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OpEd: Now is the Time to Recognize the Sport of Horse Racing

horse racing
Essential Quality ridden by Luis Saez edges Hot Rod Charlie ridden by Flavien Prat to win the 153rd running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in Elmont on June 5, 2021. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

For generations, the sport of horse racing has supported small businesses, industries, and families across New York. When New Yorkers think about the sport of horse racing, many will jump to the stereotype of the glitz and glamour of the Belmont Stakes, but in reality, behind the scenes, are the hardworking men and women who are the backbone of this industry and make events like this possible. Not only do they play an instrumental role in New York’s culture and economy, countless New Yorkers’ livelihoods depend on horse racing; from breeders like myself to workers in non-profit organizations, agriculture, and the unionized construction industry.

Recently, the sport of horse racing has been under attack, and legislation being debated in Albany will jeopardize thousands of jobs and careers if this bill passes. Whether it’s regarding the sales of thoroughbred horses or racing support payments, breeders and farmers across the State urge lawmakers to recognize that New York has built a horse racing economy that serves as a model for the rest of the country, and we cannot afford to put this sport and thousands of New Yorkers who depend on it at risk.

The equine industry and horse racing are one of New York’s top agribusinesses. Not only does the sport provide more than $200 million in payroll, but it also supports thousands of workers and creates jobs and economic opportunities in every corner of the State.

As breeders and farm owners, we care for hundreds of horses that support the sport of horse racing. We live and breathe the sport – this is the lifeline that provides food on the table and clothes on our backs – and without these jobs, hardworking men and women who uplift this sport and the economy will lose their basic right of living. At the end of the day, we are business owners who are not only supporting ourselves but our local economies. This is what is at stake, and we need lawmakers to recognize how it will not only impact New York’s economy but also their own people.

Breeders and farm owners in New York care deeply about the health and well-being of every horse on our farm – whether they are currently racing or training. Being with horses every day, we see that they are incredibly well cared for and loved every day of their lives. This care and love helps us to raise a competitive athlete. We work to ensure that their health and safety are at the center of every action. From feed and hay which is sourced locally, to working with local farriers and veterinarians, we ensure the horses and foals in our care receive the best of health as they start their careers on the journey to becoming successful racehorses.

Now more than ever, New York needs to double down on the sport of horse racing as we finally look towards full economic recovery from a dark pandemic. As a State, it’s time we continue to support the sport that New Yorkers love, and in doing so, we can protect the thousands of jobs that come with it.

Tom Gallo is the New York Thoroughbred Breeders (NYTB) President /Managing Partner Dream Maker Racing Stable / Owner and operator of Blue Stone Farm.

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