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HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

The Popularity of Horse Racing

Photo: Eclipse Sportswire


How popular is horse racing globally?


-This week in England, the birth of the first foal sired by Frankel (a filly out of Song) was front page news on The Times, as well as, a huge feature on nationwide news.


-Across the Irish Sea, Tony McCoy, former flats, turned jumps rider, was honored as the Sports Star of the Year by the Belfast Telegraph.


-In Hong Kong, more than 10% of the population maintain internet betting accounts (according to Sha Tin), helping their average daily handle totals dwarf that of the United States.


-Even without betting, horse racing in Dubai rates as one of the most popular spectator sports in the United Arab Emirates.


-And as we all know, down in Australia, each November, the Melbourne Cup is “the race that stops a nation”.


How popular is horse racing domestically? 


Meanwhile in the United States, go to any major sports site, and you will see that horse racing barely merits a blip on their radar. After football, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, golf, auto racing, tennis, boxing, bowling and mixed martial arts, horse racing fights for its place in the marketplace along with fishing, lacrosse, and poker.


As someone determined to promote horse racing in the U.S., clearly, I am failing. I want to do better. Off the top of the head, several of the issues that the sport struggles with, include:


-Lack of cohesive voice/plan 

-Proliferation of other gambling options

-Animal rights concerns

-Difficulty to understand/cost of information 

-No consistent quality of venues 

-Perception of race fixing 

-Lack of television coverage

-Illegal/legal drug use

-Lack of mainstream media coverage

-Early retirement 

-Overall poor perception of the sport by American public 


What I would like to ask you today is: Are these problems of American horse racing fixable? 



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Older Comments about The Popularity of Horse Racing...

Euope has had casinos for years and they are not canibalize horse racing. We should take a less on from them: no drugs, rarely a warp, rarely a harsh bit, MOST animals walk into the gate without too much stress. THEY are doning lots of things right!
Don't tell me aboout those thieves. My first bank account was with them. Put mone in on Monday and a check would BOUNCE on Friday as they had not put it in the account yet. Left after 4 weeks
true we need starts but tell the breeder's that
Vic- That is the beaut of the US Banking system right now. Take Bank of America, they have taken so much money from people's saving accounts to re invest oversea's and when folks go to withdraw money they are either not allowed in, or escorted out. There is a video of a gentlement in the USA(Can't remeber the state) he purposely deposited 50,000 in Cash to a savings account. The point was to go in and try to withdraw it, he was not allowed in the Bank when he told them he was there to withdraw his money...CRIMINALS.
The sport needs a few superstars to promote whether human or horse! Rock star status like Cigar once was! Also we need the rock star horses like I'll Have Another to stay here instead of shipping out! then the sport will find its voice!
Pennsylvania bank will not allow some of their patrons take money FROM THEIR OWN ACCOUNT, THEIR MONEY if it is from an ATM at a track
This is the ammunition conspiracy advocates use to fuel the fires, and in light of this who's to say they're wrong?
It's not abut parking your car. It's about ones right to make a decision with money one has earned, whether the decision you make in the wager is right or wrong, the decision not to let adults wager their money is tyrannical.
If you can't afford to park your car who's going to miss you? :D >> States exerted their rights under the 10th Amendment to regulate and tax horse racing. The coming of the Rehnquist Court and it’s expansion of the Commerce Clause including ‘Gonzales v. Raich’ upholding federal marijuana law make nationalization possible. I find Justice Clarence Thomas’ Gonzales dissent compelling___ “Respondents Diane Monson and Angel Raich use marijuana that has never been bought or sold, that has never crossed state lines, and that has had no demonstrable effect on the national market for marijuana. If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything – and the federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers”.
100% agree. I live in the land of the stupid and hypocritical. Mass.
never understood that limitation. Here we can bet around the world's races, no cost to go to the track, NOTHING for parking, NO tax on any size winning. THat is what is needed to attract more people
While all of these comments have merit. One would have to live in a true democratic republic to implement any. By that I mean many of the commentators on this thread live in states where on line wagering of any kind is illegal. Until we change the system that made laws like that were in a sorry state of affairs.
even if I wrote a road map, MOST would cling to those superstious rules that someone ONCE taught them
Oops, okay: 1. A national voice is needed 2. Get rid of Lasix and the drugs 3. Close down degenerate tracks (Finger Lakes, Calder etc) 4. Get on TV 5. Make getting into the game more accessible 6. Explain how to wager exotically better on TV 7. National promotions
1. A National Voice is needed
I think out of that list i see 3 obvious can't fix...Animal Rights, illegal/legal drug use and early retirement. The average person on the street would find that there is too much thinking involved in this sport! Ask any non horse racing person to read the Daily Racing Form and he probably scratches his head!
Floridaf. Couldn't agree more. The only thing that I see forcing change is the cost of healthcare and other govt programs. Most states don't want to cut spending on needed programs nor raise taxes so they are looking for other revenue streams. Certainly the legalization of pot and expanded gambling are attractive here.
Buckpasser, it's going to be hard to convince the powers that be that horse racing is NOT bad thing. Being further south than you are, I know all about the limitations being in the Bible Belt can impose. However, I think it's a bit hypocritical that we allow the lottery and scratch off tickets, which is still gambling, but disallow parimutuel wagering.
Floridaf. At one time there was a move for parimutuel wagering, but it never got anywhere as I could see. I know at one the harness people were working to get wagering in for the Pinehurst Harness Track which houses a large number of Standardbreds particularly youngsters for the winter. But nothing has happened. Unfortunately being in the Bible Belt doesn't help.
It really needs to be a blend but marylandgq, you want personalities to help build the sport, maybe the new show horseplayers will help. TV and media coverage could also help, even utilizing the races and setting it up the way they do in world series of poker coverage. have both the heartfelt stories about trainers and horses but also show the competitions of the horseplayers on tv
  • marylandgq · IHATC, "Horseplayers" would be nice, but from the 1st episode, the editting had a lot to be desired. For example, talking about a winner fo R1 @ Aqu beingthe 1st Leg of P4, when in relaity it starts in R2; Groupie Doll 20-1?!?! Plus, this show does not reflect your average horseplayer. They should rename the show "Whales". · 669 days ago

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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, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and American Pharoah. 

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 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 consults for leading contest site Derby Wars, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 
A graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.  

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