Archives for June 2019


The 2019 Triple Crown races did about as expected on key performance metrics when it is taken into account that the Kentucky Derby winner, Country House, did not contest the Preakness or the Belmont, nor did the disqualified Kentucky Derby winner Maximum Security. Betting was robust for a year in which three different horses won the Triple Crown races.

Kentucky Derby

Handle: An all-time record of $250.9 million was bet on the Kentucky Derby card (an increase of 11% over 2018) and $165.5 million was wagered on the Kentucky Derby itself (plus 10% compared to 2018).

TV Ratings: The Derby had a 9.4 rating and 16.34 million viewers for the entire telecast, an 11% increase in ratings and a 10% increase in viewers over 2018. The race segment of the telecast attracted 18.0 million viewers and the post-race segment had 18.5 million viewers, owing to the drama over Maximum Security’s disqualification. By contrast, the final round of the 2019 Masters golf tournament, won by Tiger Woods, had 18.3 million viewers (however, the final round play was moved to earlier in the day to avoid rain).

Attendance: 150,729, down 4% from 2018.

Preakness Stakes

Handle: An all-time record of $97.5 million was wagered on the entire Preakness card (up 2.7% over the previous record), of which $54.5 million was bet on the Preakness Stakes.

TV Ratings: Compared to 51 NBC-aired Triple Crown telecasts, the 2019 Preakness recorded the second-lowest rating, with a rating of 3.4 and 5.41 million viewers. Nonetheless, the Preakness topped the final round of the PGA Championship, which had a rating of 3.3 and a TV audience of 5 million.

Attendance: 131,256, down 2.4% from 2018.

Belmont Stakes

Handle: Betting set a Belmont record for a non-Triple Crown year with all-sources handle for the 13-race card of $102.2 million. $53.2 million was wagered on the Belmont Stakes. In 2018, handle for the Belmont card was $138 million with the Triple Crown on the line.

TV Ratings: The rating of 3.6 was the best for an NBC sports event on Saturday, though there was not much competition in this regard with no finals games played in the NBA and NHL. In 2018, the Triple Crown telecast of Justify’s win drew a rating of 8.1.

Attendance: Paid attendance was 56,217, down from the 90,000 fans in 2018 (Belmont Park management now caps attendance at 90,000).

Copyright © 2019 Horse Racing Business


D-Day, June 6, 1944. The 75th anniversary today reminds us of the heroic effort and sacrifice of soldiers, sailors, and Marines of the United States and its allies. Most older generations of Americans knew someone who took part, though their names are not widely known like those of General Theodore Roosevelt Jr. or Hall of Fame baseball catcher Yogi Berra.

Stanley Bergstein (1924-2011) was not in the first wave that landed on the shores of France but arrived a few days later and engaged in combat. He fought with the Army across France and Germany and was in the vicious Battle of the Bulge.

In all the years I knew the self-effacing Stan Bergstein and chatted with him on many occasions, I never once heard him mention D-Day or World War II, much less his military service.

Stan’s accomplishments in the horse-racing business are legendary and he was an early and vocal advocate of ridding the sport of drugs.

But for all his achievements in a Hall of Fame career, his most memorable and valuable contribution came as a 20-year-old soldier in a place far away from his birthplace in a poor coal-mining town in Pennsylvania.

Rest in peace, Stan. And thank you and so many other brave souls for fighting evil.

Copyright © 2019 Horse Racing Business


Belmont Park and the Belmont Stakes are named after the first August Belmont (originally August Schonberg), who was born in 1816 in Prussia and died in New York City in 1890. He was a well-known figure in the Gilded Age–a banker, an influential member of the Democratic party, a patron of the arts, and a prominent racehorse owner. In 1882, the town where Belmont Park is located was changed from Alden Manor to Elmont.

The August Belmont-financed inaugural Belmont Stakes was held in 1867 at Jerome Park in the Bronx, a track named for another Gilded Age business titan, Leonard Jerome, the father-in-law of Winston Churchill. The race was relocated to Morris Park in 1890.

Belmont Park opened in 1905 and the Belmont Stakes found a permanent home. August Belmont Jr. (1853-1924) purchased the land and built Belmont Park, which he named after his father. When the United States entered World War I, Belmont dispersed his racing stable and joined the Army at age 64. One of the yearlings he sold at auction at Saratoga was Man o’ War.

The Belmont Stakes was not run in 1911 and 1912 owing to anti-gambling legislation and was moved to Aqueduct from 1963 through 1967 while Belmont Park underwent renovations. The race has been run at a distance of 1 ½ miles since 1926. Previously, it had been run at distances ranging from 1 1/8 miles to 1 5/8 miles.

Prior to 1931, the sequence of the Triple Crown races varied, with the Preakness coming before the Kentucky Derby on eleven occasions and eleven times the Belmont came before the Preakness. Twice the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness were held the same day.

Sir Barton won the Belmont in 1919 and in 1930 he was retroactively declared to be the first winner of the American Triple Crown. He won the Kentucky Derby on May10th at 1 ¼ miles, the Preakness on May 14th at 1 1/8 miles, and the Belmont on June 11th at 1 3/8 miles. Between the Preakness and the Belmont, on May 24th, Sir Barton won the one-mile Withers at Belmont Park.

Copyright © 2019 Horse Racing Business