How About “Historical Horseracing” Instead of Live Horseracing?

No matter how the racing industry tries to dress them up, “Instant Racing Machines” – aka “Historical Racing Machines” – at racetracks are, in both purpose and result, the exact same thing as slot machines at those tracks – there to subsidize (prop up) the actual horseracing taking place. These machines are directly responsible for horseracing returning to Virginia (Colonial Downs) in 2019 and keeping tracks alive in various other states, including Oregon.

A recent article in The Oregonian notes racing’s decline in that state, a decline that eventually led to the 2019 shuttering of Oregon’s sole major track, Portland Meadows. If horseracing is to survive (be resuscitated) in Oregon, subsidization is a must, an inconvenient truth for most American tracks. Handicapper/columnist Jonathan Stettin: “Racing is on life support. The decline in fan base has led to an environment where the tracks that survive and thrive are the ones with casinos, slots, other unconnected sources of revenue.” “Unconnected” being the operative word.

Now, the focus is on Grants Pass, a fairgrounds track being revamped by coffee mogul Travis Boersma. According to the piece, Boersma plans on spending some $25 million by the time he’s done. He’s doing this, of course, because of the promise of those “machines.” There’s oodles of cash to be made there – in the racing not so much: “Boersma doesn’t expect the actual horse races to make money. But he’s got a plan to cover any losses: The main attraction at the Flying Lark will be 250 betting terminals known as ‘historic horse racing’ machines.”

Here’s the thing, and with apologies and sympathies to the anti-gambling advocates, we at HW have no philosophical issue with gambling – including “historical racing” – just the kind that occurs on the backs of enslaved animals. So, I propose, why not “historical racing” in lieu of, rather than in addition to, live racing? In addition to means artificially propping up a business that has no business being in business. In lieu of would mean the end of the abuse and killing of horses, and as an added bonus, more cash going back to the state for education and the like. That’s a win-win for the two most innocent, vulnerable members of our society: children and animals.

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  1. I don’t know why they couldn’t do horse racing simulations – graphics today are incredible and the outcomes could be decided by the computer. Hell, since it seems to add to the morbid excitement of the fans, there could even be computer generated breakdowns. The trainers could select items from an inventory – for the sake of “realism” it could include items such as Lasix and some of the other concoctions they regularly push. It’s not like these owners, trainers, or jockeys would miss the actual horses themselves – they are simply a convenient way to earn some easy cash.

    • You’re SO right Rebecca,they don’t love or give a damn about the real horses,it’s just about trying to make a buck..without having to WORK. Dog racing, horse racing,….it ALL needs to GO. Go get a real job…you animal abusers.

  2. To say “…the tracks that survive and thrive…” is especially nauseating and repulsive. Any suggestion that using and abusing living, breathing horses for human “entertainment” that also includes the subsequent killing of those same horses is not something the word “thrive” should be used in conjunction with. To use the word “survive” in connection to horseracing is understood easily enough, although it is not something that anyone with compassion for horses would want. To say that horseracing tracks “survive and thrive” is detestable and despicable. Horseracing is the equivalent of horse abuse and killing, therefore it should not be made to “thrive” by any type of investments.

  3. The tracks only “survive and thrive” because most all of them get significant handouts from sources that are not generated by the industry themselves.
    It shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody, and often stated on this site, that all metrics are down, that horse racing is as dead as all the racehorses snapping their limbs-off and dying in the dirt.
    Their precipitous decline has been going on for years and the handouts
    I’ve seen a pattern over the years whereby horse racing often proclaims record-breaking wagering profits but, like their Kill Lists, these numbers are all manipulated when you really start to analyze them.
    Nothing will save horse racing just like nothing, no reforms or safety measures, will stop racehorses from dying.
    When horse racing is defending their obscene amount of handouts they proclaim “jobs, jobs, jobs,” but what they fail to mention every single time is that if the millions they get was going to community essential services than many more jobs, good jobs, would be created.
    Furthermore, the entire community would benefit from this money not a bunch of racehorse abusers and killers.

    • Awesome post Gina. If your clear-minded explanation doesn’t get through….I don’t know what will!

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