Author: Lindsay Griffin
Betting is, without a doubt, the backbone of the Sport of Kings.
The revenue generated by hopeful people willing to put their money up against their opinions is what provides resources to every aspect of the sport. Horse racing would literally cease to exist without it.
Hardcore handicappers and gambling fanatics pump enough lifeblood into the betting windows to keep the day-to-day aspects of racing going.
However, if the sport seeks to expand, or even simply to remain culturally relevant, track owners need to figure out how to tap into new markets.
Most people in the United States are at least somewhat aware of the Triple Crown, in particular the Kentucky Derby.
They may not know any of the horses, trainers, or jockeys, but they enjoy the spectacle. They may not know any of the racing terminologies, but they enjoy being able to cheer their pick down the stretch.
And, perhaps most importantly, while their bets may be based on the flashiest color or catchiest name, they do enjoy betting.
You can find more information on how to bet on the KD here: https://www.twinspires.com/kentuckyderby/handicapping
Here are three ways that those involved in the Triple Crown may want to attempt to tap into new betting markets.
Generally, when you bet on a horse, you can bet on it to win (finish first), place (finish first or second), or show (first, second, or third).
If you are betting an exotic wager called a superfecta, you can bet on a horse to finish fourth, as long as you are picking horses to finish first, second, and third as well.
However, the Kentucky Derby is a special event, and thus special events and promotions- including gimmick bets- can be pulled off if they prove popular.
Some novices may be intimidated by the idea of picking the winner but might find amusement in picking out a winner in a “Best Name” contest, or placing a bet on which horse has the longest tail, or which jockey is actually the shortest.
Serious bettors may find the idea frivolous, but it is unlikely to interfere with their wagers so it is doubtful they would do more than roll their eyes- and they may in fact find themselves wrapped up in the fun!
The prevalence of off-track betting has made placing wagers on races more convenient, but it has led to a decrease in racetrack attendance.
Money is still being wagered, and thus sustaining the sport as a whole, but individual tracks lose out on revenue they would get from admission prices and amenities.
To draw more people to the track itself, the sport could lean more heavily into the idea of “A Day at the Races” being an experience that extends further than simply betting.
This would entice people who already have money that they want to spend on horse racing to fully envelop themselves in the sport- and hopefully spend more money while they’re at it.
Tapping into the younger crowd is a good way to ensure that the sport continues to hold relevance for a long period of time.
One way that tracks have begun to attract younger fans is to promote Internet-based media related to horse racing.
Almost every racetrack in America has its own website or app where patrons can bet on their races.
Many of these apps also provide a live streaming of races, and several horseplayers have podcasts.
The racing industry would do well to continue to promote these online ventures, and also to make the faces of these streams and podcasts as diverse as possible so as to draw in young, tech-savvy fans from all demographics.