Horse Racing television personality Jeannine Edwards (center) poses for a picture at the Eclipse Awards with Brand Ambassadors (from left to right) Jose Contreras, Chip McGaughey, John Cox, Mary Frances Dale, Hallie Hardy, and Victoria Garofalo.
As part of an ongoing commitment to new fan development, America’s Best Racing (ABR) will be launching a 2013 national bus tour designed to increase interest in the lifestyle and competition of America’s high profile Thoroughbred races and big event days across the country.
Dubbed the “ABRV”, the 45-foot-long tour bus will travel around the country, beginning in March 2013, with six young, enthusiastic brand ambassadors. The ambassadors will meet with national and local media outlets and appear on college campuses, and in high-traffic areas and strategic locations within each destination city. The energetic group will focus on attracting a younger audience to the sport of horse racing, specifically the big race day events in each city.
The brand ambassadors will also contribute blogs, videos and images from their ABRV journey to be posted on the America’s Best Racing website.
While the ABRV tour will focus on promoting racing’s biggest events throughout the year, the bus and its brand ambassadors also will appear at mainstream events such as top sporting, pop culture and entertainment venues around the country to further interact with the target demographic of the millennial generation.
The ABRV will be unveiled in late February in Lexington, Ky. (more details to come) and the tour will commence in mid-March at South By Southwest in Austin, Texas, followed by a trip to the Florida Derby. Other confirmed spring stops on the tour include Baltimore, Md., on April 6, Keeneland Race Course for the Bluegrass Stakes on April 13, the Kentucky Derby on May 4, Preakness Stakes on May 18 and Belmont Stakes on June 8.
The six brand ambassadors (see bios below) — Jose Contreras, John Cox, Mary Frances Dale, Hallie Hardy, Victoria Garofalo, Chip McGaughey — currently are in training in Lexington.
The ABRV is a mobile marketing experience created to promote Thoroughbred racing’s best events and the lifestyle that surrounds them. Housed in a visually stunning Streamliner bus, the tour will be activated by the six brand ambassadors, and there will be coordinated pre-event, event and post-activation elements at each stop of the Tour.
Focusing on entertainment-driven millennials as their target, the ambassadors will reach out to appropriate local culture, local social media and local key influencers to promote the sport and specifically around the big racing event in their city.
While in each market, the ABRV tour will visit high-traffic venues frequented by millennials. During these appearances, visitors to the bus will be able to watch high-energy videos on racing’s biggest stars, explore our lifestyle-driven website, place “fantasy” wagers for prizes, register for incredible VIP experiences and receive free racing gifts from ABR and their home track.
On race day, the bus will appear at the host racetrack and change into a “GameDay”-type of experience, beginning with a live-stream video preview of the day’s event. The activity then will shift into a fan hub to help our new guests to enjoy their racing experience. Fun photo opportunities, wagering tips and giveaways will continue throughout the raceday.
MEET THE ABRV BRAND AMBASSADORS
Jose Contreras was first introduced to horse racing as a youngster when his father took him to Santa Anita Park and he's followed horses since. With no personal connections to the racetrack other than as a fan, he concentrated on the handicapping and wagering aspects of horse racing.
One of his biggest accomplishments as a handicapper was hitting a $65,904 pick six in 2006 at the age of 21.
Contreras has covered the Southern California Thoroughbred racing circuit for different websites and also on his blog where he covers stakes races as well as offering new fans tips on handicapping.
He has focused on introducing new fans to the race track and also helped out in Santa Anita's "Tweet In the Suite" event, where social media allowed fans to interact and meet trainers, jockeys, and media personnel.
Contreras aspires to help the racing industry grow through fan education, marketing, social media, reporting and handicapping. He studied at The University of Arizona's Race Track Industry Program.
Born and raised in Lexington, Ky., John Cox grew up attending the races at Keeneland, Churchill Downs, and Saratoga.
His family's company, Thorough-Graphics in Lexington, has been serving horsemen for more than 30 years.
