Horsemen from all parts of Colorado rallied at the state capitol Jan. 20 to support efforts by the horse industry to pass legislation designed to revitalize the economics of the industry in Colorado through advance deposit wagering and Instant Racing.
About 200 people met with top executives from national equine breed organizations and Colorado legislators, according to the Colorado Thoroughbred Breeders Association and Rocky Mountain Quarter Horse Association.
Officials discussed the legislation introduced by Republican Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Lois Tochtrop that would “modernize” full-card simulcasts and dedicate revenue to the state’s horse industry and community colleges through “historical horse racing,” or Instant Racing, a pari-mutuel video gaming machine.
Under the bill, simulcast facilities would be permitted to operate 360 days a year instead of the current 250; a licensed racetrack would be permitted, in its third or subsequent year of operation, to race 45 days instead of 60; and a source-market fee of 10% on out-of-state ADW activity would be imposed.
Instant Racing revenue would be divvied up as follows: 45% to the licensee; 31% to the state for public colleges; 15% for breeders’ and owners’ awards and purse supplements; 2%-4% for municipalities; 2% to the Colorado Horse Breeders’ Race Fund that would be created by the legislation; and one-half of 1% for non-profit organizations that represent owners and breeders in Colorado.
The new horse breeders’ race fund would provide one-third of the revenue for Colorado-bred stakes (60% Thoroughbred and 40% other breeds); one-third for non-stakes (again a 60%-40% split); and one-third for the Colorado Horse Racing Association for state-bred incentive funds.
Arapahoe Park raced last year, but its future is questionable. The owner of the horse track and Greyhound facilities in the state shuttered them.
The Jan. 20 event drew officials from around the country. The American Quarter Horse Association was represented by incoming president Jim Helzer and executive director of racing Trey Buck; Jockey Club executive vice president and executive director Dan Fick; American Paint Horse Association president Jim Corbin; and Arabian Horse Association executive vice president Glenn Petty.
The executives also attended a briefing on horse racing the previous day at Arapahoe Park in Aurora. Horsemen from all breeds racing in Colorado heard from the Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse officials about current issues in racing.
In a release, the breed associations said the industry proposal is “entirely self-funded by the racing segment of the industry, while adding revenue to the state without requesting any state funding. The Colorado horse industry is an economic winner, and the proposal is projected to improve the economics for the state and the industry.”
Statistics indicate Colorado’s horse industry has a total economic impact of $1.6 billion.