Thursday, June 11, 2009

Now What?

The Triple Crown season is over and those of us that are racing fans are looking forward to a great summer of racing at fabled venues like Del Mar and Saratoga. Stakes races every day, blue-blooded thoroughbreds along with their equally blue-blooded owners will gather at the Shore or the Spa and racing suddenly is transformed back to its heyday!

The "general public" has no idea it exists at all.

For the most part, the sports going public has seen the Triple Crown series and assumes that racing crawls back into it's hole not to come out again until the World Thoroughbred Championships otherwise known as the Breeder's Cup. What happens in between is irrelevant to these people. We can all bask in what were pretty darn good ratings for the Derby and Preakness and, for a non-Triple Crown deciding race, the Belmont as well, but where racing really needs to focus on is now.

I don't mind if winter racing isn't highlighted on TV. The Inner Dirt track winter season at Aqueduct doesn't really cry out "Must See TV!!". I understand that. Del Mar - the House that Bing Built. Saratoga - the Graveyard of Favorites. The Travers, Del Mar Derby, Hopeful, Del Mar Futurity and on and on go the march of graded stakes at both legendary racetracks. These are great events that are often contested by horses that competed so gamely in the Spring.

Part of the challenge for racing is keeping fans interested through the summer and building to a nice crescendo at the Breeder's Cup. The solid ratings of this year's Triple Crown is a start. But only a start. How we build on that start is the key to the future viability of live racing in the U.S.

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