It was a long drought, 37 years to be exact. Thirty-seven years of near misses, hopeless blow outs and early weekends in June that often went overlooked by mainstream America.
But a week ago today, bars and living rooms all over the country went quiet as the starting gates flew open and American Pharoah took the lead and raced directly into history books and our hearts. In 2 minutes and 26 seconds this amazing creature reminded everyone, sports fans and none sports fans alike, that nothing is truly out of reach. He also silenced all of the experts in his own industry who insisted that the days of the Triple Crown winner were over.
As a kid who grew up riding, who grew up reading everything about horses from The Black Stallion to books on Secretariat , I would be lying if I didn’t admit that my eyes welled up and I think a tear or two found their way down my cheek. While everyone else high fived, hugged and paid off bar room bets, I found myself sitting in overwhelmed silence. We had finally done it.
Apparently I wasn’t alone in this feeling. In an article posted yesterday in the New York Times by a gentlemen named Gary Ginsberg ( Me, My Dad and American Pharoah http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/14/fashion/me-my-dad-and-american-pharoah.html?_r=0 ) the author talks about growing up going to races and sharing a passion for racing with his father. How he remembers those moments as some of the greatest in both his child and adult life. Reading through posts on blogs and other social media, there are thousands of stories out there that seem to echo this same theme. This is when you are reminded of one of the greatest things sports has to offer us, Tradition. A word that seems to find us less and less as our world gets bigger and faster by the minute.
Horse racing, this is your time and this is your hero, I can just hope it gets maximized.
For the first time in a long time this industry has been blessed with a true American hero. A hero that stepped out the morning after his victory and interacted up close and personal with over 30 members of the press. Some even going as far as to snap pictures kissing him on the mouth. If you know anything about horses or even just most animals bred for speed, they are almost always extremely high strung. This guy is taking it all in stride. Over 30k people showed up at Churchill Downs to welcome him back to Kentucky a few days later. Rumors now include a Vogue article to come out in Aug and even a hint this stud might be the first non-human to be featured on a Wheaties Box.
As someone who has been in the sports travel industry for over ten years I am interested to see what tracks all over the country will roll out with in response to this new opportunity. I have always been quick to point out what amazing opportunities lie in utilizing horse racing as a hospitality for corporations. Its an amazing sport that offers hosts plenty of time to interact with clients throughout the day, while still allowing guests to focus on the 1-2 minutes of action that each race provides. I have found that even guests that know nothing about racing can find entertainment in just picking a name they like and placing a $5 bet. Throw in the tradition, fashion and pageantry that go hand in hand with the bigger racing events and you have something hard to parallel in other “mainstream” sports.
I’m excited to see what the next few months will bring in this amazing sport…. Let’s help our country enjoy its newest hero, and encourage them to partake in enjoying one of the worlds oldest sporting events.
If you are interested in learning more about travel and hospitality programs to horse racing events including the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org