Will Horse Racing Be The Victim?
The contradictory pressure of real estate values, and cost containment, threaten the very existence of horse racing as a sport. Casinos are a common, but not the only way in which owners of horse racing tracks can rake in huge wads of cash. Land for stables, farms, and practice tracks, are usually amongst the first to lose out to the modern whims of city folk, but since there is no limit to greed, the sport itself can disappear at times. A closely related matter is the ownership of land which hosts horse racing tracks and complexes, since local authorities always have rights to take over these properties.
Horse racing track owners and companies have a strong case on their side. It is not easy to balance your books if you own a racecourse. Canada seems to have found a good formula by combining varied entertainment with horse racing, so that there are chances of making reasonable profits from a complex. This approach seems to work well in California as well. Things are relatively secure in the United Kingdom, with significant corporate sponsorship behind horse racing. The British honor tradition, and will do everything to protect horse racing anyhow!
Quality horse racing needs continuous investments. Drainage, turf, and artificial surfaces all require huge injections of cash. Modern veterinary science and the insurance needs of jockeys are other rapidly escalating costs, which a pari-mutuel share and ticket revenue, cannot meet alone. Not everyone is the Aga Khan or the Ruler of Dubai, to back public horse racing on an entirely non-commercial basis! Some of the most historic sites in the sport live under threat of closure, as a result of internecine disputes between race track owners and local authorities.
The New York Racing Association (NYRA), in what must be a kind of sulk, has filed for bankruptcy because its host State has not approved the establishment of a casino at the Aqueduct race track, and because there have been some veiled threats to take over the NYRA’s land assets as well. The NYRA has given an assurance that horse racing will not be interrupted as a result of the bankruptcy filing, but who is to say what the judge may decide?