Derby Still Matters as Its Sport Declines

Derby Still Matters as Its Sport Declines

Horse racing is in decline. Crowds are down. Betting is down. Sale prices have dropped. Tracks are closing. Farms are on the market. The future looks grim.

And yet the Kentucky Derby remains as popular as ever.

"Seems to me, it's picking up more steam every year now," said Tom Hammond, the Lexingtonian who is the host to NBC's Triple Crown coverage. "It's become an event that transcends horse racing."

The question being: Why?

When the sport itself is more of an afterthought, why does the Kentucky Derby keep the nation's attention, and why are there still so many people out there so anxious to spend time, effort and especially money to try and win it?

"I think the two are kind of tied (together)," said Randy Moss, who covers horse racing for ABC, ESPN and the Daily Racing Form. "Right now, obviously, sports has never been more popular than it is now in America. Because of the proliferation of sports on television, we've all become a nation of big events."

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