The 2022 Preakness attracted 60,000 people.  In the five years prior to the COVID pandemic, attendance averaged 134,601 (in 2020 and 2021, attendance was intentionally limited).   It would be easy to dismiss such a huge drop to the fact that Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike was not in the field. Or to the 95-degree heat on Preakness Day.  But such a huge decrease can’t be explained away…it was a disappointing result.

Some might say that people are still cautious about mingling in large crowds, which is true.  But this is unlikely to have accounted for an attendance decrease of over 50% from pre-pandemic years, especially in light of the crowd of nearly 150,000 that showed up at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby two weeks earlier.  The Preakness is the weak link in the Triple Crown series and an objective assessment by ownership, the Stronach Group, is needed to determine how it can be enhanced. 

Betting handle from all sources on the 14-race Preakness-day card was $104.3 million, down 8% from the record handle of $113.4 million in 2021.  Handle on the Preakness race itself was $65.3 million, a decline from $68.7 million in 2021, or 5%.

Television ratings for the Preakness averaged 5.26 million viewers and peaked at 6.6 million during the 7-7:15 p.m. segment when the race was run.  In 2021, the Preakness averaged 7 million viewers and peaked during the race at 8.6 million.  The ratings are about the same as in 2019, when the Kentucky Derby winner Country House did not run.

Absent Preakness winner Early Voting to take on Kentucky Derby champ Rich Strike, the Belmont Stakes nonetheless should do well for a year in which there can be no sweep of the Triple Crown races.  People will watch to see if Rich Strike’s Kentucky Derby victory was a fluke and many will root for the underdog colt to show that it wasn’t. 

Copyright © 2022 Horse Racing Business