Cox served as a marketing intern at Keeneland, an assistant staff writer for Brisnet.com, Tote-board operator for Fasig-Tipton Sales Co., and spent a summer working with yearlings at Lane's End Farm, in addition to marketing and sales responsibilities at Thorough-Graphics.
Cox is a University of Kentucky and Lexington Catholic High School alum, and also graduated from the Missouri Auction School in 2008.
In addition to horse racing, Cox also loves University of Kentucky sports, music and golf.
Mary Frances Dale was born in Nashville, Tenn., in 1989.
She grew up in Columbia, Tenn., and graduated magna cum laude from the University of the South at Sewanee, Tenn., with a double major in Art History and Classical Languages.
During her junior year abroad, Dale attended Lincoln College, Oxford University, Oxford, UK.
In the summer of 2012, Dale was social media and marketing intern at Playing in Traffic Records in Austin, Texas. While at the label, her main goal was to heighten the online presence of the five bands represented by the label, including the Grammy-Award winning Los Lonely Boys. She also traveled around the country to various music festivals and venues promoting the British folk-rock band The Dunwells on their U.S. summer tour.
Growing up in the heart of Tennessee horse country, Dale has always had a passion for all things equine.
Hallie Davis Hardy is a Kentucky girl, born and raised.
Hardy grew up in Frankfort, Ky., and developed a passion for horses at an early age. She first began riding when she was six, showing Saddlebred horses.
Keeneland Race Course was a favorite destination of her youth when she attended and learned to handicap races with her parents and grandmother each spring and fall.
As Hardy grew older and college approached, she became more interested in the Thoroughbred industry and decided to pursue an education in the Equine program at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. Once there, she began to work on Thoroughbred farms near Lexington to better understand the industry and potential equine careers.
Hardy's experiences at Royal Pegasus, Three Chimneys and WinStar farms include farm management, bloodstock research, tours and marketing.
Hardy graduated this December with a Bachelor of Science degree in Equine Science and Management with a minor in Agricultural Economics. Hardy has added to her college and life experiences by participating in key leadership roles in her Chi Omega sorority. She helped to raise significant sums for Make a Wish Foundation and participated in the school’s largest fundraiser, Dance Blue.
A Type 1 diabetic, Hardy is also proud of her many years mentoring and fundraising for the American Diabetes Association. Thanks to her school, work and life experiences, Hardy is poised to share her enthusiasm for and knowledge of the Thoroughbred industry and Thoroughbred racing to a broader audience.
Hailing from "The Big Apple," New York, Victoria Garofalo was bred, born and raised in the Thoroughbred racing lifestyle, with most summers joyfully spent in Saratoga Springs.
She has previously been employed by The Walt Disney Co. as a cast member at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, a production assistant intern at LIVE! with Regis and Kelly and as a Disney College Program Campus Representative at her college.
Garofalo is the eldest of three girls, and her family’s lived motto and mantra is “Food, Fun, Friends and Family.”
Her mission is to align her infectious enthusiasm, talent and passion for "The Greatest Game," by informing, encouraging and inspiring as many people as possible to experience firsthand the magic and enchantment that Thoroughbred racing offers coast to coast.
Garofalo is a recent graduate from Georgia College & State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication: Broadcasting and Public Relations and a minor in Management.
Chip McGaughey has spent the greater part of his life living in Lexington, Ky.
McGaughey is an alumnus of Lexington Catholic High School. In 2010 earned his Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from the University of Kentucky.
He has grown up surrounded by the sport of competitive thoroughbred horse racing and frequents racetracks as often as possible.
Growing up McGaughey has learned about the sport from his family and is looking forward to using this knowledge to promote interest in horse racing to a new and younger fan base.
He has a professional background working in marketing and sales.
During his free time he enjoys playing golf, spending time with his family, running, exercising, attending University of Kentucky sporting events, and of course visiting the racetrack. He currently lives in Lexington, Ky.