As with most dramas, “Luck” is an extremely exaggerated picture of life. The distortion between the price of the Pick 6 ticket and the number of picks was one of the most obvious to those familiar with the sport. Some of the characters such as the wise old trainer, naive youngster and the band of degenerate gamblers, come off as stereotypical, but hopefully they will become more fully formed throughout the season. The shadiness of the characters and actions in “Luck” must be taken by any reasonable viewer with a grain of salt. Its characters and plot lines create good drama, not a realistic portrayal of reality.
Although “Luck” focuses on the uglier side of the sport, I don’t think it will necessarily negatively affect horse racing. I’m sure the cringe inducing breakdown scene won’t send viewers immediately flocking to the track, but the show overall might at least get a wider audience interested in the sport. If the positive cinematic portrayals of racing in “Seabiscuit” and “Secretariat” didn’t encourage viewers to take to the track, that demographic won’t change its opinion based on an HBO show. However, the demographic HBO is most often viewed by, males ages 18-34, might become more interested in racing, or more specifically gambling. Becoming well-versed in handicapping is not as easy as picking up casino games, but portrayals of handicapping/betting in “Luck” might make it seem less intimidating to younger generations. The pilot alone introduced the Pick 6 to many of its viewers.
At this point, with the numerous problems within the industry, simply reminding people that horse racing is still around is helpful. In the state the sport is in, any news is good news. Racing fans can only hope that the goriness of the drama stays off the track (it appears in the preview that the setting will branch out from the track with a shot of a blood drenched boat), that viewers don’t believe the show to be an accurate representation of the industry, and that it at least piques the viewer’s interest in the sport.
Justina Severni is a recent graduate of Trinity College in Hartford. Her interest in horses started when she began riding on at her family farm in Connecticut, and has continued through her years of riding and training. She first experienced the track during a vacation to Saratoga Springs, and her love of horses and the thrill of racing has kept her watching ever since.