13 Aug Horse Racing Looking to Rebound
AUTHOR: FRANK GAMBINO
SOURCE: 1400 ESPN
Thanks to Historical Horse Racing, racing in Wyoming has roared back to life and is now having a huge economic impact.
“When the legislation was first passed to allow Historical Horse Racing, there were three main goals – to bolster purses, generate funds for Wyoming Breeding and create a new revenue stream for the Municipalities,” said Charles Moore, Executive Director of the Wyoming Pari-Mutuel Commission. “We are very pleased that we are reaching and exceeding all three of those goals.”
Historical Horse Racing debuted in the state in January 2014, and during its first six months of operation generated total handle of $30.4 million. In addition, over $300,000 has been returned to the cities in the form of taxes, nearly $120,000 has been generated for the Breeder Award Fund and 110 full-time jobs have been created. A pari-mutuel based wager that has also been successful in Arkansas, Kentucky and Idaho, Historical Horse Racing is currently in operation at Wyoming Downs and Sweetwater Downs as well as in several off-track betting facilities across the state.
Wyoming Downs recently concluded a highly successful 16-day race meet, its first full season since 2009, where purses reached a record $700,000. In comparison, the Evanston track only raced two days in 2013 and offered purses of just $40,000. Sweetwater Downs is preparing to open its four-day meet in mid-August with $200,000 in purses. The combined 20 days of racing is double what the state held last year and five times the number of days held in 2011 and ’12. There was no racing in 2010.
“Historical Horse Racing didn’t just breathe new life into Wyoming horse racing, it’s made it better than ever,” said Moore. “I told the Governor’s staff that it is the sole reason the Wyoming horse industry is growing again and the entire state will benefit through taxes and the hundreds of jobs that will be created.”
Both Wyoming Downs and Sweetwater Downs are planning to offer more race dates in 2015, which is exciting news for the horsemen.
“We are ecstatic to have Historical Racing in Wyoming,” said Glade Van Tassell, President of the Wyoming Horseman’s Association. “We are already seeing immediate effects with overflowing fields and bigger purses. We believe racing will get even better in 2015.”
Whitey Kaul, President of the Wyoming All Breeds Association, echoed Mr. Van Tassell’s sentiments.
“Historical Racing is directly responsible for more and more people wanting to breed Wyoming horses,” said Kaul. “Things are only going to get better in the years to come and I would expect we’ll also see higher quality horses as they compete for better purses.”
Tyra Barnett, steward for the just concluded Wyoming Downs meet, knows firsthand how beneficial Historical Horse Racing is to a racing program because she also works at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas as a racing official. She was very impressed by what she witnessed at Wyoming Downs.
“I can only see Wyoming racing getting bigger and better,” said Barnett. “The passion and renewed enthusiasm for horse racing is very evident. The whole community is excited because of the jobs and opportunities that are now available.”