The “racino” – combination racetrack/casino – is a win-win for the racing people: Not only are purses jacked up by slots revenue, but the tracks – flush with that unearned income – are able to pay first through last. So, throw any old horse out there and you’re practically sure to “win.” The gelding Inclunation is a case in point.

On Aug 12, 2020, at Finger Lakes (a racino), Inclunation was put to the whip for the 20th time. He did not fare well: “pulled up in distress, vanned off.” (Except for his very first race, Inclunation’s entire “career” – 27 races – was spent at the claiming level, meaning he was in a near-constant state of being “For Sale.”) Months went by, then he resurfaced in Pennsylvania in March. Under new “connections” (of course), Inclunation was raced at Penn Mar 31: second-to-last, 15+ lengths back. But Penn being another racino, his new people – owner Ho Dee Boy Stable, trainer Joseph Taylor – still “won” $354. On to Parx, another racino. His final three races there:

May 19: last of 10, 26 lengths back. Winnings for Ho Dee Boy/Taylor: $250.
Jun 14: last of 11, 23 lengths back. Winnings for Ho Dee Boy/Taylor: $250.
Jun 23: last of 11, 47 lengths back. Winnings for Ho Dee Boy/Taylor: $250.

Bad enough, but then there’s this: In that race on the 23rd, Inclunation “lost contact with his field,” “returned lame” and was eventually “vanned off.” He was then euthanized for an unidentified injury. Dead. But because the jockey (Anthony Nunez) got Inclunation to cross the wire, he, Ho Dee, and Taylor all cashed in. The moral depravity of these people knows no bounds.

As I’ve previously written, the massive subsidization (corporate welfare) of the U.S. horseracing industry constitutes a triple wrong: it’s an affront to our free-market system; it cheats schoolchildren out of millions of desperately-needed education dollars; and most important to us here, it allows for the continued abuse and killing of intelligent, sensitive, beautiful creatures. Not surprisingly, I’m not alone on this.

A piece Tuesday on Pennsylvania subsidies ($240 million annually) in the Pennsylvania Capital-Star begins thus:

Whether it’s for funding students at Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities or another purpose, the majority of registered voters in Pennsylvania believe tax revenue from slot machines in the commonwealth should be reallocated away from the horse racing industry, according to a new poll. 

Eighty-three percent of respondents to the June 7 poll by the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College said they believe that the state should use tax revenue generated from slot machines for other purposes. Another 10 percent of respondents said it should continue to support the horseracing industry, and seven percent said they did not know.

“There is clearly little appetite for taxpayer-funded horse racing,” Susan Spicka, executive director of Education Voters of Pennsylvania, which advocates for quality public education in the commonwealth, said in a statement. “With so many other more pressing needs it’s hard to justify continuing this program.”

We and our petition were also mentioned:

The moral and ethical concerns around horse racing led one national organization to target the industry in May, at the height of derby season, with an online petition calling for Gov. Tom Wolf to end the $239 million in subsidies the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Trust Fund receives. The petition circulated by Horseracing Wrongs, a nonprofit organization advocating for the eradication of horse racing in the United States, had garnered nearly 40,000 signatures as of noon on Monday.

our PA petition

full Capital-Star article

It looks as though harness racing in Florida is soon to be dead. A bill that will decouple – free the track owner from having to hold and subsidize horse races – Pompano Park has now passed the legislature and awaits the governor’s signature. Harness Link put it succinctly: “[This bill] will most likely end pari-mutuel harness racing in the state of Florida, thus bringing an end to Pompano Park after 57 year of harness racing.” In other words, Florida harness people, the jig is up. Your (lucrative) spigot – gaming revenue that should have been going back to the state for education and the like – has been cut off. And that, my friends, is progress. Now, on to the Thoroughbreds.

(The SunSentinel says that a redevelopment plan from Pompano’s owner, Caesars Entertainment, “calls for transforming the Pompano Park property into an upscale retail, dining, office and entertainment hub.” Now doesn’t that sound a mite better than a dirty, seedy racetrack that abuses and kills horses?)

I’ll give Travis Boersma this: The coffee tycoon and new (2019) operator of Grants Pass, the only commercial racetrack left in Oregon, is, if nothing else, a great salesman. Ahead of this past Monday’s meet opening, Boersma told the Paulick Report: “We’ve got up to 1,200 fans coming and that’s a big step for us. We’re ecstatic. It means energy around the grandstand. As far as an intimate track experience goes, I don’t think anybody has something like we have.” (According to NBC Medford, Boersma’s projection missed the mark by quite a bit: only 735 “fans” showed up.)

He went on: “I’ve gone to this track at Grants Pass since I was brought into this life, and so I’ve got these memories and experiences I’ll take with me the rest of my life. To think that horse racing could go away in the state of Oregon seemed tragic to me. And I really started to look at how we could save it, that was the first step. And then the second step: could horse racing live without having to be propped up, and the short answer was yes.” Hmm. “Horse racing [can] live without having to be propped up”? C’mon, Travis, you know that’s not even close to being true. In fact, just last month The Oregonian wrote: “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.”

Look, the short of it is this: The bulk of U.S. Racing is indeed being – or in the case of GP, will be – propped up by subsidies, corporate welfare. Take that away, take away some 70% of the nation’s tracks. So ignore Boersma’s rap and sap (“memories and experiences I’ll take with me the rest of my life”), he’s in this for the slots cash, not to prevent the “tragedy” of an Oregon sans horseracing. (For the most definitive look at racing subsidies, see Ryan Goldberg’s “Is Horse Racing Still Too Big to Fail?” .)