Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Racing Box Office Continues to Thrive

Good morning everyone!

Or, good morning when we all got teleported to an episode of the Xfiles, where we all wonder why it's 9AM instead of 8AM, and where we were for an hour.

Yesterday it was a "big day" in horse racing. There were a few cards which generated excitement within the community - at Gulfstream, Tampa, and of course, Santa Anita. The latter card was stacked, and with the addition of east coast invaders Will Take Charge and Mucho Macho Man, it was a compelling event from an entertainment standpoint. We all want to watch horses we like and we know, knock heads.

Santa Anita, and the group there, have always been excellent at promoting live events. Whether it's been Zenyatta or a Big Cap, or the Santa Anita Derby, they know what they're doing, and have for years. They can pack them in.  The crowd at Tampa, from what I saw was big too. Racing, despite it shortcomings, does really well on big days.

Conversely, the TV numbers are not in from Fox Sports 1's coverage of the event, but if the Donn Handicap's numbers are an indication, viewership will be in the 75,000 viewer range. Let's think about that for a moment. If it is 75,000, there were about 30,000 live on track, there were another gosh knows how many thousands watching at other tracks live. There is a chance that more people watched live, than did on television.

That's almost like the viewership of a Buffalo Bills game equaling the attendance. That's crazy.

Maybe this will never change. Maybe being at the track so we can gamble is the draw, along with the obvious - being at the track is bright, and fun, with all those other fans and bettors. Maybe the sport - other than branded events like the Triple Crown - will never fly on the tube.

Regardless, racing has become a lot like movies. The movie box office for a popular flick can earn $500 million or more in the day and age of digital downloads, and home theaters. Racing's box office is the track.

Does it have to be this way? Maybe not.  "Racing and TV" was looked at this morning in Harness Racing Update (pdf here). 

As for the race itself, it's nice to see Game on Dude deliver. I've seen comments about this horse for years. "He can't get ten furlongs", "he avoids good horses", "the only reason he wins races is because he is beating up on poor stock". Sure he had a bad day or two - which horse doesn't - but he has always been a fast horse. He was fast like he has been, but beat better stock yesterday. That of course makes a difference to many.

The other short Derby preps yesterday looked like glorified sprints. I did not get much out of those, nor did I find them overly interesting. I find that American racing is a whole lot of sprint and stagger on rock hard tracks nowadays.

Have a great day everyone!

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