Racing is scheduled to return to Eastern Washington in 2003. On Thursday the Washington Horse Racing Commission granted Playfair, near Spokane, 40 racing dates from Sept. 26 through Dec. 21, with racing on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings, and one afternoon of racing on Oct. 13. The track, which has not hosted racing for two years, could open for simulcasting as soon as Feb. 1.

Eric Nelson leased Playfair in 2002 with an option to buy and applied for racing dates late last year. However, two separate horsemen's groups existed in the area and neither could prove clear-cut legitimacy, which delayed the commission in granting dates. Last fall Nelson signed an agreement with a group called the Inland Empire Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, but another group, the Organization to Preserve Horse Racing in the Northwest claimed it was the local horsemen's group. At Thursday's meeting Nelson appeared with two representatives from the Organization to Preserve Horse Racing in the Northwest-Inland HBPA, which is apparently a combination of the two groups.

Currently Nelson is making repairs to Playfair. Before the track can open for simulcasting it will have to pass a local inspection, as well as one by representatives of the WHRC. The WHRC is scheduled to visit the facility the week of Jan. 20.

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