I've been breeding and racing horses here in Illinois for 23 years, and I simply can't do it any longer.
There's no future here anymore. I've watched the industry slowly dry up since casinos came to Illinois and started out-muscling our legislators back in the 1990s, and I watched the court battles drag on as we pleaded for the impact fees those casinos owed us, and quite frankly, I've had it.
Horsemen like me can't compete with the deep pockets of out-of-state casino companies, and since our legislators seem so beholden to their interests, I've decided it's not even worth it to try anymore. We're helpless in this fight, and so long as neighboring states like Indiana offer their horsemen more competitive purses because of the revenue generated by the slot machines at racetracks, and since our leaders in Springfield are so unwilling to help us stay in business, the Illinois horse industry will be left to die on the vine.
A solution is out there: Senate Bill 1849 could revive the industry, but not without our legislators' support.
Horse racing isn't a hobby; it's a business. It employs many people in our communities, but unfortunately, for many people like me, the industry is going extinct.
I'll miss it, that's for sure. But once my last two horses are done racing, I'm leaving the industry for good.
If the opportunities return, perhaps I will too someday. But until our legislators level the playing field by passing Senate Bill 1849, the future for the Illinois horse industry is bleak.