As both a horse owner and a fan, I am saddened to read the news in the Thoroughbred Times that NYRA has let its 1,400 employees know that layoffs could begin as early as June 9th.
New York’s thoroughbred business generates 2.4 billion dollars of economic growth to the State of New York. This is clearly not just NYRA alone, but as one of the leading racing providers nationally, NYRA has a large hand in the industry and its possible closure will create a trickledown effect. Not only will the loss of NY thoroughbred racing on the top level impact NYRA, their employees, owners, trainers and jockeys but the breeders and communities where the tracks are will be economically devastated.
NY breeding has declined precipitously since the announcement and ultimate stagnation of VLT’s in 2001. Fewer NY mares are foaling and as a result there are fewer NY Bred horses to run at our tracks. The breeding program could be decimated by this potential shutdown because if the horses aren’t racing at the top level, then there is not going to be any interest in breeding in NY. This will harm both large farms, but more importantly the small breeder who make up a significant portion of the NY breeding program.
The communities where the tracks are located are going to be economically harmed. Garden City/Hempstead, where Belmont Park is located and Saratoga rely heavily as a community on the economic impact of racing and the overflow that racing fans bring. Saratoga Springs as a community relies upon the economic boost that racing brings. Should NYRA close, I wonder what will happen to this beautiful bucolic community.
NYRA needs to be saved. Not only for the owners, like me who are vested in the product, but for the communities that benefit from its presence. If you live in NY, contact your state representative and make sure you educate them about the need to keep NYRA going.