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Kentucky Derby not immune to slow economy

By May 3, 2009

Well, I survived another Kentucky Derby.

As many of you know, my other job is senior writer with Thoroughbred Times magazine, which makes Derby week one of my busiest of the year. My favorite sport has suffered some of the same setbacks from the economy that other sports have experienced, registering a drop in economic indicators similar to other sports this year.

Attendance at the Kentucky Derby was down 2.7% compared to last year to 153,563. For racing, which offers pari-mutuel wagering at outlets throughout the country, the more telling number is all-sources wagering handle, which was down 8.7% compared to 2008 to $114.6-million.

While the Derby always creates a new star, longshot Mine That Bird flew onto the radar, which may create some marketing problems for the sport. Winning jockey Calvin Borel (pictured) though is well-known and popular as he secured his second Derby win.

Horse racing is fighting to keep its fair share of the spotlight. A decline in media staffing this year’s Derby was noticeable, likely because of newspaper cuts in staff as well as travel budgets.

Photo © Getty Images
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