Although he is a contender for the Triple Crown, I'll Have Another acts like a typical three-year-old colt using his groom's palm as a pacifier.
Photo courtesy of Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire as seen on America's Best Racing.
With the addition of a top sportswriter and an abundance of relevant news and background content surrounding the third race in the 2012 Triple Crown series -- the Belmont Stakes, a joint initiative of the Jockey Club (JC) and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) is gaining traction as the go-to resource for North American stakes-level racing. Under the guise of America's Best Racing (ABR), the Jockey Club and NTRA have taken the lead in developing a fan-centric website that is a portal to the world of thoroughbred racing.
America's Best Racing is covering all aspects of Saturday's Belmont Stakes, at Belmont Park, Elmont, NY, that is the final leg of the Triple Crown. This year there is a legitimate contender to capture this elusive prize. The three-year old colt I'll Have Another has won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes; he will need a Belmont Stakes win to earn the Triple Crown. It's been 34 years since Affirmed battled Alydar to take the Triple Crown in 1978. Before that, Seattle Slew won the Triple Crown in 1977, and Secretariat won it in 1973. What was possible in the '70s has been unobtainable since. Maybe this year, the Triple Crown drought will be overcome.
Former USA Today sportswriter Tom Pedulla is in place at ABR to provide up to the minute content straight through the Belmont. In fact, the immediacy of the information provided on ABR is a strong point. Along with Pedulla's Belmont-specific reporting, ABR is aggregating the best of the Belmont Stakes coverage under its news banner. Racing and handicapping specialists and cross-over contributors from the NTRA's website also make appearances on ABR.
Photos and video feature prominently; after the Preakness Stakes, ABR was the first site to have a replay of the race available to view. All content is available to view for free (no pay wall) and without having to register.
The Racing 101 tab takes you to tutorials that detail the ins-and-outs of racing from the basics of handicapping and reading the racing program, to how to place a bet at the window -- yes there is a best way to do this! Not interested in betting? Learn about going to the paddock, take a peek into the jockeys' silks room or find out what goes on in the track announcer's booth.
In addition to the website, ABR is involved with television opportunities for racing. It's first major production for NBC Sports is I'll Have Another Charging Towards History, on the NBC Sports Network on Thursday, June 7 at 7:30 p.m. ET. It will be rebroadcast by NBC Sports on Friday June 8 at 7:30 p.m. ET and starts Saturday's Belmont Stakes coverage at 2:30 p.m. ET.
The branding of America's Best Racing and its web and television efforts is a direct result of a report by McKinsey & Co., Driving Sustainable Growth for Thoroughbred Racing and Breeding, commissioned by the Jockey Club. Released last summer, the report details steps to renew and revitalize racing. ABR is one aspect Jockey Club's $10 million commitment to implementing McKinsey's recommendations. According to the Jockey Club, facets of the initiative include:
- Increased television coverage
- A free-to-play website
- Fewer, better races and better scheduling to increase field size and showcase the best product
- Creation of a social game
- Innovative wagering platforms
- Track-integrated ADW
- Racing integrity reforms
- Encouragement of ownership through greater transparency
- Dissemination of best practices from tracks around the country
Follow Liz O'Connell on Twitter: www.twitter.com/NYThoroughbred