a throwback to a different time.
There is a major horse race taking place in Louisville on Saturday. The Kentucky Derby. Three years ago, there was the hope that American Pharoah by winning Thoroughbred Racing’s Triple Crown, would help revive the horse racing industry. It didn’t. Times have changed and it is no longer 1950 when baseball was the king of American sports with boxing and horse racing a distant second and third. College football had a large following but the National Football League was little more than a semi-pro operation. The National Basketball Association had just been created by a merger, the National Hockey League had six teams and soccer was a fringe sport. Horse racing was an everyday event. People could go to the track and bet legally. Within a generation, horse racing’s importance fell as states began lotteries and betting was made easy.
Attendance and revenues at racetracks didn’t suddenly rise because there was a Triple Crown winner in 2015. But there was a huge benefit for the horse’s owners. American Pharoah splits time between America and Australia making millions of dollars for the owners who breed him with the mares of owners who put up money and hope that a union between American Pharoah and their mares produces a champion. What American Pharoah did is possibly was to keep interest in the Triple Crown races over a five- week span in May and June of 2015. The Kentucky Derby will have pageantry, complete with stylish hats and bow ties and mint julips. It is a throwback day 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. The horse racing industry has been saved by casino gambling at tracks around the country. And that is not going to change anytime soon.