Inventing American greyhound racing history

AN anti-racing commenter questioned my facts regarding greyhound racing in the United States, after I raised issues about Premier Baird making two false statements in an interview on 2. Baird claimed racing had been conducted in a majority of American states in the ‘late 1970s’ but was now down to just five.

So let’s get this right: at no time in the history of the United States has any kind of racing, horse, harness or greyhounds, been conducted in a majority of the 50 states, a majority being at least 26. Baird’s comments were totally, and probably intentionally, misleading. After all, Baird would know most listeners would not have a clue about greyhound racing and its history in the United States. Then again, neither does , but that would never stop a career politician like him from pretending he does.

I wrote that in 1972 seven US states conducted greyhound racing, but JeffWhite4 asked why I picked that year to represent the ‘late 1970s’. Ok, well to satisfy him, and no doubt others in the anti-racing camp, let’s go to 1981 instead. Quoting from The Encyclopaedia of Greyhound Racing by Roy Genders, which was first published in 1981: ‘In the , except in New York State, there is no legalized off-course betting…[There are] seven states which permit greyhound racing…of which , Massachusetts, Arizona and Arkansas are the most important.’ So, in 1972 the US had seven states with greyhound racing and, nine years later, in 1981, it still had seven. With Texas about to restart, the industry will still be operational in six American states as of next year. I will repeat it again, at no time has greyhound racing ever been conducted in a majority of US states.

JeffWhite4 also listed a number of states where he claimed greyhound racing has been banned, including New Hampshire. In fact, simulcast greyhound racing (as well as simulcast horse and harness racing) takes place at Seabrook Park in New Hampshire. This is another state which formerly had racing but economics has, as I understand it, led to it being more profitable to just have simulcasts instead of live racing.

Unlike , the vast majority of tracks in the US are privately-run and with declining attendances and increased land values (a bit like and some of the other NSW-government owned tracks), it was a no-brainer for the owners to turn a nice profit on a large property which had been losing customers since the advent of the internet age.

As the GRA/America secretary replied to me in an email, ‘I will say that most of the states that have any at all is to ban pari-mutual (sic) betting within the state, not racing itself. It does not stop . And…most states do NOT have racing.’

Certainly Maine (1993) has legislation banning greyhound racing, a sport which has never operated in the state anyway, as does Arizona and Colorado, with the latter still permitting simulcast betting at its single track. It’s also worth noting greyhound racing ended in 2008 in Colorado, once more because of simple economics.

Turning to the alleged American breeder whose unsubstantiated quote about drowning pups appeared on page one of the McHugh report, a commenter on this website, Lone Widow, stated, ‘as a breeder I can tell you unequivocally that I don’t know until my pups are on the track after breaking in (14-15 months) how good they are. I had a bitch pup once that had a congenital deformity of the back leg that ran within 0.04 seconds of a track record. The quote of “as a breeder from an unnamed American source” is absolute garbage.’

Of course that statement, from an Australian breeder, wouldn’t have suited the McHugh Commission, so it would never have made it as a quote for page one of the report.

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John Tracey
John Tracey
4 years ago

Duncan, Coursing the pre runner to the modern greyhound racing did not have a great hold in the USA prior to Mechanical Hare racing and this is the reason that mechanical hare racing was restrictive in America  as it was just about a foreign culture ,whilst in the UK and Australia the coursing was a major enterprise. and mechanical racing followed easily The illusion that the broad public have and encouraged by “welfare historians” is that greyhound racing existed in all States of America and all countries world wide and through the efforts of welfare groups has been closed down… Read more »

John Tracey
John Tracey
4 years ago

should read practically  closed down in all places.

DaveSampson75
DaveSampson75
4 years ago

Tick Tock … less than 24 hours to go …

Deborah555
Deborah555
4 years ago

Tick, tock,  Dave’s a crock

JeffWhite4
JeffWhite4
4 years ago

In 1981, in addition to the four states Duncan Stearn mentioned above, greyhound racing was taking place in at least eight other states: Alabama (Mobile Greyhound Park); New Hampshire (Hinsdale Raceway), Colorado (Mile High Kennel Club), Connecticut (Plainfield Greyhound Park), Rhode Island (Lincoln Downs); Vermont (Green Mountain racetrack), West Virginia (Wheeling Downs), and Oregon (Murray Kemp Greyhound Park). So Roy Genders’s encyclopedia is wrong if it states otherwise. And while it is probably true that commercial greyhound racing has never existed simultaneously in 26 or more of the United States, it has existed from time to time in at least… Read more »

BJoe
BJoe
4 years ago

The situation in the USA is not the be all and end all example of what to do and how to behave is. Many States in America still have the Death Penalty and the whole country absolutely adores guns & rifles.  Should we follow their lead and thrash our standing on those issues?

Deborah555
Deborah555
4 years ago

JeffWhite4  It is always open season on politicians and anyone mocking Baird would have little effect on his reputation he already is a mockery.

