Is Horse Racing Dead? Not at Little ‘Ole Kentucky Downs

Kentucky Downs enjoys another record-breaking meet with total betting at over $59M on 62 races

By Jennie Rees and Dick Downey
Kentucky Downs 2020 Recap

Even before Saffie Joseph won Wednesday’s eighth race with Sugar Fix on closing day of the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs, the trainer’s thoughts had turned to next year.

“First meet here. I love it,” said Joseph, one of America’s fast-rising trainers who this summer expanded his East Coast base to include Kentucky. “It’s a cool setting, different from what you’re used to seeing in America. It’s kind of like a European track. I’m coming back every year. As long as we have the owners providing the horses, we hope to make this an important part of our year.”

Fergus Galvin, a representative for Qatar Racing’s Sheikh Fahad al Thani, said that Guildsman’s victory in the Grade 3 Franklin-Simpson Stakes on the closing card “certainly made Sheikh Fahad a big fan of Kentucky Downs. He’s already wanting to stock up the stable to point to the meeting next year.”

Kentucky Downs smashed its betting records at the six-date meet with total wagering of $59,828,444 on 62 races, including $9,487,705 on Wednesday’s 10-race finale. The previous record was last year’s $41,239,699 for 50 races over five days….

Kentucky Downs purses since 2011
Year (dates) purses

2020 (6) $12,337,000
2019 (5) $11,520,380
2018 (5) $10,273,630
2017 (5) $8,625,396
2016 (5) $7,923,476
2015 (5) $6,609,355
2014 (5) $4,875,722
2013 (5) $4,150,687
2012 (5) $2,086,650
2011 (4) $796,810

What We Know about the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act

Lot of Questions Raised

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The federal bill putting in place a national regulatory body for Thoroughbred racing is considered a near certainty for passage later this year, generating timely questions about how the body will function and deliver on its promise of improving the industry’s drug-testing abilities and the safety of its athletes.

Washington DCThe bill, called the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, was introduced in the Senate last week by Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Majority Leader. On the same day, a House committee that had not called for a vote on similar legislation for the past five years swiftly approved its passage on a bipartisan basis. Officials who support the effort are now confident the legislation will be approved by the end of this year’s lame-duck session, if not sooner.

“I don’t like to quote odds for anyone, but I rate its chances better than they’ve ever been,” said Bill Lear, vice chairman of The Jockey Club, which has made passage of a federal bill overhauling the sport’s regulation a priority since 2014. “I still think there are lots of hurdles to overcome, but I do think with the bipartisan support in both houses, we are in a position where we should get it done by the end of the year.”

While racing officials who have worked on the bill …

The Economic Impact of the Horse Racing Industry in Just One State

According to information published in the Equibase program at Monmouth Park in 2019:

The total economic impact of the equine industry is $1.1 billion annually.

The industry pays over $160 million in federal, state and local taxes.

176,000 total acres of real estate are in use in New Jersey alone for equine operations.  An additional 46,000 acres produce hay and grain for horses.  An estimated 13,000 jobs are generated just in New Jersey.

The original Monmouth Park racetrack opened in 1870.  The current structure opened on June 19, 2946 and with its desirable location close to the Jersey beaches, it has attracted tens of thousands of visitors each year.

Here is a look at the impact of the horse racing industry in the great state of  Florida.

William Hill to Close 119 Betting Shops as Covid-19 Has Crushed Profits

[UK Bookmaker] William Hill are to close another 119 betting shops as profits plunged at the bookmaker due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the company is to repay £24.5 million in furlough funds to the government following what they described as a “robust recovery” in recent weeks since the return of mainstream sport and betting shops reopening.

Unveiling its financial results for the first six months of 2020, William Hill said net revenue had fallen by 32 per cent to £554.4m, while adjusted operating profit was down 85 per cent to £11.4m, although the bookmaker said that was ahead of expectations.

Is Horse Racing Dead? Belmont Park Sees 42% Increase in Average Daily Handle

The New York Racing Association Inc. today announced that the Belmont Park spring/summer meet generated $15,466,198 in average daily handle from all sources, a 42 percent increase over the 2019 spring/summer meet.

