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The Breeder's Cup Brings Out Big Names, Beautiful People and Bloggers

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On Saturday, the gorgeous grounds of Santa Anita Park in Arcadia hosted sports' second richest day, the Breeder's Cup. Over $17 million in prize money was handed out on Saturday, which is about $16.5 million more than you'd typically find being handed out on pretty much any other Saturday in Santa Anita.

The Breeder's Cup, however, is not like any other Saturday at the track. Typical Saturdays at the track do not bring out the big names like Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Kurt Russell and Pierce Brosnan, or the beautiful people like Bo Derek, Jennie Finch, Jamie-Lynn Sigler and countless other good-looking females.

Walking among those big names and beautiful people, you'd find yours truly - a blogger. What was a blogger doing present on a day where seats were going for $200, and guys clad in suit and tie in the 90 degree Arcadia sun was the norm? I was a guest of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), that's why.

While Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is busy kicking bloggers out of his team's press box, NTRA's CEO Alex Waldrop is inviting bloggers to not only come to their events, he's also inviting them to help change the sport. Alex who also blogs on the NTRA Web site, took some time away from one of the biggest days in his sport to speak with us. Seriously, the commissioner of a sport was happy to talk to us. Where you at David Stern?

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How did you get into blogging?
I'm just a novice. When I took the position of to head up the NTRA, I knew one of the first things we needed to do was to create a Web 2.0 strategy. I knew that there were a lot of our fans online, whether it was blogging or social networking who loved the sport and were talking about the sport quite a bit. I wanted to do something to stimulate conversation with our fans and also let them know that we were listening to their feedback, both positive and negative feedback.

What has been the result of the feedback you have received thus far from the fans?
We assembled a panel of 10 of the most influential bloggers in the sport and asked them how we could improve the sport. We asked them to help put together a business model. These 10 bloggers drafted a 50 page business model which was presented at 100 industry marketing executives at our Marketing Summit in September. We essentially gave fans the opportunity to help shape the future of this sport.

One of the changes I read about on your blog are the new regulations regarding the welfare of the horses as well as the trainers.
That was a direct result of the bloggers. It's called the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance, which are health and safety reforms being adopted by virtually every segment of the industry. We developed a plan to insure that the health and safety of our human and equine athletes were a top priority.

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When I wasn't busy talking to executives or seeking out celebrities like Mel Brooks, Al Michaels, Joe Torre and former Dodger and current hell of a dresser Paul LoDuca (I don't have photographic evidence but trust me, Paul's suit was exceptional and teal.), I was losing money on the races.

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Not even the tips of NTRA's avid horseplayer and Senior Director of Media Relations, Eric Wing could help me leave the track with some Joe the Plumber kind of cash. Eric's picks for the Classic, the race with the big names and $4.5 million up for grabs, were Col. John and Gobetween. I threw down $16 on an $8 boxed exacta (two horses to win and place in either order) and now my bank account is $16 lighter. But, at least that $16 went to what I will call the most blogger friendly sport going.