The preparation of a horse for Triple Crown events, like the Kentucky Derby, is a demanding, 365 day a year process. And, the majority of people who do the work are foreign born. Many workers on a track’s “backside” say it’s a job most Americans would avoid. In the final part of our Track Tech series, from the home of the Kentucky Derby, we report on the people who do jobs just beyond the reach of modern technology.
Over the last three years, The New York Times reports, some 36-hundred race horses have died at the nation’s tracks. Modern technology might have saved some of those animals, but, in an industry that must worry about the bottom line, healing a horse is often too expensive.
Every one of the Triple Crown events, the Kentucky Derby, Maryland’s Preakness and the Belmont Stakes in New York, is run on a dirt track. Some in the horse racing industry want to end that tradition and lay down potentially safer synthetic tracks. But with grandstands increasingly empty, critics say track owners are putting profits over safety.
During the Triple Crown events, thoroughbred horse racing commands a national audience. But three Saturdays a year can’t support an industry that was once the most popular sport in America. WEKU’s Jacalyn Carfagno tells us how racing hopes to regain its audience.
A series of records were broken during the spring meet at Keeneland Race Course. The Lexington facility set a record for largest single day attendance, and for largest amount ever wagered on a single race. "We’ve had a wonderful meeting attendance-wise. We have such great enthusiasm from our fans and we’ve had such wonderful community support that we’ve actually had record attendance,” said Amy Gregory, a spokeswoman for Keeneland.
It’s Derby Week and WEKU looks at how technology is changing the horse racing industry. Today, we look at gambling. Not long ago, fans could only make a wager at the track itself, or perhaps at off-track-betting parlors. Now, in many states, they can bet online. That means more gamblers can stay home, cutting average attendance at many tracks.