It’s not 1950 anymore.
There is a big thoroughbred horse race on June 8 in New York at a racetrack that straddles the New York City-Nassau County border called Belmont. There won’t be a Triple Crown winner this year so it might be a good time for the horse racing industry to conduct an assessment of the business. What the industry leaders are going to find is distressing. Television ratings fell this year for the Preakness, the middle of the three races. Horses are dying at an alarming rate. Most horses are discarded after their useful track lives and meet cruel endings in either Mexico or Canada where they are killed. The average age of horse racing fans and betters continues to rise. Two years ago, a survey of the average age of sports spectators was released and horse racing’s average fan was 63 years old. In 2000, the average age of a horse racing fan was 51 years old. Young people are not interested in horse racing and apparently neither is New York State. There is some thought that New York State will allow the harness racing at Yonkers Raceway and at the thoroughbred track, Aqueduct, to shut down in two years and move all racing in the downstate New York City metropolitan area to Belmont. Those two closed tracks will be casino only establishments. The Belmont grounds could by 2022 including an arena that will house the National Hockey League’s New York Islanders franchise along with other businesses.
The Belmont Stakes is a relic. A long time ago, people went to a track to bet. But state lotteries, off track betting and the availability of all forms of gambling in stores along with casinos sprouting up around the country have taken care of gamblers’ needs. And that is not in the near and long-term future going to change.