Pennsylvania’s horse racing industry: Fact or Fiction

Posted by By at 17 December, at 15 : 03 PM Print

Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Agriculture, Russell Redding, wants people to think all is well with the Horse Racing Industry in the Commonwealth, sadly, though that horse won’t run from Penn National’s starting gate or for that matter any racing venue in the U.S.

In a news release, Redding mixes indirect industries to create a mathematical formula that proves Pennsylvania has a robust horse industry, Redding, says the value of the state’s equine industry has increased by $3.4 billion and just in the past six years alone has created more than 44,000 jobs.

The numbers are probably correct, but once you start digging around the horseshoe its apparent that the figures are a shade of horse crap.

You don’t have to know a trifecta from a superfecta to see that horse racing is on life support. Venture out to Penn, Yonkers, or even storied Churchill Downs, and on most days (excluding Derby & Oaks) the stands are empty enough to run a NASCAR race.

Redding says, Pennsylvania has gained national recognition for its quality horse and harness racing thanks to the support provided by Act 71. Seriously,”quality horse racing,”by whose stretch of imagination is Redding relying on.

Ask anyone that can recite the history of Penn and they will tell you about the top jockey’s and horses of the galloping past, and that’s it, its the past.

The support of Act 71 led to the creation of the Pennsylvania Gaming Commission, which in turn created slots, craps and one-armed bandits and in doing so has nearly flushed horse racing down the toilet of commerce.

People do not go out to Grantville to watch the horses run — they come to Hollywood for the glitz of gaming, shows, and restaurants. Insiders at Penn National won’t go on record with Rock The Capital for fear of losing jobs, but have told us on more than one occasion, horse racing is the red-headed step child magnified by the slots of millions.

Gaming Control Board Chairman Greg Fajt said the “partnership between horse racetracks and casinos have been a win-win for all.”

Somebody forgot to send the folks working out at the track that memo. No, horse racing at Penn is by necessity only, odds are Hollywood would pull the plug on its race track in less time than it takes for the annual Running of the Roses, but it can’t because Act 71 has linked the two by the tail of the Baccarat.

“It is always important to remember that if not for horse racing, we would not have legalized casino gaming in Pennsylvania, Fajt said.

A photo finish of truth, not be, taxpayers have been subsidizing the horse racing industry for years to the tune of $200 million through 2009.

Fajt must have lost track of that because he goes on to say,”In kind, the evidence is clear that the success of legalized slot machines and table gaming has reinvigorated the horse racing industry…”.

Really, want to make a bet?

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Eric is a national award winning storyteller. Eric’s work is credited with changing laws, saving lives, and in one instance, saving taxpayers about $2,000,000.00. Mr. Zager’s career in journalism is ripped from the pages of an adventure novel. Upon graduating from the esteemed Newhouse School of Public Communications, he headed north, about as far as one can travel and still stand in the Continental U.S. The call of journalism not a penchant to play with Polar Bears brought Zager to the ‘Last Frontier-Juneau, Alaska. Over the course of Zager’s more than 20 years in journalism, he has covered the political side of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, dodged horse manure on the backside of Churchill Downs, and has uncovered numerous scams and scam artists. Eric is constantly in search of a meaningful story to tell. - Email Eric Zager

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