El desafío para la Industria del Caballo en la Argentina es nuevamente
Este año ¿lo lograremos?
Mario López Oliva

martes, 24 de febrero de 2009

Horse industry's race to survive

Louisville Courier-Journal - Louisville,KY,USA

Horse industry's race to survive

March 3, 2009

Thoroughbred racing in Kentucky is in a race to survive. With reports that Ellis is ready to close and that Turfway Park is in a daily struggle to hang on, can Keeneland and Churchill Downs be far behind without help? Don't say it cannot happen in Kentucky. Just look north to Ohio and visit River Downs or Beulah Park sometime.

But don't tell any of this to our governor or our legislators. They fail to see dwindling attendance and handle, an aging (60-plus) but devoted fan base, and competition from neighboring states that have installed slot machines or casinos to help boost purses paid to horsemen.

Kentucky cannot balance its budget. It is raising taxes on alcohol and tobacco products and hints that some other form of tax increase will happen next year also. Gov. Steve Beshear ran on a platform of expanded gambling in order to help keep taxes lower and balance the budget, but he has done little if anything to fulfill his promise. The legislature has timidly brought bills up the last two years, but it was a weak effort to get them passed. Slots could be a win ticket for Kentucky taxpayers, schools and the horse industry if the Governor and the legislators were proactive. Instead, it appears they will wait to be reactive.

Granted, the horse industry has failed to present a united front, thus sending mixed signals to our legislators. Nationally, many think racing needs a czar to oversee and manage racing's problems and promotion. Kentucky needs a czar also, long enough to pull its tracks, breeders and the rest of the horse industry together.

The first job such a czar would tackle is promotion. The czar would need to coordinate efforts of all horse groups to bring its clout and its money to mass market this signature industry to the public. Tell the story of the economic impact this business has on this state and what slots or casinos could do to improve our state. Polls taken the last several years indicate that the public wants some form of slots or casinos. It's time for action. Let the public help influence our legislators. Public pressure moves them to act, not sit and wait.
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