Even horse racing has been sullied by PED scandals galore—and that certainly took its toll this year.
It’s hard to get Americans interested in hockey today, so it seems like a stretch to say they’d be interested in horse racing, where the “key” players change completely from year to year as horses get older, get injured or retire.
There are certain aspects of the sport that people are interested in—college kids love going to the Triple Crown races, though that often has nothing to do with the races themselves, and gamblers love betting on them.
But as for avid fans of the sport, they are pretty tough to find, and it’s understandable. It’s hard to get really excited about a sporting event that you could miss in its entirety by running to the bathroom.
And it didn’t help that this year—one of the first years in decades that people really, truly cared about the outcome of the races—was marred by a doping scandal.
I’ll Have Another won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, but in the couple of weeks before the Belmont—where he had a chance to become the first Triple Crown winner in 34 years—his trainer, Doug O’Neill, was constantly in the news for “milkshaking” his horses, or force-feeding them an illegal mixture of baking soda, sugar and electrolytes to fight fatigue.
And to add insult to injury, I’ll Have Another was scratched the day before the Belmont with a leg injury.
For once, people were interested, and it all ended in scandal and disappointment. It should be no surprise, then, that horse racing has faded into the background.