Officials in Boise, Idaho have entered into an agreement for Idaho Entertainment to operate Les Bois Park racetrack until December 2013.
Under terms of the agreement approved by the Board of Ada County Commissioners, Idaho Entertainment is required to make annual lease payments of $75,000 to Ada County, which owns the track. Beginning Jan. 1, 2010, Ada County also stands to make one-half of 1% of the total handle exceeding $12 million.
According to the Idaho Statesman, Idaho Entertainment plans to change the name of the facility to Idaho Downs at Expo Idaho and will operate an abbreviated meet in 2009 once it enters into an agreement with the Idaho Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.
According to a statement from the county commissioners’ office, Idaho Entertainment is jointly owned by Oneida Capital in Carlsbad, California, and Plainfield Racing of Greenwich, Connecticut. It said the companies operate live horse racing in Evanston, Wyoming and Great Falls, Montana, with simulcasting operations throughout those two states. Plainfield Racing was also identified as the financial backer of several other racing facilities throughout the U.S.
The commissioners initiated a nationwide search for a track operator after former tenant Capitol Racing notified the county in February it did not intend to continue to run the track.
According to the Statesman, Capitol Racing paid $300,000 per year for its lease, but lost more than $1 million per year in each of its three previous seasons as track operator.
The newspaper also noted that the new agreement was not met with satisfaction by at least on prominent horseman. "What the county has done, as far as I’m concerned, is set out to kill horse racing," Idaho HBPA president Kenneth Ellson told the Statesman.
The newspaper reported the lease was also sought by The Greene Group, which operates a simulcast facility in Post Falls, Idaho.