Jim Dandy Presented by DK Horse: DraftKings Will Sponsor $500,000 Stakes at Saratoga Race Course

Talk about “App” propo.

DraftKings will sponsor the $500,000 Jim Dandy Stakes on July 29 at Saratoga via its newly-implemented racing app, DK Horse. The event is now known as the Jim Dandy presented by DK Horse.

The app, launched in the spring and slowly approved in major state jurisdictions like New York, enables bettors to download and wager races from all over the world, watch replays, and participate in specials.

It has now become connected with the famed summer track, which features the top racing in the industry. Saratoga’s weekend races bring the eyes of the entire horse racing world to New York. The Jim Dandy, for example, will be nationally televised by Fox, another significant enticement of sponsorship.

“This is a major deal for us, especially because we have only really been in the New York market with DK Horse for 3-4 months,” Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told Gaming Today. “I hope it is the start of something even bigger.”

Avello, hired in October 2018 by DraftKings, has said over the years that he wants to put more emphasis on the “race” segment of his title.

He has been part of a team leading a push to get the book connected with horse racing establishments.

The app, and the Jim Dandy sponsorship, signify DraftKings’ intent to be a significant racing entry. It also creates a full-circle journey for Avello, who began attending Saratoga races at age 5 from his native Poughkeepsie, about two hours from Saratoga.

“We thought this was an appropriate spend for us,” Avello said. “Any time you are launching a new vertical, you need to get the word out. We have done a good job of that, but I feel that a presence in Saratoga is especially important to not only let people know about us, but to encourage signups.”

DraftKings will sponsor the $500,000 Jim Dandy Stakes on July 29. The event is now known as the Jim Dandy presented by DK Horse.
DraftKings will sponsor the $500,000 Jim Dandy Stakes on July 29 at Saratoga via its newly-implemented racing app, DK Horse. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

DK Horse’s Role in Specials, Betting Convenience

New customers on the DK Horse app can gain a signup bonus matching $250 of funds with only a two-time playthrough, Avello said. Other specials involve daily deals on horses to finish second or third. Note: Beware that sign-up bonuses at any book can change. They are good at the time stories are written. This one has been up for a while.

Generally speaking, racing apps are motoring into high gear, accenting the betting wave of the future.

Gamblers want the convenience of a hand-held book enabling them to place wagers on major sports from the comfort of their home, office, or a restaurant.

In horse racing, they need it more. Heavy wagering lines and slow betting habits by other gamblers have caused many players to be shut out of their bets over the years.

This frustrating development has been especially prominent at live racing establishments, even kiosks, especially on major racing days. It has produced incalculable revenue losses for tracks via wagers not made.

An app cuts through the delays and reduces the shutout factor substantially.

DraftKings, pushing its DK Horse vehicle, became part of the digital signage at Saratoga, visible throughout every race of this high-level campaign this summer.

Saratoga has six-figure stakes races nearly every day, many weekend events in the neighborhood of $500,000, and premier events like the Jim Dandy and the Aug. 26 Travers Stakes ($1.25 million).

The Jim Dandy usually acts as a prep for the Travers. Many horses run in both.

Essential Quality and Epicenter, the last two Jim Dandy winners, went on to capture the Travers and seize Eclipse Awards.

Saratoga received some early good news this week with the announcement that Forte, the nation’s top horse early in the year, would run in the Jim Dandy.

Forte was a 2-year-old Breeders’ Cup champion and the 2023 Florida Derby winner. He was scratched from the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes because of injury. Forte returned to gain a second in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes.

His presence will automatically enhance the betting interest of the Jim Dandy, and, by extension, benefit the apps connected with it.

About the Author
Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo is an award-winning writer and broadcaster, who has covered the sports industry since the 1970s. He won the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Boxing Broadcasting by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 1997, and is in the New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame. Bontempo has broadcast major fights all over the world. The advent of legalized sports wagering shifted his focus to this exciting new industry in 2018.

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