Study: Economic impact of racing, breeding grows in New York

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: April 26, 2018

The horse racing and breeding sector in New York has a $3.08 billion impact on the state’s economy, according to the results of a study commissioned by the American Horse Council and released by the New York Thoroughbred Breeders.

The report’s executive summary states the total output of the entire equine industry in New York is valued at $5.3 billion with total employment impact of 42,400 jobs. It also says 1.3 million acres is devoted to horse-related purposes.

The equine industry in the state has grown by $1.1 million and almost 10,000 jobs since the 2012 Agriculture Equine Alliance economic impact study. Thoroughbreds have the largest share of the equine population at 39,000, followed by Standardbreds at 25,000.

“We are a labor-intensive industry,” New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association President Joseph Appelbaum said in the NYTB release. “That is particularly true of the racing industry, which boasts 80 jobs for every 100 racehorses. Horses are an invaluable asset for New York, and a thriving equine industry is vital to the state’s economy.”

New York has 11 racetracks—four Thoroughbred and seven Standardbred—that in 2016 accounted for 1,294 live racing programs. Purses for both breeds totaled $289 million; track-related pari-mutuel handle was $2.8 billion; and advance deposit wagering and off-track betting produced another $558 million, according to the report.

The industry receives a share of video lottery terminal revenue from gaming operations at Aqueduct Racetrack, Finger Lakes Gaming & Racing and the seven harness tracks.

Direct employment in the racing sector is 12,815 jobs, with another 6,888 indirect or induced for a total of 19,704. The report notes that racing “involves large indirect expenditures to specialized service providers” as well as a link to tourism programs.

“Once a confidence level was reached by Thoroughbred breeders and owners regarding our purses and incentive awards, our state-bred program positioned itself ahead of the rest of the national landscape,” NYTB Executive Director Jeffrey Cannizzo said. “New York-breds are in demand in the marketplace, farms have reopened across the state and people are investing again in New York. This renaissance is creating hundreds of jobs and injecting needed revenue into communities across our state of New York.

“Because incentive awards and lucrative purses have increased competition in the sales ring for top-tier New York-breds, breeders are putting extra resources and effort into breeding better horses. The quality of horses continues to improve in the sales ring and on the racetrack. In 2017, 16 New York-breds scored wins in 19 graded stakes, with three of those victories coming at the grade I level across the globe.”

Tracy Egan, Executive Director of the New York State Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund, noted in the release there were 1,705 Thoroughbred foals on the ground in the state last year, an increase of 4.7% from 2016 and up 40% from 2011.

“Significantly, the increase in the number of foals occurs as the industry nationwide experiences a decline in foal crops,” Egan said. “And the quality of New York-breds is now firmly established as year after year they win graded and group stakes around the world.”

Sen. John Bonacic, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering, credited the efforts of the New York THA, NYTB and NYTBDF in fostering growth in the racing industry in the state. He said he would “continue to work with all the industry’s stakeholders to ensure sustained vitality.”

“My colleagues and I look forward to continue working with the industry leaders in further enhancing its applauded contributions,” said Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, who chairs the chamber’s Racing and Wagering Committee.