John Tracey
John Tracey
4 years ago

Deborah555 JeffWhite4 It is the narrative from facts that is deadly and fuels perceptions. The facts on the USA are easily obtainable. The grouping of States with single complex in the USA if studied will show the cultural differences between racing there and in Australia that only has single smaller structures in the territories not the states (AU). 

Sorry I cant spend more time on this. 

Jason Caley
Jason Caley
4 years ago

Duncan – as a former NH resident, I can say that racing greyhounds until the naughties operated in at three tracks in New Hampshire being Laconia, Belmont and Seabrook. By far Seabrook was the most successful. The trouble with racing in the USA (NH not alone) is that there really was never ever any central regulatory authority on a state basis. On a national basis yes, but the tracks are run independently by corporations and those who choose to be trainers are employed effectively by the track owners. The notion of an Owner-Trainer/backyard trainer who brings his dogs to the… Read more »

John Tracey
John Tracey
4 years ago

Selective data is being used to create narratives but to produce a historical narrative of worth there needs to be the factor of data confirmed wherever possible with original documents; knowledge and wisdom. Thanks Jason and BJoe for going down the cultural road. To understand the complex nature of these subjects listen to the Barry Jones and Phillip Adams interview.

https://radio.abc.net.au/programitem/pgZL78wpdV?play=true

Greyhound Racing should not encourage the impression that it will be business as usual when the dust settles, reforms will be brought in by creative tension

FredBarton
FredBarton
4 years ago

What’s your point, Mr. Stearn? Greyhound racing is exploitative in the US. It’s exploitative in Australia, and besides, you said it yourself: “Unlike Australia, the vast majority of tracks in the US are privately-run and with declining attendances and increased land values (a bit like Wentworth Park and some of the other NSW-government owned tracks), it was a no-brainer for the owners to turn a nice profit on a large property which had been losing customers since the advent of the internet age.” That’s right. It’s fundamentally dead in the US and slowly dying in Australia. Between 2001 and 2013,… Read more »

Deborah555
Deborah555
4 years ago

FredBarton  Yes but you still have not stated the number you have adopted which I bet would be no higher than the number of dogs many dog trainers keep until they are old it’s just that we don’t have any political agendas or wish to hide behind “loving greyhounds” to tell others what to do.

John Tracey
John Tracey
4 years ago

Deborah555 FredBarton The cultural difference between Australians and Americans in this dispute is that we Australians don’t believe in prohibition as a political solution to anything and that greyhound racing and coursing in Australia has deep roots here as a culture. I accept the disclosures published by Grey2k as sound historically for America but due to cultural differences is our two countries the narratives are different. Before I go any further I need to State than I have great respect for the American people, We owe America a great debt not only for their intersession during the second world war but… Read more »

Deborah555
Deborah555
4 years ago

John Tracey Deborah555 FredBarton  thanks for another great read John. Yes the prohibition of alcohol didn’t turn out brilliantly –  I have read a couple of reports from American historians who believe it was a major impetus to the rise of  organised crime. Yes banning is easy and vote catching initially but supervising, reforming, consulting they are a bit harder. Whilst you are so much more eloquent at expressing your views I don’t have your patience and have become very tired of a tiny minority of the greyhound adopters who believe this now gives them license to demonise an entire industry. They could not… Read more »

dogem53
dogem53
4 years ago

FredBarton FRED. what a pleasure to chat with a BOARD MAN. yes I have spelt BORED correct….oops, BOARD. FRED, wont disagree with the general thesis you guys put out about PROTECTION OF ANIMALS. wont argue with that. also wont argue over live baiting as it did exist. FRED, I said it did exist. now FRED, if we showed you ,and why we bother showing a yank what should happen because they have a history of doing there own thing and stuffing it up anyway,how the industry as far as racing goes,can exist. WOULD YOU LISTEN?…NO. then I would ask what… Read more »

dogem53
dogem53
4 years ago

FredBarton PS FRED………….

GAMBLERS DONT GIVE A POO ABOUT DOGS OR HORSES.

OWNERS OF DOGS GIVE A DAMN…………THERE IS A HUGE DIFFERENCE THERE FRED.

an owner will love that dog. do not deny that based on your agenda.

a GAMBLER will like it if it wins………call it a useless mongrel if it loses……..there is a difference FRED.

dogem53
dogem53
4 years ago

John Tracey VERY TENSE JOHN INDEED JOHN. but one would not expect an easy path. unlike the agendas of the GREY2K and others, we realise that things need to change….cultural outlook also needs to change. but that cannot be achieved if there are two directions in the cause. we also know that the image needs to change. that I feel,is the easiest part of the program…as long as BIASED groups and MEDIA outlest continually do not throw spikes to flatten the tyres all the time. and JOHN,that wont happen,as the ABC is an indicator of BIAS OPINIONS AND JOURNALISMS……and not… Read more »

Jason Caley
Jason Caley
4 years ago

FredBarton : Careful Fred – as a board member of a publicly accountable organisation you know your responsibilities in posting comments

@AustralianRacingGreyhound: Hyperlinks to anti-racing advocacy and lobby groups should be discouraged. It is contrary to the spirit of this site. Expressing views is one thing but hyperlinking to sites soliciting money and donations is another thing entirely.