Sports leagues across the country canceled events and entire seasons over coronavirus concerns. However, horse racing is still running in some states. Horse tracks have found a way to adhere to CDC policies and continue racing without fans in the stands. But why can’t the horse capital of the world, Kentucky, find a way to follow their lead?
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has been one of the most proactive governors in the country regarding closures and policies to keep citizens safe. However, there are many in the state that want to find a way to bring back the signature industry.
Sen. Thayer aiming to open KY tracks up again soon
The Courier-Journal recently highlighted Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer’s plan to bring back horse racing during this time. Thayer elaborated on the subject to IN Betting:
“We’ve got to get horse racing going again. It is Kentucky’s signature industry. Trainers and workers are ready to go, with some horses waiting in stalls for the call to come to Kentucky. We can still continue racing safely, following the CDC guidelines without spectators at the track. I have been a big proponent of getting business going again in Kentucky, horse racing in particular.”
Sen. Thayer is proposing that Gov. Beshear should allow horse racing with similar measures in place at Florida’s Gulfstream Park and Arkansas’ Oaklawn Park. However, Beshear hasn’t budged on his stance. He believes there should be a noticeable de-escalation in cases of COVID-19 in order to bring people together to make racing happen.
Horse racing industry ready to get back in the saddle
Mark Midland, CEO of Horse Racing Nation in Louisville, is another supporter in the industry that backs the idea of allowing horse racing to make its way back to Kentucky.
Not only is horse racing continuing in some states, but it is thriving. Sports fans have had a lack of action recently and are looking for entertainment.
“If you look at what is out there, people sitting at home, working at home, not a lot of entertainment options, horse racing can give people a little relief to what’s going on in the world. This an opportunity to put our sport in front of new fans, casual fans, and help relieve some of the stress people are dealing with.”
Gulf Stream set a single-day record with $53.8 million in handle on March 28. That was the day the Florida Derby ran without spectators. Horse tracks are seeing handles four to five times the normal wager amount during this health pandemic.
Kentucky has many people involved in the horse racing industry. This includes handicappers like David Levitch.
“They should 100% still bring it back without fans. All these tracks are getting just as much and even more handle from people betting at home,” Levitch explained. “TVG and other wagering services have actually had their numbers increase and more accounts created during this time, even in an economic crisis. People in Kentucky love horses, so the handle should be the same if not more.”
One of the main reasons that horse racing has continued in some parts of the country is because of the bettors. Spectators are important, but not crucial in keeping the industry alive. Not to mention, horse advocates are strong in their belief that these horses need the training and exercise to stay healthy.
The country in its entirety would love to see the COVID-19 issues die down, but also keep businesses alive in the meantime. The horse racing industry is no exception.