Playfair's racing days could be over for good. The 65-acre property that includes the track near Spokane, Wash., is listed for sale for $7 million and all of its contents and equipment--starting gate, tractors, seating, and more--will be auctioned March 4. Unless a last-ditch effort is made by someone to operate the facility as a racetrack, it could be developed.
"At this point we don't have a complete understanding of what we are going to do. We just know it's pretty tough to make it in the Thoroughbred business in Spokane," said Jack Pring, who has owned the track since 1981. "We haven't had any interest in anyone running a racetrack in some time, nothing of any viable interest, I'm sad to say. We'd love to have kept it a racetrack."
Pring ran the facility as a racetrack until 1988, when he started leasing it to various entities that managed the racing side of the business. However, no live racing has taken place in Spokane since 2000, and the last occupant, Eric Nelson, walked away from his lease in 2003 before its scheduled end. In 2002 Nelson signed a 10-year lease with Pring.
Pring said he was introduced to the sport by his father and Playfair was the first racetrack he ever visited. He lives in the Spokane area and still owns Thoroughbreds. Pring said he has about 24 in training at Portland Meadows and Emerald Downs, and he has no plans to get out of that end of the game.
"We love to run horses," said Pring, whose son, Brad, is also involved in his real estate and equipment leasing companies. "We've been in the horse game all our lives. It's just kind of a sad day for horse racing that we can't make it go."
Emerald Downs is the only non-fair racetrack currently operating in Washington. Yakima Meadows has not hosted racing since November of 1998.