An Unrivaled Racing Experience with QuintEvents

By America's Best Racing, Tom Pedulla | April 15, 2016

Horse racing’s big events have never been bigger. The Kentucky Oaks drew a record 123,763 fans to Churchill Downs last year. A massive turnout of 170,513 spectators poured through the gates the next day for the Kentucky Derby, another attendance mark.

The New York Racing Association was so concerned about its ability to handle the crowd for American Pharoah’s 2015 Triple Crown bid that it capped attendance at 90,000 fans. Those 90,000, whose roar all but propelled Pharoah as he drew off in the stretch, will never forget that they witnessed the coronation of the 12th Triple Crown champion and the first in 37 years.

Track officials are learning that fans not only want to go to the big races to soak in the color and the drama— they want to go in style. And they are taking steps to accommodate that strong demand.

Churchill Downs invested more than $69 million in the last six years to make certain the iconic track is a leader in high-end entertainment for corporations and individuals who desire the best. They were so encouraged by the returns that they spent another $18 million on top of the initial commitment.

“We’re actually modernizing the modernizations,” said John Asher, vice president of racing communications, in a press release that announced the most recent financial plunge.

The many millions of dollars in enhancements reflect Churchill Downs’ level of satisfaction with QuintEvents, which offers 30 Derby Experiences (www.DerbyExperiences.com) packages at various price points and is on course to sell out its inventory for the eighth time in as many years.

In another sign of QuintEvents’ increasingly high profile in the industry, Churchill Downs announced the first multi-year agreement between the parties. The New York Racing Association is in the first year of what it believes is a promising partnership involving the Belmont Stakes (www.BelmontExperiences.com). QuintEvents has worked closely with the Breeders’ Cup World Championships since 2012 (www.BreedersCupExperiences.com).

“They know if we’re involved with the program there is going to be a certain level of quality and a certain attention to detail that they are looking for,” said Brian Learst, chief executive officer of QuintEvents. “That really sets us apart from the competition.”

QuintEvents, established in 2002, draws on a big-events background few rivals can match. The Super Bowl? College Football Playoff? NBA All-Star Game? Formula 1 auto racing worldwide? QuintEvents has got it all covered, down to the smallest detail.

Repeat business says everything. Jim Neuger of Brussels, Belgium, has been a Derby Experiences client for the last four years. He noted that the level of attention begins with his arrival.

“The Derby Experiences staff provides useful tips on what to do with your spare time in Louisville, everything down to reminding you to wear comfortable shoes because Churchill Downs is a big place,” Neuger said. “It is an extremely high level of customer service.”

Trinity Video Communications of Louisville has purchased Derby Experiences packages since 2009. “QuintEvents does a great job,” said Barry Sawayer, president of Trinity Video. “They make it easy and, as a result, that helps to create the experience we give.”

From ground transportation to swift access to the track to prime seats to good food and beverages always at the ready, QuintEvents is on it. They even bring in celebrities from racing, the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Hollywood to mingle with guests.

Sawayer said of the return on his investment in this brand of corporate entertainment, “It’s worth every penny.”

Sawayer went on, “Customers love it. It is a way of giving back to them. Some are potential customers and others are existing customers. It’s who we feel deserves to be in those box seats watching the greatest two minutes in sports.”

Potential customers become customers. The loyalties of existing customers deepen. “The sharing and experiencing the whole day – Oaks and Derby – with customers is really special,” Sawayer said. “As a result, we continue to do it.”

Experience taught QuintEvents to be a good listener. Fans are solicited for feedback that matters. Such feedback led to the establishment of the Fillies & Lilies Party, which will be held for the third year at the Kentucky Derby Museum soon after the Oaks champion is crowned. It allows attendees to party into the night while the track empties. By the time the last toast to a great day at the races is offered, the roads are clear.

Some of the proceeds from the Fillies & Lilies Party, now entrenched as part of the social scene, will benefit the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance. The Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund was the beneficiary in 2015.

“It is our way of giving back for the success we’ve had,” Learst said. “Each year, we work with Churchill to pick a charity that has something to do with the industry, and it fills a need out there.”

Whether it be at the Oaks, Derby, Belmont Stakes or Breeders’ Cup, every day is a winning day with QuintEvents. Or at least it feels that way.