Archives for September 24, 2019

Horse racing on the decline? Not in this state, according to local industry leader

The Massachusetts Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (MTHA) became the third group to enter the race to re-establish the sport, partnering with an investment group in pursuit of a $60 million race complex in Rowley that seeks to hold at least 60 live racing events each year, the Boston Globe reported. Other projects include a $300 million pitch from the Notos Group to develop a multi-purpose complex around a new track and a $15 million initiative from Suffolk Downs’ former owners to revitalize the Great Barrington Fairgrounds.

The three projects seeking approval will have to overcome the financial difficulties that doomed Suffolk Downs as well as sagging fan interest, participation and horse safety concerns that have plagued the sport in recent years. MTHA President Bill Lagario argues that Suffolk Downs’ issues were due to mismanagement rather than a sign of a dying industry.

“We don’t feel as though we’re coming into a market that’s dead, but we feel as though we’re coming into a market that the perception around everybody was that it was pronounced dead a long time ago,” Lagario told FOX Business. “You don’t have to go back too long ago to see 35,000 people at the Massachusetts Handicap.”

Wagering on U.S. horse racing events experienced a significant decline in recent years to roughly $11.2 billion in 2018 from $16 billion in the early 2000s, according to Equibase. A recent New York Times report that 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify failed a drug test ahead of his history-making run reignited calls for stricter, uniform standards for the treatment of horses.