The Racetrack Beat Writer: A Vanishing Breed

On Friday, June 7, the biggest news in the Belmont Park press box had nothing to do with the Belmont Stakes, taking place the next day. The buzz wasn’t about which horse might win, or what effect that day’s drenching rains might have on the track. The biggest news came when word spread that the New York Post had laid off its racing writer and two handicappers.

The day before the Belmont Stakes, meaning that one of New York’s biggest papers would carry news about New York’s biggest race with wire copy.

Until that day, New York City posted two daily papers, the Daily News and the Post, that covered racing every day, with handicapping, columns, race recaps, and features. Both papers sent writers to every major racing event and to Saratoga for the entirety of the seven-week meet.

Still, perhaps the news shouldn’t have been much of a bombshell. Not long before, the Daily News had moved the bulk of its racing coverage to an internet-only blog, and a year and a half ago, the weekly Thoroughbred Times declared bankruptcy (disclosure: at one time I was a contributor to both the Daily News and Thoroughbred Times). The combination of two industries, journalism and horse racing, struggling with decreasing revenues is maybe not exactly two great tastes that taste great together.

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