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Talking Wagering, Horse Supply At Simulcasting Conference


Published: October 13, 2009 2:11 pm ET

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On a panel titled Looming Horse Shortages at today's International Simulcast Conference in Saratoga Springs, New York, industry insiders spoke candidly about horse supply issues in both standardbred and thoroughbred racing.

"Registration of (standardbred) foals have declined (in the United States) by about five per cent a year for the last five years," said Janet Terhune, Registrar, U.S. Trotting Association. "The decline seems to match the number of races – there were 39,000 starters in 2003 and 37,000 in 2008. Interestingly, $150 million more money to race was available over this time. It's a very strange time that we're racing fewer horses for more money."

From an owners' and breeders' perspective on the thoroughbred side, the concern is on the supply side.

"We have an oversupply of horses," said Andrew Schweigardt, director of Industry Relations & Development for the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association. "It will take three to four years to get over the oversupply. With the declining number of race dates, it looks like that trend will accelerate in the coming years. You're going to see many reductions in stud fees. We have an oversupply of horses because we have a decline a racing opportunities."

Mary Forney, director of Operations, Thoroughbred Owners of California, sees the shortage of new owners and bettors as a major concern.

"Horse ownership is discretionary," she said. "People are holding on tighter to their discretionary spending dollars. I don't see the horse shortage as a cause. It's a consequence of the economic times. It's a symptom. The two areas we need to focus on are making it more affordable to own horses and we have to make it more affordable to the bettors. Those are the bread and butter. We need to do more to bring in fans. Owners always start as fans."

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