In Canada eh, we have a Sports network called The Score. Mostly it is known for sports news and recaps, and they also show quasi sports events like WWE, martial arts fighting, poker tournaments, and soccer. Oh, they also have horse racing. On Mondays, they do a harness show called Bet Night Live, and they do the same thing for thoroughbreds on Wednesday nights. On Sundays they usually show the entire Woodbine card (until the baseball playoffs begin).
The Score is pretty much the place of final refuge for sporting events in Canada.
And to show how much horse racing is falling off the map here, on the Score on Wednesday nights, instead of showing the first four races at Woodbine, soccer is taking precedence after two or three races are run.
One aside, Canadians can still watch racing on a Premium Station (HPITV), so things aren't horrible here.
The Queen's Plate generally gets covered on CBC (Canada's largest nation wide TV station), and I remember when the other Triple Crown events were shown on CBC or, CTV I believe, as well. Those days are gone, gone, gone.
Anyway, on Sunday, Canadian racing's second Jewel of the Triple Crown (arguably the fourth to the eighth most important race of the year in Canada), was run at Fort Erie. The Woodbine Score show announced at the beginning that they would break away for soccer and come back to possibly watch a late race or two at Woodbine as well as the Prince of Wales Stakes....hopefully, if the soccer game didn't go into extra innings or whatever they do in soccer when the game is tied (actually, later in the afternoon, I found out they go into overtime).
I guess that it needs to be mentioned that the filly who won the Queen's Plate, whats her name....OK Googling...Inglorious, was a no show for the Prince of Wales, which was run on a dirt surface, so there was no chance of a Triple Crown winner this year.
That aside, this is still Canada. And the Prince Of Wales is Canadian content. I'm not sure if Brazil or Paraguay has a player on either team who has even visited Canada. But that is what won out over horse racing.
Even though Fort Erie racetrack is literally 5 minutes away from me, I just couldn't get motivated to show up there because the idea of the heat and wall to wall humans just didn't do it for me. I wound up hanging at home, watching the soccer overtime hoping for a quick goal that didn't happen, and then the shoot out (since no one scored in the overtime). The shoot out seemed to drag on, taking forever to begin, and since I knew that the POW was moments away, I was wondering what would happen if the shoot out was to continue the same time the race began. I'm pretty sure they would have stayed on the soccer game, but the game was decided with a grand 4 minutes to post time, so I can only speculate.
Even though the POW was only a 7 horse race, it did include a very exciting finish. Which brings me to the point about soccer. It seems that you have to wait intervals of around 10 to 15 minutes for a couple of seconds of excitement. It is very comparable to a live racetrack experience that way, but at least at a racetrack you know when it is going to be exciting. I just could never get into soccer. Paint drying, paint drying, paint drying, paint drying, oh there is a fly on the wall, I wonder if it will stick, paint drying, paint drying, paint drying.
Now, I think it is a fair argument that horse racing is not really a sport (if you don't believe me, check out the Score's main page and look for horse racing news), but a game of chance, but soccer over horse racing in Canada? How far has horse racing sunk in the ratings for that to happen?
I don't think Woodbine helps things when it comes to content (which I believe they control on the Score). On Sundays they show tracks like Belmont and even Monmouth ahead of the Canadian content that can be had at Fort Erie. I realize they probably make a lot more from their HPI customers at those tracks, but in order to build Canadian viewership in the long run, sacrifices need to be made. The Woodbine viewing audience is most likely more familiar with the Fort Erie horses (many come from Woodbine), and the breeders of Ontario horses and their families would most likely catch a glimpe of the has been it bred than a race from a US venue.