A coalition of business leaders and labor groups this week launched to promote New York's horse racing industry and the sport's impact on the state's economy. 

The coalition, We Are NY Horse Racing, pointed to the $3 billion economic impact the sport has, along with its 19,000 jobs and the role it plays as the second-largest agribusiness. 

But the coalition is also forming as protests by animal-rights advocates have been held at race tracks this summer, including Saratoga Springs, over the treatment of horses. 

And the industry saw a rebound this year following the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 shutting fans out from attending the meet at Saratoga. This year, the 2021 summer meet saw an average daily attendance of more than 26,000 people. 

The industry remains a key driver of the tourism and hospitality sectors in parts of New York, with 11 tracks in operation, filling restaurants and bars in the process. 

“Saratoga Race Course is an economic engine for upstate New York and a source of great pride for our communities,” said Todd Shimkus, the president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce. “Our member businesses recognize the sport’s direct impact to the local economy, which is why we will take every opportunity to emphasize horse racing’s importance to Saratoga County and New York.”

The group plans in the coming weeks to hold events, commit to paid media and other direct education efforts to promote the industry. 

The coalition includes the New York Racing Association, New York State Laborer's Organizing Fund, the Saratoga Chamber of Commerce, the New York Farm Bureau, DZ Restaurants and Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau & Suffolk Counties, AFL-CIO, among others.