Wednesday, 19 September 2012

They're at the Post... and They're Off!

Hello NEIGHbour!
Welcome to my blog. Over the next 12 weeks, I will be blogging about all things horses. I would like to start my blog with a very important matter in the equine world, the racetrack industry.

An announcement was made in March of this year that the government has decided to terminate a program SARP (Slots at Racetracks Program), that sent $345-million from slot-machine revenues to tracks and horsemen in 2011. The removal of this program would lead to the closure of 11 of the 17 racetracks in Ontario, three of which are already closed.  For many of the tracks in Ontario, the slots make up more than 90 percent of the purses.  At the moment, the president of Woodbine Entertainment Group is unsure of the fate of the $1-million purses for next year's Woodbine Mile and Queen's Plate.  Although they do not plan to reinstate the SARP, the government has said that they will fund the racetracks with $50-million for the next three years.  Knowing this amount is not enough, the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association has asked for $210-million.  A final report is due at the end of this month that will state a final amount that will be funded.  It is estimated that five or six tracks will be able to stay open and remain successful.

 As a result of this decision, there will be a loss of 3,600 to 6,300 jobs. Not only will many people lose their jobs, but many of the race horses will lose their lives. A report was issued by a government panel indicating that 7,500 to 13,000 horses could be euthanized by early 2013.  We have Dalton McGuinty to thank for this.   In an interview conducted by CTV Toronto, McGuinty claimed that the government is concerned about the mass euthanasia of the horses and that they do not intend to support it.  However, he has quoted in saying "We're Listening very intently.  But at the end of the day, we've also made a decision: We've got to put schools and healthcare ahead of subsidizing horse racing in Ontario." I don't feel that he really cares about the horses.

The situation with the tracks is also affecting life on the farms.  Breeders don't know whether to breed their mares again and owners are reluctant to buy when they don't know what is going to happen to the industry.  The average price of Thoroughbred yearlings has decreased by 22 percent from last year.  Gross sales have declined by 61 percent.  It is tough for owners to spend the money if the potential to profit is disappearing.  Without the tracks to compete on, many of these horses have no where to go.  Many have been given a second chance and are being trained in other disciplines.  However, the rest of the equestrian world is not prepared to accommodate the massive influx.  There just is not enough homes.


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