The Racing People Are Terrified Their Corporate Welfare Will Be Shut Off

In a recent blog post, Craig Bernick, president/CEO of Glen Hill Farm, a major breeding/racing operation, laments that most of his beloved industry remains dependent on the corporate welfare that flows in from slots and other gaming:

“At some point the horse racing industry…stopped caring about gambling on live horse racing. … Without question, horse owners have enjoyed the benefits of expanded gambling in many states via purse supplements. … As great as these benefits are to today’s horse owner, they have warped the sport. Actual gambling on racing is almost inconsequential to running racing in states that have such supplements.

Racetracks are now mostly owned by gaming companies whose aim is to maximize shareholder value. … Since January 1, 2000, the share price of Churchill Downs Incorporated has increased from $7.67 to roughly $140 today for a market cap of $5.6 billion. In that time Churchill has shifted from a horse racing company to a diversified gaming corporation. … While their mission has evolved, it is unthinkable to blame them for doing what is in the best interest of their investors.

“Owners will always push for the highest purses. ‘Protecting the purse account’ is seen as the single most important issue for horsemen’s groups. They’ve been largely successful – purses have stayed level for twenty years, while total races run have dropped by 35%. … The future is likely going to be significantly different.

Racing is facing decoupling – allowing tracks to stop racing while retaining licenses to operate alternative gaming. This has spread significantly across greyhound racing and will shift to Thoroughbreds in the future. The majority of racetracks don’t care about racing. That’s a dangerous sentiment from the perspective of owners and breeders, but it is reality.

“Recap stories from 2019 summarized the overall financial picture of racing in four words – handle down, purses up.

“Gamblers today have so many options…. Wagering on Thoroughbred racing is already down roughly 50% adjusted for inflation over the last 15 years. … Purse subsidies have benefitted many, but we should not expect them to sustain our business indefinitely, particularly as decoupling spreads. Racing needs to be more sustainable on its own. Currently, it isn’t. … Let’s start while there’s still time.”

Good luck with that, Mr. Bernick. The writing, as they say, is on the wall. As more legislators become educated on this egregious corporate welfare (egregious because in propping up an archaic gambling business, states are taking money away from children’s education, infrastructure repair, etc.) and the cash spigot gets shut off, tracks will continue to close. As this unfolds, we Americans will doubly benefit: more money for the public good, and more important – moral progress.

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  1. While I was an active owner/trainer and apologist I’m embarassed to admit this, but I saw the coupling of horse racing and gambing, racinos, as an end to all the abuse and to racehorses dying at slaughter.
    Okay so I admit that I was delusional, but many of us saw the unprecedented sums of money, boosting purses to ridiculous amounts thereby inflating the value of racehorses, as a positive thing for the racehorses.
    In the past, the horsemen’s groups AKA HBPA, the tracks and all the pro-horse racing business entities had a major excuse when it came to preventing racehorses from being dumped or dying on the slaughterhouse floor: there simply wasn’t enough money – that was the excuse of the day.
    So the billions, collectively, from the gambling profits was to put an end to this and I was all for it except that never happened and, in fact, the HBPA and their attorneys who were present at the bargaining tables somehow convinced ignorant politicians that they needed to be cut in on these billions in casino profits.
    During these negotiation members of the community were never invited, that I’m aware of, or were part of the negotiations because if they were these outrageous deals wouldn’t have gone through.
    Also, during these negotiations NO mandatory percentage went to all of these racehorse welfare causes or even aftercare and I certainly didn’t think that it was going to get so bad – it did.
    Fast forward up to now and it’s blatantly obvious that the billions in casino profits has led to egregious acts of abuse, inhumane treatment, neglect, dumping, over run with little rest, no accountability and just about everything harmful to the racehorse instead of beneficial.
    The racehorses had no voice, they were not at the bargaining table and they were the biggest losers and continue to be as they are now treated as nothing more than disposable gambling chips to be used, abused, dumped and not taken care of.
    Furthermore, there are a small group of people, mainly the HBPA CEO’s that became very rich off of these lucrative deals while racehorses continued to flounder, be dumped, and end up at slaughter.
    It’s getting worse as if it it weren’t worse enough even before the billions in casino profits.
    It’s just total and complete betrayal of the racehorses who fill the races, and generate billions in profits and after this example and plenty more there is just no excuse for this whatsoever – none – and there’s no plausible reason as to why our communities are forced to support this.
    For me, it’s primarily about the racehorses and what’s going on is a complete and total betrayal because lack of money is no longer an excuse, but it never was.
    This business when it shuts down deserves everything it gets and the only solution is to shut it down and it can’t come soon enough for the racehorses.

