NY Panel Issues Plan for Retired Racehorses
by Tom LaMarra
A New York task force has recommended a percentage of
revenue from video lottery terminals and purse accounts go toward retraining
and retirement programs for racehorses in the state.
The New York State
Task Force on Retired Racehorses was created by the state legislature to
identify productive uses for retired racehorses and increase the number
available for such uses. The task force also was charged with finding “new and
innovative methods that can utilize private and public funding sources to place
retired racehorses,” according to a report released Dec. 23.
Based on industry
statistics, the task force estimates a 39% attrition rate of Thoroughbred and
Standardbred racehorses in New York each year.
The task force
recommends that all New York racetracks and Resorts World Casino New York City
at Aqueduct give one-half of 1% of VLT commissions to retirement efforts. Based
on 2010 commissions and projections at the Aqueduct VLT casino, the percentage
could produce more than $3.1 million a year, the task force report said.
In addition, the
group calls for all racetracks and horsemen in the state to contribute one-half
of 1% of purses, which would generate another $1.1 million based on 2010
levels. Other sources would bring the total to more than $5 million a year.
“The task force has
the opinion that New York’s horse racing industry and its participants—not the
betting public or taxpayers—must take primary responsibility for the after-care
of retired racehorses,” the report states. “Industry stakeholders, including owners,
breeders, racetracks, and trainers must address the fiscal challenges of ensure
quality after-care for racehorses.”
In that regard the
task force suggests owners should be prepared to pay $400 a month for at least
six months after a horse is retired to support transitional retraining. The
goal is to reduce the number of horses at retirement and rescue facilities.
The task force also
recommends an online training course detailing the responsibilities of owners
and trainers as a condition of licensure by the New York State Racing and
Wagering Board and “multiple marketing and education initiatives to increase
awareness of responsible retirement practices.”
Task force members
said racing fans would “willingly and readily contribute to retirement causes,”
so track operators “should identify and create marketing strategies to educate
attendees on where horses go after they leave the track, coupled with efforts
to spur community involvement.” The New York Racing Fan Advisory Council could
assist in the effort, the report states.
Oversight of any
funding would fall under the Retired Racehorse Fund, a 13-member advisory board
with representatives from the New York Racing Association, Finger Lakes Gaming
& Racetrack, harness racetracks, New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s
Association, Finger Lakes Horsemen’s Association, Standardbred Owners
Association of New York, New York Thoroughbred Breeders, Harness Horse Breeders
of New York State, the Jockeys’ Guild, a professional harness driver or
trainer, and an equine veterinarian. The chair of the NYSRWB and commissioner
of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets would serve as