Day At The Track

Harness racing in Illinois in big trouble

11:55 AM 30 Dec 2015 NZDT
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Horsemen run their horses on the Illinois State Fairgrounds
Horsemen run their horses on the Illinois State Fairgrounds - This might become a thing of the past

One of the things that quickly becomes apparent when looking at the harness racing breeding figures for 2015 in North America is the major decline suffered by Illinois.

In 2014 Illinois had 699 mares bred which dropped to 492 in 2015, a reduction of nearly thirty percent in just one year.

That may have been due to the talk about the future of both Balmoral Park and Maywood Park.

Now with both of those racetracks closed to harness racing, the only track with any program in Illinois will be Hawthorne.

The harness racing industry in Illinois looks in dire straights if the breeding trend from this year continues into 2016

With just one track and breeding numbers plummetting, the future in Illinois looks bleek.

A couple of other states that had slumps much bigger than they would have anticipated were New York and Pennsylvania.

New York dropped 341 mares served in 2015, a drop of just over twenty percent which again is not sustainable long term.

With the great Sires Stakes program they have in New York, one can only surmise that the big service fees are finally biting the stallion owners where it hurts.

The drop in Pennsylvania mares bred was smaller at just eleven and a half percent but yet again that is a number that will be setting off alarm bells at Hanover Shoe Farms.

Canada showed an overall increase of twelve percent but it was all based around one province, Ontario which had an increase of nearly nineteen percent.

A lot of that increase has been driven by an increasingly supportive government and a feeling that everybody is on the same page for once while some can be put down to mares returning from the USA now things look brighter in Canada.

Below is a list of mares bred in North America in 2014 and in 2015, provided by David Carr of the USTA

U.S. 2014 2015
California 19 13
Delaware 263 273
Florida 57 48
Illinois 699 492
Indiana 1788 1698
Iowa 246 197
Kentucky 55 14
Louisiana 3 0
Maine 144 108
Maryland 243 223
Michigan 33 66
Minnesota 124 125
Mississippi 36 2
Missouri 22 31
New Jersey 69 251
New York 1649 1308
North Carolina 4 3
North Dakota 0 5
Ohio 2594 2339
Pennsylvania 2184 1931
South Dakota 1 0
Tennessee 5 0
Texas 7 7
Virginia 16 11
Wisconsin 8 4
Canada 2014 2015
Alberta 309 322
British Columbia 15 9
Manitoba 63 59
New Brunswick 6 3
Newfoundland 3 1
Nova Scotia 20 12
Ontario 1666 2051
Prince Edward Island 368 317
Quebec 65 87
Saskatchewan 4 2
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