Racehorse Cluster Study Shows That State-Level Policies Influence The Conservation Of Agricultural Landscapes As Well As Racing Revenues

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – In a joint project by the Department of Agriculture, Food, and Resource Economics; and the Equine Science Center at Rutgers University; as well as the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development at Pennsylvania State University; a recently published journal article shows that state-level policies, specifically policy related to gambling, heavily affect the choices made by racehorse breeders and owners.

“The Evolution of Racehorse Clusters in the United States: Geographic Analysis and Implications for Sustainable Agricultural Development” used a standardized data set of registered Thoroughbred and Standardbred stallions between 1995 and 2017 (the years in which the most complete data were available).

The study found that smaller, more local breeding operations have largely disappeared, while those that had an initially higher percentage of stallions have become larger or clustered in specific geographic regions. Thoroughbred data were sourced from the national registry database maintained by The Jockey Club, and Standardbred data were obtained from the United States Trotting Association as well as various other harness racing organizations.

These changes “appear to be heavily influenced by state-level policies,” the authors postulate. They go on to argue “It follows that such policies can influence the conservation of agricultural landscapes as well as racing revenues.”

“Revenue streams for purses and breeder incentive programs appear to be significant determinants of which states became high-share regions for racing stallions under conditions of secular decline,” states Equine Science Center Founding Director, Dr. Karyn Malinowski. “For the most part, racehorse clusters in the U.S. are fragile and can only be sustained using programs that reward breeders financially on the basis of state of residence.”

For almost 20 years the Equine Science Center has been monitoring the state of horse racing in New Jersey, demonstrating the continued decline of the horse racing industry, when compared to surrounding states which have more lucrative breeder incentive programs and purse structures.

Due in part to the Center’s continued research demonstrating the socio-economic importance of the horse racing industry, the New Jersey Legislature in 2019 passed legislation authorizing a $20 million annual appropriation for a period of five years in support of Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing.

Further study of the impact of this appropriation on horse racing and breeding in New Jersey is warranted.

The study has been published as an open access paper, accessible for free here: https://www.mdpi.com/613226

For additional information, contact Kyle Hartmann at kylehart@njaes.rutgers.edu or 848-932-9419.

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About Rutgers Equine Science Center
The Equine Science Center is a unit of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Its mission is “Better Horse Care through Research and Education” in order to advance the well-being and performance of horses and the equine industry. Its vision is to be recognized throughout New Jersey as well as nationally and internationally for its achievements in identifying issues in the horse industry, finding solutions through science-based inquiry, providing answers to the horse industry and to horse owners, and influencing public policy to ensure the viability of the horse industry.

For more information about the Equine Science Center, call 848-932-9419 or visit esc.rutgers.edu.

About Department of Agriculture, Food, and Resource Economics
The Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics (DAFRE) was created in 1914. DAFRE supports society’s need for economic analysis and business management in the areas of agriculture, food, resources, and the environment. Its mission reflects and supports the missions of the Land-Grant university system, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, School of Environmental and Biological Science (SEBS) and the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES).

About Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development
The Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development is dedicated to providing research-based information that helps create regional prosperity through entrepreneurial and cluster-based innovation, while assuring balanced uses of natural resources in livable communities in the northeastern United States.