Abbreviated to 25-days and held without spectators in attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the opening of the spring/summer meet on Wednesday, June 3 marked the return of professional sports in New York and was conducted with strict health and safety protocols in place.

Despite running 23 fewer days than in 2019, a 48 percent decrease, all sources handle during the spring/summer meet totaled $386,654,955.

Average field size over the 248 races carded was 8.61, a 23 percent increase over 2019. Five races were taken off the turf due to weather, and all five came on July 10 with the impact of Tropical Storm Fay.

More about Belmont Park Handle:

How horse racing can appeal to a younger crowd

The Sport can overcome its ugly past

Let’s be clear. I wasn’t planning on liking horse racing.

I spent the first four weeks of the shutdown in a hazy search for sports, looking for signs of it everywhere — in old NBA classics, Madden simulations, the car chases on TV from which I couldn’t un-glue myself.

Growing up in Edmonton, Alberta, I made the three-hour trek to Calgary Stampede parties multiple summers in a row without ever giving a single thought to buying tickets to the rodeo. Horse racing was even less than an afterthought.

Even though I thought it would be tedious, maybe a little charming but ultimately not for me, I was ready to play the ponies. It’s the kind of thing you do early in a relationship, when you’re still pretending to be open to new experiences.

And then a dozen beautiful horses leaped from the gates, and I was entranced…

Read how she got hooked on horse racing

Illinois Horse Racing and Sports Issue Still Pending

Despite moving to the brink of a two-year contract for horse racing in 2020 and 2021, Arlington Park and the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association have yet to put pen to paper on an agreement and forced the Illinois Racing Board to recess its Thursday meeting for approval of this season’s schedule until Friday.

The sides were supposed to have a signed contract in place by Jan. 1, 2020 as part of the $12 billion capital bill Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law last June that also legalized sports betting in Illinois. Arlington Park tweeted Wednesday saying it had reached a tentative agreement with the ITHA, but the two sides had a breakdown prior to Thursday’s scheduled board meeting. The ITHA had issue with the language in the contract because purse projections could change if Arlington does not receive the same amount of race days in 2021 that it has in previous years.

More about this Illinois issue:

Belmont Stakes 2020 wagering recap

What’s the Status of Horse Racing In PA?

When can horse racing resume in Pennsylvania? Even the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission hasn’t a clue.

And that’s not because they haven’t asked PA Gov. Tom Wolf. The governor suspended racing right along with casino operations in mid-March to stem the onslaught of COVID-19 infections and deaths.

And there is no target date for racing to resume in PA, yet.

Late-breaking news updateA face-to-face meeting between Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration and members of horseman’s groups is now scheduled for Thursday [5/27], PlayPennsylvania has learned exclusively.

Woodbine and Horse racing Return June 6

The Associated Press

Horse racing is back on at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, but without fans.

The track’s thoroughbred season will open June 6. The pandemic forced Woodbine to postpone its scheduled April 18 start.

Harness racing, suspended in March, is to resume June 5 at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

Wager on WoodbineMark Casse, one of North America’s top trainers, says the reopening is crucial.

“We have many horses that we’ve targeted for this meet that haven’t done anything,” he said. “But this is even more important for the owners and trainers who’ve been up there since December and haven’t been able to run.”

Casse has won both the Preakness and Belmont Stakes as well as five Breeders’ Cup races. He has been named Canada’s top thoroughbred trainer an unprecedented 11 times.

Ohio Horse Racing to Resume

OSRC Passes Resolution Allowing for the Resumption of Live Racing in Ohio

The Ohio State Racing Commission during a Webex meeting Thursday, May 14th unanimously passed a motion allowing for the resumption of live racing in the state as well as setting the safety protocols under which stabling, training and racing will take place in the state.

The Ohio HBPA is working with ownership at both Thistledown and Belterra Park to set the schedule for shipping in to stable at the tracks as well as on dates for the resumption of live racing. Those will be available on the OSRC site as soon as they are determined as will specifics on how the safety protocols will be put into place and operate at each track.