The racing 'industry' pulls a lot of weight in circles of power. I certainly don't understand this. While it's amusing, and culturally interesting I need to have spelled out to me just how this influential sector actually benefits the economy. In SA it would seem to be fairly small, it is difficult to think that it is therefore a major source of employment (though this is often a claim). It would seem that any employment spin-off is hospitality industry related, and that of ocurse is not a bad thing. But it is difficult to see it as much more than fleeting and casual.
I suspect that the real issue for us is that it is the idea of horse-racing that appeals to the Australian psyche. It is a little bit, but not too much, risque.
Today, because the weather is quite mild (last year it was in the 40s...and we moved it from may because it used to be too cold) people may go to the races. But so often we are fair-weather suppoirteres of horse racing.
But the most dedicated gamblers don't attend the racetrack I suspect, they are to be found at the TAB betting shops. I wonder if they care about the animals or whether it's just about the gambling.