Michael Phelps may be through with competitive swimming after this year's Olympic Games, but the most decorated Olympian of all time will not likely be leaving the spot light. Phelps told Yahoo in an interview that he was quite serious about buying a race horse with his longtime coach Bob Bowman. In fact, Phelps has already approached trainer Bob Baffert about possibly conditioning a horse for him and Bowman.
So what would happen if the greatest Olympian ever and the Silver Fox were to team up? Nothing bad, that's for sure. Hall of Famer Bob Baffert is one of the most popular and successful trainers in the sport, but that is nothing compared to the fan base Phelps commands. Should Phelps pursue owning and racing thoroughbreds, he could bring a whole new set of fans to our sport, especially if he is as charasmatic an owner as he is a swimmer.
Yes, horse racing already has a number of high profile owners: weight loss guru Jenny Craig, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, and Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, to name a few. But even though these high profile figures are involved in the industry, they have brought few new fans with them, probably because they have not been overly vocal with their involvement with the sport. Of the three I mentioned, Jenny Craig is probably the most successful and outspoken about her position in the industry, but that could never compare to what Phelps could do for the sport. New fans = renewed interest which could boost horse racing past the image of a dying sport with very little new, young fans. I would say that's a win-win situation.