As horse racing’s Triple Crown season begins, Pennsylvania’s horse racing industry is taking center stage.
The 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby features racehorses bred from only two states: Kentucky and Pennsylvania. This year, Pennsylvania’s Mor Spirit and Tom’s Ready will race for the roses. Trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by three-time Derby winner Gary Stevens, Mor Spirit has one of the best teams in the business.
Pennsylvania’s growth as a leader in the industry can be traced to 2004, when the state expanded gaming to help rejuvenate its proud horse racing industry. The industry is paying Pennsylvania back for its investment.
Since 2004, the industry has created 23,000 jobs and generates $1.6 billion annually in economic activity. Horse owners and trainers reinvest approximately 89 percent, or $210 million, into their local economies. Farms have directly benefitted, investing $22 million in land, improvements and equipment, and are home to about $40 million in racehorses.
Here are just a few examples: Hard Spun finished second in the 2007 Kentucky Derby and third in the Preakness. That same year, the fastest racehorse in the world, Fabulous Strike, was trained at Penn National. Two Pennsylvania horses, Plum Pretty (2011) and Princess of Sylmar (2013), won the Kentucky Oaks, the most prestigious race for 3-year-old fillies in the country.
Pennsylvania’s horse industry puts people to work and continues to reinvest its success back into our local communities. Now, let’s cheer on our horses — some of the best in the world.
The writer is president of the Pennsylvania Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.