Why would education organizations, fiscal policy advocates, human rights activists, and animal rights groups come together to end horse racing subsidies in New York? PETA, a member of the Coalition to End Horse Racing Subsidies, is here to tell you.
New York state props up horse racing with $230 million in subsidies every year. Now, if Gov. Kathy Hochul gets her way, there will be even more state support for the deadly horse racing industry.
The Recent Scoop on Horse Racing Subsidies in New York
In 2022, key legislators and the Coalition to End Horse Racing Subsidies—which PETA began in 2021—successfully defeated a bill that would have guaranteed that New York state backed a $455 million loan to the racing industry to build a new clubhouse and other renovations at Belmont Park.
If the legislation had passed, the state would have had to pay the lender if the New York Racing Association (NYRA) had defaulted on the loan from a private lender.
The coalition immediately got in touch with key legislators and defeated that bill. But Gov. Hochul, who doesn’t seem to care that more horses die at Belmont Park than at any other track in New York, has shamefully added an appalling measure to her 2023 budget.
She proposed that the state lend the $455 million directly to NYRA for the Belmont renovation and that the loan would be repaid with state racing subsidies—yes, those very subsidies our bills seek to end. The coalition is meeting with reporters, and critics are speaking out.
NYRA’s promise that a renovation would mean more jobs and fans is a fantasy: Attendance at Belmont is down a staggering 88% since 1978. The stands are empty. NYRA hasn’t even made enough profit to pay its annual franchise fee to the state in more than a decade.
Hundreds of millions of dollars in state subsidies have failed to make racing popular, and adding another half-billion dollars would be throwing good money after bad. It’s a dying industry.
The Horse Racing Industry Exploits Animals, Taxpayers, and Employees
Horses forced to race face health and injury risks, a life of confinement and physical exhaustion, and often a cruel death once they’re no longer considered profitable. Because they’re made to start training or are already racing while their skeletal structures are still developing, their bodies aren’t suited to the pressures of running on hard tracks at high speeds.
Many horses are drugged, stressed, injured, and eventually killed at a slaughterhouse.
Although the horses used and abused by this industry endure its cruelest and most direct exploitation, humans are also taken advantage of. About $1 billion in taxpayer funds over the course of four years will be funneled into horse racing in New York alone. This is due to the $3 billion in New York casino revenue supporting that industry and causing the steep increase in subsidies. The state’s residents—not its 11 Thoroughbred and harness tracks—should be the recipients of that massive income.
Additionally, New York must be held accountable for failing to question or verify the horse racing industry’s ridiculous claims regarding its workforce potential and beneficial economic impact.
On top of that, horse racing’s labor fines—for trainers who steal the wages of their own employees—have hit the millions in the past few years, making it all the more vital to review and end these subsidies.
The True Cost Explained by the Coalition to End Horse Racing Subsidies
The coalition is educating legislators, too. Recently, we created damning informational panels that were exhibited at the New York State Capitol in Albany. But horse racing backers were so upset by the facts we presented that they had our exhibit removed.
That didn’t stop us. We printed all the information on the panels and gave a copy to every state assembly member and senator.
Take Action to Help Horses Used in the Racing Industry Now
Please take action below—based on where you live—to urge your representatives to support our bill to end horse racing subsidies in New York.
And don’t miss the concise argument against horse racing subsidies that we printed and had delivered to every legislator in Albany.
If you reside in New York state, click just below for the best way to make a difference:
If you live outside of New York state, click below: