In 2015, American Pharoah was heralded as the “savior” of the horse-racing industry after his striking Triple Crown-capturing victory in the Belmont Stakes. Ending the 37-year drought between winners of the elusive three races, the colt drew new fans into the sport and recaptured the imagination of its old fans.
“Spurred by American Pharoah,” writes wired.com's Lexi Pandell, “never before had the industry been more primed to take on new fans—and new money—from around the country.”
So far, so good. Economic indicators for 2016 have been good, with wagering increasing by a solid four percent over last year through April. Despite TVG's crash on Kentucky Derby day, wagering was just one percent off the record set last year. Attendance at the Derby was the second-highest in track history, and both Preakness and its preceding Black-Eyed Susan day smashed attendance and wagering records.
Pandell wrote on Saturday morning that Nyquist, the reigning Kentucky Derby winner, must win this year's Preakness Stakes in order to “cement” these new horse racing fans' patronage of the sport. And Nyquist tried-oh, how he tried. After the fastest first quarter in Preakness history, the colt was wobbly-legged into the lane, unable to hold off the slop-loving Exaggerator and the late-charging Cherry Wine. Nyquist finished third; his first lifetime defeat.
“If he loses (Exaggerator, we're looking at you),” Pandell wrote on Saturday morning, “the grandstands will be littered with torn tickets, the poor Belmont Stakes in June will have fewer viewers, and racing may just lose the fans it gained in the last year.”
Read more at wired.com.
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