Saturday, August 7, 2010

The New Jersey legacy of horses: In jeopardy?

I have to admit I don't fully understand the implications of this the (possible) demise of live racing in NJ -- but this article does not paint a rosy picture...

clipped from

The Future of Racing in New Jersey Will Impact Sport Horses

Nancy Jaffer/For The Star-Ledger
The bombshell revelation last week that horse racing has a questionable future in New Jersey also delivered a blow to the sport horse segment of the state's equine industry.
"It's an absolute disaster for me," said Pete Bousum, a veterinarian who is president of the Mid-Atlantic Equine Medical Center in Ringoes, where the size of the clinic was just doubled.
Standardbreds (harness racing), thoroughbreds (flat racing) and breeding are 60 percent of the facility's business, he said.
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  1. OK, here you go. The tracks are subsidized by the State in some way. If the State pulls out, the racing industry will have to support itself entirely--including all the facility expenses. Horse racing is already suffering because fewer people are attending the track.

    The idea was put forth to add slot machines at the track--which other state have--as a proven way to attract more bettors. (Gives the eager to gamble something to do between races and adds to the pot.) I guess in order to protect the casino industry, the State government has refused.

    OK, so what happens if the tracks close? Despite the large population of sport and pleasure horses in the State, a very high percentage of the horse businesses in the state--feed stores, tack stores, hay suppliers, shoers, vets, etc.--depend on the race horse industry for the bulk of their profit. I'm not sure what the percentage is, but it is over 50%, I'm pretty sure. Racing/breeding farms contribute a huge amount of money to these businesses.

    If the tracks close down, NJ race horse farms/training stables/farms will have no reason to stay in the state. If they move out, that will be a crushing blow to the equine economy...over $1.1 billion annually...will be hit hard.

    NJ horse farms also contribute to open space and agricultural initiatives, keeping the state green. Race farms will be sold to development as the only way to reap profits and more land will be lost. That cuts the production of hay and grain, raising costs for diminished supplies, in turn putting the financial situation of private horse owners in jeopardy.

    It is a vicious circle. Farriers will leave, vets will close down, and all of us will have to pay more for limited services.

  2. I live near the Atlantic City Race Track, which closed down years ago and now only features simulcast racing and a few days of live racing each year. I am told that a handful of die-hard enthusiasts have been trying to stake a revival for some time now. Slot machines were one proposal.

    I had not thought about the overwhelming impact the horse communities of New Jersey will face if racing leaves, which Jean describes. My vet works with thoroughbreds extensively, even riding and racing a few of her own. Yikes, New Jersey is expensive enough. I do not need further costs to accommodate. And as a teacher, I have less than good things to say about our governor.

  3. Wow... not a rosy picture indeed.

    If the land is all developed, another 'catch 22' could happen. In the area where I live, land was over developed. Now, people who have land and/or homes are having a hard time selling them because there are too many for sale. Great time to buy, because so many people are walking away from home they have had for years. Sad. All because so many new homes were built - and still sit empty.

    And then there are the horses...

    Thanks for posting the information to make people aware of these issues.


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