According to figures released Wednesday by Equibase, $12,218,407,637 was wagered on horse racing in the U.S. in 2021. The figure marks the first time betting has topped $12 billion since 2009 when $12.315 billion was bet.
“Against an extraordinarily difficult backdrop, the resiliency of Thoroughbred racing was on full display in 2021, as we concluded the year with significant growth in purses and total handle of more than $12 billion, the highest since 2009,” NTRA President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Rooney said in a statement. “We thank our customers for their ongoing support, as their wagering dollars continue to fuel our industry. As we turn the page to 2022, we look forward to the beginning of a new era for U.S. Thoroughbred racing with the launch of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) and an even greater focus on equine safety and welfare and the integrity of America’s oldest sport.”
Wagering peaked in 2003 when $15.18 billion was bet.
Wagering was up 11.86% over 2020, when $10,922,936,290 was bet during a year in which the pandemic kept several tracks closed for parts of the year. A better comparison may be 2019, when $11,033,824,363 was wagered. The 2021-versus-2019 numbers show a 10.74% increase.
Jockey Robby Albarado, a winner of more than 5,000 races and the regular rider of Hall of Famer Curlin, has decided to retire. The 48-year-old rider will end his career Saturday at Turfway Park, where he has a mount in the seventh race.
The news of his retirement was first reported by Daily Racing Form’s Marty McGee.
“It’s time,” Albarado told DRF. “I’ve been thinking about this for quite a while now.”
Included in a year-end government funding bill that included a $900-billion COVID-19 relief package, the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act was passed by the House of Representatives and Congress Monday night. The bill is expected to be signed into law shortly by President Donald J. Trump, which would mean that the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, once considered a longshot to pass, will become a reality.
The passage of the bill was a a bipartisan effort led by Congressmen Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Andy Barr (R-KY) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
“Kentucky’s cherished horseracing traditions deserve to be protected. I’m proud the Senate agreed to my legislation to preserve our signature racing industry and the 24,000 workers who support it,” McConnell said in a statement. “With the leadership of Congressman Andy Barr and the partnership of sport leaders, horse advocates, and fans, we’re one step closer to promoting fairness and safety across Thoroughbred racing. As Majority Leader, I made this Kentucky-focused legislation a top priority in the Senate. I look forward to this major advancement for our beloved sport becoming law.”
Take a quick glance at the opening day card at Delta Downs and it might seem like nothing has changed. The fields for Tuesday’s races are full, perennial leading trainer Karl Broberg has seven entered and the feature is a $60,000 stakes for Louisiana-breds that has attracted horses from the stables of Tom Amoss and Steve Asmussen.
But this will be a meet unlike any other at the track that sits just a few miles east of the Texas-Louisiana border. Delta Downs was directly in the path of Hurricane Laura, a Category 4 storm with winds reaching 150 miles per hour that all but tore the place apart when it hit land on Aug. 27. Since then, there’s been a full-court press to get the track ready for a delayed opening day of a meet that will be conducted during the day.
The New Jersey-bred star Horologist (Gemologist) will be supplemented to the GI Breeders’ Cup Distaff at a cost of $160,000, her co-owner Cameron Beatty confirmed Wednesday.
The decision came after her owners participated in a conference call Monday, at which time they also decided to bring her back for another campaign next year at age five. Horologist is cataloged to sell as hip 29 through Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent, at next month’s Keeneland November sale.
The decisions came after Horologist scored the biggest win of her career Sunday at Belmont in the GII Beldame S. Taking on a group of challengers that included Grade I winner Dunbar Road (Quality Road), Horologist scored a surprisingly easy three-length win as the longest shot on the board at 7-1. After struggling for much of the year, Horologist has won two of three starts since being turned over to trainer Bill Mott.
While no horses or people suffered major injuries as a result of Hurricane Laura, the storm produced serious damage to Delta Downs in Vinton, Louisiana, leaving the facility in such bad shape that its director of racing operations Chris Warren said there was no chance the track would be able to begin its Thoroughbred meet on time.
“This meet is supposed to start Oct. 6. That isn’t going to happen,” Warren said. “There’s no way. When it will happen, I have no idea.”
“There’s debris and sheet metal everywhere,” he said. “The tote board got demolished. It collapsed and is completely gone. Our camera towers are gone, so is our holding barn. The starting gates got completely turned over and the light poles are torn up. The whole backside rail is pretty much ruined. There’s just a lot of damage and it is everywhere.”
With Lone Star Park officials having little to say about the abrupt shut down of racing after Sunday’s first race, it was unclear when racing would resume at the Dallas area track or if the meet will be canceled.
Citing a conversation with racing secretary Tim Williams, the Daily Racing Form reported Monday that the three days of racing scheduled for this week would not be held.
Lone Star’s decision to stop racing may be related to the news that jockey Gerard Melancon has tested positive for the coronavirus. A regular at Delta Downs and Evangeline Downs, Melancon last rode June 28 on shipper Mocito Rojo (Mutadda) in the Lone Star Mile.
Cameron Beatty was at that stage in life–young, healthy, athletic, motivated, naive–where he never even imagined the possibility that everything he had could be taken away from him. He was the starting quarterback at Freehold Township (NJ) High School and had accepted an offer to play at Fairleigh Dickinson, where he had an academic scholarship. He was going places, and on the fast track.
In an instant, everything changed.
In 2010, Beatty, now 27, was on his way to the gym to workout when he had a motorcycle accident so serious that it nearly cost him his life. He suffered a brain injury, a ruptured spleen and internal bleeding. At first, the doctors did not realize the extent of the spleen injury and the bleeding it was causing, but when his heart rate dropped to under 20 beats per minute he was rushed into emergency surgery.
“I woke up one morning bleeding to death,” he said.
It was a windy, grey morning on the backstretch at Monmouth Park as Beatty told his story. He was there not just to talk about his accident but about the horse he owns, Horologist (Gemologist). The New Jersey-bred is coming off an upset win over 2018 Eclipse Award winner Jaywalk (Cross Traffic) in the GIII Monmouth Oaks and is preparing for the biggest start of her career, the GI Cotillion S. Sept. 21 at Parx. Life is good now. He’s married, got his degree from New Jersey City University, recovered from his accident to the point where he was able to play semi-pro football and owns a valuable and talented horse.