  2. Weren’t the racing supporters just going on and on about how racing will never be shut down because of the millions ( or billons) it generates and how devoted people are to the sport? Sounds like horseracing doesn’t even support horseracing anymore.

    • The thing is Nancy,one of the other horses fell over the broke down one.Who knows if she’ll be alright?!!!! The filly who broke down was by Wicked Strong, now I read she wasn’t out of a Charasmatic mare…so not sure ….maybe the horse who fell over her. The whole thing is just human DEPRAVITY…these sickos…I hope they like heat,because they’ll be going to hell,for sure. This is a SIN against GOD’S Angels

    • Bonnie. I am getting the names Milkah and Strong Performance. They are listed as DNF. I am sure Patrick will find out the truth

  3. All about the.money…no matter what anyone says. It’s horrible..but I’m sure all the money and lies will allow this “sport” to continue, unfortunately.

  4. 5 horse field.
    2 went down.
    1 STRONG PERFORMANCE DEAD.
    The other MILKAH injured, but walked off. The extent of the injuries will be covered-up or not disclosed probably.
    The winner?
    TWEET AWAY claimed sent to another owner/trainer for another round of abuse, no vet/treatment records following TA so we have no idea if there are issues and I’m sure there are especially with 2 year olds.
    The show must go on because the subsequent races brings in wagering profits and the game of Russian Roulette begins again until the next one dies.
    This is horse racing – NO – this is horse killing.

    • Gina, the horse who fell over the downed horse-did not look ok and was kind of hopping funny-anyway she did not look right.What a trauma to suffer either way. She probably won’t be “right” even if she survives,I would think. What psychological trauma!

      • No Bonnie and here’s why.
        Vet/treatment records are conducted by PRIVATE vets paid for by the owner and ordered by the trainer.
        Here’s where people get confused and here’s where the industry uses the confusion to their benefit.
        There are 2 types of vets licensed to be in the stable area at a racetrack: 1. Private 2. Regulatory AKA State
        1. As the name implies the private vet is just that. (S)he is employed by the trainer and owner. The trainer usually orders the treatments with the owner paying the bill. These records, throughout a racehorse’s racing is kept SECRET, PRIVATE so nobody sees them. The implications are deep and the racehorses pay the price because ongoing issues that are being treated, that sound alarm bells are kept secret. So somebody who claims a racehorse has no idea what’s wrong with it nor does the state vet. 2. Regulatory or State vet is paid for by taxpayers and supposed to be neutral, but this is horse racing. The state vets main job duty is to conduct a pre-race exam which is usually visual and sometimes a quick feel of the legs. This is such a small piece of the picture because without the doping records the vet has no idea what’s going on.
        It’s a very contrived system and, it seems, deliberately set-up this way so that racehorses are passed to run, races are filled and so are the wagering coffers.
        Of course the racetrack has no idea what’s going on and they don’t really want to know because their primary concern is putting on the show to generate wagering profits.
        The system fails the racehorses every step of the way and the Kill Lists are evidence of this.

  5. Thank you,Gina, everything is rigged and set up against the ones who are the innocents. This is why this HRW’s is the only entity fighting for these horses. Someone has to do it…if not us-then who? I know all of us , to a person , gladly do it. Dog fighting,horse racing, rodeo,bull fighting, dog racing, all of it is EVIL, and must be eliminated…end of story.

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