This is the year I really got hooked on horse racing for good. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked it before then. I attended my first Travers at 7, to see Chris McCarron win on Deputy Commander in 1996. I cried the year before because my dad wouldn’t take me to see Thunder Gulch. I was in the Gulfstream Park Turf Club at age 6 weeks. Belmont Park, the day before the Belmont at 5. My 10th birthday present was a trip to the Breeders Cup in 1999 to see Cat Thief upset the star studded field in the Classic. I liked horseracing well enough by 2002. But that year really cemented it in my soul.
Is California Chrome the Perfect Triple Crown Winner for Racing?
Horse racing followers have been waiting 36 years for a Triple Crown winner. As has been discussed in these pages before, the sport has been in a steady popularity decline over those three-plus decades. When discussing events which could pull racing out of its doldrums, one thing comes up nearly universally – a Triple Crown winner. But not all Triple Crown winners are created equal. For racing, it would take a very extraordinary horse to win the Triple Crown and subsequently maintain the star power required to single-horsedly lift the sport to a higher sustained level of popularity. Is California Chrome that horse?
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One of the best things about going to the races, other than the potential to walk away with a bag of cash, is the ability to meet and talk to new friends. Although this is the sport of kings, there are people from all walks of life at the track, especially on a big day like Belmont Stakes Day. Some of these people you want to make friends with, others you want to stay away from and others you might just want to stand around, to get the benefits of friendship without the burdens. I have a real-life example of each of these people from previous Belmont Days, and advice about how to make the right call about your contact with them. Continue reading Throwback Thursday: Belmonts Past – How to make Friends at the Belmont
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When does thoroughbred racing capture national media attention? Fundamentally, it is four weekends per year: Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont and the Breeder’s Cup. Beyond that, there are some secondary meets and weekends that garner television coverage and some wider interest: Saratoga, Keeneland, Del Mar, and the key Kentucky Derby prep races. Though there are precious few times when racing obtains the national spotlight, tens and hundreds of races are run throughout the country on a daily basis, 365 days a year. Increasingly, tracks are highlighting their significant days, and seeking to capitalize more than ever on the modest national media attention that is directed to the sport. The Triple Crown races are perhaps the best example of this trend, and NYRA’s decision to fill Belmont Stakes day with other major stake races is the most recent (and perhaps starkest) example. But, in our minds, the most important question remains to be answered – is this model both sustainable and good for the sport’s long term interests? Continue reading Is Racing Heading for a “Big Day” Only Business Model?