The New Jersey racing scene shifts to Monmouth Park May 9 after kicking off with a six-day Atlantic City Race Course meet at which total handle quadrupled.
Wagering on United States Thoroughbred racing in the first four months of the year declined 9.5%, according to Equibase's "Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators" released May 4.
A "benchmark report" on slot machines in Pennsylvania shows a 39.3% increase in purses paid at Thoroughbred and Standardbred racetracks from 2007 to 2008, but double-digit declines in total pari-mutuel handle during the same period.
Oaklawn Park realized an increase in handle and attendance during its 54-day meet that ended April 11, according to a published report.
Wagering continued its decline in 2009 in a year-over-year comparison, falling 9.4% through March, according to data released April 3 by Equibase.
Thistledown, at the suggestion of the Ohio Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, has suspended the $300,000 Ohio Derby (gr. II) for 3-year-olds. The race was to have its 75th running in 2009.
- By Tom LaMarra
The Ontario Racing Commission March 25 approved $47.1 million Canadian for the 2009 Horse Improvement Program, which funds stakes, breed development, and equine research for Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing.
Citing continued success in all product lines during its current live racing season, Oaklawn Park officials March 21 announced a second purse increase.
Saying five of the state's seven racetracks will close without assistance from the legislature, the Ohio State Racing Commission March 19 released a draft plan for 14,000 video lottery terminals that would be located at tracks.
The Maryland Jockey Club March 17 officially unveiled a 2009 spring stakes schedule at Pimlico Race Course that's down about $1 million from last year and doesn't include the grade I Pimlico Special.
The economy continues to take its toll on racetracks, including those with alternative gaming. Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort in West Virginia said it will cut overnight purses 10% effective April 20.
Turfway Park has canceled its third consecutive Monday program because of a shortage of horses, officials said March 13.
- By Tom LaMarra
Fort Erie Race Track & Slots in Ontario, Canada, will offer live Thoroughbred racing this year, and the local horsemen's group is asking for support from owners and trainers.
Pimlico Race Course has reduced its spring meet to 20 days and won't hold the Pimlico Special this year. The grade I race for older horses wasn't run in 2007 for financial reasons, but returned in 2008 with a reduced purse of $250,000.
New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine signed an executive order March 5 creating a commission to study the state's horse racing industry and develop solutions for its long-term viability. The casino industry, which for years has subsidized horse racing in the state, will be involved in preparing the blueprint.
- By Tom LaMarra
Wagering on United States races in February totaled $999,815,818, down 11.63% from $1,131,333,323 the same month a year earlier despite a 3.38% increase in the number of racing days.
Turfway Park is having a tough time making up for programs canceled because of the weather during the current winter/spring meet.
Ohio is among the weakest when it comes to Thoroughbred purses, but it's about to have the strongest rules governing registration of state-bred horses.
In their first 11 months of operation, slot machines at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course produced more than $22.6 million for Thoroughbred purses and breed development. The funds have allowed Penn National to offer a minimum purse that will be higher than that paid by some of its competitors.
More than 100 people who make their living in the Kentucky horse industry made their case to three Northern Kentucky legislators Feb. 16, and the message was clear: The economics must change or the state will lose a valuable asset.
A switch to five-day racing weeks and a long stretch of dry weather are among the factors helping Gulfstream Park buck an industry trend of lower pari-mutuel handle.
- By Tom LaMarra
Pari-mutuel handle was down 1.56% in January compared with the same month in 2008, but the decline wasn't close to the 20.3% slip in handle in December 2008 versus a year earlier.
The $1-million Delaware Handicap (gr. II) will be the highlight of a scaled-back $3.175-million stakes program at Delaware Park in 2009, the track announced Jan. 29.
All-sources handle for all New York Racing Association tracks declined 2.1% in 2008, but purses grew 3.1%, it was reported Jan. 22.
Hawthorne Race Course in Illinois registered gains in average daily total handle for its 2008-09 fall/winter meet thanks to increases in out-of-state wagering. On-track and in-state handle on Hawthorne races declined, however.
Charles Town Races & Slots has announced a 2009 open stakes schedule with a record $2.7 million available in purses. The 12 scheduled stakes will take place on three special event days, beginning April 18 with Charles Town Classic Day.
