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HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

If racing is dying, people are watching the death

Union Rags 642 X 350 Belmont Stakes
Photo: Adam Coglianese/NYRA
If I had a nickel for every time I heard the sport of racing is dying in the last ten years, I would be one of the most active buyers at this year’s Keeneland yearling sale
 
Dying or not, it seems that people are watching. If this year’s television ratings are any indication, invitations to racing’s impending funeral may have gone out a bit too soon. 
 
7.67 million viewers tuned in for NBC’s telecast of the 2012 Belmont Stakes to watch Union Rags win on Saturday. That seems like a pretty good number, but perhaps most viewers were only rubbernecking, after all it is only human nature to be unable to look away from the horror of it all.
 
Here are some encouraging stats from this year’s Triple Crown that would seem to laugh in the face of the grim reaper:
 
-This was the 2nd most-watched non-Triple Crown Belmont in Nielsen People Meter History, (measured since 1988) and represented just 45 thousand viewers less than the top one when Afleet Alex rolled to victory back in 2005. 
 
-The 7.67 Million Viewers for the Belmont was a 12% raise from last year’s telecast on NBC and up a whopping 62% from the 2010 telecast on ABC.
 
-Including the 14 million of the Kentucky Derby and the 8 million of the Preakness, the three 2012 Triple Crown races on NBC averaged 10.34 Million, which was up 2% from 2011, and represented the 2nd best average in a non-Triple Crown year since 1988. It even topped the averages in 1997 (8.75 million), 1998 (8.06 million), 1999 (8.05 million) three years when there was a Triple Crown was at stake in New York.
 
It would seem that the people and television have spoken. Racing is not dying, or if it is, many are at least tuning in to watch the death.
 

 

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Older Comments about If racing is dying, people are watching the death...

I think young people are starting to go its an affordable outing not like pro BB FB
Racing in the U.S.IS dying because it is more about the handle than the horses. Not so where I am in Dubai. No handle, all horses. But I love Rags!
I go to Saratoga every year, and you could have fooled me. Big crowds every day.
People like different sports. They will all die if we let them. I'm not ready to let go. I love thoroughbred racing and I'll keep watching it till the good Lord takes me home. God Bless America and those who have fought for it to allow us to watch what we want. Thank you.
I think it is an awesome sport. People like Drag Racing,some like NASCAR, Football,basketball, and baseball. Get involved with horse racing
Clemmbo. You are so right! The OTB parlors in many areas look like the place most likely to meet your neighborhood serial killer. They should be cleaned up and add nice restaurants etc. actually many of the tracks need to spruce up their appearances which would help alot.
Clemmbo: Is racing dying?All the talk above is about the TV ratings. The racing gods should try to get in touch with these race fans that do not go to the track, but would place a bet. The racing association should dress up these local off track betting parlors and have entertainment to keep bettors in the parlor, like a local Jockey to go around and sign programs and talk to the bettor.In summary the race association should get out of the race track and promote the sport at the local level.
IllhaveanotherTC. Yes it would be great to have a local track.that is how people get into racing. Going for a Saturday at a local track with the family. I believe there is a state rep or senator in your statehouse whose father was a steward at SD and who has been pushing your Gov. for help for both SD and Plainridge
Not that I dont love a good drive to saratoga, but it would be nice to have a local track
Illhaveanothertriplecrown. Hopefully slots money will help Suffolk Downs or suffering downs as it better known. I always liked SD years ago. I hope it will survive so you can show your son one of the greatest sports.
I live in MASS, they are already fitting the sport for its coffin up here. I pray it can make a comback so I can bring my son to the track and show him the sport of kings.
That should be a big stakes race today.
Tv is right about the casino because it has given racing a false sense of security with the slots money. Look at how many tracks close once slots money is gone I.e. Canada. Many tracks are begging for slots revenues, look at Kentucky for instance. Horses and racing used to the number one industry, it isn't now. I remember when all NY papers including the Times had lots of articles and pictures about racing. Not now. Sure they have a great story about the abuses of racehorses on the track and in retirement facilities. Tim I remember going to see Fort Marcy win the Tidal handicap and 47,000 people came out on one Saturday in NY. That number would be today for Abigail race, not a normal Saturday at the track
the cancerous spread of the metatastic casino, unless halted, will be the end of it
People only assume its dying because of articles like this one.. The MEdia makes it seem like that.. Look at the attendance at the races/Handles/Tv Ratings/ This website lol There is money there and NO reason to think its dying.
The Belmont was well hyped. All I am saying is one well-attended race does not solve the endemic problems of the sport.
Television ratings: NHL Hockey's title-deciding game -- 3.1 in the U.S. ... dying sport's Belmont Stakes -- 5.4.
If anyone thinks because a lot of young people attend one race that horse racing is not dying, you are seriously missing the point. Getting people to the tracks on a consistent basis is what is needed. Racing needs to prepare for the day, which is coming soon, when state govts are going to pull that slots money that supports the purse structure, the breeding industry etc. look at Canada and what is going on there. That tsunami is coming soon to racetrack near you. Cuomo is seriously talking about changing the slots allocation for the state and horse racing. If racing doesn't start getting people who bet to the tracks themselves, this industry will be gone. There is too much competition for the entertainment dollar. As to national regulatory board it would be a start, but those boards also fail miserably too. After all the SEC was to oversee the banks investment vehicles after the end of Glass-Steagell and we all know how well that turned out.
The powers that be, you know the ones who want HORSE racing not Casions to survive, would be well to read this reprot. http://www.equinometry.com/2012/06/12/idiots-guide-fixing-horse-racing/
Horse racing has had the same basic problem as the banks> NO ONE CAN SELF RGULATE the same way a independent entity can. Set up a NATIONAL organization that runs racing in all states at the same exact level. Same fines, same regualtions, same rules. Don't allow on level of race day medication in one venue and antother level down the road. SERIOUSLY kick out the casino interests as much as possbile, Help the breeding industry by DOING AWAY WITH SO MANY HIGH PRICES TWO YEAR OLD PURSES and force them to get back to breeding race horses not dragsters. Create a national office of publicity and information so that the SAME message 9along with a group going around the country with fre informational lectures to interested parties). Set up youth summer camps,aided, in part by a national racing tax or parinutuels tax, to encourage young people to get to know horse racing from the back side, not the artifical baloney Holywood adn TV protray....Ultimately get real befor it is gone...Glrofy HISTORY not Johhy Come lately's DEFINE GREATNESS in the breed as being as rarre as paltinum and make sure that ALL know that it is a very rare commidty ONLY validated by reperated difficult situations overcome. DO you think a Derek Jeeter would be as respected if he had only played the way he plays for a season or two. ADD BIG amounts to longer racesl.....Make even BIGGER addidtions to horses that race until 5 or 6 limiting fields ONLY to those horse which the crafty trainer has maintained to race that long....If not now when....Sood the standard distance for competition will be 4 furlongs watched only by people on TV screens. The feeling of a race, the smell, the crowd nosie are systematicallyh being sanitzed from the experience...It is headed for death's door I am sorry to say

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing since birth. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 
  
As Managing Editor of Horse Racing Nation, Brian authors a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and adds his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Brian also serves on the the Board of Directors of ReRun Thoroughbred Adoption and is a Vox Populi committee member. 
  
A graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives in Suburban Chicago with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra, where he is a professional golf instructor when he is not following the horses.