June 24, 2010

Horse Racing and Gambling

There are four types of racing fans. There is the fan who loves the horse and loves the thrill of the race foremost, but also enjoys to test their abilities to pick a winner and make a few bucks in the process. I happen to be that type of fan. Then there is the fan who loves the handicapping aspect, and is always looking for ways to make money betting the horses. They enjoy watching the racing, and it has proven to be their favorite form of gambling. The third type of fan, is the person who falls in love with the horses, and racing is a way to see them doing what they do so beautifully. They are only there to see their heroes, and betting is rarely, if ever, even considered. Finally the last fan is a gambler. Racing is one of a long list of ways to place a wager. This fan is more likely to know the number of a horse, rather than their name.

I ask you is one fan better than another? My answer may surprise you.

I say no. I say this because I recognize the importance of gambling to this wonderful game, and it has been this way since the beginning of the sport.

In American racing history, it was not all that long ago when horse racing truly was the only game in town. Off track betting, and state lotteries were not yet with us. The only state with legal casino gambling was Nevada. Fans poured into racetracks around the country at record rates and track handles soared to never seen before numbers. The 1960’s were a golden age for Thoroughbred horse racing, and we would be na├»ve not to credit gambling in large part for the success seen for the business of racing.

Things have obviously changed with so many more ways to gamble these days, but I still see racing as the greatest combination of beautiful sport, and gambling challenge that there can be found. Saying this, racing always needs to cater not only to fans of the sport, but also to the gambler. All four types of fans are vitally important to the health of the sport. By all means we should find new ways to promote our great game to the masses, but just as importantly we need to make racing a more attractive way for the gamblers to gamble.

And speaking of gambling ... Handicapping extraordinaire, Nick Borg, offers some solid advice on how to narrow your betting choices and become a better handicapper over on ZATT Technical.


Celeste said...

Brian, I believe you are absolutely right, other than I consider myself a type 3 fan, but I do try to bet a little more than probably what you are considering. Of course, that would only be a small bet and only when I'm actually at the track, so no, I'm not a gambler per se. One thing that does discourage me along these same lines are those who seem to look down on those who simply love the horses, who aren't there to gamble and I've seen this on several websites and blogs. You are right in giving recognition to all the types of fans of horse racing because the sport, the industry needs all the help it can get.

Brian Zipse said...

One of the points of this article was to improve tolerance for the strict gambler, and then you tell me that it is also needed for the strict horse enthusiast. Thank you Celeste. Can't we all just get along???

Calvin Carter said...


I'm a number one too.

william said...

brian, i couldnt agree with you more...not enough tracks are realizing this...the gambling will always be there...off track betting, online sites..the handles are still high...nyra was raving about there handle on june 18(the only twilight they are having at belmont this year) although the attendance was only 7900 because of a concert...monmouth on the other hand had 24000+ on fathers day??...i watch tvg or get emails from sam houston racetrack, with promotions, food sales, cheap beer, whatever is necessary to get a fan interested in watching this great sport..they still too will maybe throw a dollar or two but they are the ones needed for this sport to survive! gamblers will bet on numbers coming out of a box, they dont need the horses...its time to make the racetrack enjoyable and fun again

Brian Zipse said...

I am in good company Calvin! William, some tracks seems to get it better than others...I have also seen plenty of promotions from Sam Houston, including betting. Good for them!

Sarah Grice said...

type #3! but if i ever get to a track, i will wager. thanks for the blog, brian.

railrunner said...

Your first fan describes me to a tee! I always want to make some small bets (usually $5 or $2) just to try and get a return while enjoying the experience. The only times I don't usually bet at all is when I'm there to see a horse like Curlin or Rachel Alexandra, then I just try to hold onto the best rail spot while everyone else flocks to the windows. In those cases I'll get someone else to put down a small bet for me so I can save the ticket if my more wins! (:
Great post as always, you have a knack for getting conversation going!

Zenyatta said...

All true, i would call myself a #3. but somtimes i like to make a bet or two if i'm at the track for the fun of it, even though i'm not aloud cough cough, but anyway good article!