- By Ryan Conley
Hampered by a 20.3% drop in total handle in December, wagering in the United States declined 7.2% in 2008 to record the lowest overall total in a decade.
The Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association said Dec. 22 it has reached agreements on advance deposit wagering contracts with Calder Race Course and Gulfstream Park.
Breeders' Cup, under fire for a plan to suspend the Breeders' Cup Stakes program, issued a memorandum Dec. 18 that in part explains the organization's financial situation and investment strategy.
Remington Park in Oklahoma recently completed its 20th season of Thoroughbred racing with a record purse disbursement and increased attendance, but followed national trends with a decline in most wagering statistics.
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich Dec. 15 signed legislation that extends the diversion to horse racing of 3% of revenue from the state's four highest-grossing riverboat casinos.
The Breeders' Cup board of directors has decided to fund the Breeders' Cup Stakes program for 2009 by using money from the organization's reserve fund, according to a statement dated Dec. 17.
Racetrack management and horsemen in Ohio struck an agreement Dec. 16 that will reinstate more than 160 Thoroughbred racing dates at Beulah Park and River Downs in 2009, and save more than 1,000 horses at Beulah Park from being forced out of the track's stable area by Dec. 27.
Five days after it announced it was suspending its North American Stakes program, Breeders' Cup apparently has reversed itself and decided to fund the program for 2009, according to two members of its board.
Kentucky horse racing and breeding industries are losing ground to other states, and if immediate action is not taken to stem the tide, the state could find itself in jeopardy of losing one of its signature industries, according to a 70-plus-page document released Dec. 15 by the Governor's Task Force on the Future of Horse Racing.
- By Tom LaMarra
The Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978 is a double-edge sword. And the debate over whether it should be amended continues.
The rejuvenated New York Racing Association has big plans for its new 25-year franchise, but president and chief executive officer Charles Hayward said Dec. 9 the organization has to plan wisely should revenue sources dry up.
The 2008 National Steeplechase Association season, which came to a close Nov.29 with the inaugural Palm Beach race meet, set new highs in total and average purses.
- By Tom LaMarra
Wagering on Thoroughbred races fell almost 10% in November compared with November 2007, Equibase reported Dec. 3 in its monthly "Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators." Purses dropped more than 2%, but race days increased more than 5%.
A study released by Ohio State Racing Commission offers a short-term action plan and a long-term strategy for the struggling horseracing industry in the Buckeye State, but one racetrack official said the quickest fix lies with the pen of Gov. Ted Strickland.
Calder Race Course will not hold any overnight stakes through the rest of its meet that ends Jan. 2, 2009. Five have been cut from the next condition book, which runs through Dec. 14.
The New Jersey Racing Commission granted 2009 racing dates Nov. 19 for Atlantic City Race Course and Freehold Raceway, two tracks that have been involved in conflicts tied to casino-paid purse supplements.
Two New Jersey lawmakers have taken a bipartisan approach in urging the governor to quickly form a committee to examine the state and future of the horse racing and breeding industry.
An ugly dispute over purse supplements for a New Jersey harness track could have long-term ramifications as officials devise a plan for the future of horse racing in the Garden State, and it also sheds light on the complications that can arise when racing and gaming are linked.
Churchill Downs, for the second time, has cut purses for its fall meet. Among the casualties is the grade II Clark Handicap scheduled for Nov. 28.
Issues surrounding a $90-million purse subsidy from Atlantic City casinos continue to plague the New Jersey horseracing industry.
About 1,000 Thoroughbreds could be forced to leave the grounds of Beulah Park by the end of this year if the racetrack and horsemen's association don't have a deal for advance deposit wagering revenue in place by Nov. 21, the day the Ohio State Racing Commission will award racing dates for 2009.
Hoosier Park Racing & Casino and Indiana Downs have submitted requests for 2009 schedules that could significantly impact surrounding states.
Beulah Park and the Ohio Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association have "agreed to disagree" on contractual issues, but a temporary agreement has allowed the track to restore previous purse levels and export its signal.
Beulah Park, locked in a dispute that centers on revenue from advance deposit wagering, intends to resume live racing Oct. 22 but with greatly reduced purses and no export of its signal outside of Ohio.
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