Thoroughbred Racing - Destined for Extinction? (5/12/09)
Not long ago, it would have been unthinkable for the CEO of Churchill Downs to have to reassure investors that the track is still committed to live thoroughbred racing.
But that's what Churchill President Bob Evans did last week, in response to growing concerns over canceled races, smaller fields and the company's increasing reliance upon other sources of revenue, such as online wagering.
It used to be crazy talk to even suggest live racing at Churchill Downs could ever become a thing of the past. But the competitive landscape has changed. Now, tracks in other states use big slot machine revenue to supplement purses, which attracts trainers and owners looking for a bigger profit. And as long as Churchill has to compete against them, the odds are good they'll lose - and lose big.
This is like Wisconsin cheese makers watching all their business go to a bunch of upstarts in Alabama!
One of our signature industries - one that literally defines Kentucky in the minds of millions around the world - is dying before our very eyes. And still, our state legislators just sit on their hands.
We no longer have the luxury of fraudulent, hypocritical political posturing. Kentucky needs racetrack slots. It needs them now. And any lawmaker who doesn't see that is guilty of malpractice.
What do you think? Call and let us know.