Horsemen Set Record Straight
Published: April 18, 2017 12:48 pm ET
Last Comment: April 18, 2017 6:23 pm ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments
A major mainstream publication recently opted to run a negative editorial regarding government investment in the horse racing industry, and a pair of representatives from the Standardbred side of things were not willing to sit by idly.
On April 9, the Boston Globe ran an editorial which took the position that Massachusetts should redirect funds earmarked for the betterment of the state industry to other causes. It took the position that the capital that is legally accrued in the Horse Racing Development Fund should not be allocated for the racing industry and that the capital is not doing what it was meant to do.
Harness Horseman’s Association of New England President Robert McHugh and Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts President Edward Nowak were not going to take the editorial lying down and decided to respond to the claims.
“Last Monday marked the first of 125 race days for the 2017 season, a 56 per cent increase over 2014, the year after Horse Race Development Fund purse payments began,” the duo wrote in their response. “Since 2014, annual live racing wagers have increased by more than $10 million, live daily average wagers have increased by more than $60,000, and annual simulcast wagering has increased by more than $3 million — hardly statistics of a declining industry.”
The duo went on to state that, “For harness racing, the predictable and stable revenue stream created by the development fund is achieving its goals: growing an industry, creating jobs, and preserving open space. The state’s return on this $7 million investment in 2016 was substantial. Harness horsemen directly employed 566 workers and issued 1,632 occupational licenses. The number of Massachusetts-based breeders increased from 56 to 72, and larger purses are attracting better horses and events to the Commonwealth. This July, Plainridge Park will host the inaugural Spirit of Massachusetts, a major event featuring a $250,000 open trot.”
(With files from the Boston Globe)