The Begining of the End for Horse Racing?

So I might be a little old school but I love a good boxing match and horse racing, especially the triple crown.

If you are not familiar with the triple crown it consists of three races for three year old thorough-breeds, the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, the Preakness in Baltimore Maryland, and the Belmont Stakes in New York. The last horse to win the triple crown with Affirmed in 1978 so it has been a while.

One of my favorite things about horse racing is the betting aspect. Its fun to just hang around the track for a few hours on a nice day and try to hit an Exacta. If you’ve never done it you are missing out. The best bet I found this year was the ability to wager on how much money is going to be bet on the Kentucky Derby.

The Kentucky Derby was on Saturday and the favorite before the race, Big Brown made a charge at the end to win the race.

My prediction is he will win the Preakness and then come in third in the Belmont.

What isn’t seen in the race video and what I want to write about is the tragedy after the race with the second place horse, Eight Belles. While going around the track during the cooldown she collapsed with two broken ankles and had to be put down on the track. This is after a similar thing happened to Barbaro at the 2006 Preakness. So two of the last three year a horse has died during the triple crown.

What I find interesting about this story is the reactions. In 2006 when Barbaro was going through multiple surgeries and recovery he was the darling of the national media and everyone was so caring, kids sending get wellcards and things of that nature. 

In reality the main and possibly only reason the owners were spending millions of dollars on medical care and did not have him put down a day or two after the injury was their hopes of him returning to enough health to make them many more millions then racing would have with his studding fees. This aspect of the story was not picked up in the mainstream media.

This year the reaction has been much different. A large portion of the news article question if horse racing is a barbaric sport. PETA has decided it was the jockey’s fault the horse got hurt and he should be suspended and fined. The most ridiculous thing I have heard was on the radio today so I don’t have a link but the host was trying to compare horse racing to dog fighting and Mike Vick. I was absolutely shocked that anyone would even consider those two things in the same category. 

I am interested to see what happens in the weeks leading up to the Preakness and the opinion that is formed by the media and the general public. Because the only thing that keeps horse racing somewhat relevant is the Triple Crown. There is always the Breeders Cup but if you asked a non horsing racing fan to name an event outside the triple crown they couldn’t do it. Heck besides the Breeders Cup I can only name 2-3 other races off the top of my head.

If sponsors and the casual fan are turned away from the sport by what has happened the last couple of years and the media’s opinion continues to lean the way it is beginning to it won’t be long before the triple crown is no longer a “Major” sporting event and goes away just like boxing.

But, NASCAR had a major tragedy with Dale Earnhart and went on to have it’s highest rating ever the next two years. So it will interesting to see what happens next.

 

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