PHRC adopts resolution opposing plan to shift $199 million from the Race Horse Development Fund Trust

Harrisburg, PA — The Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission, as it did last year, has unanimously adopted a resolution opposing a plan by Gov. Tom Wolf to shift $199 million from the Race Horse Development Fund Trust and use the funds for a higher-education scholarship program.

The PHRC took the action at its Feb. 23 meeting. The resolution will be printed and sent to the governor’s office.

Budget hearings for fiscal 2021-22 are underway in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The Senate Appropriations Committee on April 8 is scheduled to hold the budget hearing for the state Department of Agriculture, which oversees horse racing and breeding in the state.

The motion on the resolution was made by PHRC member Tom Ellis, who said the governor’s proposal would have a “negative and disastrous impact” on the horse racing industry, agriculture and economic development. He said he understands the need to address student debt but “robbing Peter to pay Paul” isn’t the answer. Fellow commissioner Sal DeBunda agreed and said the PHRC has an obligation to promote and regulate the industry.

The resolution was supported during the “industry reports” part of the meeting by Sam Beegle, president of the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association; Kim Hankins, executive director of the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association; and Mike Simpson, an executive at Hanover Shoe Farms and treasurer of the Standardbred Breeders Association of Pennsylvania.

The PHHA, MSOA, and SBA of PA are members of the Pennsylvania Equine Coalition along with Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, Pennsylvania Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association. The groups market racing and breeding and also lobby to protect the industry’s interests.

In other news at the meeting, it was announced that over the first four days of the “Game of Claims” series at Mohegan Sun Pocono, there were 97 claims valued at roughly $1.6 million in total.

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