The Signs Of Trouble

by Ed Meyer

posted on March 18, 2011 in General Discussion, Horse Racing | 1 Comment >>

I am sure you have read that Turfway Park will not be training this spring and summer. The costs of upkeep are just too high. I think there will be more felt than just a loss of revenue at one track for sure.

The horses that stabled at Turfway in Florence, Kentucky were perfectly located. They could jump on 275-east and head over to River Downs just 10 miles away.  They could make the trek to Keeneland in Lexington, 80 miles away. When the doors at Churchill open, they could ship the 90 miles and be at the Twin Spires. What does all this have to do with the price of eggs?

Easy –  Jobs, and money would stay in the state, and people would sustain the racing business.  When Turfway closes for training, they could go anywhere. When they do, there is a good chance they will not come back. If they head up to Indy, or make their way Chicago or West Virginia, they could be gone. The purses are better, and it will be tough to convince owners to come back. If the horses leave, the trainers leave. It is far and away more than just a loss for Turfway.

This may be an issue that other tracks may want to address, as it will hurt field sizes. Tracks have been creative in the past by having free shipping services to their tracks, and this would allow trainers to save money to pay for the stabling costs during the off-season. There could be a bonus purse money for any runner who is stabled at a Kentucky track or training facility. It may be just enough to pay some costs, but it may be worth it to keep the horses in the area.

When the last race runs in Florence this season, I think the fallout will affect Keeneland and Churchill. If they hurt, imagine what Ellis Park will feel. This move will run deep. The track has allowed for horses to train over a safe and consistent oval. It has kept money flowing during down time, and the business has held on as tight as it can.

I am afraid what this will do to the horse population, and it may take away more trainers, as owners want to head to higher ground and seek the better purses. This may be the beginning of a domino effect.