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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.


Published in The Blood Horse, June 28, 1980. Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, Lexington, Ky. Participants: Virgil L. Christian Jr., John A. Bell Ill, William S. Farish Ill, Dr. Claude M. Vaughan Jr., and Roy W. Bahl Jr.

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