JC / Railbird

The Bright Side

Jeremy Plonk points out that, for a game supposedly in decline, there’s a lot of horse racing on newsstands, TV, and the big screen:

Horse racing has done pretty well in the mainstream for a sport on life support, if you ask me. What other sporting venture can claim box office titles like “Seabiscuit,” “Dreamer,” “Racing Stripes,” “First Saturday in May” and “Secretariat” since just 2003? These films came long after the glory years when horse racing, college football and boxing owned the mainstream sporting consciousness.

And Plonk’s inventory is hardly exhaustive. He leaves off the late night appearances of jockeys Joe Talamo and Calvin Borel, the Vogue appearances of Rachel Alexandra and rider Chantal Sutherland, the recent W photo shoot of Zenyatta, the Sports Illustrated cover featuring Mine That Bird …

With all the consciousness in the culture at large, maybe the racing audience numbers cited by NTRA consultant SocialSphere aren’t so “Potemkin” after all.


I think more than racing “dying” it’s just been squeezed out by the intense coverage afforded football especially but basketball and baseball to lesser extents.

Still, it’s hard to believe that it was just 12 years ago that ESPN was still televising the Little Brown Jug LIVE.

Posted by EJXD2 on September 23, 2010 @ 9:55 am

I think you’re right. Points up what a double-edged sword ESPN is for racing. The network has the audience, but it’s also a homogenizing force.

Posted by Jessica on September 24, 2010 @ 7:49 am

I noticed Nack’s Secretariat book forwardly placed in Hudson News at the airport yesterday… I was somewhat appalled to note the cover was a still from the movie with Diane Lane. On the other hand, I think that kind of tie-in will sell a lot of books, which hopefully will be good for racing in the long-run (and certainly great for Nack in the short-run!).

Posted by dana on September 24, 2010 @ 1:25 pm

[…] I can’t knock exposure, especially for a champion with a story fit for Oprah, and a game that has such loyal fans, but I keep thinking about a comment by Ed on the Plonk post of last week: “it’s hard to believe that it was just 12 years ago that ESPN was still televising the Little Brown….” […]

Posted by Jessica Chapel / Railbird v2 - Of Sports and Sex on September 28, 2010 @ 2:54 pm