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A New Start For The Sport Of Kings
Another Wait Over
This has been a good year for seeing droughts come to an end. In March,my High School alma mater made their first trip to the Pennsylvania State Basketball finals in over 40 years. While they did fall short in the finals, the season was a wonderful ride.
Yesterday, another long wait ended when, after 37 years, American Pharoah completed the "Triple Crown" of horse racing. Several times before a horse had the chance, only to fall short; some were 'boxed in', some were injured and never entered and a few could not handle the 1.5 mile distance of Belmont Park.
A Fresh Start
A horse capturing the Triple Crown could not have come at a better time for the sport of horse racing. The sport's popularity has been declining for decades, many tracks now likely rely on slots or other forms of gambling to keep the racing alive.
This is a moment for horse racing to maybe bring itself back into the spotlight. But perhaps to do so, it needs to take a page from sports like American Football, baseball, etc.
The issue that I see horse racing has is that it only captures attention for about a month from May to June when the Triple Crown is run. It's a bit like the Olympics or World Cup of Soccer, where it captures attention for a short period of time.
Following a Horse
In many human sports; American Football and Basketball especially, the top players are on the radar from high school, and in some cases junior high. LeBron James was a celebrity while still in High School, ESPN covers national signing day for American Football like the National Football League draft. Even in NASCAR racing, people will watch a driver go from the Craftsman Truck Series, to the Infinty Series to the Sprint Cup. Why not have the same concept applied to horses?
The top two year old horses are usually known to those familiar with the sport. Identify them and mention bloodlines. Then cover some of the major races for two year olds, perhaps even create a "Little Triple Crown".
Once the horses turn three, start on "The Road to The Triple Crown"; have the networks cover the major prep races, biuld some interest ahead of the main events.
A Risky Bet
There would be risks involved. Horses could get injured and have to be put down, there's the chance that literal dark horses could emerge, a la Smarty Jones.
But what does horse racing have to lose. They have a moment now, and it's a matter of the sport taking advantage of it.