can be higher.
Now fantasy jockey games have been tried before, but the growth of traditional fantasy along with the ease of use in the digital space gives this latest, and only jockey fantasy game a real chance. Will it win, place or show as a property? Hard to say, but it seems worth the gamble as the racing world turns to Queens this weekend.