As you watch the Kentucky Derby this weekend, you’ll see all of the pageantry and excitement of the largest horse race in the world taking place in front of hundreds of thousands of screaming fans. But don’t let that fool you: Almost all of those fans are there for the spectacle of race day more than the actual race itself (and also there to get plowed on mint juleps and puke in the infield). In truth, horse racing is in a deep decline that is starting to look like a death spiral more and more every day.
Case in point: Hollywood Park in Los Angeles is one of the most famous tracks in the country, and is currently in the middle of its spring 2009 meet. But for the first time in its history, the LOS ANGELES TIMES said it had to cancel racing today because there weren’t enough horses to fill the field. Apparently, Sarah Jessica Parker wasn’t available to help fill out the vacancies either. She probably would have gone off at 12:1 odds for the fifth race.