ESPN Horse Racing

Horse racing will be just fine, thanks
By Jay Cronley
Special to

With Sarava winning the Belmont States while War Emblem finished back there somewhere after stumbling at the start and then being rated, of all things, many people believe that horse racing suffered a serious blow.

It was thought by most of the national media that a Triple Crown winner would be just what the sport so desperately needed.

This of course makes little sense.

Here is what horse racing is all about: The fifth race at Penn National on Wednesday night.

A Triple Crown winner would get the sport a lot of flashy, temporary publicity. But whether or not it would motivate somebody to go to the races for the first time and play an Exacta box at Retama is debatable.

Horse racing is not about a photo op.

It is about bets.

If you ask me, the best thing imaginable for the sport of horse racing is to have a record Belmont crowd of 90,000 and some, as well as a huge viewing audience on NBC, watch a 70-1 shot defeat a 16-1 shot by just a little bit, setting off a $2,400 Exacta and a $25,000 Trifecta.

Can you imagine somebody sitting in Vegas pounding the Keeno cards, or standing at a dice table on some so-called "river boat" located six inches from a shore where gambling is illegal, and looking up to see a sport like horse racing where $2 could have gotten you anything from a lobster dinner to a new car; horse racing, a sport where the so-called experts came closer to picking the last three than the first three.

How could a person ever play another game of bingo after what happened at Belmont Saturday afternoon.

The national media is seldom right about anything, so why should it be right about horse racing.

Here are the most common misconceptions about this sport.

Horse racing is supported by too many old people

There are not enough older people at the races.

It would be, in my opinion, a great day for horse racing if everybody in the building was at least 68 years of age.

I watched the Belmont States at a simulcast venue, surrounded by three tables of older people and two tables of younger people.

Here is what college-age fans spend on average during a day at the races: About $6.75 each.

Go look on any shelf of a closet in an older person's home.

Money .

Older people are made of money.

They're living longer, healthier lives.

I heard one national media expert say that what horse racing needs to do is introduce a new generation of young people to the sport.

Beg your pardon. But it's against the law for a 12-year old to back wheel the 4.

Unless Junior wants to be a jockey, a trainer or an owner, parents would be best served by introducing their sons and daughters to common sense, which would lead them at a later point in life to the fact that horse racing is a much better bet than something like a casino game.

Horse racing has lost some of its following
You don't follow horse racing.

You follow the Dave Matthews Band.

You follow college football.

You bet on horse racing.

Horse racing is a gamble first and a spectacle on down the line during the Triple Crown races or on Breeders Cup day.

A track can have a crowd of 129 and still have a great day because of heavy simulcast wagering play.

Horse racing isn't in competition with the NFL.

Its competition is point spreads, dice, blackjack, roulette, bingo, Lotto, poker, pitching pennies at cracks in the sidewalk.

Talk about a great day for a sporting activity: Go try to find some other wagering proposition that pays 70-1 on something that makes good sense.

Go ahead.

I'll wait right here.