Fans enjoying the 2014 Kentucky Oaks. (Photos by Eclipse Sportswire)
Horse racing is an exhilirating sport with something for everyone- whether you're in it for the gambling, fashion, celeb-watching or fast horses. Here are 11 reasons why horse racing is for you.
1. It’s a PARTY. It’s FUN and EXHILARATING. Everyone loves fun, and who doesn’t enjoy a good party? Celebrity chef and racehorse owner Bobby Flay says it like this: “I’m here to tell you that outside the birth of my daughter, winning the 2010 Breeders’ Cup race was the single most exhilarating moment of my entire life.” Think of it as the best math ever: cocktails + friends + live sports + gambling = massive party. Win.
BOBBY FLAY IN THE WINNER'S CIRCLE
2. It’s AFFORDABLE. Coming of age in a dicey economy means that you know how to get the most fun out of the least amount of money. Enjoying a day at one of America’s best horse racing events is super-affordable, especially when you compare it with attending other major sporting events like those of the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB or NASCAR. In fact, if you play the right ponies at the track you can walk away from the races with more money than you came with!
3. Racing offers THE IDEAL SPORTS/ENTERTAINMENT EXPERIENCE to be shared. Love bonding with your family and friends? Here’s what horse racing aficionado and ESPN SportsCenter anchor Kenny Mayne says: “I started going to the races when I was nine, usually with my Uncle Gordy. Those memories are still some of the fondest in my life. It’s just a feeling; it’s almost indescribable. It’s the same feeling that others describe when they say, ‘oh yeah, my uncle or my dad used to take me to Wrigley, ’ or to Shea Stadium, or whatever it is.” A day at the races offers all comers an unparalleled sports and entertainment adventure.
4. It’s DIGITAL. Have a slight (OK, massive) tech addiction? Horse racing has embraced the new age with vibrant communities on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr and more. It’s America’s oldest sport meets the modern era. There’s something for everyone in horse racing – especially on the Internet – and ABR even has an app to keep you current on the best races happening across America.
5. It’s SOCIAL and COMMUNAL. Joel Stein, writer for TIME Magazine, recently wrote: “Now I get it! … Here’s what I came to love about horse racing: The pace. It’s two minutes of real excitement, with people literally jockeying for position and the eventual winners confusingly in the middle until the very end. But even better are the expanses of time between the races. People have the opportunity to talk about the horses and patiently explain complicated math to me that they think will help me with my betting because I keep nodding ‘yes’ as if I understand. Also, it leaves plenty of time to get to the concessions. Sure, people chat during other sports, but when you do, you risk missing action. A day at the races is just that: a long, social event punctuated by sports. It’s civilized. People wear hats. And have cocktails. And allow children to place small wagers they feel very strongly about. I can see why people have been doing this for a while.”
6. There’s GAMBLING. You can win money. When you play a horse race, you have a say in the bet you’re placing. When you go to Las Vegas, you have no control over anything. There are no past performances to review. In Vegas, you’re playing against the house, and the odds are stacked against you. At the racetrack, you play a role in your own success or failure. You are playing with and against your fellow gamblers. You set the odds, move the lines and control your destiny.
GAMBLING AND FASHION GO HAND-IN-HAND
7. A day at the races offers various VIEWING PERSPECTIVES. When you attend any other major sporting event, you watch the entire game from one perspective: your seat. You typically only talk to those seated near and around you. When attending a day at the races, you not only are offered multiple viewing perspectives – from the rail to the infield to the grandstand and the paddock – you mix and mingle with a diverse audience.
8. There’s a FASHION scene. People don’t even dress up to go to religious services anymore, let alone an NFL, NBA, NHL or MLB game. At racetracks, fascinators and hats are welcomed and worn (as are suits, dresses and all the fashion accessories in between). From shoes to sunglasses, socks, skirts and ties, how you look dictates how you feel. And dressing the part and feeling awesome is half the fun when attending a day at the races!
9. Horse racing offers DESTINATION CITIES AND RACETRACKS. Who doesn’t love to travel to cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago, New York, Baltimore, Lexington, Miami, New Orleans and Louisville? Horse racing offers some of America’s most iconic sporting institutions, each different than the other; but all of which celebrate a rich history and offer the fan something unique and memorable. From summers at the “Playground to the Stars” – otherwise known as the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club – or historic Saratoga to the Bluegrass offerings in the spring and fall at Keeneland. From the art deco architecture of Santa Anita and vastness of Belmont to the charm of Pimlico and newness of Arlington — there’s something for everyone who has the travel bug.
10. You can mingle with CELEBRITIES. Celebrities love horse racing. Seriously. Whether it’s professional athletes like Tom Brady, Oscar De La Hoya, Michael Phelps, Joe Torre and Bode Miller (or those who report on the athletes like Kenny Mayne and Jeannine Edwards); Hollywood stars like Jennifer Lawrence, Elizabeth Banks, Bo Derek, Joe Pesci, John Ortiz, and DB Sweeney; or models like Kate Upton and Victoria’s Secret model and Sports Illustrated cover girl Lily Aldridge, horse racing has more star power than the night sky. Celebs are everywhere at the racetrack and - even better - often within eyesight (or selfie territory.)
KENNY MAYNE WITH RANDY MOSS
11. It’s a LIFESTYLE. Supermodel Kate Upton pretty much nails it with this quote: “You can't beat the style, entertainment and excitement of a day at the races, especially when you’re watching the world’s best Thoroughbreds compete.” MTV personality, racehorse owner and skateboarder Rob Dyrdek puts it this way: “I knew the moment I got into it that it was going to be something I did until the day that I die. There are so many aspects of it that I absolutely love. It’s like an escape and a great hobby for me. Just going to the track and the thrill of making it down to the winner’s circle is a really, really fun thing that I enjoy. I’m in this game for life.”
So what are you waiting for? Now you get it. See you soon for a day at the races. Bet on it!