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Standardbred Mare Breeding in Ohio Down 37 Percent in 2007

Standardbred mares bred in Ohio this year dropped by more than 700; continues 12-year decline

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Dec. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Fewer standardbred mares than ever were bred in Ohio this year, a sure sign of declining horse breeding operations in the once-mighty harness racing center of the country. The United States Trotting Association reports that 1,261 standardbred mares were bred in Ohio in 2007, down from 1,997 in 2006 and continuing a 12-year decline from 3,383 standardbred mares bred in 1996.

Once the leading producer of harness racing horses, Ohio standardbred mare breeding now ranks sixth in the nation, behind five states where the horse racing industry is supported by expanded gambling.

"We have not been on a level playing field for a long time," says Dr. John Mossbarger, a longtime Central Ohio standardbred breeder and industry leader. "But this is the most dramatic decline in standardbred mare breeding in 12 years." The previous biggest decline, from 2004 to 2005, was under half of the 2007 decline of 736 fewer Ohio standardbred mares bred than in 2006.

"It's clear that breeders waiting to see what would happen in the 2006 Ohio slots gambling vote aren't waiting around any more for our state to take action supporting the equine industry," says Mossbarger, a veterinarian owner of Bloomburg breeding operation Midland Acres Inc. and past president of the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association.

"We desperately need Ohio's leaders and citizens to find a way to work with us instead of against us, so we can keep our mares and breeding operations here in our state," says Mossbarger, who is also a director with the U.S. Trotting Association. "The equine racing industry is about real people and real jobs. Horse racing doesn't operate in a vacuum: its presence has a profound impact on Ohio's agricultural community.

"In other states with expanded gambling, there has been a substantial increase in horse training and breeding, and investment in farms, livestock and other ancillary products," Mossbarger says. While Ohio's 2007 standardbred mares bred number declined, Pennsylvania, New York and Indiana all posted gains.

It makes more economic sense to breed standardbred mares in states with higher-stakes races, and it's no surprise that the leading standardbred mare breeding states are now the ones in which expanded gambling helps fund big purse money, Mossbarger says.

The five states that eclipsed Ohio's total of standardbred mares bred in 2007 -- Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana, New Jersey and Illinois -- can all offer higher stakes for races of state-registered horses than Ohio because expanded gambling proceeds help fund purses there. The fees from increased registrations of the foals resulting from in-state breeding also drive up purse prizes, creating another obstacle to Ohio's ability to compete.

"I hope this evidence means something to the people of Ohio," Mossbarger says. "If we want to turn Ohio around, we must continue to get our message out to the citizens and legislators that it makes no sense for tax revenue from gambling to keep leaving our already depressed Ohio budget."

To learn more about the impact of expanded gambling in surrounding states on Ohio's equine industry, visit http://www.saveohioracing.com


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