Purses have grown 146 percent over five
FORT WORTH-If its recent track record is any indication, it's a safe bet that Paint Horse racing will continue to grow in popularity across the United States this year.
When the American Paint Horse Association (APHA) officially recognized the sport in 1966, only Texas and Oklahoma held races. That year, 17 starters ran for $1,290.
In 1996, 305 starters ran in 272 races for purse money of $1.1 million. In 2000, 553 starters competed in 531 races for a gross purse of nearly $2.8 million. During those five years, starters were up 81 percent, the number of races increased 95 percent and purse money grew 146 percent. Also during that five-year period, six new states entered the Paint racing picture.
Karen Utecht, APHA's racing coordinator, attributed the increases to several factors, not the least of which is the growing popularity of the Paint Horse breed in general. In 2000, for example, APHA registered 62,511 horses, compared to 41,491 horses registered in 1996. That represents a 51 percent annual registration increase over five years.
"As more people become interested in Paint Horses, we see an increase in the number of tracks across the country that want to include Paint racing in their race dates," said Utecht. "These tracks are including added money in special Paint races, which is driving up purse totals, attracting more Paint racers and drawing in more race fans.
"People seem to like racehorses with color," she said. "Paints are exciting to watch and you definitely know where your horse is on the track during the entire race.
"Paints are standouts."
APHA Executive Secretary Ed Roberts agreed.
"People love watching Paint Horses run," he said. "We're seeing that interest grow all across the country. The popularity of Paint Horses is not limited to any one geographic area, but is spreading throughout the country and throughout the world. Racing is one of several Paint Horse performance areas where we're seeing a rise in participation."
For more information on American Paint Horse racing, visit www.apha.com/racing or call the APHA Racing Department at (817) 834-2742, extension 444.
Paint racing continues on the fast track