Q-Racing Blog: Party Like It's 2016

It's time to party...and bring a friend.

Quarter Racing Journal

It's time to party...and bring a friend.

It’s been said many, many times. It’s not news. It’s becoming horseracing lore.

It’s not an American Quarter Horse racing thing. It’s not a Thoroughbred racing thing. It’s not a Standardbred racing thing. It’s all of us.

It’s very simple: We need more fans. Since states began allowing lotteries, wagering of all forms have impacted racing.

Horse racing for two decades after World War II led all sports in attendance. In 1973, when Secretariat won the Triple Crown, more than twice as many people attended horseracing than attended a major league baseball game. They had to go to the races to place a bet.

It’s not that way anymore. Just turn on the television and place a bet, pick up a lottery ticket at your local convenience store or go to a casino. Some of those casinos are at tracks and have made up a large part of horseracing’s survival. Tracks just need the same deal with their state that the Native American casinos have negotiated.

I wonder if more racing fans are dying then being born. I hope not.

Fans desire stars. Kobe Bryant retires after 20 years. American Pharaoh retires after two years. One Dashing Eagle retires after one year.

American Pharaoh won last year’s Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park to complete his Triple Crown before a raucous full house and yet total attendance for the Belmont season was down.

I’m an optimist. There is hope.

I am so thankful to California Chrome’s connections. The California-bred Thoroughbred Horse of the Year and stallion prospect is racing this year as a 5-year-old and in March became the all-time leading North American money earner with his win in the Dubai World Cup. His trainer, Art Sherman, says he could race again in the July 23 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar. His ultimate 2016 goal is the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita. He will pack racetracks whenever he races again in the United States.

The same goes for champions Moonist and Heza Dasha Fire. The geldings have met twice in Grade 1 stakes and they each have one win over the other 2015 champion. This could be a rivalry that attracts more fans to Los Alamitos. Or another horse could enter the fray and add more excitement.

They are each geldings, so this could be a long-term rivalry.

Then there is Jess Good Candy. He is undefeated from five starts with an All American Futurity win. He had a superb 2016 debut in the Mr Master Bug Handicap (R) and the big boy is scheduled to make his next start in the Ruidoso Derby (G1) trials on May 29. Watch him while you can because he is a top-shelf stallion prospect.

Here is what you can do this week to help racing. You have a choice. You can either take a friend to a track that is simulcasting the Kentucky Derby or hold a Kentucky Derby party (don’t forget the mint julips!).

When you take non-racing friends to the track, be ready to pay attention to their needs. Have fun with them. The track is an intimidating place for the neophyte. Answer every question and ask if they have any more questions. Take them to the betting window and show them how to place a bet. Keep is simple with just win, place and show bets. Then graduate to exotic bets.

Most importantly, let them soak up the excitement of the Kentucky Derby.

If you host a Kentucky Derby party, make it fun and turn tradition into innovation. The best Kentucky Derby party that I ever attended had all of the ladies wearing homemade Kentucky Derby hats. It was hilarious and a good time was ensured. Horseracing equaled fun. What more do you need.

Everyone in horseracing – from the local player to high-end breeder – is an optimist. The local horseplayer likes that day’s trifecta in the sixth race. The breeder has a yearling colt that the breeder just knows will be a leading sire.

So, on this first Saturday in May, let’s party like it’s 2016.

AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHARacing on Twitter, “like” Q-Racing on Facebook and visit www.aqharacing.com.