11/22/2016 11:16AM

Study shows Maryland horse industry surging

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A new economic impact study paid for by members of the Maryland equine industry claims that the state horse industry generated $1.15 billion in economic activity in 2015, up 23 percent when compared to economic activity in 2010.

The study, which was conducted by the Sage Policy Group and funded by a wide-ranging collection of both Standardbred and Thoroughbred constituencies in the state, said that Maryland’s horse industry supports 5,800 full-time-equivalent jobs, with that figure rising to 9,100 when indirect spending is included. The direct and indirect economic impact generated spending on wages and salaries of approximately $500 million, the study said.

Economic impact studies are considered important to efforts to protect or enhance the reputation of an industry in local and state government offices. In 2008, Maryland voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing casino gaming, and since then, the racing industry has been authorized by the legislature to receive 7 percent of slot-machine revenues in subsidies, a figure that the industry has used to bolster purses and fund capital-improvements at its tracks.

The Sage Group said that it sent surveys to 1,000 industry “stakeholders” to collect data for the study. Approximately 700 surveys were returned, the Sage Group said.

In many ways, the year the study used as a baseline, 2010, was the nadir of the Maryland Thoroughbred industry. In that year, 577 mares were bred in Maryland, or 1.3 percent of the overall North American figure for mares bred, according to Jockey Club figures. Only five years earlier, 1,724 mares were bred in the state.

However, the number of mares bred has gradually crept up over the past five years, bucking a national trend, while wagering on Maryland races has also jumped. In 2015, the number of mares bred was 751, according to the Jockey Club, or 2.1 percent of the national figure. Accordingly, the Maryland foal crop rose from 393 in 2011 to 562 last year.