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Among the outside factors affecting the Thoroughbred industry, just those that come to mind, not listed in order of importance: Inflation; recession; tight money; war; gasoline prices; interest rates; home building; car sales; corporate income; personal profits; disposable income, that which goes into savings, and that which is spent for leisure - casino gambling, state lotteries, spectator sports, campers; unemployment; stock market; precious metals market; crude oil; income taxes; Gross National Product.
Among the variables to be considered within the Thoroughbred industry: Gimmick betting; expansion of off-track betting; variance of takeout from mutuel play; track-marketing programs, such as the free gate, free parking, concerts, handicapping contests, binoculars and T-shirts; simulcasting, Teletracks, greater television coverage; number of races per day, racing days, tracks; number of foals, horses in training; medication; costs of feed, of labor on the farm, on the backstretch, track employes; union strikes; costs of capital improvements, on the farm and at the track; cost of land; insulation of buyers of high-priced racing and breeding stock.
These are just some of the economic factors, outside and within the Thoroughbred industry, each of which can have a dramatic effect on the breeding, selling, and racing of Thoroughbreds.
Each of these factors can have a different effect on individual participants or segments of the Thoroughbred industry. Generally, there are two groups of people in the industry: (1) those who bring outside money and put it into the industry; and (2) those who exchange money within the industry.
The first group includes (a) bettors, and (b) horse owners. The second group includes (a) commercial breeders; (b) employes of breeders, of trainers, and of the tracks; and (c) independent contractors such as trainers, jockeys, bloodstock agents, insurance men, van men, veterinarians.
Unable ourselves to handle such a melange of economic factors so as to guess what might be in store for the Thoroughbred industry, we asked five smart people - two university economists, a state economist, and two long-time owner-breeders active in the Thoroughbred market who have outside interests in banking, oil, cattle, and land development.
We asked these five people to sit down around a table in The Blood-Horse library and discuss this situation - no funny stories, nothing about bets won or lost, no arcane terms or graphs - just what they thought the economic outlook for the Thoroughbred industry might be. This is what they said.
"Racing in an Era of Double-Digit Inflation," The Blood Horse, June 28, 1980. Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, Lexington, KY.