Survey: Texas Losing Horsemen to Other States

A Texas HORSE survey shows 43% intend to reduce their horse investment in the state.

An online survey of Texas racehorse breeders, owners and trainers shows 43% intend to reduce their investment in the state's racing industry in 2013.

Texas HORSE, a coalition of racing, showing and eventing organizations, conducted the eight-question survey from Jan. 15 through Feb. 8.

"This is very clear proof that our Texas racehorse breeders, owners and trainers are moving their racing operations primarily to the surrounding states of Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma, where the purses and breeders awards are significantly increased by slot machines at the racetracks," said Dan Fick, executive director of Texas HORSE, which conducted the survey through and Texas horse racing industry e-newsletters.

The survey's results also showed 81% of the respondents already race in other states and that half reported at least 75% of their racing is done out of state.

Texas HORSE has been lobbying the Texas Legislature to pass a constitutional amendment this session allowing Texas voters to decide whether slot machines should be permitted at racetracks. If passed, the Texas horse racing industry would be able to compete with surrounding states that have gaming, according to Fick.

Micah McKinney, vice president of Reliance Ranches, said the discrepancy in purses is hurting his family-owned breeding and training business in Llano, Texas.

"In 2007, our family moved to Llano to raise Texas-bred Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds to primarily race at Texas tracks," McKinney said. "Since that time, as purse monies and race opportunities have declined in Texas and increased in Oklahoma and New Mexico, our focus has shifted to racing in those states. We may soon be forced to move our breeding operations to those states in order to survive and prosper."

A recent poll by Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research shows that 82% of 1,001 registered Texas voters support putting the expansion of gaming in Texas on the ballot for the voters to decide, according to Texas HORSE. A 2011 "Economic and Tax Revenue Impact of Slot Machines at Racetracks in Texas" by TXP,  Inc. of Austin, Texas, showed that slot machines at licensed Texas racetracks could produce at maturity as much as $1 billion in state tax revenues.

Who Responded to the Survey
(of 287 Texas-based respondents)

• 245 are racehorse owners, 185 are breeders and 68 are trainers
• 54% own six or more horses and 20% own 20 or more
• 79% currently race in Texas

How They Answered the Survey

• 81% also currently race in other states
• 50% said 75% or more of their racing is conducted out of state
• 38% have an investment of more than $250,000 in horse racing in Texas
• 50% have annual expenses of more than $50,000 in horse racing in Texas
• 43% said they will reduce their investment in the Texas horse racing industry in 2013