Harness Racing Falling Behind Without State Money
It's another long, hot summer for the horse racing industry in Illinois.
Gambling on the horses is no longer as popular as it once was. There's more competition these days from casinos and video gambling.
Add to that less money going to county fairs because of the budget impasse and some believe this could be the final stretch for Illinois racing. The Illinois Harness Horsemen Association wants that money restored.
Clark Fairley is a trainer from Lerna. He says many fail to understand the economic impact:
"And those horses represent jobs, people taking care of them," Fairley said. "Veterinarians, blacksmiths, hay dealers. They all represent jobs. It's more than just the guy who owns the horse or trains the horse. There's a lot of supporting jobs that go along with that."
Fairley says the top horses are going elsewhere, including Indiana, where they race for larger purses. He says the number of county fairs offering harness racing has been cut nearly in half from just a few years ago.