The Kentucky Derby, It Ain’t What It Used To Be

American Pharoah made horse racing exciting in May and June, 2015 but did not help revive the dying horsing industry





There probably won’t be a movie made or a book written about American Pharoah. The 2015 Triple Crown winner was already faded into oblivion. The sport of kings, horse racing, has been in a popularity decline for decades.

Without casino betting in the tracks, there probably would be no Standardbred racing in New York. Without slots and table games, there would not be any Delaware racetracks. Life changes and what was highly popular in 1950 is not as highly popular 67 years later. At one time, the three most popular sports in America were baseball, boxing and horse racing. Each sport has had a steady erosion of interest. For horse racing, the beginning of the end started with state lotteries. Nevada had legalized gambling and people could flock to Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, Reno or Carson City in the 1950s and that didn’t hurt horse racing but when state sponsored gambling came along, the racetracks got competition. States started up lotteries which gave bettors a chance to place down a wager much closer to their homes or offices in stores. The thought was the state would use a certain percentage of the money collected to pay off lottery winners and then help with educational costs. It became easy to bet. Native American casinos started popping up and eventually track owners and horse industry people started to beg politicians to allow gambling in old racetracks that survived but were decrepit from lack of money. There is not much interest in horse racing anymore but the races will go on thanks to casino gambling in their buildings.

The Kentucky Derby remains a major event in an industry that has eroded in popularity.