Thoroughbred racing is a multi-billion dollar industry (Francis, 2009). The price tag on buying horses is so high that the normal business model of expenses and revenue hardly applies. With yearlings selling for over $1 million, it’s almost impossible for them to win enough races to balance the purchase price. This leaves owners and trainers racing after purses. Trainers often use performance enhancing drugs to improve racing results and keep horses racing despite injuries. As a result, race horses become faster and racing horses becomes more dangerous. The Jockey Club (2013) reported a 1.9% fatality rate among racehorses in 2012. This does not take into account the horses that were retired from racing due to injury and later slaughtered or euthanized.
Horses retired from racing have limited options. Louise (2012) reports that 70% of all Thoroughbreds born in the U.S. will end up slaughtered.
Jockey Club is a 501c3 and therefore exempt from federal taxes. However, it also maintains several wholly owned for-profit subsidiaries. The organization is dedicated to the improvement of Thoroughbred breeding and racing.The Jockey Club’s registers 25,000 Thoroughbred foals per year for a fee of $225 per foal. Only $25 of this fee goes toward a retirement fund for race horses. Therefore, the Jockey Club recognized $5 million (($225-$25) * 25,000 foals) in registration fees per year to promote an industry that supplies 19% of the horses that are slaughtered each year (Lauren, 2010).
The Jockey Club formed the National Thoroughbred Racing (NRTA) in 1998. The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) is a coalition of stakeholders in the racing industry including leading thoroughbred racetracks, owners, breeders, trainers and affiliated horse racing associations. Their stated mission is to “increase the popularity of horse racing and improving economic conditions for industry participants” (National Thoroughbred Racing Association, 2013).
The Jockey Club and the NRTA are two nonprofit organizations whose mission is to serve stakeholders of the horse racing industry. One stakeholder group that is not noted in their mission statements is the horses. Race horses are the quintessential element of the industry, yet they are not considered as stakeholders by these two tax exempt organizations that promote racing. By reviewing their mission statements it would appear that racing professionals are not focused on the welfare of the horses. Perhaps changing their mission statement “increase the popularity of horse racing, improving economic conditions for industry participants, and protect American racehorses” might highlight the importance of the welfare of the horses.