The Losing, Desperate Horseracing Industry

As the legalization of sports-betting – that is, wagering on real sports played by autonomous homo sapiens – sweeps across the country (30+ states and counting), the racing people have their greedy, grubby hands outstretched, especially in the states in which they are already being heavily subsidized. This makes sense, of course, for if forced to compete with this newest form (not to mention casinos, lotteries), horseracing will lose every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

It’s a simple fact that with but a few exceptions (Saratoga, Keeneland, et al.), horseracing’s future is dark. And they not only know it; they publicly acknowledge it. In a Star Tribune op-ed on the debate in Minnesota – whether or not to allow the state’s two tracks to take sports bets and thus further (Minnesota is a racino state) subsidize the racing – the author, an executive at Minnesota’s harness track, writes:

“Just consider what has happened in Iowa, a cautionary tale for Minnesota’s two racetracks. Since Iowa legalized online and retail sports betting in 2019, wagering on horse racing has decreased dramatically because consumers are now wagering on other sports. From 2019-21, the live and simulcast handle for Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa, was down 35%. If our state’s two racetracks are excluded from a sports betting expansion, this will jeopardize the future of this industry in Minnesota.”

There it is. Again. Horseracing, as a rule, can’t win the market fairly; so it must cheat.

4 Comments

  1. “Cheating to Win Anything in the Horseracing Industry” could be the title of a book, or series of books, written by Bob Baffert and a lot of other people in this industry.

    • Make sure if those low-lifes write books and profit from them, the profits go to help retire the racehorses to decent, caring owners or retirement farms. Here’s my book title: Why did the Sport of Kings Die? I only hope it comes true!

      • Horseracing died in many locations because it was a liability. One of these locations was in Lewiston, Idaho. A racetrack was constructed on the rodeo grounds in North Lewiston and one season of horseracing was held there in the summer of 1966. I don’t know how many actual racing days they had, but the newspaper, the Lewiston Morning Tribune, has an option to research their archives for a small fee in case you’re interested. It can be tedious depending upon what you are searching for and the search words you use. That one season of horseracing did not bring in enough money through the Pari-Mutuel wagering handle. The liabilities exceeded the assets. To the best of my knowledge, there were no horses that were fatally injured. The day that my parents took us to watch the horses run and all that, there were no injuries that were obvious. There were no horses falling or breaking legs or dropping dead. From that experience alone, I didn’t how bad horseracing could be. I did become acutely aware of the fact that horseracing up close and personal can be something that is not glamorous at all. I think the horses entered in that particular location at that time were probably in the more or less “nondescript” group of horses, class wise. They definitely were not “world class” of course. Any type of horse is interesting to me, however. They all have their own characteristics and personalities.

  2. Oh boy, do I ever love reading articles like this because they are so right on!
    Rewind back about 20 years when the casino model was being introduced into communities.
    Back then, just like now, horse racing was in big trouble and they knew it with the majority of tracks in the USA on the verge of shutting down because this business had not been financially sustainable for years.
    They knew that the politicians required their brick and mortar buildings to get casinos up and running so the “horsemen groups” used their ace card and basically dictated to our politicians saying: if you want to use our track buildings for casinos then you must support horse racing and, hence, the racino model was born.
    Almost every single demand was met in the form of subsidies and the horsemen groups vowed to take care of the racehorses because now, unlike the past, they would have the money to do so.
    Everybody fell for this horse racing utopia promise and signed on the dotted line.
    We now know that the millions in subsidies has only exacerbated the widespread pain, suffering, cruelty and inhumane treatment of racehorses.
    It has also exacerbated the corruption.
    Fast forward to now where history is repeating itself only now horse racing wants this new sports betting model to financially support them.
    Now I can easily wave off the plain stupidity of the politicians when they supported the racino model, but there’s no excuse now.
    The subsidies in any way, shape or form must end and so should horse racing.

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