What happens when a Greyhound track discontinues live racing?

Most racing Greyhound owners will try to keep their Greyhounds racing by sending them to other race tracks. In the past, the majority of the Greyhounds would be moved to tracks that are equal to or less competitive than the track that discontinued racing.

When we talk about equal to or less competitive, that also means Purse payouts to kennels and owners at those tracks.   The more competitive and more prosperous tracks pay more money to kennels and owners.  Common pay to kennels is about 2/3rds  of the purse with 1/3rd going to the owner of the greyhound.  The exception is for stakes races that usually pay out 50% to the owner and 50% to the kennel.

Below is a listing of race tracks with the amount of money paid out for the top dogs at that track for one race. Conversely, Maidens and D grade greyhounds will only win a small percentage of those amounts.

TRACK: Top Grade Win

Southland:  2,548.00
Wheeling:  1,190.00
Tri-state: 822
Iowa GH Park: 608
Naples: 538
Orange Park: 423
Derby Lane: 420
Palm Beach: 355
Ebro: 231
Sanford-Orlando: 206
Daytona: 178
Birmingham: 88

This is basically a “totem” of top paying tracks down to the lowest paying tracks in Alabama.   It should be noted that these pay outs change on a weekly basis.  These numbers represent the beginning of September 2016. Tracks not racing at the time are not listed.

Many year round tracks have as many as 1,000 Greyhounds in the track compound to be able to support as many as 10 performances “race cards” a week. Some seasonal tracks tend to have less than 500 and do not support as many performances.

Some tracks in the past have let the Greyhounds slated for adoption stay at the race compound until they can all be disbursed to adoption groups. Some have also supported the holding of “pets” through donations for food etc.

Track closings at the least competitive and least lucrative tracks are the most serious as many of the Greyhounds can’t go to another track as they can’t compete.

At the Melbourne Greyhound track, we experienced 9 serious seasonal closings in the last 20 years, where between 250 and 325 Greyhounds were signed over as pets in the final week of the season. With track support and donations all those Greyhounds were moved to adoption groups around the country after they were spayed or neutered, profiled, and cat tested to ensure groups would get an even mix of the Greyhounds available for adoption.




What is “Decoupling”?

When race tracks in West Virginia and some other states were pursuing additional gaming (Poker rooms), the Greyhound owners insured, through legislation, that continued Greyhound racing would be required to add these additional games. With new laws, tracks were required to continue Greyhound racing and provide the same number of races as they did when the bill was enacted many years ago. Declining profits from Greyhound racing has Greyhound track owners pursuing legislation that will decouple that requirement. If tracks are no longer required to race Greyhounds, some would discontinue live performances.

Who owns racing Greyhounds?

Very few Greyhound kennels own their own Greyhounds. Most are owned by individual owners and breeders all over the country. In the past, many Greyhounds were leased to the race kennels with a signed and notarized lease document. Now it is mostly a verbal agreement or a brief form concerning payment percentages split between owners and kennels.

The kennel is supported by being paid around two thirds of the winnings of each Greyhound in their kennel, and one third is sent to the registered owner. For more profitable Stakes races the purse is usually split 50-50 with the kennel and owner.

The kennel owner is thought to be the agent for the owner on making decisions about Greyhounds being offered for adoption once they are no longer qualify for racing.

If the kennel operator does not own Greyhounds slated for adoption, it is important to have a signed paper indicating that the kennel operator has permission from the owner to put Greyhounds up for adoption, if the owner is not contacted directly.

How many greyhound tracks are still racing in the US?

At one time there were nearly 50 tracks offering live racing in the US. There were over 40,000 greyhounds born and registered each year to support all those tracks. Currently there are 12 tracks operating in the US and just over 10,000 greyhounds born and registered to race last year.

Florida (7): Naples, Palm Beach, Derby Lane, Orange Park (Jacksonville) Ebro, Sanford-Orlando, Daytona (red indicates Seasonal tracks)

Alabama (1): Birmingham

West Virginia (2): Wheeling, Tri-State

Iowa (1): Iowa Greyhound Park

Arkansas (1): Southland Park (West Memphis AR)

This does not include Texas tracks Valley, Corpus Christi and Gulf Greyhound tracks scheduled to operate abbreviated seasonal racing over the next couple of years.

Also not included is Caliente (Tijuana Mexico) where many greyhounds come there from US tracks.