If you like watching sporting events outside of the major athletic leagues like the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB – NASCAR deserves to be included with the big four as well – you probably turn to sports like tennis, golf and boxing.
The obvious place to turn for non-traditional sports is the Winter Olympics. Opening ceremonies are tonight.
Other non-traditional sports fans were disappointed when Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao agreed to a fight before calling it off over a dispute concerning how frequent drug testing should occur. Pacquiao is now going to fight Joshua Clottey on March 13, the date he was supposed to fight Mayweather. ‘Money’ Mayweather expects to fight Shane Mosely on May 1, which should still be a good fight, but doesn’t carry same weight as a Pacquiao-Mayweather bout.
Where boxing’s big matchup failed, horse racing will come through. It was recently announced to the delight of non-traditional sports fans that Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra will race Zenyatta, the winner of the Breeders Cup Classic, for a $5 million purse. The race will take place April 9 and will be 1-1/8 miles.
Every spring, horse racing fans and casual fans will tune in for the Kentucky Derby. A fewer number of casual fans continue with horse enthusiasts to watch the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont. The Triple Crown draws a lot of viewers to a sport typically watched by a select few. The Breeders Cup draws more spectators as well.
The Rachel Alexandra-Zenyatta race at the Apple Blossom Invitational at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., deserves to be the most watched race in recent history, but it will need to be properly publicized.
The $5 million purse is a good start to get people interested. The track owner, Charles Cella, said he would only make the large prize available if the two horses agreed to race head-to-head. If one horse backs out, the purse returns to its original $500,000 (it should be noted that if another horse beats the pair, the animal wins the $5 million).
If promoters can hype the matchup enough to get a sizeable audience, the horses will take care of the rest. It will be an exciting race in many regards but determining which filly is the top female horse in racing will be enough of a draw for many. This is a great opportunity for horse racing to get some publicity prior to the Triple Crown stretch.