The state’s equine business has a $4.2 billion benefit on the state’s economy and produces 33,000 full-time jobs, an industry report today found.
Assembly Racing Committee Chairman Gary Pretlow, D-Yonkers, defended the industry and knocked an acclaimed series in the New York Times that found rampant abuse of horses and horse deaths at tracks, including at 21 deaths at Aqueduct Race Track in Queens over a five-month period earlier this year.
The paper’s report led to a sweeping review by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who last month released an investigation that found half of the Aqueduct deaths could have been prevented. He’s also reorganizing the troubled New York Racing Association, which runs Aqueduct.
Pretlow suggested the criticism was overblown at a Capitol news conference to release the report by the state Horse Racing & Agriculture Industry Alliance.
“Recently there was an attack on the racing industry, I guess first perpetrated, by the old gray lady, they call it the New York Times,” Pretlow said. “That caused a lot of people to look into racing, and I think that what had happened was extremely unfair. Because of so many people who have absolutely no knowledge of the industry, they have been trying now to take away from that industry.”
Pretlow, according to a Common Cause report last month, received $103,000 from the gambling industry over the past seven years — the most of any Assembly member. The gambling industry, which includes the state’s eight racetracks with video-lottery terminals, is pushing for full-scale casinos.
The horsemen said the report shows the importance of the horse industry in New York. There are 157,500 horses in New York, and the report claimed that there are 80 jobs for every 100 racehorses in New York.
“When you look at the numbers, it’s eye-opening,” said Rick Violette Jr., president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, in a statement. “The study shows, in black and white, that every horse in New York is a potent job creator.”