Local horse race, The Preakness, continues to decline in viewership 

Jockey Gary Stevens celebrates after winning the Preakness.

Photo used with permission from Google Commons

Jockey Gary Stevens celebrates after winning the Preakness.

After the Kentucky Derby concluded, the next leg of the Triple Crown was the Preakness Stakes on May 15 in Baltimore. The event is the third most-watched horse racing event in the United States, but the majority of students don’t even know about the event.

Out of 50 students interviewed, only 42% knew what the Preakness was and only 3% said that they will be watching this year. Less than three million people watched the Preakness last year compared to over 11 million people who watched the Preakness in 2016. With no major league on national television, the only big events watched are the Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes and the Preakness. (NBC)

Other sports are also experiencing decreases in viewership;  the NHL showed a Stanley Cup viewership decrease of 61% and the MLB had the lowest World Series viewership ever with fewer than 9.8 million viewers.

Sophomore Ryan Kunst said, “I’m a big sports fan and I’ll watch almost all sporting events on TV, but I probably won’t watch the Preakness. I don’t really find horse racing exciting because it is less than a minute long and not enough action. Also, I don’t have anyone to root for or against unlike other sports where I will feel more involved because I know the players and their stories.”

Another reason for the low viewership may be because of historical issues. Up until Sept. 11, 2020, the anthem for the Preakness was the song ‘Maryland, My Maryland’. The song refers to the Union as “northern scum” and the South as “southern gentlemen” and is racist and offensive. The song dates back to the 1860s, but was only recently taken out. 

Another reason that the Preakness is losing viewers is because of the lack of famous figures and teams. In the NBA, people root for their favorite team because of the city or because of a certain player. This can be shown through the millions of fans buying jerseys with their favorite player’s name and number. In horse racing, the horses have short careers and the most ever wins at the Kentucky Derby is just seven while the most for a player in the NBA is 11 and the most for an MLB player is 10.

I know many people don’t watch horse racing, but I occasionally will because I think it’s the two minutes in all sports.

— Matt Repie

Horse races take less than two minutes, which is by far the least amount of action for any major sport. The only other sports with shorter times are Olympic sports like the 100m sprint or bobsledding and these sports don’t draw in much viewership unless it’s the Olympics. Freshman Matt Repie said, “I know many people don’t watch horse racing, but I occasionally will because I think it’s the two minutes in all sports.”

The anticipation and hype around the sport is lackluster. With no massive social media following or TV contracts, people tend to stay out of the loop when it comes to horse racing because of the lack of publicity. The worldwide sports media leader, ESPN didn’t even post about the Kentucky Derby one time on social media.