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Idaho horse racing in dire need of funding

The Idaho State Racing Commission does not have enough money to meet projections
Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 9:13 PM MST
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Horse racing in Idaho currently does not have the funding to host a year’s worth of racing.

The industry had been awarded 26 race days in 2021 to be shared between six different tracks: Pocatello Downs, Rupert Downs, Jerome Horse Racing Association, Oneida County Fair, Cassia County Fair and Eastern Idaho Fair.

Horse racing in Idaho is not funded from taxes or slots, but rather is self-funded from wagering revenues. That wagering can be both in-person at the racetrack or live on an electronic device. Those revenues are currently split between the racing commission, racetracks, breeders and public schools.

The East Idaho Horsemen’s Association — which represents both the Idaho Thoroughbred Association and Idaho Quarter Horse Association — created a legislative bill that would redistribute wagering revenues in order to properly fund the commission.

As East Idaho Horsemen’s Association President Bryon Goody said a properly funded racing commission is vital in terms of ensuring the safety and integrity of the sport.

“It’s about safety. It’s about safety for the animals and it’s about safety for those who ride those animals: the jockeys,” Goody said. “It’s about integrity for the sport. It’s about knowing that we’re doing the right thing. The racing commission is the governing body. It’s the watchful eye over the sport. It makes people accountable.”

According to Goody, after drafting multiple versions of the revenue redistribution bill, Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa — chairman of the State House Affairs Committee — refused to have the bill heard.

Idaho’s horse racing industry impacts more than only its active participants. Businesses including tack shops and farmers who raise hay crops could be impacted if Idaho’s current horsemen were to move out of state. Even public schools receive a small amount of funding from horse racing.

Crane did not return KMVT’s request for comment.

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