Letter: Howard is misinformed on horse fund

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To the Editor,

Letters1It is apparent, after reading Mr. Howard’s letter on the Race Horse Development Fund, that he should not be running for Representative.  His research and information could not be further from the truth and lack any comprehension of the importance of the horse breeding industry and its impact on Chester County’s economy and the preservation of open space.

First of all, the RHDF hasn’t been given a nickel from the state, in fact it’s been the opposite. The casinos, the state and the Horsemen’s organizations all share, by mutual agreement, a percentage of slot revenue.  Each casino receives approximately 46 percent, the state 43 percent and the state’s horsemen and breeders receive 11 percent. Why do the horsemen and breeders receive a percentage?  Because everyone recognized when the legislature legalized casino gaming at racetracks that it would adversely impact horse betting, which in turn would hurt the equine industry. The money that goes into the RHDF is not state tax dollars. Even so, the state’s horsemen and breeders have even given $206 million in funds from the RHDF to the state to help balance its budget.

Secondly, the RHDF is projected to receive $245 million this year, not the $301 million Howard claims. This money will be divided between purses at five racetracks and two organizations for breeders’ incentives. More than 90 percent of this funding will be reinvested in the Pennsylvania economy. That’s right, invested back into the Pennsylvania economy where it will benefit people in our community, including horse owners and breeders, jockeys, trainers, and thousands of other Pennsylvanians who are employed in the state’s racing and breeding industry. In fact, according to the Department of Agriculture, the horse racing and breeding industry is responsible for 23,000 jobs in Pennsylvania – jobs that support families as well as generate tax revenue for the state. In addition, there are countless businesses that also benefit, including feed mills, hay and mushroom farms, veterinarians and blacksmiths.

The state’s racing industry is also responsible for the preservation of tens of thousands of acres of open space by helping to support the hundreds of mom and pop farms like my own. We are far from millionaires Howard characterizes us as. Many of us small farm owners work seven days a week, 365 days a year keeping our horse farms operating, trying to make ends meet, and keep our employees paid.

If I told Mr. Howard, or anyone for that matter, that there was a new business coming to Pennsylvania that needed ZERO state funding, employed 23,000 people, generated business for thousands more and generate and economic impact back of $1.6 billion annually in the Commonwealth, they would stand up and cheer for that business. Well guess what — that’s what racing and breeding has done for Pennsylvania.

I’m not expecting Howard to stand up and cheer. But I do want him to understand the facts before he opens his mouth and embarrasses himself in front of voters. In his letter, Mr. Howard alleged “dishonorable” behavior. In reality, the only behavior that is dishonorable is his own. Shame on him for writing a letter filled with unsubstantiated facts that tarnish the image of thousands of hard working Pennsylvania taxpayers. Even worse, Howard would effectively kill the state’s horse racing and breeding industry which is vital to Chester County’s economy and would result in the loss of significant open space in local communities.

Mr. Howard should consider applying for an economics course instead of applying to be a State Representative. Mr. Howard, if you want to know more about the facts, please call our office in Kennett Square and I will be more than happy to meet with you.

Brian Sanfratello
President and average Mom and Pop breeder
Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association 

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