February 24th, 2010

Horse-Racing Game Dreams of Broad Reach

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

I started to turn this announcement of a new fantasy horse-racing game into a blurb for the FSB News page, but then I realized that it’s really worth more than that.

DerbyDreamer.com, which was launched a week ago by Vinery Farms, isn’t just trying to be a quick, free game to drum up some interest in the “sport of kings” as we move toward the Triple Crown races. Its founder seems to be heading into this venture with his sights set on building the next Fantasy Fishing.

“Tom Simon came up with the idea as a way to draw more people into the industry, and it’s a passion of his, so we’re really doing it for the good of the game,” Tom Ludt, general manager of Vinery, told Bloodhorse.com (referring to a co-worker, I assume). “As you know, our business is losing more and more media and fan attention, so hopefully this is a way to draw in the younger generation and anybody that likes the fantasy games.”

The way this game will seek to draw in that expanded audience is by awarding $10,000 monthly prizes to top scorers and $120,000 to the full-season winner. It’s not the million dollars that FantasyFishing.com blew into town handing out, but six figures is a pretty big deal for winning a “fantasy stable” contest.

Also unlike the fishing example, Derby Dreamer opens as a pay-to-play contest, requiring $12 per entry. Obviously, any entry fee is going to drive away the more casual fantasy set (the majority of the market). Twelve dollars, however, is a low enough fee to entice the kind of player who will put in a little time and effort to vie for the big prize — low enough to get many such players to buy multiple entries.

That money-spending player, of course, is the valuable relative minority in the fantasy space. Among other things, “he” is attractive to potential advertisers and sponsors.

Most importantly, it appears as though the company is behind this concept and willing to give it some time to see if it’ll grow.

“We’d love to get to the point where we’re profitable and can (tie it to a charity), but we’ve got an enormous amount of money invested just to make this happen,” Ludt told Bloodhorse.com. “It will be very interesting what kind of response this gets over the next three or four months. Hopefully it catches.”

Will it? We’ll see. According to the site’s leaderboard, the game has 243 entries so far. Competition opens in the month of March.