The Texas Thoroughbred Association (TTA), which represents more than 1,100 racehorse owners and breeders in the state, strongly opposes the measure published in the Texas Register seeking to repeal previously adopted rules authorizing and regulating historical racing at Texas racetracks. The TTA strongly supports the concept of historical racing, which already has proven to bolster the racing and breeding industry in several states.
“The prospect of historical racing in Texas is the only thing providing hope to our struggling industry,” said Mary Ruyle, executive director of the TTA. “We firmly believe that historical racing provides a means of pari-mutuel wagering and falls within the Commission’s scope of authority under current law.”
In spite of reports to the contrary, unlike slot machines in which a patron is betting against the “house,” wagering on historical races is conducted through a self-service terminal connected to the racetrack’s totalisator system utilizing pari-mutuel wagering, which is legal in Texas.
“The Texas racing industry is in severe decline and on the verge of disappearing altogether,” Ruyle added. “As the Commission is well aware, Texas horses, horsemen, and associated service industries are being forced to leave Texas and take their business to other states that supplement purses with proceeds from gambling activities that are illegal in Texas.”
Last month, CBS News in Minnesota reported that Texans Charlie Smith and Terry Propps, who, after 20 years in the industry, are now breeding and racing Thoroughbreds there because of the more lucrative opportunities available to them. It is a story that has been repeated many times in the past with other horsemen who were formerly based in Texas.
The only development since the historical racing rules were adopted that casts any doubt on the Commission’s authority is a district court decision that is being appealed. If historical racing rules are repealed, that appeal becomes moot. The TTA believes the Commission should await the outcome of that legal process before making any changes that would mean the industry’s hard work over the past year has been all for naught.
The TTA has also stated their position in a letter sent to the Commission.