August 24, 2019
I have been a thoroughbred horse racing nut since college, and every August I frequently take the three-hour-each-way road trip to Saratoga Springs, where some of the best horses in the country come to compete at one of the nicest sports venues in the world.
It wasn’t too terribly long ago that the Big Three sports in this country were baseball, boxing and horse racing. They’ve since been eclipsed by football, basketball and NASCAR. Horse racing has been hanging in there, but when I go to the track, I don’t see a lot of young people.
And now the number of horses is diminishing, too.
According to this article in the New York Times, the figures are not encouraging:
– In 1990, more than 44,000 thoroughbreds were foaled in this country. In 2019, that figure was 20,500.
– In 2007, more than 10,000 yearlings — or unraced 1-year-olds — went through the sales ring and fetched more than $561 million. In 2012, about 6,600 yearlings brought $348 million.
– In 2002, nearly $16 billion was bet on thoroughbreds. In 2018, that number was just under $12 billion in 2018.
But today is a day to celebrate the sport. 50,000 or so folks will descend on Saratoga for a spectacular card of 13 races, including seven stakes races, capped off by the Travers Stakes. The Travers is also known as the “Midsummer Derby,” and features most of the top 3-year-olds in training. You could do worse than to place a few ducats on the nose of a horse named Mucho Gusto. You heard it here first.
And if you lose, heck — a bad day at Saratoga is better than a good day at the office.