Is Horse Racing Dead?

Horse racing returns NY Post June 3 2020The death of horse racing in the United States has been greatly exaggerated.  Is horse racing dead?  Check out these financial reports and stories from tracks around the country.

Previous stories about the equine industry and its impact:


Kentucky is home to 242,400 horses and the total value of the state’s equine and equine-related assets is estimated at $23.4 billion, according to the 2012 Kentucky Equine Survey.

“The value of Kentucky’s equine and equine-related assets, such as land and buildings, is significantly larger than other states for which we have data, and it serves to underscore that Kentucky is the Horse Capital of the World,” said Jill Stowe, UK associate professor in agricultural economics and project lead. “Upcoming economic impact analysis results will provide even more details regarding the importance of the industry to the state’s economy.”   Check out more on the economic impact of horse racing in just one state.

June 2017: A horse racing “insider” claims that yes, horse racing is dead.  However, David Hill with America’s Best Racing begs to differ.

“At Oaklawn Park, in the small town of Hot Springs in the tiny state of Arkansas, they see an average of more than 10,000 people at the track for every race day of their 55-day meet. That’s every single day to watch all of the races. And on their big day, the Arkansas Derby, they will regularly draw in more than 60,000 people, rivaling attendance at a University of Arkansas Razorbacks football game. People in Arkansas love the Razorbacks like they were the state religion, and almost everyone in Arkansas has been to the racetrack. In Arkansas, it’s just what you do; it’s…”

January 2017:   Sky Racing World:  The Louisville, Kentucky-based distributor of international horse-racing content to the Americas and subsidiary of leading Australian wagering operator Tabcorp, has announced unprecedented results for its fiscal year 2016, ending June 30th, 2016.  Sky Racing World saw particular success with its core product, Australian racing, and reported a $215 million turnover, which is a 13% increase on its 2015 fiscal year. Sky Racing World’s Australian offerings totaled over 7,800 meetings this year, which is consistent with last year.  Sky Racing World’s New Zealand racing products also generated significant results with a 42% year-over-year increase on its 2015 performance.

November 2016: Blood-Horse: Churchill Downs’ $37 Million Capital Improvements Project

Churchill Downs is home to the Kentucky Derby.  Their stock recently hit an all-time high and they announced a $37 million capital improvements project for the racetrack in Louisville, KY.

May 2016 – ESPN: Can Tournament Play Spur Horse Racing Growth

Nice piece from David McIntire about the growth horse racing experienced since American Pharaoh won the Triple Crown in 2015, and how the hot handicapping contest scene can help the sport grow.

April 2016 – Gulfstream Park Reports Record Handle Day

The Florida Derby Day card was Saturday, April 2 and the result was a monster $32.09 million handle (gross wagering) on the 14-race card.  It was the first $30 million-plus handle for the famed racecourse and the highest ever recorded at the Florida track [with the exception of when it hosted the Breeders’ Cup many years ago].


Good news as reports indicate the wagering throughout the country was up over 6% in February as compared to same time last year.  Read the Blood-Horse recap.  Total purses, which is the money that the racehorse owners compete for in the races, was also up.


U.S. pari-mutuel wagering in 2015 increased 1.18% over 2014, according to figures from Equibase Company.

“In addition to an overall increase in U.S. pari-mutuel wagering in 2015, Thoroughbred racing also realized healthy increases in wagering per race [+7.25%], purses per race [+4.27%] and starters per race [+1.8%],” commented Alex Waldrop, President and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA). “These are positive trends and a reflection of the fact that our sport continues to resonate with customers across North America and around the world when we present a competitive and compelling product.”


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