Now that the Triple Crown races for 2017 are completed, an assessment can be made pertaining to the overall business outcomes of the triumvirate.

Kentucky Derby, May 6:

The telecast of the Derby had a rating of 10.5 and a share of audience of 23 (definitions for these terms are shown at the end of this article).  This was the second best performance in the past quarter century and the rating was an increase of 12.5% over 2016.   The race portion of the telecast had a rating of 9.3 and a TV audience of 19.1 million.

Kentucky Derby 143 was the most streamed ever with 281,000 unique visits—up 25% from last year.

Betting on the Derby program set a record with a handle of $209.2 million.  This was an improvement of 12% over 2016 and 8% better than the previous record of 2015.

The crowd at Churchill Downs was the seventh largest in the history of the race with 158,070 in attendance.

Preakness Stakes, May 20:

The telecast had a rating of 4.9 and a share of audience of 11.  The rating was 6.2 with a share of audience of 14 during the segment of the telecast that included the actual race.  These metrics should be viewed in context:  the Preakness earned the top rating for all sports telecasts on May 20, 2017.

The Preakness broke all attendance and wagering records.  Attendance was 140,327 versus 135,256 in 2016, a notable fact given the dilapidated condition of the Pimlico racing facility.  Betting handle for the entire Preakness program was $97.2 million, which was a 7.1% increase from 2016.

Belmont Stakes, June 10:

Absent the possibility of a Triple Crown champion and lacking the winners of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, Belmont business metrics predictably were tepid.  Attendance was 57,729 and handle for the card was $93.7 million, declines versus 2016 of 4% and 5.8%, respectively.  The 3-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival fared better, with handle increasing by 1.6% over last year to $124.7 million.

The Belmont telecast registered a rating of 3.4, a decrease of 21% from 2016, with the race portion having a rating of 4.3.  This was the least viewed Belmont since 2010.

By comparison, the primetime Major League Baseball telecast on Fox, beginning at 8 PM on June 10, 2017, had a rating among viewers 18-49 years old of 0.5, a share of 2.0, and an average audience of 2.31 million viewers.  Games in the Stanley Cup finals in hockey have been averaging a rating of 1.4 and games in the NBA finals so far are averaging a rating of 12.8.

Approximately $400 million was wagered on the combined race-day cards for the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes.  This sum amounts to about 3.7% of current annual pari-mutuel handle in the United States.  Put differently, one tenth of one percent of all U. S. races account for 3.7% of handle, which vividly demonstrates the importance of the Triple Crown.

Copyright © 2017 Horse Racing Business


The Nielsen Company definitions:

“Rating:  Estimated percentage of the universe of TV households tuned to a program in the average minute. ”

Share of audience:  The percent of households (or persons) using television who are tuned to a specific program, station, or network in a specific area at a specific time.”