Sports Outside the Beltway

Decline of horse racing in Maryland

Two years ago the Washington Post ran a story “Making hay in a horse based economy” The gist of the article was that there are plenty of horse farms in Maryland and that it remains a growing industry. The subtext of the article is that it doesn’t matter if Maryland is losing racing to neighboring states, because the horse farms will prosper anyway. Given the anti-slots approach of the Washington Post this is an important case to make.However as this article in the Baltimore Sun makes clear, the failure of horse racing in Maryland will hurt horse breeding in the state.

The breeding industry is also suffering. Cricket Goodall, executive director of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association, said the industry “is at a tipping point where people aren’t going to hang on much longer.”"If the MJC follows through with stated plans to cut more racing days to maintain the purses, it will cut into our revenue stream and limit the amount of money we have to reward Maryland-bred horses,” she said. “If Maryland-breds don’t have the opportunity to run and make money, they’ll be encouraged to run somewhere else.”

(MJC is Maryland Jockey Club and it’s the governing body of the horse racing industry in Maryland.)

There is a trickle down effect. The big money in horse breeding is in racing. If the racing industry in Maryland collapses, resources for raising horses will go elsewhere and the horse farms – even for non-racing purposes – will leave the state too.

It’s not likely that the industry will survive unless the purses can match those of neighboring states. That won’t happen unless slots are approved.

I’m against subsidies to any industry. I’m also not convinced that slots are a great idea. It might just be it’s time to let horse industry in Maryland die.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad.

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MJC is NOT the governing body of racing in Maryland. MJC is the Maryland Jockey Club, which is the entity that owns Pimlico and Laurel and is one of the oldest sports organizations in the world. Cutting back is their way of trying to squeeze the legislature into letting them get slots.

The governing body is the STate Racing Commission, whose members are appointed by the Governor and who have no financial stake in the success or failure of the race tracks.

Posted by Joe Chapman | July 12, 2007 | 02:24 pm | Permalink

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