The answer is simple: money.
In 2006, the average race horse and $1,600 from every bet is the most expensive in the sport’s history. But the amount of money the horse owner, the trainers and the horse’s owner all contributed to the race went much further: More than $3.9 billion in total.
“Somebody’s betting $3,000 on the horse. And to put that same $3,000 into the lottery would be even more generous and rewarding,” said Paul Sanger, the senior vice president of industry relations for the Horse Racing Hall of Fame. “But you know what? This is what happens.”
There’s no doubt that in horse racing, money is a constant. But a vast majority of the winners spend as little as half what the people who pay on horses, trainers and other participants put into the race.
“It’s absolutely amazing,” Sanger said. “And I hope in some small way, it’s showing. We hope it’s changing people’s perceptions as well as changing the perception of the industry. It’s very challenging for some of our people to change their perception that horse race racing is so much about money.”
In the wake of the recent allegations of drug use in horse racing, the Hall of Fame is considering adding an additional rule to its rules that would prohibit drug-using employees from participating in any sport. Such a rule would be the first major overhaul of race-horse rules since at least the 1930s. A new rule would be applied retroactively, meaning those who had previously played in horse races would have to be in a drug-free sport for the upcoming season to have their eligibility reinstated.
The Hall of Fame’s decision is being reviewed by the American Racing Federation, the top sanctioning body for U.S. race-horse racing.
“While we cannot comment specifically on any individual cases, we do not believe a ban should apply retroactively as it would limit the opportunity to find the best ways to provide a safe environment for our athletes while also encouraging competition,” said Eric Seidler, the A.R.F.’s senior vice president of government relations.
The A.R.F. is still waiting for the results of a recently completed internal investigation into allegations of drug use in horses. That investigation has not been completed.
Sanger said he suspects that A.R.F. investigators may have missed some of the information uncovered in the internal A.R