Delaware Horse Racing Industry with Mark Davis

Racing is a pastime that has existed since man began to ride horses. This pastime has become a sophisticated sport that financially supports thousands of jobs around the world. Harness racing is a sport in which the horse is hooked up to a cart where the driver is seated. Harness racing is a prevalent part of the Delaware horse industry. In 1945, the Delaware Harness Racing Commission was established. Dover Downs is an establishment where some of the Delaware harness races take place. In order to have a successful harness horse, owners will hire grooms, drivers, and trainers. The hired staff will care for and work with the horse to have it prepared for races. If a horse wins a harness race, the owner receives 50% of the total amount of money offered for the race. 10% of the owner’s earnings from a race are given to the trainer and the driver. Over time, the popularity of harness and thoroughbred races have gone down, this decrease in public interest prompted the Delaware government to pass a law allowing casinos to be established in the state. The casinos can only be established along with a racetrack. This law sparked the public’s interest and caused more people to come out to the horse races. Some of the earnings from these casinos are offered as a breeder’s fund, to encourage people to raise and breed horses in the state of Delaware. Since the establishment of this law, the industry has gained a steady income. Harness races occur on 180 days of the year, and 2300 races within the racing period. Beyond owning, grooming, and training race horses, there are other career opportunities in this industry. Veterinarians are utilized to ensure the health and welfare of the horses, as well as check for the presence of performance enhancing drugs, such as  EPO. Veterinarians check the race horses for these drugs at the track before and after a race, as well as random checks throughout the year on the farm. EPO is a drug that enhances the blood’s ability to carry oxygen, thereby enhancing the sport performance of the horse. I look forward to attending a harness race in the future. Thank you to Mark Davis for sharing information on the Delaware horse racing industry with AGRI 130 students.

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