For one of our classes, we had the privilege to listen o Mark Davis guest lecture on the horse industry in Delaware. He started out by giving some history on the sport of horse racing and how it has been around, in different forms, for hundreds of years. It was interesting to learn how to standards, rules, and regulations have changed over the years. Now, horse racing is very heavily regulated to ensure not only the safety of the horse, but the rider as well. I was very surprised when Mark pointed out that the horse industry’s a $39 billion effect on the US economy annually. That is a lot of money. Afterwards, he dove more directly into the history of horse racing in DE which started in the 1760’s. Since than, he explained how many different commissions have formed as well as how to industry grew in DE.
Mark also talked a bit about the value of the Standardbreds and Thoroughbreds that are mainly used in the different types of racing. I can’t say that I was surprised to learn they are valued on average at $15,000-$20,000. I know the genetics of a good race horse can be highly valued, it is crazy to think that there are horses valued at even higher numbers. However, Mark showed us that if you own a good race horse you can win a decent amount of money on that investment. All that’s said and done, the horse industry as a whole provides many job opportunities but also a way for higher income people to invest their money. The horse racing industry can range from being utilized as an investment tool, a job for some, or just a recreational event for others to watch.
In Delaware, the horse racing is a large industry. Horse racing dates back to 1760 where the first racing facility was built in Newark, DE. Today, Harrington Raceway is the oldest continuously operating harness racing track in the country. In Delaware we race Harness and Thoroughbred.
Harness racing is when there is a cart and rider behind the horse. Harness racing in Delaware happens about 200 days of out the year, with approximately 2,300 races. Whereas thoroughbred is when there is a jockey on the back of the horse and is typically raced 80 days out of the year, with about 600 races.
This industry is highly regulated. You must have a license to race and they only hand out 2,000 a year in Delaware. These licenses go to owners, trainers, drivers, groomers, vendors and track employees. Regulations include overseeing the race, tracks, paddocks, safety, welfare, and testing on both the racer and the horse. Testing can occur at any time and any substance can be tested.
Now we are talking money. In 2014, the horse racing industry total contribution to the Delaware economy was nearly $182 million, including the support of 1,540 jobs. It is great to know that every $100 spent by a horseman, tracks, agencies and associations results in $182 of total spending in Delaware. For each race the 1st place owner receives 50% of the purse, 2nd place owner is 25%, 3rd place owner gets 12%, 4th place gets 8% and 5th place gets 5%. While the driver of the winning horse get 5% and trainer gets 5%. The average purse for harness racing is $50,000. Be sure to stop by a local raceway and see a race for yourself!
Mark Davis’ guest lecture to our class about the horse racing industry in Delaware was very interesting and informative. He gave us a lot of information about the economics and history of horse racing. I was previously unaware that the first equine racetrack in Delaware was built in Newark in the 1760’s. Horse racing was also the second most popular sport behind baseball until about 1989! We learned about the big difference between thoroughbreds and and harness horses in the racing industry. Harness horses can race much more frequently than thoroughbreds, because their bodies are able to handle it. From an economic stand point, horse racing brings in over $180 million yearly. dollars and creates over 1,500 jobs. Horse racing in Delaware is now highly dependent on casinos, which have been introduced at racetracks and bring in many patrons. Overall, this guest lecture was extremely interesting and informative. I am a fan of horse racing and was glad to learn more about it.