Fact vs. Fiction

I don’t usually rely on others to speak for me but Paul Moran said it so well that I can only point you to his recent blog on ESPN.com, which was a response to a comment made by a gaming executive about Thoroughbred racing’s fan base.

For the record, the NTRA’s most recent consumer research, conducted in 2009 by Cambridge, MA-based SocialSphere Strategies, indicates that 50.6 million adults in the U.S. qualify as a Thoroughbred racing fan. About 10% of those fans (5.6 million adults) say they attend a racetrack or an OTB or log onto an online wagering site and bet a few times a month.

Our sport and industry have many challenges, but our fan base is far from dead.

Let me know your thoughts on Paul’s blog.


Leave a Comment:

Dawn in MN

Paul Moran's piece; "A Dying Breed" is an interesting contrast to the topic covered in Gary Biszantz's "Getting a Handle on Aftercare."  I love Thoroughbred horse racing.  I am a fan, and a super-small-time bettor.  My $2.00 per race bets, half a dozen times per year aren't what will make or break racing.  The handicappers, bettors, whatever-they-call-themselves are equally important to the sport as are the horses and the horse fans.  The myopic view of bettors being the only factor that will make or break racing, fails to address the public perception of the mis-treatment of horses.  I hope it's not too late to clean house.

10 Feb 2011 7:54 PM

I thought the article was very good news that I was happy to hear!  I find it really sad though that an executive at Penn National is so out of touch with things.  He is certainly no friend to the industry that supplies his gaming locations! I have long felt (and believe even more strongly after seeing the boost Zenyatta gave the sport) that racing could be in a MUCH better place if there was adequate exposure. People seem to just love animals and horses are no exception.  But they are just not getting the opportunity to see enough races and fall in love with these wonderful creatures. When I was growing up, racing was on all the time - Saturday afternoon on ABC's Wide World of Sports.  And I didn't have to subscribe to Bloodhorse to read articles about them!  We all know that now days not much is on tv besides the Triple Crown and the Breeder's Cup. Thank goodness I have TVG! I also feel that the constant retiring of our sound 3 year old colts is very detrimental. It is really a bummer to get excited about a horse for him to just disappear at the top of his game.  I truly wish something could be done about that - like the Jockey Club instituting a policy that a sound colt cannot be bred until 5 years old. Greater purses for races for older horses as well as a large promotion of the races could also help.  I personally would LOVE to see a huge promotion of the old "Handicap Triple Crown" take place! Only 4 horses have ever won that, which could bring it even greater prestige than the 3 year old triple crown. Just my thoughts.....

10 Feb 2011 9:13 PM

Paul Moran is so spot on with his observations. I'll add one of my own - the perception that horseracing needs slots or a racino to survive is perpetuated by those involved in horse racing who hammer that point home when trying to get gambling laws passed. Horse racing is made to sound like one gasp away from dying as a scare tactic and pretty soon, everyone believes it. Just look at Maryland to see how that has backfired - the government is so convinced that horse racing's impact on the economy is minimal that it has made the decision that the industry is not worth the effort to support. That argument was also used in Indiana to get casinos at both of our tracks. One of those tracks has already filed for bankruptcy less than 3 years later. The ads barely mention the fact that there is horse racing at these casinos, if they even mention horse racing at all.

10 Feb 2011 10:25 PM

Alex ...great commentary by Moran & right on the money. Carlino gets these liscences if he has no tracks to build them around? ...I'm thinking not. The digital age has kept many away, but the base is and always will be there, as reflected by handles. Carlino's discovery of third rated bull rings have been an economic boom to him and kept many open, but the attraction to us on the apron is certainly not the blinking neon lights. As Moran so eloquently puts it, just visit any of the oasis venues ....Keeneland, Saratoga, DelMar, and my all time fav, beautiful Monmouth Park, and bask in the history in the air .....dead?? I don't think so

11 Feb 2011 8:12 AM
Pedigree Ann

My academic husband has been telling me for years that racing is a dying sport. Yet when we take visiting profs for an afternoon out, Keeneland is the preferred locale if it is running. (I act as native guide and betting advisor.) And the crowd is always full of college students skipping their afternoon classes.

Of course in most contexts, only retired people, unemployed fans,  and the few fans on odd schedules can attend weekday racing on a regular basis. Everyone else is stuck working or in school. Logic. The weekend or during a summer vacation is when the working family can go. I was unable to get to Keeneland during the week for years because I had kids coming home from school mid-afternoon. But now that I am an empty-nester....,

11 Feb 2011 9:25 AM

Most race race track don't promote our sport like they should. if we want to attract the younger crowd then they should get off their butts and think of new ways to get people interested in this sport.

11 Feb 2011 1:39 PM

Having read the other blog re Gulfstream's fan-unfriendly layout, one has to wonder how long this will remain true! Nothing beats the live product: the cries of the starters' assistants, the snorts of the horses, the rumble of the crowds, the aroma of horse-sweat and leather, the thunder of hooves ... That's what calls the fans to the sport. If we throw all that away and separate the fan from the horses, how long will our fan base continue?

11 Feb 2011 3:58 PM
Cathy J


I appreciate Paul's blog, and, much of what he says is true. However, he mentions Charles Town in a very negative light, when, it was one of the few tracks that actually posted an increase in handle in 2010. It will be getting it's first graded stakes race (the Charles Town Classic) in 2011. On any given Saturday evening, the apron at Charles Town will be crowded, as will the restaurant, and the paddock rail will be 3 deep with fans.

However, Penn Nat'l is on an all-out campaign to all but eliminate live racing. The red tape is extremely difficult for horsemen to maneuver around. Penn Nat'l has been circulating a so-called newspaper, that at first appearance looks like a racing newsletter, but is nothing more than a propaganda rag designed to alienate the public from the horsemen, and cast a negative spin on the racing game itself. Penn National is buying all of these tracks and then working hard to drive down or drive out the racing days.

14 Feb 2011 12:32 PM

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