Earlier this year, as part of a plan to revive New Jersey’s struggling horse racing industry, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a measure into law that publicly subsidizes purses at the state’s three racetracks by $20 million a year for the next five years.

At one time, horse racing had been a billion-dollar industry in the Garden State. But interest waned and New Jersey casinos helped support the industry with subsidies. Those subsidies were terminated after the Great Recession, when Atlantic City itself was struggling.

Since then, the racing industry has been at a low point, but this new influx of money seems to be having a positive impact.

“By increasing the purses, it has generated extraordinary interest in making sure that we have breeding stallions, that we have standardbred and thoroughbred interests,” said state Agriculture Secretary Doug Fisher.

He said the horse racing industry has a significant impact in other related fields, including business that board horses and riding academies.

With the racing industry being responsible for billions of dollars of economic activity in New Jersey, Fisher said the $20 million investment “is going to give a return that will make the original investment seem like small potatoes.”

Mike Gulotta, chief executive officer of Deo Volente horse farms in Flemington, agrees.

“What we’re seeing is an increase in the number of horses racing in New Jersey. We’re seeing an increase in the parimutuel wagering. We have more stallions. We have more mares being bred to those stallions.”

He noted the number of mares bred to New Jersey stallions last year was about 400, but “this year we’ll be in excess of 700, so about a 70% increase.”

At his farm, several horses have recently been born.

A one-day-old horse at Deo Volente Farms. David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ

Gulotta noted the current $100 million in tax revenue generated by the horse racing industry “could easily increase to $300 million.”

David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ

New Jersey racetracks include Meadowlands Racetrack and Freehold Raceway for standardbreds and Monmouth Park for thoroughbreds.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com