Modern thoroughbred racing is something to get excited about…just as fans were some fifty, sixty, and seventy years ago. But rediscovering horseracing and turning interest into action among newer enthusiasts must be craftily executed and mindful of not letting “the tail wag the dog” (coined from the Joe McGuiness book, The Big Horse, about long-shot Volponi and the legendary PG Johnson). Hear this: the resources necessary to jump start the thoroughbred racing fan base exists within the glorious sport itself.
For certain, horseracing in the U.S. hasn’t had the impact on the general public that it did so many years ago. But perhaps even as recent as thirty years back, as racing titans “Big Red” Secretariat, Affirmed, Alydar, and the near black beauty, Ruffian adorned American tracks, most of us were at least aware of who these figures were and what they represented. But today, it would be curious to know what fraction of the population knows who Bernardini is. Lava Man? Barbaro? Ashado…are you out there?
The interests of many contemporary race fans need to be developed by enabling them to embrace the merits of the sport itself, rather than merely watching a two-minute race unfold. It is conceivable that today’s fans just aren’t aware of those merits, nor are they yet aware of the potential of their own interest. But have faith, racing fans caught the fever before, and they can do it again.