In a world where sport is at a premium, one sport has remained a constant throughout the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown. That is horse racing. Whilst the likes of the NBA and NHL seasons as well as the NCAA basketball tournaments were suspended and cancelled respectively, horse racing maintained its calendar as the rest of the sporting world looked on with envy.
How is horse racing leading from the front?
With the horse racing calendar coming into being even earlier than expected due to the lack of live sporting events, punters jumped for joy as bets could still be placed on the four-legged sport. Though the illustrious Triple Crown has been moved around – with the formerly first Kentucky Derby now coming in September and the formerly last Belmont Stakes coming in late June – races continue to be held on a regular basis, meaning fans can still take advantage of a number of offers and promotions including Gulfstream picks to ready them for the big races later in the year.
But, critics could ask, how can horse racing do this when the rest of sport is at a standstill? It’s simple, really, operating a racetrack without spectators doesn’t require a great number of people. And, as tracks are still open and online betting is still very much a force, the sport is at a great advantage. In fact, 90% of the betting pool worldwide comes from off-track betting.
Horse racing different
Unsurprisingly, as many sports fans bemoan the lack of live sporting events, the pull of horse racing and the plethora of opportunities provided has seen an increase in the amount of money being wagered on the races. The lack of competition has been increasingly beneficial to the four-legged sport. And, in a sport where the animal is the athlete, the fact that the COVID-19 strain of coronavirus is not communicable to horses makes horse racing unique – the virus cannot affect the stars of the show.
Would the interest be long-term?
Of course, for horse racing the question is whether or not the sports vacuum created by the lockdown can create permanent fans and engender mainstream interest outside of the horse racing community.
One thing holding the sport back is the lack of mainstream TV or streaming distribution outside of the Triple Crown races. But, horse racing has the basis to be extremely popular in North America. A fast-paced event with many different and exciting ways to gamble, the four-legged sport offers something vastly unique to the ball and puck games favoured by the generic American.
And, whilst the sporting world tries valiantly to get back to normal, the whole essence of horse racing has been well and truly maintained throughout the crisis. That, in itself, has kept a lot of sports fans going.