“The only reason it’s [Aqueduct Racetrack] in business is because of the casino.” (horseplayer “Harry the Horse,” Gothamist)
Writer Max Rivlin-Nadler sets the scene on Aqueduct’s Opening Day (Oct 29th):
“Aqueduct, with its wooden seats, tobacco-stained walls, and cavernous feel, remains as a vestige of a seedier time in New York City, before such cathedrals to vice were done in by changing tastes and corrupt management; $14 million in recent capital improvements have given Aqueduct a new scoreboard and a beautiful mural, but still, opening day didn’t really have much of a celebratory air about it.
‘This place has depreciated a lot,’ Angelo [another horseplayer] told me. ‘Used to be men in suits—now look at us.’ The crowd was as outerborough as it gets. Sweat suits, crumpled hats, and an air of desperation that tends to hover around people who bet on horses.
At noon, racing season at Aqueduct officially began with an electronic rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner. On the third floor of the race track, an elderly man stood up and faced a monitor that was displaying the flag, the only soul in a vast concourse that had a maximum capacity of 768.” (full article and pics here)
With a few exceptions (Saratoga, Keeneland, etc.), Aqueduct is 21st Century American horseracing – eschewed by the young, sustained by racino cash. So you see, we are most certainly not fighting a losing battle. When state legislatures tire of propping an archaic industry – and they will – much of it will go. Guaranteed.