Is the Race Coming to an End?

Marc Kilmer Dec 1, 2010

The future of horseracing in Maryland is at risk. Politicians are determined to save it. Should they? Is this really what our policymakers should be spending their time and our tax money addressing?

In a state with a structural deficit of over $2 billion, it’s hard to see any rational reason why the state should be spending money to prop up an industry that loses millions of dollars a year. Private industry has shown it can’t run horseracing profitably in Maryland. The government surely can’t do anything that will return this sport to its once-profitable glory days.

Politicians, however, are appalled at the notion that the Preakness may not be run in Maryland next year. They are considering using your tax money to subsidize it and possibly even using eminent domain to seize Pimlico race track. The General Assembly already passed a law allowing the state to use eminent domain to do this. How eminent domain, which is supposed to be used to seize private property only for public purposes, can be used to ensure a horse race continues to be run is something that baffles me.

Currently the Maryland Jockey Club and the state are haggling over the race schedule for next year. It also baffles me that the state must sign-off on when races are run. How about the state let the Jockey Club do what it wants with the race schedule and if it doesn’t work out for them, then we let the racing industry go the way of other bygone industries? With the state unable to pay for the current level of government spending, it makes no sense to me to add additional burdens on the state’s taxpayers in order to support an industry that clearly has little consumer support in the state.