I’m never been terribly sure why mainstream media coverage of horse racing essentially disappears post-Triple Crown. As someone who did not grow up around horse racing (a very suburban, generation X’er, Midwestern childhood — my father is a law professor and my mother writes about macrobiotic foods and healthy living), I too once inhabited the limited place known as the”Triple Crown-only” horse racing world. In comparison to my now deep involvement in the sport of horse racing, I am very much a casual sports fan for another of America’s part-time sports, soccer. Like many, I only really pay attention to the World Cup, and I’m enjoying the current one.
So, I ask myself — what keeps me from turning on an MLS game or even the highest-level football, such as the Champions League? I actually really enjoying watching soccer, and it’s fun to watch the action and opportunities develop so deliberately. I don’t watch outside the World Cup because I don’t know the stories. And knowing the stories — the personalities, the histories, the sentiments — is essential to the enjoyment of sports. It’s why rivalries are always compelling theater — the history is known and usually angry — and its why seven-game series and championship rematches can develop an epic quality.
Yes, the Triple Crown is compelling, but not any more so than other dramatic arcs of racing. Wise Dan’s and Palice Malice’s recent campaigns have been astonishing, and Moonshine Mullin’s rise to grade I winner has been sensational. He is a horse in simply amazing condition. Mucho Macho Man‘s triumph in the Breeders’ Cup Classic is a testament to life after the Triple Crown. Furthermore, the racetrack and its community tend to be deeply intermingled in ways not typically found in contemporary life. Rich stories are found in these settings everyday.
We’ve seen recently how much a good story can move the needle. The American sport-viewing public (and, perhaps, the public in general) has a constant desire for drama and story. Horse racing — year-round, from all levels — has the ability to provide it.