Crosby: Thoroughbred racing can be saved
Asks lawmakers for control of horse racing funds
THE STATE’S ON-THE-ROPES thoroughbred racing industry can be resurrected, the chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission said in a letter to the Legislature on Wednesday.
Stephen Crosby, the chairman of the commission, acknowledged in his letter that the thoroughbred industry is on the verge of losing its one operating track, which plans to hold only six race days this summer. But Crosby urged lawmakers to pass legislation that would consolidate control over the industry and its various revenue streams with the commission.
“It is the commission’s belief that with a reorganized regulatory structure, and empowering the Gaming Commission to strategically manage all the thoroughbred revenue streams – including the Race Horse Development Fund – that there is a legitimate chance of designing a sustainable strategy for thoroughbred racing in Massachusetts.”
The Race Horse Development Fund, which relies on casino gambling taxes and licensing fees, is used to bolster horse race purses. The fund has helped the harness racing track at Plainridge Park Casino triple the size of its purses, double the amount of on-site bets, increase the number of race days from 80 to 125, and boost the number of 1-year-old standardbred horses from 36 to 51.
“Unless the Legislature decides to change its long-standing policy commitment in support of sustaining thoroughbred and standardbred racing in Massachusetts, it would be unfortunate to divert significant portions of the Race Horse Development Fund before the full legislative strategy to sustain horse racing has been implemented and tested – notwithstanding that we fully appreciate that these are very difficult fiscal times,” Crosby said.