Horse Racing Return On Investment Exceeds $250 Million
by Blood-Horse Staff
Date Posted: 4/5/2001 4:43:56 PM

When the Iowa Legislature passed the Pari-mutuel Gaming Act in 1983, state lawmakers envisioned diversifying Iowa's agricultural industry in an innovative direction - horse racing and breeding. The diversification process worked, and Iowa has seen an increase in its Thoroughbred population.

According to the report in which Ames Economic Associates compiled secondary research from surveys conducted in August and September 2000, and supplemental surveys conducted by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS), horse racing, breeding and horse-racing tourism in Iowa annually account for $252.5 million in direct and indirect sales; and contribute 3,261 total jobs in Iowa.

"There's a lot of success to talk about in the Iowa breeding program," said Derron Heldt, Prairie Meadows' Director of Live Racing. "The Jockey Club has recognized Iowa as one of the fastest growing states in the U.S. in numbers of foals born."

In 1989, when Prairie Meadows opened its inaugural racing season, 249 registered Thoroughbred foals were born in Iowa A decade later in 1999, 445 registered foals were born in Iowa ranking the state 14th nationally in numbers of Thoroughbred foals. Since 1990, Iowa has had an overall 111% growth in foals born, the third highest growth percentage in the U.S.

Iowa horse owners and breeders annually invest $252.5 million in building supplies, feed, tack supplies, vehicles, health care, hardware, fencing, travel costs and personnel to train and exercise these budding professional athletes.

Relevant statistics from the Ames Economic Associates report include: In 1999, total horse and horse-related facilities investments by Iowa horse producers were valued at $270.9 million. The horse industry supports 1,055 direct jobs and accounts for 2,698 total jobs in the Iowa economy. Live racing at Prairie Meadows supports 216 direct jobs and 474 total jobs during live racing season. Live racing at Prairie Meadows stimulates an additional $5.3 million in tourism and indirect spending in the Des Moines area annually. Purses paid to Iowa owners represent 38% of horse production related incomes by Iowa horse owners and racers. For each million dollars in purses paid to Iowa owners, 30 jobs are created or supported in the horse industry and 70 jobs are created or supported in the state's overall economy.

"We were well aware that Prairie Meadows' investment in horse racing and breeding has been creating a significant economic development for the state," said Bob Farinella President, CEO and General Manager of Prairie Meadows, "but even we were surprised by the level shown in this report."

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