From Jockeys to Celebrities: Horse Racing’s Impact on Pop Culture and Television

When we think about horse racing, we usually tie this sport with history, tradition, and heritage. If we take a step back and overview the sport, it doesn’t look like much has changed. But, horse racing is quite an important sport, not just for entertaining us, but it has a much deeper impact on pop culture and television.

But all of these thrills, drama, incredible stories, and bonds between humans and horses have a much deeper impact on our culture. 

We know that betting plays an important part in horse racing’s popularity and claiming a horse racing bonus before a big event can make the process more exciting, but it is not only about waging on events. Horse races last around 2 minutes, but they are definitely one of the most exciting 2-minutes of sports.

Therefore, we decided to take a look at horse racing’s impact on pop culture and television.

Marx Brothers
The Marx Brothers in A Day at the Races (1937). Photo:

The Intersection of Horse Racing and the Movie Industry

In the world of cinema, one of the most iconic horse racing films arrived back in 1937. Directed by the renowned Sam Wood, known for his many critically acclaimed movies, “A Day At The Races” starred the Marx Brothers. In this classic film, a group of bumbling characters finds themselves in a predicament where the fate of a cherished animal sanitarium hangs in the balance. 

Their only hope lies in a horse they purchased winning a crucial race, leading to a series of uproarious Marx Bros. shenanigans. The film immerses us in the culture of horse racing, including a memorable scene where a character buys a “hot tip” only to realize he can’t decipher it and must decode it first. 

A Day At The Races” didn’t initially receive much acclaim but has since become a Marx Brothers classic, earning the honor of being the 59th funniest movie of all time according to the AFI in 2000.

While 1937 might seem like a distant era, horse racing has a deep-rooted connection with Hollywood that goes even further back. How much further, you ask? 

Try 1887. Although movies, as we know them, didn’t exist at the time, visionaries were already yearning for their creation. Enter Edward Muybridge, sporting a magnificent beard and a brilliant idea. He decided to capture a series of photographs depicting motion and project them rapidly, creating the illusion of motion from still images. 

To convey this innovation, he photographed a racehorse with its rider, resulting in the final image known as “Daisy With Rider.” These images constitute the very first motion picture ever made. 

A Cultural Impact

With thousands of years of history, horse racing has left an indelible mark on various industries. Pop culture, in particular, has been profoundly influenced by this sport, and there are good reasons for it.

Throughout its rich history, horse racing has touched countless lives, earning the label of “luxury,” which is undeniably appealing to a broad audience. The impact of horse racing on pop culture is multifaceted. It has sparked significant changes in fashion, even today, with major horse racing events enforcing strict dress codes that promote high-end fashion on the racecourse.

Horses symbolize various attributes like freedom, determination, strength, stamina, and endurance, which frequently find their way into pop culture songs.

Furthermore, the sport’s rich history is a treasure trove of incredible true stories that have inspired directors and movie production companies to create documentaries and special films centered around horse racing. These movies serve as a source of inspiration, as horse racing is replete with remarkable tales of underdogs defying all odds and proving skeptics wrong.

The State of Horse Racing on Television

Over the past decade, much has been written about the perceived decline of horse racing in the American sports landscape. While it’s true that the sport’s prominence has diminished compared to its heyday in the 1930s and 1940s, it’s worth exploring the extent of this decline. Specifically, how do major horse racing events compare to other sports across the United States?

Major horse racing events continue to draw substantial viewership. They have even played a pivotal role in reshaping the world of TV broadcasting. The allure of watching horse racing has been a perennial fascination for the audience. Although there has been a slight dip in viewership over the past few years, the “Sport of Kings” still stands as one of the top attractions on television.


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