With A Historic Saturday In The Books, We Asked What’s Next For Horse Racing?
So with American Pharoah’s run into the history books now complete, what’s next for horse racing in the United States? How does an industry slow on the uptake capture and expand what could be next? Are there brands like Monster Energy, Draft Kings and Wheels Up…or even Burger King…that entered the racing picture Saturday at Belmont and will now learn more and come back? We caught up with Stephen Panus from The Jockey Club to ask that very question.
“(Saturday) was a beautiful day for one of America’s oldest and most thrilling of sports as the nation and globe witnessed a dominant performance by a superstar race horse, American Pharoah. Rather fitting that it happened on the 350th anniversary of the first horse race being held in the United States. In 1665, the construction of the Newmarket course in Salisbury, New York, a section of what is now known as the Hempstead Plains of Long Island, New York, was established. The rest, as they say, is history. America’s history. America’s Best Racing will be launching a video ad campaign next week, coincidentally, celebrating this historic anniversary using the hashtag #Celebrating350.
The brilliant coverage by NBC Sports combined with the power of social media provides the sport with an opportunity to welcome in new fans while showcasing the many other big event days at destination race tracks across the country. America’s Best Racing – It’s fun, thrilling, an affordable sports and entertainment option, you dress up, sip cocktails, gamble, socialize with old and new friends and experience unparalleled adrenaline rushes.
There is something for everyone in horse racing as beautiful destination race tracks are scattered across the country, each offering its own unique atmosphere, food and beverage offerings and culture. From the Bluegrass of Kentucky, where iconic Keeneland will serve as the host of the 2015 Breeders’ Cup this October 30-31 and where the Run for the Roses happens every first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs, to Gulfstream Park in South Florida, to Pimlico and the Preakness in Baltimore, to New York which offers great summer racing at the historic Saratoga Racecourse in upstate New York bookended by racing at Belmont Park, to Arlington Park just outside Chicago. There also are many compelling smaller venues which offer festival-style racing and short circuits. There is no questioning that passionate fans comprise horse racing’s diverse fandom. Lively debates compare and contrast Del Mar vs. Saratoga for summer racing, for example, and everyone has their favorite race track for their own, highly personal reasons or memories.
Our goal is to leverage the popularity of the Road to the Triple Crown to carry forward the interest and intrigue by so many soon-to-be racing fans into the sport’s second season, The Road to the Breeders’ Cup (Oct 30-31 at Keeneland). The taboo associated with gambling has evaporated in the last few years and more and more sports and casual bettors are coming to realize that gambling on horse racing is fun, thrilling, analytical and profitable. In fact, the Breeders’ Cup offers two days of championship races in late October (including the richest horse race held on American soil, the $5M Breeders’ Cup Classic – where American Pharoah is pointing to end his 2015 campaign) where the fields will be stacked 12 and 13 horses deep with the best horses and some incredible odds for the betting public. I would respectfully suggest that the Breeders’ Cup is the most underrated major sports event in America. It’s an experience of a lifetime and one of the best 2-day parties you will ever attend.
For the new and casual fan, whose adrenaline was jolted and aroused by American Pharoah’s run to history, who now asks what is the Breeders’ Cup? We offer this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikmP3ELuqyo
(Saturday’s) epic run to history will elevate the sport of horse racing into more mainstream channels and discussions. Water cooler talk on Monday AM will center around American Pharoah’s epic Belmont victory, the roar of the crowd that jumped through televisions across the US and hopefully will serve to inspire many of the millions of television viewers who are new to the sport to desire to attend a day at the races and experience the adrenaline rush, excitement and thrills in-person. Horse racing has much to offer the Millennial generation – it’s affordable, fun, and communal. You dress up, enjoy cocktails, wager against your peers. It’s a party and a unique social sports experience. Horse racing’s big events continue to grow in popularity, attendance and handle. The goal is to leverage the exposure and opportunity at-hand to welcome and embrace soon-to-be racing fans into the sport by offering multiple touch points of entry and access. And, www.AmericasBestRacing.net is the perfect platform for them to enter, learn and have fun.
While day-to-day attendance at race tracks has certainly dropped over the years, the advent of technology and digital and social media enables new fans to engage with our sport from a variety of places and all via their phone, Ipad or tablet. And horse racing remains the only sport you can legally wager on via the internet. All that adds up to an opportunity for the sport moving forward.”
It was a great weekend for American sport, and a landmark weekend for racing. Let’s hope it continues.