Horse Racing Attempts to Fill The Void Created By The Coronavirus Pandemic in Sports

| April 3, 2020
International horse racing remains unscathed by the coronavirus crisis but likely not for long.

After Rudy Robert tested positive for the dreaded COVID-19 virus, the sports world came to an immediate halt. That single piece of news set in motion a domino effect that led to the suspension of both the NHL and NBA seasons. The NCAA basketball tournament also got suspended with the indefinite shutdown of all mainstream sports tournaments. As a result, there are no sports events to watch, tweet about, or gamble on, or so you may think.

While major sports events in the world stand still, horse racing remains relatively unscathed. Major events like the Melbourne Cup betting are still months away, though the average fan is still weeks away from starting to think about horse racing, skimming for the annual Kentucky Derby races for names to bet on.  However, the future of the highest prized race cards in the sport remains in doubt. These races include the vaunted Triple Crown that features the Preakness Stakes, Kentucky Derby, and the Belmont Stakes. 

According to Horse Racing Nation CEO and Founder Mark Midland, the Coronavirus response has been highly beneficial to the horse racing industry. With the ongoing pandemic, there’s no need for many people to operate a racetrack without the spectators. Fortunately, all the tracks are open, and the fans can wager on races online. After all, 90% of the horse racing betting pool comes from off-track betting.

During these uncertain times, sports consumers and the wagering public are currently starved for action, and many are starting to shift their interest to horse racing. According to Midland, the lack of action in other sports has contributed to the increase in the money bet on horse races. The operator of a horse racing handicap contest site known as Derby Wars further added that significant growth of the website in the last few weekends is due to a lack of competition from the other sports.

At this time, the COVID-19 virus doesn’t seem to be contagious to horses, and that’s the good news, considering that this is a sport where an animal is an athlete. However, we are yet to see whether the sports vacuum created by the ongoing pandemic will offer an opportunity for horse racing to attract new fans. Nonetheless, horse racing officials hope to generate mainstream interest in the six weeks ending mid-June.

Currently, horse racing has all the ingredients it needs to grow, including pageantry, fast-paced, and creative ways to place wagers. Unfortunately, mainstream TV or streaming distribution is the one thing that horse racing doesn’t have, besides in the “Triple Crown” races. However, there are existing contracts between horse racing tracks and channels like TVG, though content-starved stations may be open to covering some races.

Category: International

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