New York's horse racing industry continues to be a major economic driver for the Empire State, contributing $3 billion to the state's economy and supporting nearly 20,000 jobs in 2023, according to the American Horse Council's economic impact study.

Family businesses are a major part of the state's horse racing industry, including McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds, a family-run breeding operation that has shaped New York's racing landscape for over five decades.

"My mom and dad started with two mares. I think they were $200 and $300 each," said Jane McMahon, manager of McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds.

The McMahon siblings, John and Jane, have witnessed the evolution of the New York breeding program over the past 25 years.

"It gave all New York breeders a chance to be more competitive and to race for bigger purses and to have a business plan, which can actually substantiate itself," John McMahon said.

The family's approach to breeding champions goes beyond financial considerations.

"You have to be thinking of soundness yet to be thinking of how many races he or she has run in, John McMahon said, "so that if you can get an offspring of that desired crossing that soundness will pass on," John McMahon explained.

Their efforts have produced notable successes, including Funny Cide, the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner.

"For my parents especially, that was just an unbelievable ride for them to have gone from where they started to now," Jane McMahon said.