The Triple Crown Races by the Numbers

Not a photo from this year's TC races, but the action is nice/© Wingbeats551 | Dreamstime.com

Not from this year's TC races © Wingbeats551 | Dreamstime.com

We’ve had a lot of company lately.

Although things have slowed down now since the Triple Crown races have finished, we’ve had a lot of drop-in visitors in the past six weeks.

Our stats here have paralleled TV ratings, although our numbers are nowhere near as high.

Still, which race do you think drew the most people to their TVs? Let alone prompted Internet surfers drop by here?

Derby Bonanza

The Kentucky Derby is still The Big Kahuna of American Racing. The race offers something for everyone. Fashion, food and celebs combine with a major sporting event. It was the Super Bowl before there was a Super Bowl. And, yes, it’s about the horses, too.

Here at The Horsey Set Net, the number of visitors dropping by the site quadrupled on Derby Day. Mostly, people were looking for where to watch the Derby coverage on TV.

Public interest in this Derby has been among the highest in 17 years, according to various news outlets, including ESPN.

According to The Bloodhorse, about 16 million people watched the Kentucky Derby on TV.

Granted, the Derby has wide appeal beyond the horses. The mix of parties, fashion and celebrities, let alone the giddy arrival of spring, fascinates people.

Preakness

Interest was still high for Preakness Day. The Rachel Alexandra/Mine That Bird duel — both on and off the track — caused a lot of interest. A filly in the Triple Crown races always stirs up excitement.

Our traffic here on Preakness Day was about two thirds of what it had been on Derby Day. Which still meant that a bunch more visitors than usual stopped by — again, mostly to get a TV schedule for Preakness coverage.

TV also did well with the Preakness. Ten million viewers tuned in to see Rachel Alexandra and Mine That Bird, up about 38 % from last year, according to The Bloodhorse.

But that’s a substantial chunk less than the 17 million who watched the Derby. Maybe The Preakness needs some fancy hats and movie stars, too?

The Belmont

The only Triple Crown on the line this year was for jockey Calvin Borel. No fillies dared to face the 1-1/2-mile long race this year.

Apparently, not many people were scouring the Internet to find out where to watch the race. Our traffic here returned to its normal levels.

I’m okay with that. In other words, most of the people who came here in the past few weeks did so with a mission in mind, usually, to find out when to watch the week’s race.  Some decided that our kind of horse talk was interesting, so they stayed on as subscribers to the blog feed. (If that’s you, thank you.)

For the Belmont, TV ratings sank.  No horse going for the Triple Crown on the line and no  filly taking on the boys. If my math served me well, the overnight ratings as quoted in The Bloodhorse said that a bit more than 3 million people watched The Belmont.

So what does all of this tell us?

The extras matter – No doubt, the glitz of the Kentucky Derby draws viewers to the screen. Then, there’s the suspense of who will win? It’s  a perfect storm/mix of glamor and suspense. It’s one sporting event that hardcore sports fans and casual fans can watch together.

Will this be the year? – Affirmed won the last Triple Crown in 1978. Every year, when the Derby winner crosses the finish line, the speculation begins,- especially if he appears to have some energy left.

People love the fillies – Every time a filly enters the Triple Crown action, fans come to the tracks and viewers hurry to the TV to catch another installment of The Battle of the Sexes.

Which makes it even more terrible when a filly falls.

I honestly think that some people watched the Derby this year to see if something bad would happen. Kind of like some NASCAR fans tune in to see the wrecks.

But all of the horses finished the races and made it back to the barns on their own power.

The irony would be if, as racing becomes safer, the sport becomes less interesting the general public.

4 Comments
  • Dappled Grey
    June 12, 2009

    Nice analysis of TC race viewership. I have to say, having watched all three races, I enjoyed ABC’s coverage programming the most. Seemed like they put a lot of resources into the production.

  • rhond7
    June 12, 2009

    Thanks! I agree with your comment about ABC’s coverage, but I’m also biased because my husband works for ESPN. Disney owns both ABC and ESPN, so ABC had the resources of the sports cable channel at its disposal. ESPN had aired the races in the undercard prior to the main broadcast.

  • Ambyr Amoureuse
    July 9, 2009

    The Derby Bonanza is my favorite, I watch it since I was a kid, because my Dad is big horse racing fan :))

    • rhond7
      July 9, 2009

      I’m gonna let you in on a little secret, Ambyr. The Derby is my favorite, too. 🙂

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