Report: Maryland horse industry enjoying rebound

Associate Editor

BALTIMORE (Nov. 29, 2016) — Maryland’s horse industry is on the rebound, a report released last week said.
The industry generates about $1.15 billion in economic activity each year, about 23 percent more than the $930 million it created in 2010, according to a study by Sage Policy Group, a Baltimore consulting company. Much of that recovery can be credited to a rebounding economy, said Ross Peddicord, executive director of the Maryland Horse Industry Board.
“It really has turned around,” he said.
Spending in the horse industry exceeded $660 million in 2015, excluding revenue from the world-famous Preakness Stakes Thoroughbred race held each May and gambling winnings from all races, Peddicord said. The Preakness, for instance, generates more than $30 million in economic impact per year, the report said. The industry supports about 5,800 full-time jobs across the state.
The survey expects that to increase to 11,000 jobs providing about $620 million in income to employees by 2020.
The economic rebound follows a period of decline for the state’s horse industry sparked by the emergence of a competitive regional casino industry and the Great Recession, Peddicord said. Racehorses, after all, are luxury items.
“We were hit by a double-whammy,” Peddicord said. “People cut back.”
Since then horse industry insiders have paid close attention to anecdotal evidence the industry was rebounding — evidence confirmed by the report’s release at Goucher College on Nov. 21, he said. The Maryland Horse Breeders Association announced it is moving its headquarters to the college, which hosts one of the nation’s premier collegiate equestrian programs. The school is also building a new, multimillion-dollar equestrian facility on its 287-acre Baltimore campus.
The state’s equestrian facilities must also be renovated or rebuilt.
Many are outdated and overshadowed by new, competing facilities built by entrepreneurs in states such as Virginia and North Carolina, Peddicord said.
“Maryland’s been doing this for 100 years,” he said. “Our racetracks are old. … If we don’t fix our facilities and make them comparable, we’re in danger of losing. We’ve got to stay on top of it, we’ve got to keep it fresh… and we have the people here who are demanding it.”
The breeders association and 12 other industry groups paid for the $15,000 study.